President Obama went to American University to deliver a defense of his proposed deal with the Iranian mullahs. Bridget Johnson at PJ Media gives the highlights. Or, more accurately, the lowlights. In a presidency filled with a preference for using American power against the American people rather than for them (see, eg, Lois Lerner, EPA, etc.), this was, as Hot Air's Allahpundit calls it, "probably the lowest speech of his presidency -- so far," while Power Line's John Hinderaker wonders if it was "Barack Obama's lowest moment yet?"
Hinderaker gives a devastating takedown of the speech, which, as he notes, "was the usual exercise in deception and demagoguery, and (Obama) skated up to the edge of accusing opponents of the deal–a majority of Americans, apparently–of treason."
Of course, the question becomes "Treason against whom?" Treason against the US doesn't matter to Obama. See, e.g. Bowe Bergdahl, Edward Snowden, or, for that matter, Bill Ayers.
I can't do Hinderaker's piece justice. You'll have to read it all yourself. But I'll try to give a few of the best parts:
After some initial reminiscence about the Cold War, Obama leaped right into misrepresenting the agreement’s terms:Plenty more where that came from:
After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.The “prohibition” consists of a pious declaration by Iran which it can repudiate at any time. The agreement contains no provisions that will permanently impede Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons. The provisions that (if adhered to) would materially impede Iran’s nuclear weapons program expire in no more than 15 years.
Obama recites Iraq’s recent history, but leaves out a key point:The numbers don't lie:
Today, Iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict, and the emergence of al Qaeda in Iraq has now evolved into ISIL. And ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.Obama neglects to mention his own role: in 2011 he prematurely withdrew all American troops from Iraq, crowing that Iraq was then “sovereign, stable and self-reliant,” a fact that Vice-President Joe Biden hailed as one of Obama’s “great achievements.” Iraq was sovereign and stable but not, as military leaders warned, entirely self-reliant. It was Obama’s needless withdrawal of the last American troops that allowed Iraq to spiral toward chaos and permitted ISIS–the Islamic State in Syria–to move into Iraq. But Obama has never once in his life taken responsibility for anything.
Who is to blame for Iran’s nuclear program? Why, President Bush, of course!And the kicker:
When the Bush administration took office, Iran had no centrifuges — the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb — that were spinning to enrich uranium. But despite repeated warnings from the United States government, by the time I took office, Iran had installed several thousand centrifuges….IAEA reports indicate that Iran’s Natanz facility had around 5,500 centrifuges when Obama took office, and over 15,000 by May 2015. With the Fordow facility, Iran now has around 19,000 centrifuges operating. But it’s all Bush’s fault!
No doubt the worst portion of Obama’s speech is the one that has gotten the most attention. Note how Obama walks right up to the line of accusing Republicans in Congress of treason:Hinderaker's conclusion: "Barack Obama is a terrible president, but he is a worse man."
Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.)No, but it is what Iran’s rulers believe. Iran’s Supreme Leader frequently leads mobs in chants of “Death to America.” Does Obama think he is kidding?
In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)If Obama had said that the Republican caucus is making common cause with Iran’s hardliners, it would have been an unambiguous accusation of treason. By phrasing it the other way around–the hardliners are making common cause with Republicans–Obama gives himself a slight margin of deniability. But either way, it is a disgusting slander.
It is also delusional. Iran’s hardliners are the regime in power. The mullahs are not aligning themselves with Republicans; on the contrary, they are trumpeting the fact that they got everything they wanted in their negotiations with John Kerry and Barack Obama. But Obama can’t, and won’t, confront that reality. He will just go on slandering his political opponents and lying to the American people.
Hinderaker's partner at Power Line, Scott Johnson, torpedoes Obama's (possibly willful) misunderstanding of history:
Obama’s potted history of the Cold War includes this revealing nugget: “With Kennedy at the helm, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully.” The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved, of course, by the American naval blockade of Cuba that brought us to the brink of war and led to the capitulation of the Soviet Union.Johnson then draws out the binding thread -- what he calls "The Obama Method":
The Soviet Union’s capitulation included the dismantling and removal of the nuclear facility that American intelligence had found under construction in Cuba. Surely there is a lesson here somewhere for our present predicament with Iran, though it runs counter to the one Obama draws. As always, when he is not ignorant of the relevant history himself, Obama prefers to exploit the ignorance of his audience.
Obama does not seek to persuade the loyal opposition. He seeks to punish. He likens the opposition to the enemies of the United States in Iran. This isn’t much of an argument and it is implausible on its face.More on that in a minute. Johnson concludes:
Obama’s discussion of Iraq is particularly painful in this context. He chose to throw away the precarious victory achieved at long last by President Bush by the time he left office. “And ironically,” Obama says, “the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.” Here there is a glimmer of truth, but it is Obama who has brought Iran’s goals to fulfillment in Iraq, first by withdrawing American troops and then by injecting Iranian forces directly into Iraq. Obama supports the strengthening of Iran’s strategic position.
Referring to the imposition of sanctions on Iran, Obama states: “Winning this global buy-in was not easy — I know. I was there.” What was Obama’s position on the imposition of sanctions? He doesn’t say.
As with Israel, so with America. Obama always professes to understand the true interests of his opponents better than they do. He is a man for all reasons. The arrogance, dishonesty and hatred with which this speech is shot through are the hallmarks of the Obama method.Professor Glenn Reynolds says it simply and succinctly with "Worst President Ever." Amy Miller at Legal Insurrection asks Obama, "What don’t you understand about 'Death to America?'" Meanwhile, Professor Elizabeth Price Foley is on a roll. First, "In President Obama’s narcissistic quest to achieve a legacy of “diplomacy” with America’s enemies abroad, he is remarkably incapable of evincing any diplomacy at all domestically, with fellow Americans who dare to criticize him." That's just the appetizer. Here's the meal:
Lame duck Obama no longer cares about even the appearance of civility with Republicans, or any Democrat who dares to oppose him. His gloves are now off, it’s all personal to him (and his worshippers), and his radical ideological agenda is on full display. It’s full Orwell, replete with blatant lies, rewriting of history, and assault on the fabric of society itself. Obama is a bully, with a bully pulpit, and he doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution or its founding principles, which he thinks is deeply flawed. He has done more to damage the Constitution, the economy, and societal unity than all prior presidents combined.But James Taranto has a full buffet. It's behind a Wall Street Journal paywall, but Instapundit has a nice excerpt:
January 2017 cannot come fast enough.
Rather than enumerate every flaw of Barack Obama’s defense of his Iran deal yesterday, we’d like to look deeply at the most glaring one, namely this passage:Senator Bob "Treaty Clause? We don' need no stinkin' Treaty Clause" Corker (R-TN), whose stupidity helped put us in this mess with Obama not needing a supermajority to approve the deal, rightly took offense at Obama's remarks:
Just because Iranian hard-liners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. . . .Obama’s “common cause” argument rests on several factual premises that seem to us obviously false, and that certainly are not obviously true—among them, that Republicans desire war, that there is a meaningful distinction between “Iranian hard-liners” and the Iranian regime, and that those hard-liners would prefer American military action to American appeasement.
But there is an even more basic objection to Obama’s statement. Assume for the sake of argument that the “Iranian hard-liners” and the Republicans really do want an all-out military confrontation. Now, consider an example from history when such a result actually obtained. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 8, Congress declared war on Japan. Would it make any sense to say that the Japanese and the U.S. Congress had made “common cause”?
Obama is equating mutual antagonism with its opposite, “common cause.” Again, Orwell put it more pithily: War is peace.
If Republicans who oppose the deal are “making common cause” with “Iranian hard-liners,” does it not follow that so are the Israelis—as well as those Democratic lawmakers who’ve announced opposition to the deal (seven so far, all in the House, according to the Hill), and 57% of the American public (including 55% of independents and 32% of Democrats), according to the latest Quinnipiac poll?
At the start of the hearing focusing on whether political favors bumped up the rankings of Cuba and Malaysia on the State Department’s human trafficking report, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) quipped, “I wonder if we have questions about trafficking if it throws us into the category of bad people.”As IowaHawk says, "Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism? Good times[.]"
Corker noted that “up until an hour and a half before” the 19-0 committee vote passing the bill to require congressional approval of the Iran deal, the White House had a veto threat on the legislation “because they did not want the issue debated.”
“We are being compared to the hardliners in Iran because we have concerns that we are trying to have answered,” he said. “Just a few months ago the president was talking about what a thoughtful, principled person I was.” And now, “he’s trying to shut down debate by saying those who have legitimate questions are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran.”
Corker added that, after a frustrating closed-door meeting yesterday with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he called Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman this morning to ask for “at least” her notes from the meetings between the IAEA and Iran that forged the confidential agreements.
But the chairman had a theory on why the IAEA is being so hush-hush about the inspections details.
“I don’t think it would stand the test of late-night comedy, if people understood how the Parchin thing was being done,” Corker said.
Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who was pulled into a meeting with Obama last night, said to Corker, “I think you are and continue to always be a thoughtful and principled person.”
“Hopefully if I disagree with you once you won’t compare me to the hardliners in Iran,” Corker replied.
However bad this sounds, it just gets worse and worse. Remember when the question was asked supra about what Obama's position was in these negotiations? Especially concerning those "secret side deals" the mullahs have with the IAEA. Well ...
Under questioning from a Senate Democrat today at a Banking Committee hearing on the Iran deal, the lead State Department negotiator said they never bothered to ask Iran if there are any other side deals floating around out there.Of course, Obama and John Kerry may not have cared about the lack of specificity. Or considered it not a bug but a feature. In a piece in The Federalist, Robert Tracinski exposes the real goal of the Iran Deal, and it is a familiar refrain espoused by both Democrats and Ronulans -- Blame America First:
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman came under intense bipartisan questioning about Iran’s agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers that he thought the only administration official who might have seen the agreement was Sherman.
Today, Sherman had a few explanations.
“I did see the provisional documents, I didn’t see the final documents,” she told Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
To Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Sherman said: “I have seen — I have — I have seen the document, as I said, as we were going through the technical discussions with the IAEA. But what is important here, Senator, ultimately what we are talking about here is the credibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency, whether, in fact, we believe that they are credible, independent verification organizations, which it is.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) asked, “In the final deal from the IAEA, have you seen it and read it?”
“Let me be very clear. I have seen the documents that the IAEA and Iran discussed to create the final arrangements for the modalities that underpin the road map, the road map document being a public document that Congress has a copy of,” Sherman replied.
“Can you assure us that this access will be physical access? IAEA inspectors will be physically walking into these sites and taking samples or installing equipment?” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked of the deal.
“I think that every situation is different, Senator, and that the IAEA has the capability, the expert knowledge to make sure that whatever they do can be technically authenticated,” Sherman replied.
Sherman said a “handful” of U.S. experts — “I’d have to stop and think” — saw the documents are “very short” and defended the confidentiality agreement — if the U.S. gets confidential IAEA agreements, Iran should too.
“Under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, to which we are also a party, we have confidential safeguards, confidential documents and protocols with the IAEA between the United States and the IAEA, as does — do all of the countries that are under the CSA,” she said. “The IAEA has committed to keeping them confidential, and so, therefore, they are committed to keeping these protocols under CSA confidential as well.”
“Is there reason to believe there’s any other documents out there?” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) asked.
“No. If there are, I don’t know about them,” Sherman replied. “I have not asked them explicitly.”
“Have you asked the Iranians who you’ve had these discussions with, do you have any other agreements with anybody else at this time that we don’t know about?” Donnelly asked.
“I have not asked that question explicitly, but given the hours and hours we have spent together, I do not believe there are any other documents,” Sherman said.
What is President Obama’s deal with Iran really, essentially about? I just realized that John Kerry has been trying to tell us all along, and it’s only yesterday that he finally said it clearly enough to make it register.This is indeed consistent with the "America is Evil" worldview of both Obama and Kerry:
In last week’s Senate testimony, he first established the theme, warning that if Congress doesn’t approve the deal, “we will have proven we’re not trustworthy.” Get that? We have a Secretary of State who conducted negotiations from the premise that we, not the Iranians, are the ones who have to prove we can be trusted.
But that wasn’t just a gaffe or an isolated observation. Kerry expanded on it in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg that was published yesterday:
“The ayatollah constantly believed that we are untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them,” Kerry said. “This”—a congressional rejection—”will be the ultimate screwing.” He went on to argue that “the United States Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back. He will not come back to negotiate. Out of dignity, out of a suspicion that you can’t trust America. America is not going to negotiate in good faith. It didn’t negotiate in good faith now, would be his point.”Have you ever seen a clearer case of Stockholm Syndrome, with Kerry so assiduously taking up the cause of his opponents in the negotiations?
Kerry also said that his chief Iranian interlocutor, the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and Zarif’s boss, the (relatively) reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, would be in “serious trouble” at home if the deal falls through. Zarif, Kerry told me, explicitly promised him that Iran will engage with the United States and its Arab allies on a range of regional issues, should Congress approve the deal. “Zarif specifically said to me in the last two weeks, ‘If we get this finished, I am now empowered to work with and talk to you about regional issues.'” Kerry went on, “This is in Congress’s hands. If Congress says no, Congress will shut that down, shut off that conversation, set this back, and set in motion a series of inevitables about what would happen with respect to Iranian behavior, and, by the way, the sanctions will be over.”On top of the incredible naiveté of believing Zarif’s assurances that Iran will suddenly become much nicer after the deal is signed (and we have lost all leverage), notice how fully he has bought into a perspective that could only be found in Iranian propaganda: that anything bad the Iranians do from now on will be our fault because we alienated them and failed to negotiate in good faith. As if the Iranian regime has not spent the last 35 years gleefully fanning the flames of conflict across the Middle East.
This warped, blame-America-first perspective is not just an argument Kerry is citing in support of the deal with Iran. It is the actual point of the whole deal.
Every negotiation with Iran in the past, and every public debate out it, has proceeded from the assumption that the Iranians are dangerous fanatics who need to be reined in, that they can’t be trusted and will have to make big concessions and reforms and agree to a lot of scrutiny before we welcome them back to the ranks of civilized nations.
But the idea behind this deal, and the theme of Kerry’s defense of it, is to get the United States to accept responsibility for causing conflict with Iran through our own belligerence and bad faith.
There is a lot of talk about how Kerry and Obama want this deal as part of their “legacy,” and the usual assumption is that this is about wanting awards and peace prizes, that it’s about accolades and ego trips. But there is another kind of legacy leaders seek, a far more important kind: the legacy of changing a whole process, changing the terms of the debate, and doing so in a way that programs their preferred policies into the system, making any alternative impossible.
From this perspective, we can see why John Kerry’s statement on Iran is so important. The point of the Iran deal is to put America in the position of being the bad guy who needs to be reined in, the rogue nation, the dishonest deal-breaker, the one who will be blamed if the deal falls apart and who will be responsible for every bad consequence that follows.And, indeed, lately John Kerry has spent more time defending the Iranian mullahs than he has the United States, which is, you know, his job. Reacting to the same Jeffrey Goldberg interview, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey explains why we should have none of it:
We’re the ones who are assumed to “not negotiate in good faith,” and who will “set in motion a series of inevitables about what would happen with respect to Iranian behavior.” Isn’t that last part great? We will be responsible for “Iranian behavior.” This is a regime motivated by a fanatical, totalitarian ideology, for which they have imprisoned, tortured, and killed their own citizens; they’re one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terror, from Lebanon to Gaza to Iraq and even all the way to Argentina; they routinely issue genocidal threats against Israel, and they’re practically running Bashar Assad’s brutal war of extermination in Syria. But no, no, no. If Congress doesn’t vote for a deal that accomplishes nothing, then we will be responsible for everything that happens from here on out.
It’s an insolent inversion of reality, of course, but it’s consistent with the worldview from which Kerry and President Obama emerged.
Old and busted, nat-sec edition: You don’t screw with America. New hotness, smart-power edition: Don’t screw the Ayatollah! The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg sat down with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the seven-nation nuclear deal with Iran, and Kerry warned Congress that a rejection of the deal would destroy the faith that Ayatollah Ali Khameini had put into negotiations with the United States.In a post titled "Someone is getting screwed, but it’s not the Ayatollah," Professor William Jacobson breaks down the mullahs' continuing crimes:
No, really, that’s his argument for approving the deal. If Congress blows up the deal, they will give Khameini “the ultimate screwing[.]”
Actually, the “ultimate screwing” will come when Iran conducts its first test of a nuclear device. Since when is the US’ trustworthiness on the line in this issue? Iran hid its pursuit of nuclear weapons for years from the IAEA, and only began negotiating on nuclear development after it got caught. It has routinely cheated on inspections, hid its military research, and continually refused to negotiate in good faith. For the past twelve years, whenever the P5+1 (or E3+3, whatever the Western formulation is at the moment) got close to an agreement with Iran, the Ayatollah and his henchmen would demand a significant concession on top of what had already been agreed, and the deal would fall apart.
Let’s not forget that, on top of this track record of bad-faith diplomacy, Khameini runs the world’s biggest terror-supporting state. It sponsors, funds, and arms terror networks throughout the region, including those in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria that are aimed in direct opposition to Western aims and key regional allies. Khameini and his mullahcracy have chanted “Death to America” for 36 years straight. And Congress is supposed to worry that Khameini may lose faith in American diplomacy?
What color should we assume the sky is in Kerryworld, anyway?
If Kerry’s entire pitch to Congress is that they must keep faith with Ali Khameini or he might end up disliking and distrusting us, this deal might be even worse than we think. This is a sorry state of affairs, when America’s top diplomat ends up as an apologist for a dictator that routinely declares “Death to America,” and says our only hope is to trust in his good faith. It’s absurd on its face.
There John Kerry goes again.
Jeffrey Goldberg, the go-to person when the Obama administration wants to get its position out because Goldberg is pro-Israel, landed an interview with John Kerry. The topline storyline is that Kerry is warning the U.S. Congress not to screw (with?) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:
Seriously, we are afraid of ruining the expectations of an Ayatollah who defends calling for the death of America and Israel;
And who just published a book on how to defeat the U.S. and destroy Israel?
And who openly threatens Israel?
Would this be the same Ayatollah who tweeted out an image of Obama holding a gun to his own head?
Well, let’s be sure not to offend HIM.
Don’t worry about what the Iranians say, says Kerry, they don’t really mean it:
But ... well, remember the 2009 Green Revolution? When there was hope of removing these barbarians from power? Well ...Though he says he is in tune with this set of Israeli fears, he does not endorse a view widely shared by Israelis—and by many Americans—that Iran’s leaders, who have often said that they seek the destruction of Israel, mean what they say. “I think they have a fundamental ideological confrontation with Israel at this particular moment. Whether or not that translates into active steps to, quote, ‘Wipe it,’ you know …” Here I interjected: “Wipe it off the map.” Kerry continued: “I don’t know the answer to that. I haven’t seen anything that says to me—they’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.”[...]
We are now the weak horse, being trained by our masters.
John Kerry is dangerously naive.
His boss isn’t naive, this is all part of the “Grand Bargain” strategy with Iran Obama has been pursuing since he took office, something we highlighted back in June 2009, when Obama abandoned the uprising against the Mullah regime:Indeed. But wait! That's not all. It just gets worse and worse. If you want a graphic representation of just who won and who lost in this deal, check out the hand-dandy chart prepared by the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a non-profit organization located in Jerusalem. Li'l hint: the US and Western Civilization are not among the winners.
During the campaign and after assuming the presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly stated his willingness to engage in negotiations with Iran without any preconditions. But that was and is not true.Someone is going to get screwed here, and it’s not the Ayatollah.
The events of the past two weeks, including the revelation that Obama sent a letter in May to “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reveal that there is one precondition to negotiations which Obama willingly embraces: United States acceptance of Mullah rule in Iran in perpetuity.
Acceptance of Mullah rule, notwithstanding what the people of Iran may want or basic human rights, is the key to the Grand Bargain the Obama administration seeks to strike with Iran. In fact, U.S. help to perpetuate the Mullahtocracy appears to be the ONLY precondition.
Now, when digesting all this sunshine and good cheer, keep one last thing in mind:
To get this deal -- easily the stupidest foreign policy initiative in my lifetime and the most disastrous Western initiative in Iran since at least Marcus Crassus' invasion of Parthia in 56 BC (in which he decided to invade a land famous for its horse archers with an immense army of little more than heavy infantry) -- Obama had to get Russia on board with sanctions. Vlad Putin's Russia -- the same people selling the mullahs SA-300 missile systems to defend their nuclear sites. So he had to do things to make nice to Vlad Putin -- like pull our missile defense out of Poland and not stand up for Ukraine. So now Putin has invaded Ukraine and is threatening to invade Poland, the Baltic republics, and Moldova to re-establish the Russian Empire. Lord knows what Obama promised to give China to get them on board.
So, to get this deal that screws the US and empowers the evil, barbaric Iranian mullahs who believe in imposing shari'a law, Obama was willing to sacrifice not just the people of the United States and Israel, but of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Moldova. Not to mention the Middle Eastern states the mullahs have in their sights: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, countries that will now have to get nuclear weapons of their own to protect themselves against the Iranian mullahs.
All of these people sacrificed at the altar of Blame America First. All of it -- all of it -- just so Obama and Kerry could blame America first just one more time.
And Obama has the gall to accuse opponents of his Iran deal of treason.
Of all the arrogant, stupid, incompetent, and downright evil policies and activities of Barack Obama, this is the most vile.
Professor Foley just one more time:
Lame duck Obama no longer cares about even the appearance of civility with Republicans, or any Democrat who dares to oppose him. His gloves are now off, it’s all personal to him (and his worshippers), and his radical ideological agenda is on full display. It’s full Orwell, replete with blatant lies, rewriting of history, and assault on the fabric of society itself. Obama is a bully, with a bully pulpit, and he doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution or its founding principles, which he thinks is deeply flawed. He has done more to damage the Constitution, the economy, and societal unity than all prior presidents combined.
January 2017 cannot come fast enough.