Supporters of President Obama’s Iran deal sadly shake their heads at the foolishness of anyone opposing it. “It’s the deal or war; there is no other option,” they solemnly intone. “What’s your alternative deal?” they titter, smug in their superior morality and intellects. Ignore, for the moment, that it is the responsibility of the American government to negotiate agreements with other nations that recognize and uphold American interests. No one else has the responsibility or the power, which renders the “what’s your alternative deal?” argument the weak distraction it is.
Some of the actually smart people supporting the President, and there are a few, understand that our military could obliterate Iran’s war-making capabilities in short order, and that we actually have been at war with Iran since 1979, a war declared by the Iranians, but mostly ignored by us, even as they have killed thousands of Americans.
Of course, at least some of the Obamites understand these points, so they continue to try to invent more compelling distractions in the hope that Americans might be tricked into supporting a deal that gives Iran everything, and America, nothing. Such an Obamite is Anne Marie Slaughter, who USA Today bills as “president of the New America Foundation, was director of policy planning at the Department of State under President Obama.” Slaughter’s USA Today op ed is a textbook lesson in misdirection and obfuscation:
The opponents of the Iran deal are absolutely right about the existence of an alternative. We could bomb Iran. A sustained attack could destroy its nuclear facilities and presumably a large part of its stockpiled plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The Pentagon estimates that destruction of Iran’s current nuclear facilities would set back Iran’s weapons program by roughly two years. That’s 18 to 21 months longer than the current estimated break-out time of three months to six months with no deal.
Uh-huh. And considering Mr. Obama’s oft-stated desire was to absolutely prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, that’s a bad thing? Slaughter thinks so.
Here is what else the military option would get us. It would be a great gift to the terrorist group Islamic State, as we would be attacking its archenemy in the ongoing Sunni-Shiite struggles.
Let’s see if I understand Slaughter’s logic. We can never defeat our deadly enemies because the equally vicious enemies of our enemies might like it and benefit from it? So we must refrain from military action and let both groups of Islamic fanatics become stronger? Well, that does sound like standard Obamite “strategy,” doesn’t it?
It would strengthen the hard-liners in Iran for the next generation, confirming what they have been saying for decades about the Great Satan and cutting the ground out from under younger and moderate voices who have been arguing for trading Iran’s illegal nuclear program for ending the sanctions and opening Iran up to the world again.
This is the classic argument that we must ignore the government of Iran in favor of never-to-found “moderates,” and the Iranian people. By this logic, foreign governments ought to be ignoring Barack Obama and negotiating with me, as I represent the true America. While it’s true that many of the young Iranians are pro-American, when they tried to rise against the mullahs, Mr. Obama ignored them and they were slaughtered wholesale. Young Iranians can argue all they like, but their dictators will continue to torture, imprison and murder them at will. Slaughter also believes that the effect of killing Iran’s jihadist leaders and destroying its jihadist military would be a bad thing and would somehow weaken pro-American Iranians and make it more difficult for them to seize their government. Only the destruction, by overwhelming military force, of the mad mullahs and their theocracy and military will make possible the establishment of a friendlier and less belligerent government in Iran.
It would effectively declare war on Iran as an unprovoked military strike, which would then lead to Iranian retaliation through cyber and terrorist strikes on Americans and American territory. U.S. responses to those strikes could well drag us back into open war in the Middle East.
Right. And the Iranians aren’t already doing all of that? They didn’t try to murder a Saudi ambassador in Washington DC? They didn’t seize our embassy and take hostages for more than a year? They didn’t finance and support the bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks, and countless other acts of terrorism? They didn’t kill hundreds, if not thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with trained proxies and advanced weapons provided to those fighting us? They didn’t, while negotiating the deal, blow up a mock American aircraft carrier? They aren’t daily promising to destroy Israel—our ally–and commit genocide? The don’t, daily, scream “death to America” and mean it?
Hussein Sheikholeslam, a senior adviser to Iran’s Speaker of Parliament, told the Hamas-affiliated newspaper al-Resalah that Tehran ‘reject[s] the existence of any Israeli on this earth,’ a position he says Iran relayed to the P5+1 powers during the nuclear negotiations, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.
That doesn’t comport well with any definition of “negotiating in good faith” with which I’m aware.
Any attack an actual American Commander In Chief authorizes against Iran is anything but unprovoked. More than sufficient provocation goes back at least to 1979. America would be justified under International law and the laws of war in obliterating Iran at any moment. Remember: Iran declared war on us in 1979 and has never rescinded that declaration. They have, however, continued to act upon it.
It would provide yet another recruiting video for terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and beyond, with pictures of U.S. jets bombing a Muslim nation to stop a program that nation’s government had just agreed to stop peacefully through diplomacy. The image of Cowboy America, guns blazing, would once again become an image of Outlaw America, walking away from a deal that we negotiated at the head of international coalition of nations because we preferred to shoot it out instead.
Which might be a reasonable argument if most of the other Muslim nations in the region didn’t fear and hate Iran and weren’t already working overtime to become nuclear powers to protect themselves in a world where America can’t be trusted to honor its defense obligations. They’re even allying themselves with Israel. Even the United States publically gave Israel hell for bombing Iraq’s Osirak reactor, but we, and the world, had more than sufficient reason to be damned glad about it ever after. Oh yes, and does anyone still believe that Islamist terrorists have to wait for America to directly act against them to produce barbaric recruiting videos and propaganda?
It would end any possibility of ever again assembling a global coalition of countries against Iran, as even many of our allies and other countries opposed to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon would nevertheless oppose our use of force without international authorization.
And we must give the United Nations, as vile a hive of scum and villainy as has ever existed, veto power over our national interests and security why, exactly?
The hardest pill to swallow is the release of tens of billions of dollars to Iran as soon as it complies with the terms of the nuclear deal, as determined by the U.S. and its negotiating partners — the European Union, Germany, France, Great Britain, China and Russia. That means tens of billions of dollars that could flow to the terrorist groups Iran supports, such as Hezbollah, although remember that Iran is fighting against ISIL.
But here’s the dirty little secret. That money is Iran’s money. The world has frozen it because of Iran’s illegal pursuit of a nuclear weapon. If, in fact, Iran complies with the terms of this deal, stops pursuing a weapon and completely dismantles its nuclear supply chain, then it is entitled to recover the funds. As much as we might hate the idea of a richer Iran supporting terrorism, both American political parties and the world at large decided long ago that a nuclear Iran supporting terrorism would be worse.
Let’s be sure we understand Slaughter here. It’s Iran’s money, so we should give it to them. Under the Iran deal, they get the money—we’re also giving them taxpayer money, but Slaughter doesn’t mention that—and nuclear weapons. But if they don’t get nucs, they get the money anyway, and they will use it for terrorism anyway. So. Money and nucs vs. money and no nucs. Gee. That’s a tough one. Notice that Slaughter’s argument assumes that America will do nothing, ever, to diminish Iran’s ability to continue to be the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world. Under Barack Obama and any imaginable Democrat, she’s right.
She’s also right that a “nuclear Iran supporting terrorism would be worse,” but somehow thinks the deal will stop Iran from getting a nuc, despite the fact that even if Iran honors every provision of the deal—which it has repeatedly said it will not—it will be free to build nucs in as little as a decade.
Lots of better deals can be imagined. But none can be struck. All the fulminating about how we should have done better is just that: woulda, coulda, shoulda. George W. Bush’s administration spent eight years just trying to get Iran to come to the table to negotiate, without success. In 2010, during my first year working as director of Policy Planning under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we thought we had a deal with the Iranians to ship most of their highly enriched uranium to Russia, but it promptly collapsed when the Iranian negotiators took it back to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. And all the while, the Iranians moved from hundreds of centrifuges to about 20,000, of ever more sophisticated design. Their supply of highly enriched uranium, just one step away from the fuel needed for a bomb, went up and up.
Uh-huh. So we have no possible choice but to do what Iran wants? The Russian deal she mentions was a sham dreamed up by Putin—our enemy–to embarrass and thwart us and to help Iran run out the nuclear clock, a sham the Obamites praised for awhile. Without a credible threat of force, and the willingness to use it, we end up having no ability to force Iran to do anything. With the deal, we have no ability to force Iran to do anything. With the deal, we’re better off how, exactly?
It takes a tough person, and a tough nation, to accept the reality of limited power. It is so much easier to pound our chests and declare that the United States bestrides the world like a colossus and should be able to dictate any outcome it wants. That is no longer true, if it ever were. We found that out the hard way by launching a war in Iraq that we could not win. By prolonging a war in Afghanistan in ways that often made the domestic political situation worse rather than better. By toppling a government in Libya without any idea of what might come next.
Oh my. Wasn’t it Barack Obama and Joe Biden calling Iraq one of Mr. Obama’s greatest foreign policy accomplishments? Wasn’t that lie based on our winning that war? Mr. Obama’s abrupt pull out lost Iraq, not the efforts—as constrained by politics as they were—of our military. Our inability to influence world events is a result of the weakness of our leaders, not of the measure of our military, economic and moral power. And Ms. Slaughter, wasn’t it the State Department for which you worked, under Hillary Clinton, that made an incredible mess of Libya (Egypt?)? With a president and Congress that once again believes that America is the primary force for good in the world, willing to use our military and other powers to accomplish that good, things will be very different indeed.
Accepting constraints on U.S. power does not mean we cannot and should not lead in the world — far from it. But it means we have to lead with diplomacy as much as force, and that diplomacy requires compromise, negotiation rather than dictation. Which brings us back to the beginning. The deal on the table is the best that the Obama administration could do and is the only deal that will be on the table. Pretending otherwise risks landing us in what truly would be the worst of all possible worlds: a richer Iran trading with everyone but us and only two months away from a bomb.
Yes. It is the best deal the Obamites could get. It’s not the best deal an actual American president could get. Slaughter, like most Obamites, is utterly ignorant of history. Diplomacy works only from a position of strength, which means one’s opponents must respect and fear America’s military strength and have no doubt of America’s willingness to use it to accomplish just ends, for America and the world.
Let’s review Slaughter’s assumptions, which are shared by Obamites and their supporters:
America cannot use military force against Iran.
America’s only option is diplomacy, conducted by diplomats determined to limit and minimize American power and influence.
America must get the best deal it can.
Iran will not make concessions, so to get a deal, America must do what Iran wants.
The American government must conceal information about the deal from the Congress and the American people, and lie about it as well.
Anyone that doesn’t support the deal, is for war, which we can’t do, so everyone might as well shut up and support the deal.
Iran gets nucs on its own timetable, but the deal provides at least temporary political cover for Mr. Obama and Democrats.
Other than that it’s a great deal, and Slaughter and those highly nuanced thinkers like her, must be obeyed.
The question is not whether we must use our military to confront Iran, but when. Under the deal, Iran has all the cover and finances it needs to not only build up its conventional weapons, but to build nuclear weapons. It is already working with Russia to import far more effective anti-aircraft missile systems, which, when an actual American president must attack Iran, will cost far more American lives and treasure.
If America, as JFK said, still intends to pay any price and bear any burden to assure the success of liberty, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Slaughter and those like her must be shamed, ignored and understood as the fools and enemies of liberty they are.