Slippery face-saver, but Iran wins

The Obama administration had reportedly torn up its previous red lines one by one.

April 3, 2015 08:19
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and White House aides receive an update

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and White House aides receive an update from Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz via teleconference in Lausanne. (photo credit: WHITE HOUSE)


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So they’re going to carry on talking.

On Thursday evening, a joint statement by Iran and the EU said enough progress had been made to continue talks until the final deadline of June 30.

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Negotiations with the US-led P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear program were twice extended beyond the March 31 deadline having run into Iranian intransigence.

After desperately prolonging the talks an “outline of understandings” is said to have been agreed.

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Well, there’s a surprise.

The Obama administration had reportedly torn up its previous red lines one by one. It was capitulating to nuclear terrorism because it was desperate to get a deal – any deal.

But what seemed to have happened was that the regime, understanding Obama’s desperation, decided to go for broke.


That’s what appeasement always does.

Far from causing aggressors to compromise on their demands, such concessions lead them to think they have their enemy on the run. So the Iranians held out for total US surrender.

They pushed it too far because they didn’t provide Obama with a way to pretend to the world that this was anything other than total capitulation. So now the Iranians have provided him with just that.

He can pretend the Iranians have compromised.

But the holes in this new “understanding” are vast enough for the Iranians to slip through once again.

Moreover, at the very same time that the US was grovelling to Iran to secure this fig-leaf deal, the Americans joined forces with Saudi Arabia in Yemen fighting the insurgent Houthis – who are backed by Iran.

Surreal? But then, the very idea of negotiating with the Iranian regime at all is nightmarishly surreal. Iran is the world’s principal terrorist regime, responsible since its Islamic revolution of 1979 for the murder of countless American soldiers and civilians and other westerners and committed to the destruction of Israel, the front line of western defenses in the Middle East.

This week Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said that “erasing Israel off the map” was “non-negotiable.”

According to a senior Israel Defense Ministry official, Col. Aviram Hasson, Iran is placing guided warheads on its rockets and smuggling them to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

One day after President Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and while US Secretary of State John Kerry was claiming substantial progress toward an accord, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called yet again for “Death to America.” Yet incredibly, the US has been prepared to allow a regime that is openly pursuing America’s destruction and the annihilation of Israel to achieve nuclear weapons breakout capacity.

Amir Hossein Motaghi, an Iranian journalist who defected while covering the talks, told a TV station: “The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

One important factor behind this terrifying situation is Obama’s own malign agenda in empowering the enemies of the West. The root problem, however, is far broader and long precedes the Obama presidency. When it comes to the Arab and Muslim world, Western political leaders just can’t join up the dots.

They don’t understand the way that world’s collective mind works. As a result, they have got it wrong in just about every single aspect.

They thought the Israel/Palestinian impasse was the cause of Muslim rage. Not so. It was an outcome of that rage.

They thought Muslim “suicide” bombings were caused by despair. Doubly wrong. First, these are not “suicide” bombings. When Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed his plane into the French Alps killing 150 people was subsequently said to have had suicidal thoughts, a number of commentators observed that killing 150 people was not suicide but murder.

Precisely. And Islamic human bomb attacks are characterized not by despair but exultation, because such murderers believe this barbarism is their ticket to paradise.

Western leaders also thought al-Qaida, Iraq and Iran were all discrete threats, either unrelated or actually opposed to one another. The truth was more complex.

Even while they were fighting each other they were joined, Sunni and Shia, in common cause: the jihad against the free world.

Indeed, arguably the most significant factor behind the radicalization of Muslims globally was the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Even amongst the Sunni multitudes, the replacement of a secular state by an Islamic theocracy suddenly created in reality what had previously been merely a theological, even mystical aspiration.

This galvanized millions of Muslims to join the jihad on the basis that what had been achieved in Iran could be achieved elsewhere too.

The worst mistake the west made, however, was to think it could address these flashpoints through the application of reason.

They thought jihadi fanaticism was a negotiable agenda. How can genocidal Jew-hatred or the the aim of wiping out America ever be negotiable? Yet the P5+1 negotiators seem to believe that Iran acts in good faith. This naive and ignorant belief proceeds in turn from the equally groundless hope that Iran can be brought in from the cold.

Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, observed at a press conference this week that this hopefulness has a long history. After 9/11, there were high hopes that Shia Iran would help the west fight the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan. But by November 2001 Iran had changed sides and its elite Quds force was supplying the Taliban instead.

In 2003, similar hopes of a “Grand Bargain” with Iran which would disarm Hezbollah likewise turned to ashes. The west made two bad mistakes which it is still making today.

First, it pinned its hopes on Iran’s reformist-seeming presidents – but the only person who matters is the implacable Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Second, it failed to grasp the central role of deception in Iranian diplomacy through the Islamic principle of taqiyya, or mandated lying in the defense of Islam. Any agreement with Iran over its nuclear program is therefore worth nothing at all.

The west thinks that it can swallow Iran.

In fact – with Obama’s free pass empowering it to extend its influence over Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Yemen – Iran is instead swallowing the West.

Of course, it may already be too late to stop the Iranian bomb. Credible reports suggest Iran has outsourced its development to Syria and North Korea. But then, the deal being negotiated was never about stopping Iran getting the bomb. It was all about stopping America and Israel from stopping Iran from getting the bomb.

Obama and Iran have now got more breathing space to achieve precisely that.

Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).

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