The mullahs thank Mr. Obama

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carries an incisive editorial (“The mullahs thank Mr. Obama,” accessible here via Google) on developments with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Every step along the way, Iran proves itself the mortal enemy of the United States, and yet President Obama thinks otherwise.

Iranian intentions are clear. Their actions comport with their announced view of the world. When the mullahs chant “Death to America,” we have no ground for believing they don’t mean it. No ground, that is, other than wishful thinking.

As John put it, it is difficult to reconcile Obama administration policies strengthening the Iranian regime with a good faith intention to pursue peace in the Middle East or to advance the national security interests of the United States. We can only infer that Obama’s highly ideologized view of the world is immune to experience.

The Journal’s editorial provides this handy summary of current complexities:

The U.S. and United Nations both say Iran is already violating U.N. resolutions that bar Iran from testing ballistic missiles. Iran has conducted two ballistic-missile tests since the nuclear deal was signed in July, most recently in November. The missiles seem capable of delivering nuclear weapons with relatively small design changes.

The White House initially downplayed the missile tests, but this week it did an odd flip-flop on whether to impose new sanctions in response. On Wednesday it informed Congress that it would target a handful of Iranian companies and individuals responsible for the ballistic-missile program. Then it later said it would delay announcing the sanctions, which are barely a diplomatic rebuke in any case, much less a serious response to an arms-control violation.

Under the nuclear accord, Iran will soon receive $100 billion in unfrozen assets as well as the ability to court investors who are already streaming to Tehran. Sanctioning a few names is feckless by comparison, and Iran is denouncing even this meager action as a U.S. violation of the nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the sanctions reports on Thursday by ordering his defense minister to accelerate Iran’s missile program. Your move, Mr. Obama.

Opponents of the nuclear accord predicted this. Mr. Obama says the deal restricts Iranian action, but it does far more to restrict the ability of the U.S. to respond to Iranian aggression. If the U.S. takes tough action in response to Iran’s missile tests or other military provocations, Iran can threaten to stop abiding by the nuclear deal. It knows the world has no appetite for restoring serious sanctions, and that Mr. Obama will never admit his deal is failing. The mullahs view the accord as a license to become more militarily aggressive.

Further proof came Wednesday when U.S. Central Command acknowledged that Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels last week fired several rockets that landed within 1,500 yards of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. A Revolutionary Guard spokesman Thursday denied the incident but a day earlier the semiofficial Tabnak news agency quoted an unnamed Iranian official as saying the rockets were launched to warn the U.S. Navy away from “a forbidden zone” in the Persian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most heavily trafficked waterways, and the USS Truman carrier group has every right to sail there. By any measure the rocket launch was a hostile act that could have resulted in American casualties.

This follows Iran’s arrest in October of Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, who according to Iranian media reports is being held in Evin Prison though no charges have been filed. The reports suggest that Mr. Namazi is suspected of spying because he is one of the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leaders.” That’s the dangerous outfit that sponsors the annual gabfest in Davos.

Iran has also shown its gratitude for the nuclear deal by convicting Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian on absurd charges of espionage. The Iranian-American has been held for more than 500 days.

The White House’s media allies are blaming all of this on Iranian “hard-liners” who are supposedly trying to undermine President Rouhani for having negotiated the nuclear deal. Memo to these amateur Tehranologists: The hard-liners run Iran.

The American people should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes renders his deep thoughts via Twitter (below). In the annals of inanity, this is Hall of Fame material. Make that #chumpchange.