Iran and Russia are competing to see which nation can humiliate President Obama more. Russia got off to a flying start with its intervention in Ukraine and its “assistance” to Obama in the non-enforcement of the president’s red line against the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria.
Iran, its economy crippled by the U.S. led sanctions regime, was falling way behind. But the mullahs trumped Putin with the one-sided nuclear deal through which it freed itself from sanctions and stands to enrich itself by hundreds of billions of dollars without giving up its nuclear weapons program. As a bonus, it treated the world to the spectacle of the American president backing down on issue after issue during negotiations.
Russia rallied big time with its Syria bombing campaign, through which it completes the process of replacing the U.S. as the outside power with the greatest influence in the Middle East. Note, though, that in doing so, Russia assists Iran.
In fact, the competition to humiliate the U.S. is a friendly, and times cooperative, affair. The two powers jointly humiliated Obama when Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani visited Moscow, in violation of U.S. sanctions, presumably to help plan, among other adventures, the future humiliation of the U.S. and its president.
Iran will be hard-pressed to match Putin’s Syria gambit, but it is still competing. “Supreme Leader” Khamenei has just banned future negotiations between Iran and the U.S. This dashes Obama’s hopes that his nuclear deal would lead to future cooperation. By publicly making clear that it will not, Khamenei reinforces Obama’s well-earned image as a fool.
In addition, Iran has just tested a new long-range missile, the country’s first that can be precision-guided until it reaches its target. “To follow our defense programs, we don’t ask permission from anyone,” Iran’s defense minister pointedly stated.
Today came the latest slap in America’s face. After a closed-door trial in an Iranian court, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was convicted of espionage charges. Iran holds several other U.S. prisoners, including Saeed Abedini, a pastor imprisoned for his Christian faith, and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine.
Scandalously, Obama’s negotiating team was unable to secure the release of these Americans even in exchange for vastly enriching Iran. The president may be naive enough to have hoped that Iran would release the prisoners after the deal as a sign of good faith, or maybe he just doesn’t care. In any event, according to David French of National Review, Abedini’s treatment has worsened since Iran and the U.S. completed their deal. And now, Rezaian has been convicted by a tribunal that almost certainly would make a kangaroo court look fair.
French sums up the situation well:
Combine Rezaian’s conviction with Iran’s weekend ballistic missile test, and it’s clear that Iran is essentially spiking the football, taunting the United States at the expense of American citizens and America’s international reputation.
Obama’s consistent message to our adversaries has been “kick me, I won’t feel a thing.” Unfortunately, others are feeling the pain, including U.S. citizens like Jason Rezaian.