What the Iran deal is really about

Yesterday, I argued that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is driven by two motives, neither of which involves stopping, or even significantly slowing, the mullahs’ quest for nuclear weapons. In my view, Obama’s primary motives are (1) the desire to thaw U.S. relations with the Iranian regime and, through a grand bargain, usher in an age of strategic cooperation between Washington and Tehran and (2) constrain Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Also in play, I suggested during our podcast, is the desire to relinquish U.S. dominance which, as a true leftist, Obama believes has produced much more evil than good. This narrative informs both Obama’s desire to make Iran the key player in the Middle East and his desire to constrain Israel.

Abe Greenwald of Commentary sees the situation much as I do. He writes that Obama “caved on Iran’s nukes because [he] viewed the matter only as a timely pretense for achieving other cherished aims.”

Which aims? (1) preventing an Israeli attack on Iran, (2) transforming the United States into a more forgiving, less imposing power, (3) establishing diplomacy as a great American good in itself, (4) making Iran into a great regional power, and (5) ensuring the legacies of the president and secretary of state as men of vision and peace.

Regarding the second aim, Greenwald recalls Obama’s statement to a Saudi news outlet soon after his election that “too often the United States starts by dictating.” He, by contrast, would focus on listening.

This is one promise Obama has kept, at least in the realm of international affairs (Israel excluded). As Greenwald puts it:

The Iran negotiations became Obama’s magnum opus on the theme of listening. Americans listened to Iranians dictate terms, shoot down offers, insult the United States, and threaten allies. American has been humbled indeed.

For Barack Obama, it’s mission accomplished. Sadly, his mission had little to do with stopping Iran from obtaining nukes.