Barack Obama’s Lowest Moment Yet?

Today President Obama gave a speech at American University, urging acceptance of his nuclear deal with Iran. It was the usual exercise in deception and demagoguery, and he skated up to the edge of accusing opponents of the deal–a majority of Americans, apparently–of treason.

After some initial reminiscence about the Cold War, Obama leaped right into misrepresenting the agreement’s terms:

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.

Next, the president offered up a revisionist history of the war in Iraq–a topic of dubious relevance at best:

[M]any of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.

Whereas others who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case in favor of the Iran deal–Joe Biden, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, for example. So what? Next comes a breathtaking series of lies:

I said that America didn’t just have to end that war — we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. It was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy; a mindset that put a premium on unilateral U.S. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus; a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported.

No American administration has ever preferred war to diplomacy. The war in Iraq was anything but unilateral, as more than 20 countries participated in the U.S.-led coalition. And the intelligence on Iraq’s WMDs was not exaggerated, as we know from the now-public October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. (Nor, as we now know, was that intelligence entirely wrong.)

Obama recites Iraq’s recent history, but leaves out a key point:

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!

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!

As always, Obama misrepresented the terms of the agreement. These are issues we have written about many times, so I won’t address those misrepresentations in detail. But here are a couple:

If Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. We won’t need the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council; America can trigger snapback on our own.

Sheer fantasy. Much of the sanctions relief that Iran most craves can never be taken back–most notably, the $100 billion to $150 billion in frozen funds that will soon flow to Tehran. Further, all commercial deals that are entered into during the period of sanctions relief are excepted from future sanctions.

Even with those huge loopholes, the “snap back” is a fiction. Even U.S. sanctions will not “snap back” automatically; they will have to be reimposed by Congress and implemented over a period of time. We will have no control over whether the E.U. reimposes sanctions. The supposed “snap back” mechanism is limited to U.N. sanctions, and, as I wrote here, it is doubtful whether paragraph 37 of the agreement, the purported snap back provision, would actually cause U.N. sanctions to be reimposed based on the vote of one member of the Security Council.

It is true that if Iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money — revenue frozen overseas by other countries.

This is a very recent and highly dubious talking point. Until the last week or two, as I wrote here, every source I am aware of has long estimated Iran’s frozen assets at $100 billon to $150 billion. In fact, the Treasury Department, which John Kerry cited as the source for the administration’s new number, pegged the frozen assets at “approximately $100 billion” in sworn testimony before a Congressional committee in January of this year. And that is just a down payment on the economic benefit that Iran’s mullahs will receive from the end of sanctions.

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:

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.

Barack Obama is a terrible president, but he is a worse man.

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