I know that Barack Obama fancies himself a grand strategist the likes of which the world has never seen. (Okay, that may be true, but not in the way he thinks.) In an important essay last month at Mosaic, Michael Doran drew a revealing portrait of “Obama’s secret Iran agenda” that cast light on dark corners.
If you want to understand Obama’s strategery, Doran’s essay is the place to go. Today Steve Hayes adds a timely update in his Weekly Standard editorial “Obama’s Iran agenda.”
Whatever the sophisticated thinking behind it, Obama’s strategy looks like appeasement. It certainly has a lot in common with it. Indeed, we seem to have entered the tertiary stage of appeasement, in which wishful thinking and self-deception are the dominant characteristics.
Doran's piece should be required reading. A sample:
President Barack Obama wishes the Islamic Republic of Iran every success. Its leaders, he explained in a recent interview, stand at a crossroads. They can choose to press ahead with their nuclear program, thereby continuing to flout the will of the international community and further isolate their country; or they can accept limitations on their nuclear ambitions and enter an era of harmonious relations with the rest of the world. “They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it,” the president urged—because “if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication . . . inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power.”
How eager is the president to see Iran break through its isolation and become a very successful regional power? Very eager. A year ago, Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national-security adviser for strategic communication and a key member of the president’s inner circle, shared some good news with a friendly group of Democratic-party activists. The November 2013 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the “P5+1”—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—represented, he said, not only “the best opportunity we’ve had to resolve the Iranian [nuclear] issue,” but “probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.” For the administration, Rhodes emphasized, “this is healthcare . . . , just to put it in context.” Unaware that he was being recorded, he then confided to his guests that Obama was planning to keep Congress in the dark and out of the picture: “We’re already kind of thinking through, how do we structure a deal so we don’t necessarily require legislative action right away.”
Why the need to bypass Congress? Rhodes had little need to elaborate. As the president himself once noted balefully, “[T]here is hostility and suspicion toward Iran, not just among members of Congress but the American people”—and besides, “members of Congress are very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues.” And that “hostility and suspicion” still persist, prompting the president in his latest State of the Union address to repeat his oft-stated warning that he will veto “any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo [the] progress” made so far toward a “comprehensive agreement” with the Islamic Republic.
As far as the president is concerned, the less we know about his Iran plans, the better. Yet those plans, as Rhodes stressed, are not a minor or incidental component of his foreign policy. To the contrary, they are central to his administration’s strategic thinking about the role of the United States in the world, and especially in the Middle East.
Moreover, that has been true from the beginning. In the first year of Obama’s first term, a senior administration official would later tell David Sanger of the New York Times, “There were more [White House] meetings on Iran than there were on Iraq, Afghanistan, and China. It was the thing we spent the most time on and talked about the least in public [emphasis added].” All along, Obama has regarded his hoped-for “comprehensive agreement” with Iran as an urgent priority, and, with rare exceptions, has consistently wrapped his approach to that priority in exceptional layers of secrecy.
Secrecy because Obama knows the American people will not want it -- and for good reason. From National Journal's Josh Kraushaar:
Throughout the contentious debate between the White House and Congress over the Iran nuclear negotiations, one important piece of the equation has been largely overlooked: American public opinion. If voters were confident that President Obama was striking a good deal with Iran that would prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, he'd have little trouble getting support from the legislative branch.
But the reason the president is facing such bipartisan backlash is that an overwhelming number of voters are deeply worried about the direction of the negotiations. Think about how rare, in these polarized times, mobilizing a veto-proof majority of congressional Republicans and Democrats is for any significant legislation. Yet despite all the distractions, Congress is close to achieving that goal: requiring the administration to go to Congress for approval of any deal.
The administration is so focused on process and protocol in attacking the opposition because it's a useful distraction from how unpopular the administration's eagerness to strike any deal with Iran has become.
Consider the polling: In this month's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 71 percent of respondents said they believed a deal would not prevent the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Earlier in March, a Fox News poll found that a 57 percent majority believed the U.S. wasn't being "aggressive enough" in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear program, while nearly two-thirds supported military action as a last resort. In a February Gallup Poll, 77 percent of Americans said they believed Iran's development of nuclear weapons posed a "critical threat" to the United States.
The one recent outlier was CNN's survey, which found a surprisingly large 68 percent majority of voters—most Republicans included—supporting negotiations "in an attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons." But the phrasing of the question skewed the results. The question assumes that the end result of the negotiation is preventing Iran from getting nukes. But the reason for the growing opposition is that many voters don't believe the agreement will come close to stopping Iran's nuclear program, a point that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored in his congressional address.
(It's a lesson in how the precise wording of questions can elicit dramatically different results. Another loaded question on the Fox News survey asked if it's a good idea to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons 10 years from now—an outcome that the critics of a deal believe is likely. A whopping 84 percent called it a bad idea. But looking at the most directly phrased questions, it's evident that there is clear public concern over the negotiations.)
All of the polling is causing a significant number of Senate Democrats to consider breaking with their president to join Republicans in overriding a presidential veto over the deal. Far from being a bunch of hard-liners or hawks, congressional skeptics of an Iran deal run the gamut from the most liberal senators (Robert Menendez, Ben Cardin, Chuck Schumer) to moderates (Gary Peters, Robert Casey, Joe Donnelly) to the GOP hawks (Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, John McCain).
Obama knows this. He simply does not care. As the always-readable Richard Fernandez put it: "Obama’s foreign policy has nowhere to go, but he’s prepared to go there with considerable velocity." Stephen F. Hayes shows just how delusional Obama's Iran policy is:
Iran is an opportunity, not a threat; it’s a potential partner, not an enemy.So Obama is allowing the Iranian mullahs to have nukes because he sees them as a "potential partner." Seriously. How delusional is he? You be the judge:
For more than six years, this view of the Islamic Republic has guided the decisions made by Barack Obama. The president has repeatedly declared his eagerness to welcome Iran into the community of civilized nations. His words sometimes suggest that Iran has a choice to make, that their acceptance into this mythical community depends in some way on their behavior. But there’s little over those six years to indicate that he means it. Instead, Obama has made clear that in his eagerness to salvage anything from his tattered foreign policy legacy he is willing to gamble the security of the United States on a blind and irrational hope that Iran will someday change for the better.
To this end, he has abandoned more than three decades of bipartisan U.S. policy towards Iran—on its nuclear weapons program, on its regional ambitions, and on its support for terrorism.
These are radical departures. The Obama administration’s goal in nuclear talks is no longer preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons at all costs, but managing the process by which Iran becomes a nuclear state. The Obama administration no longer seeks to thwart Iran’s expansionist aims in the region and in many respects is now facilitating its aggression. On terrorism, the Obama administration has cast aside inconvenient realities about Iran’s support for jihadists of all kinds and has chosen instead to pretend that to the extent there any longer exists a war on terror, Washington and Tehran are on the same side.
Suspected for years of plotting to dismantle the U.S. electric grid, American officials have confirmed that Iranian military brass have endorsed a nuclear electromagnetic pulse explosion that would attack the country's power system.
American defense experts made the discovery while translating a secret Iranian military handbook, raising new concerns about Tehran's recent nuclear talks with the administration.
The issue of a nuclear EMP attack was raised in the final hours of this week's elections in Israel when U.S. authority Peter Vincent Pry penned a column for Arutz Sheva warning of Iran's threat to free nations.
"Iranian military documents describe such a scenario — including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States," he wrote.
A knowledgable source said that the textbook discusses an EMP attack on America in 20 different places.
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who is leading an effort to protect the U.S. electric grid from an EMP attack, has recently made similar claims based on the document translated by military authorities.
Once sneered at by critics, recent moves by Iran and North Korea have given credibility to the potential EMP threat from an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S.
Pry has suggested ways for Iran to deliver a nuclear attack: by ship launched off the East Coast, a missile or via satellite.
Either way the result could be destruction of all or part of the U.S. electric grid, robbing the public of power, computers, water and communications for potentially a year.
Yup. This is indeed Obama's policy on Iran:
The warnings are there. David Petraeus:
The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge. The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging.
Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren't careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.
One has to think back almost 100 years to Wilson chasing his Treaty of Versailles in the face of growing public skepticism and Congressional dissent to see this many omens of a car crash. The more the opposition mounts, the more grimly determined the President becomes to hold his course. The more determined the President looks, the more disquieting the doubts that circulate among Democrats—and the more Republicans smell the opportunity to land a crippling blow against a policy they despise.
For all their differences, President Barack Obama uncannily resembles his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter, in his stiff-necked, self-righteous inability to listen to others or to learn from experience or history. Against ferocious opposition at home and abroad, he is about to repeat the grievous mistake of appeasing Iran that Carter made over three decades ago and do even more geopolitical damage than the hapless peanut farmer wreaked in 1979.
So now President Obama wants to make an agreement that will ensure that Iran can produce an atom bomb essentially overnight. He has not seen fit to explain his reasoning to the American people, and it is hard to imagine what it might be. But all I can think of is Churchill’s rebuke to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when he returned from his infamous appeasement of Hitler in Munch in 1938. “You were given the choice between war and dishonor,” Churchill thundered in Parliament. “You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” Certainly President Obama is choosing dishonor. What kind of war he might unleash, the world watches with dread.
Indeed. Obama is, at best, a complete idiot, his stupidity matched only by his arrogance. His laughably-named "national security" team -- Kerry, Rice, Jarrett, Rhodes, etc. -- does not have one brain among them.
And he is supposed to protect the United States.
Lord help us.