Iran Deal Hastens U.S. Decline

Superpowers have come and gone throughout history.

Gil Weinreich


Students of history and foreign policy are trained to think in terms of the “balance of power,” a state of geopolitical stability which no country feels empowered to challenge through war.

As the world’s leading superpower, the United States more than any other nation must work to maintain a balance of power that preserves its military supremacy, its political influence, its trade and commercial interests and its democratic value system.

Which begs the question:

As President Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisors close in on the conclusion of their hard-negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran, exactly whose power are they seeking to balance by permitting Iran to continue its nuclear program?

(This is an agreement, after all, that strengthens Iran, whose hard-nosed leadership approved the deal.)

It's time we stop insulting the memory of Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama.
Most of the Arab nations in the region, even if banded together, are weaker than Iran, so the deal is not aimed at balancing growing strength amongst the Arabs. The only state more powerful than Iran in the region is Israel.

Is the policy of the U.S. government to contain Israel?

The Jewish state certainly merited substantial inclusion in President Obama’s American University speech defending the agreement. Obama mentioned Israel 24 times, not always in flattering terms:

“Because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support,” the president said.

Interestingly, while opinion on the accord is divided on Capitol Hill, Israel’s raucous political class is quite unusually united in opposition to an agreement it perceives as unambiguously bad for international security.

So how is it that a large segment of the U.S. policy elite perceives the Iran agreement as favorable to the American national interest?

Recall the example of the U.K., whose role as international hegemon we inherited after World War II.

Over four centuries, the U.K. expanded its military and economic might and imperial reach, freely altering alliances to prevent Spain, France or Germany from growing too powerful.

The point at which the Brits lost their skill at diplomatic balancing came in September 1938, with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s infamous Munich agreement, which permitted Germany to carve out a piece of Czechoslovakia.

While it is clear that Britain was physically and financially exhausted from World War I, Germany was far weaker. Expanding Germany to include the Sudetenland was not going to intolerably alter the balance of power, so the thinking went. But as history records, just a year later Britain went to war to defend its national interests, ultimately winning the war but losing its hegemony.

The U.S., like Britain 75 years before, may now be making a similarly fateful decision affecting international balance of power.

The president does not seem to perceive things this way.

“I've had to make a lot of tough calls as president, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls, it's not even close,” he said in the same speech.

But irrespective of the faith Obama places in the international inspections regime the agreement creates, the fact remains that Iran is a revisionist power just as Germany was. It does not merely seek increased power, but has strong ideological goals.

Germany wanted to destroy the Jews, and destroyed much of Europe in the process. In like manner, the Iranian regime is feverishly devoted to its goal of destroying the United States of America in particular and the West in general, whose values are the antithesis of its backward mullahcracy.

Yet Tehran has cleverly succeeded in throwing the Iranians off the scent by also regularly demanding death to Israel, which lulls some Westerners lacking an affinity for the Jewish state into obliviousness, unware that “Death to Israel” is the mask that cloaks Iran’s “Death to America” chant.

It’s not for nothing that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s latest book is called “Palestine.” But under that popular (to a segment of Westerners) garb, the Ayatollah openly states his true agenda, as Michael Ledeen quotes in a recent blogpost for The Hill:

“In contrast to what shallow people believe, it is not impossible to defeat Israel and the United States. Superpowers have come and gone throughout history. Materialistic powers are neither everlasting nor infinite. Yesterday, there was a power called the Soviet Union. It was one of the superpowers, but it no longer exists. A similar historical contemporary change is still before us.”

There are no freebies in international relations. The U.S. will eventually pay the price for its strategic and moral blindness. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, as they say in the Middle East, then the friend of my enemy is my enemy. By befriending the Iranians, the U.S. has become its own worst enemy.

It's time we stop insulting the memory of Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. The Fuhrer wasn’t promising “Death to Britain” on a daily basis, even if he was thinking it. And he wasn’t on the cusp of acquiring nukes.

What’s more, it is obvious to anyone with ordinary sophistication that Iran has no need of alternative nuclear energy, as it has an abundance of petroleum resources to satisfy both its domestic demand and its international trade needs.

From a strategic chessboard point of view, the U.S. and its Western allies, already heavily invested in funding Israel’s Palestinian adversaries and anti-Israel NGO agitators, seem to want to balance the Jewish state’s strength with Iranian power.

But while Israel has demonstrated the resolve to survive in a tough neighborhood, it is harder to see how years of U.S. and allied efforts to legitimize and organize Iran’s nuclear program will not sooner rather than later shift the balance of power away from Western hegemony.

And just as Hitler did as he said he would, the Iranian commitment to "Death to America” will surely exact a high price in American blood and treasure.

Gil Weinreich is a writer living in Jerusalem.