President Obama’s deal with Iran strongly favors the Iranians for the reasons stated by John and many others. Sanctions are rolled back with little hope of full revival and not much more hope of maintaining any effective sanctions regime for much longer.
Meanwhile, there is no meaningful rollback of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Some aspects of it are frozen; others are allowed to proceed. As James Jay Carafano puts it, “In return for getting precious little, the negotiators. . .gave up the one thing the mullahs really feared – a continuing squeeze on Tehran’s dwindling bank account.”
The one-sidedness of the deal is confirmed by the opposition of Israel and Saudi Arabia. These are the two nations that have the strongest interest in Iran not obtaining nukes. And both, by virtue of living in the neighborhood, have a better understanding of Iran than the U.S. does. Both nations would be delighted with a deal that is likely to prevent Iran from going nuclear. But both recognize that this is not such a deal.
That said, I don’t believe the deal results from insufficient U.S. understanding of the region. It results instead from Obama’s priorities.
Obama isn’t motivated, as Israel and Saudi Arabia are, by a strong desire to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. That’s not the purpose of this deal. If it were, Obama would have held out for far more than what the mullahs gave him.
Obama’s primary motivation is his desire to reset relations with Iran which he expressed in his 2008 campaign. The quest for such resets is a familiar theme of the Obama administration. We saw it with Russia, of course, and we saw it attempted with Syria early on. Obama also tried to cozy up to former President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. His relationship with the less West-averse regime that succeeded Morsi’s has been far less amicable.
It seems that there is no authoritarian, anti-American regime too odious for Obama and his Secretary of State to wish to appease.
It doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to develop a working hypothesis that explains this behavior. The presumption should be that Obama and Kerry like to grant concessions to regime that don’t like America because they themselves don’t like America all that much.
We know that Kerry didn’t like America in the days when he compared our army to that of Genghis Khan. We know that Obama didn’t like America in his student days, both high school and college, when his mentors were Communists.
Time presumably softened their dislike of America, converting it, perhaps, into ambivalence — the kind expressed by Michelle Obama in her more candid moments. But the byproduct of their dislike — the desire to accommodate America’s enemies — remains manifest.
In my opinion, it provides the unifying theme of Obama’s foreign policy and the main motivation for making such a bad deal with Iran.