I take it that the mullahs who run the show in Iran have been pursuing nuclear warheads to hitch to ballistic missiles for about as long as the regime as been in business. They have sacrificed much in pursuit of their goals and they are within shouting distance of success, mostly minus whatever sacrifice imposed by the sanctions crafted by Congress against the will of the Obama administration.
Watching the absurd negotiations taking place with the Iranian regime in Vienna, with the United States and the rest of the crew steadily bidding against themselves, I wonder what is to be done by the likes of us. We understand what is happening, but are powerless to do a blessed thing about it.
As the negotiations drag on past their appointed hour, I want to round up some of the recent commentary that sheds light on where we are and whither we are tending. Beyond the links I have little in the way of commentary other than to say that they provide an aid to understanding the consequential events taking place behind closed doors.
Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, Times of Israel, “Former envoy: Iran showed no flexibility in nuke talks.” What do you make of that? Probably more than the Obama administration does.
Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, “Iran cheats, Obama whitewashes” (subscribers only, accessible via Google here). Stephens makes a powerful case that the Obama administration has gone into public relations on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
Why the spin and dishonesty? Partly it’s the old Platonic conceit of the Noble Lie—public bamboozlement in the service of the greater good—that propels so much contemporary liberal policy-making (cf. Gruber, Jonathan: transparency, lack of). So long as the higher goal is a health-care bill, or arms control with Russia, or a nuclear deal with Iran, why should the low truth of facts and figures interfere with the high truth of hopes and ideals?
But this lets the administration off too easily. The real problem is cowardice. As a matter of politics it cannot acknowledge what, privately, it believes: that a nuclear Iran is undesirable but probably inevitable and hardly catastrophic. As a matter of strategy, it refuses to commit to the only realistic course of action that could accomplish the goal it professes to seek: The elimination of Iran’s nuclear capabilities by a combination of genuinely crippling sanctions and targeted military strikes.
And so—because the administration lacks the political courage of its real convictions or the martial courage of its fake ones—we are wedded to this sham process of negotiation. “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work,” went the old joke about labor in the Soviet Union. Just so with these talks. Iranians pretend not to cheat; we pretend not to notice. All that’s left to do is stand back and wait for something to happen.
Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, “Iran’s no China.” Glick draws the inevitable contrast, not to our benefit:
Not only will Obama’s Iran opening not redound to the US’s benefit in the short term. Its inevitable result will be a decade or more of major and minor regional wars and chronic instability, with the nuclear-armed Iran threatening the survival of all of America’s regional allies. It will also lead to shocks in the global economy and massively expand Iran’s direct coercive power over the world as a whole.
Not only is Obama no Nixon, compared to him, Neville Chamberlain looks like a minor, almost insignificant failure.
Ron Ben-Yishai, YnetNews, “Despite nuclear talks’ extension, Iran still on the verge of a bomb.” Not sure about “despite,” but you get the idea.
Michael Herzog, Al Monitor, “Israel views extension of Iran talks as lesser of two evils.” Keep hope alive!
Andrew McCarthy, PJ Media, “Iran celebrates victory over Great Satan because American have clearly surrendered.” As I have observed previously, the public pronouncements of the powers-that-be in Iran have proved far better guides to the course of events than have those of their opposite numbers in the P5+1. Why would that be?
Amos Yadlin, INSS, “Kicking the can down the road.” Keep hope alive!
Aaron David Miller & Jason Brodsky, Wilson Center, “4 big reasons the Iran nuclear deal didn’t happen.” Miller and Brodsky usefully summarize the conventional wisdom while overlooking the glaringly obvious. By contrast, Michael Ledeen extracts the 1 big reason in “The fantasy of the deal.”
Eds., New York Daily News, “Obama bombs in Iran again.” The editors of the Daily News pay attention to what the mullahs have to say:
The supreme religious leader of Iran has confirmed what many Americans already knew: The seven-month extension of talks on Iran’s nuclear program is a victory for the fanatics in Tehran and a serious setback for the world.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei crowed that, in blowing through the deadline set for Iran to agree to curbs on its uranium enrichment, the West had failed to cow a resurgent Islamic Republic.
“In the nuclear issue,” he told fellow mullahs, “America and colonial European countries got together and did their best to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees — but they could not do so — and they will not be able to do so.”
As I say, the public pronouncements of the mullahs on this matter of the utmost seriousness have a higher truth quotient than those of the Obama administration. The least we can do is attend to them.
Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, “Extending extensions.” In the department of what is to be done?, Gerecht offers this: “Increase the pressure. Don’t be scared of Ali Khamenei. We still hold the high ground. Use it—or lose it. Iranian research and development continue to advance.”
George Will, Washington Post, “Better a contained Iran than an all out war.” Will seems to me the lamest commenter on this subject. He holds to the views expressed in this December 2013 column, but he has yet to explain what he means by “containment.”
Will assumes that the same theory of deterrence applies to Iran’s ongoing war against the United States as applied to the Soviet Union’s against what we used to call the free world. For these purposes Will does not differentiate between a theologically driven regime such as Iran’s and a militantly atheist regime such as the Soviet Union’s. Will has thus opted for discretion as the better part of valor in ignoring the case made by Norman Podhoretz in the Wall Street Journal column “Strike Iran now to avert disaster later” (accessible via Google here).