Scott has compared the impending deal between President Obama and the Iranian regime to the 1938 Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany that delivered “peace in our time” for ten months. The comparison is apt.
The main difference I see between the two capitulations is that in 1938 Germany held a strong hand, whereas today Iran holds a weak one. In this sense, Obama’s deal is even more problematic than Neville Chamberlain’s.
In 1938, Germany was rearmed and ready to roll; England and France were ill-prepared to fight back. In addition, the Nazi government was firmly entrenched in Germany; there was no question of regime change.
Today, Iran is extraordinarily vulnerable. The U.S. could largely destroy its nuclear program through military action without deploying ground forces (and, of course, without negotiations). Alternatively, with a minimum of encouragement from the U.S., Israel could probably set Iran’s program back significantly.
Moreover, regime change is possible in Iran. The regime is unpopular, and sanctions are contributing to its unpopularity. This of course, is why the regime countenanced the election of Rouhani and why Rouhani launched his “charm offensive” as a prelude to negotiations with the U.S. Iran is desperate for a deal.
Obama, therefore, is in a position of strength. Yet, he is in the process of significantly loosening the sanctions regime in exchange for essentially no action by Iran.
The Munich capitulation was driven by fear. It was craven, but understandable.
Obama doesn’t fear Iran. So what motivates his capitulation?
The answer, I believe, is ideology. Obama believes that Iran is at least as sinned against as sinning. That’s why, when attacked by fellow candidate Hillary Clinton for favoring negotiations with the Mullahs and other rogue rulers without preconditions, he argued that this approach is necessary given past American arrogance. It’s also why his spokesman continues to talk about overcoming lack of trust between the two countries.
If Obama sees Iran as morally equivalent, or perhaps in some ways morally superior, to the U.S., then imagine how he views Iran in relation to Israel. If you’re a leftist, you don’t have to be Jeremiah Wright to wonder why Israel should have nuclear weapons while Iran is thwarted in its efforts to obtain them.
As long as Ahmadinejad was Iran’s president, his ravings provided an answer that might satisfy the American left, or at least keep it from insisting on the question. But with Rouhani in office, it’s unrealistic to expect Obama — a leftist who views Israel (and Saudi Arabia) with ambivalence if not antipathy — to hold the line against Iran nukes.
Obama’s goal has always been to break down the barriers between the U.S. and Iran caused, in his view, by mutual mistrust for which the U.S. shares considerable blame. That’s why he refused meaningfully to support the demonstrators who challenged the regime following the 2009 elections. He wanted better relations with the regime, not its demise.
The sanctions regime, of course, stands in the way of Obama’s goal of rapprochement with the Mullahs. Thus, ending sanctions is a good thing in itself, as far as Obama is concerned. No wonder he has demanded virtually nothing in exchange for starting down that road.
Neville Chamberlain was a broken man after his deal with Hitler failed to produce peace. Expect Barack Obama to be as chipper as ever if his deal Iran fails to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.
UPDATE: This round of negotiations has failed to produce an agreement. Reportedly, it was France that wouldn’t go along with the capitulation.
I discuss this development here.