A striking feature of President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran is not just that it opens doors for this jihadist, fanatical nation to visit horrific, deadly mayhem on literally millions, but that many leftists have cheered for it.
While they understand that the deal allows an enriched and therefore more threatening Iran to eventually obtain nuclear weaponry, they say the only alternative was war. They add that at least the process has been slowed down and the regime might become a U.S. friend as years pass.
It’s important to keep such attitudes in mind because, in the end, it was not just Obama’s leadership shortcomings or hunger for a legacy that gave us this bargain. It was a widespread liberal mindset that equates tough-minded realism with hawkish stupidity and forgets how pushing hard can sometimes get the other side to tear down the walls. Obama will be out of office in another year and a half, but his concession-a-minute, dreamy mode of thinking will still be seeking influence through plenty of others.
The danger those others pose is clear in this deal that says Iran may continue its nuclear program, meaning it can easily make nukes someday. Safeguards to prevent that will go away in 10 to 15 years and they don’t amount to much. Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, two former secretaries of state, are among those pointing out grievous difficulties in carrying out inspections that catch violations or enforcing sanctions requiring international cooperation.
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On top of that, the agreement would quickly stuff $150 billion in Iran’s pocket while permitting oil sales amounting to more billions. Iran will no doubt use some of that cash to pacify economically distressed citizens while continuing to build its power and fund terrorism. The deal will also enable Iran to eventually acquire ballistic missiles capable of reaching our shores.
A possible new friend? Iran has been an unbudging enemy since 1979 when it took 52 Americans hostage. It has new hostages under its belt right now. It has played a role in slaying hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Even after negotiators concurred on a deal, Iranian crowds got together to chant, “Death to America,” and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed not to cooperate with the United States beyond the deal.
No alternative but war? This deal could well help instigate a war itself as frightened neighbors start building nukes and Israel worries about survival. One reason Iran does not already have nukes could well be U.S. threats of war over the past two decades, and the only reason Iran came to the negotiating table in the first place was internationally crafted sanctions. Still tougher sanctions could have made for a better deal, and Congress once wanted as much.
Congress now gets to vote on the deal, Obama gets to veto legislation nixing the deal and Congress then gets to override the veto if it can. Most think it can’t because not enough Democrats would join Republicans in the effort. Obama not only does not seem worried, but essentially scoffed at Congress by going to the U.N. Security Council for a secured endorsement before Congress even started debate. The only answer could end up being 2016.
That’s when voters will decide about the next administration and what foreign policy attitudes to put in place. We don’t know what the options in the presidential election will be yet, but if it’s reasonable firmness vs. unreasonable softness, Americans should understand the former is preferable for humanity’s sake.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.