Into The Fray: The Democrats’ depraved indifference

Rather than keep the nuclear genie in the bottle, the deal with Iran irrevocably uncorks it.

September 10, 2015 22:07
A man holds up a sign as he and several thousand other protestors demonstrate during a rally

A man holds up a sign as he and several thousand other protestors demonstrate during a rally opposing the nuclear deal with Iran in Times Square. (photo credit: REUTERS)

This deal has clear flaws and substantial risks, beyond the obvious and disturbing short duration of its term…. With this deal, we are legitimizing a vast and expanding nuclear program in Iran. We are in effect rewarding years of their deception, deceit and wanton disregard for international law by allowing them to potentially have a domestic nuclear enrichment program at levels beyond what is necessary for a peaceful civil nuclear program...

Even under the deal, we should expect that Iran will cheat when it can;… that it will continue or even ramp up its destabilizing activities and sponsorship of terrorism with the additional resources provided by increased sanctions relief.”
– Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), setting out the reasons for... his support (!!??) of the Iran deal, September 3

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This astounding admission by New Jersey Sen. Booker indelibly underlines what the Democratic Party has become – or rather what it has descended into. It is no longer a party that reflects the once proud and principled tradition of Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Daniel Moynihan and Daniel Inouye.

For, sadly, there is little way to characterize the support by Democratic legislators’ for the Iran nuclear deal other than “depraved indifference.”

Why ‘depraved indifference’?

The US legal system stipulates two related offenses, “reckless endangerment” and “depraved indifference.”

Without engaging in scholarly debate over the differences between the two, it would be true to say that the defining characteristic of both is that they entail conduct exhibiting blatant disregard for foreseeable consequences of the act involved, which creates substantial risk of serious physical injury to others.

Thus “depraved indifference” would comprise the commission of an act even though it is known that such an act runs an unusually high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to someone else.

In a 1981 case in Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals, Judge J. Moylan characterized depraved indifference as “the willful doing of a dangerous and reckless act with wanton indifference to the consequences and perils involved.”

He added: “[It] is just as blameworthy, and... worthy of punishment, when the harmful result ensues, as is the express intent to kill itself.... It involves the deliberate perpetration of a knowingly dangerous act with reckless and wanton unconcern and indifference as to whether anyone is harmed or not...”

Thus one widely used legal source stresses that “[d]epraved indifference focuses on the risk created... not the injuries actually resulting.

Clear case of depraved indifference?

Even the most cursory reading of declarations of the legislators who have elected to support the Iran nuclear deal shows unequivocally that their conduct “exhibits a blatant disregard for foreseeable consequences of the act involved.”

How else could one interpret Booker’s candid admission that the deal not only legitimizes Iran’s “vast and expanding nuclear program,” permitting it to “have a domestic nuclear enrichment program...

beyond what is necessary for a peaceful civil nuclear [purposes],” but does so despite “years of deception, deceit and wanton disregard for international law.”

Moreover, Booker’s recognition of Iranian “deception and deceit” is not confined to the past. Thus, he acknowledges: “we should expect that Iran will cheat when it can...,” yet he persists in supporting a “deal” which permits the Iranians to selftest suspicious sites, excludes US personnel from the inspection process and compels disclosure of intelligence sources in requesting access to investigate suspected violations.

Significantly, the “reckless and wanton unconcern and indifference” of the deal’s apologists are not limited to foreseeable contravention of restrictions stipulated in the Iran agreement. Indeed, it extends to the almost certain consequences of what the deal not only permits but expressly facilitates. Thus, Booker confesses that Iran “will... ramp up its destabilizing activities and sponsorship of terrorism with the additional resources provided by increased sanctions relief...”

Convoluted and self-contradictory

So there you have it. Booker will, by his own admission, support a deal that legitimizes the nuclear program of a fundamentalist Islamist tyranny, sworn to the destruction of his own country and its allies, which goes far beyond the parameters of peaceful civilian needs. He will do so despite Iran’s proven record of deceit and deception and the expectation of future duplicity, and despite the certainty that the resources made available by the deal will help sow mayhem, mischief and misery throughout the region and beyond.

Depraved indifference, anyone? But Booker is not alone is articulating a convoluted and self-contradictory rationale for endorsing the deal, invoking the promotion of US interests and the preservation of US security and that of its allies, by supporting a deal that will ensure they are gravely undermined.

Take for instance Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), who, after praising the efficacy of sanctions, proceeds to endorse...

discontinuing them. She concedes to being “skeptical that Iran won’t try to deceive us...” and that “Iran will still be disruptive in the Middle East... fund terrorist activities and... will continue to exacerbate tensions with our allies in the region.”

She goes on to reassure us that, should Iran violate its side of the deal, this could be redressed by measures whose inefficacy (unilateral US sanctions) or unacceptability (military action) were invoked for justifying the deal.

Risible reassurances

It is difficult to conceive of anything less credible and more risible than these kinds of reassurances provided by the deal’s apologists.

After all, since they warn that without the deal the sanctions regime will disintegrate, their claim that they can be swiftly “snapped back” rings decidedly hollow.

Setting aside for the moment the laborious efforts required to establish the current sanctions regime, the trenchant question that pro-deal advocates have to confront is this: If sanctions could not be sustained when they were already in place, and their ongoing maintenance did not involve any new economic sacrifice, how on earth can one ensure they will they be rapidly reinstated once economic ties have been reestablished, and their rupture/termination entail considerable economic cost? It is not difficult to envisage that when, as is almost certain, some alleged infringement is suspected there will be interminable wrangling as to the validity of the findings – especially on the part of P5+1 countries with the highest commercial stakes in maintaining economic ties with Tehran – while the ayatollahs stand by rubbing their hands in glee at the sight of the infidels’ demeaning avarice and disarray.

Much the same can be said with regard to the manifestly empty threat that the “military option is still on the table.” After all, if the US-led P5+1 shied away from confronting a nonnuclear, economically emaciated, drought-stricken Iran with a credible military threat, it is more than implausible to believe they will do so to a nuclear (or near-nuclear) Iran with its international stature enhanced, its economy enriched and its military empowered.

By permitting the passage of this deal Congress is sending a clear message to the mullahs: They have little to fear either economically or militarily. Accordingly, they may proceed with their nefarious designs with relative impunity, and certainly without risking any costs they are unwilling to bear.

Deal indefensible whether honored or violated

But putting aside the almost insurmountable difficulties in maintaining an effective inspection regime over a long period of time, across a huge geographical expanse, with widely – indeed wildly – fluctuating political priorities, and with a resolute and resourceful adversary bent on deception, the deal is still indefensible.

After all, none other than its principal patron, Barack Obama candidly confessed that even if Iran adhered religiously to its commitments, as the deal expires “the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.” (PBS, April 5). Although Obama tried rather lamely to walk back that assessment in a later PBS interview (August 10), with State Department officials scrambling to explain that he “misspoke,” the fact remains that as the deal expires Iran’s breakout time will not only be infinitesimally short, but – as opposed to the present situation – it will be internationally legitimized.

According to PBS’s Steve Inskeep (August 11), Obama laments that “his critics are ignoring the idea that it’s good to buy time” and that “the world gets extra security for 15 years, and by then Iran’s government, or its interests, may change.”

This is a claim that must be swiftly dismissed for several compelling reasons.

Indeed, the deal is far more likely to do precisely the opposite – to drastically undermine security – both in the conventional and nonconventional contexts, and to entrench the tyrannical theocracy, making any hope for a more moderate and benign regime commensurately more remote.

Uncorking the nuclear genie

Far from inducing a hiatus in the scramble for weaponized capability in the Middle East, it is far more plausible it will ignite, in what is arguably the most unstable region of the world, a race for the world’s most destructive weaponry, and almost inconceivably, the means of its delivery, as well.

For once the specter of a Shia nation with weaponized nuclear capability has been accorded international legitimacy – as the deal unquestionably does – it would be recklessly naïve to assume that the Sunni nations of the region will sit idly by until that prospect materializes.

Instead, countries across the Greater Levant and the Arabian Peninsula – from Egypt through Turkey to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states – will race to acquire similar capabilities – either by developing them themselves or by purchasing them from others. Neither can the grim possibility of an ascendant ISIS joining the frenzied quest be discounted.

None of these countries are bound by the deal’s putative restrictions on Iran, but they can exploit its largesse toward Tehran as a precedent legitimizing their own ambitions for nuclear parity.

So rather than keep the nuclear genie in the bottle, the deal with Iran irrevocably uncorks it.

Bankrolling the ‘world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism’

Neither will Obama’s envisioned decade or so of “extra security” be advanced by the nonnuclear elements that the deal includes, such as lifting restrictions on conventional arms and, astoundingly, on missile technology (the means to deliver future nuclear weapons), as well as the massive release of cash to Iran to fund its far-flung operations of terrorism and insurrection.

That the Obama administration is fully aware of the probable consequences of the deal is clear from the response of senior officials in the media and congressional hearings.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice conceded as much, in an interview (July 15) with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who asked, “Once they start getting that money [up to $150 billion]... they could use it to support international terrorism, right?” Under pressure Rice confessed, reluctantly: “We should expect that some portion of that money would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now...”

“Bad behavior”? What a breathtaking understatement for the wholesale bloodshed and brutality Iran is underwriting across the globe.

Secretary of State John Kerry fared little better in a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee when questioned by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama). Brooks asked an evasive Kerry: “... do you believe that Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism?” Kerry responded: “Yes.” Brooks persisted: “And, that they will use the conventional weapons made available by the Iran nuclear treaty to kill Americans or Israelis?” Kerry answered with disturbing equanimity: “Well, they may, they may...”

See what I mean by “depraved indifference”?

Undermining America’s credibility?

Kerry has made the argument that rejecting the deal will gravely undermine US credibility.

He is of course totally wrong. It is the deal itself – and the breathtaking incompetence with which it has been negotiated – that will do far more to erode America’s standing in the world.

After all, why should anyone respect an administration whose secretary of state and secretary of energy urge Congress to approve a deal of historic significance, yet bashfully admit that there exist crucial and binding “side deals” with Iran, about which they know nothing and which they have never seen.

Why should anyone respect a government that abandons the objectives it had set itself – of Iran giving up its nuclear program and dismantling its nuclear installations – and renege on pledges of resolve? To gauge how severely this deal has undermined US prestige and standing it is sufficient to peruse Iranian sites, crowing that it has now placed America and Iran on equally footing in the world.

The Democrats concocted this deal.

They now own it – and the dire consequences that it will inevitably precipitate.

Entirely and permanently.

Martin Sherman ( is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (

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