WHEN DONALD Trump announced the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, he was gracious enough to credit the Mossad's heist of Iranian nuclear program documents, which Benjamin Netanyahu had dramatically displayed on national television.“At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program. Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents – long concealed by Iran – conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.” Senior Obama administration officials and European diplomats had earlier scrambled to downplay the importance of the purloined nuclear archive arguing essentially that the giant fiction was creative fiction. They claimed that they were fully aware of Iranian deception and the JCPOA had already factored in the mendacity factor.If they were aware of the true situation, one wonders why Obama and Kerry cited Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s presumed fatwa against nuclear weapons as evidence of Iran's benign intentions, and the logic behind the IAEA decision to give Iran a clean bill of health on the PMD (possible military dimensions) of its nuclear program as a necessary prelude to the nuclear agreement. In general, with such information in hand why didn't they act upon it more vigorously, before Netanyahu made the prospects of a nuclear Iran a casus belli for Israel? But let us take these worthies at their word that they knew all about it, a line they must stick to if their absolute certainty of detecting further Iranian evasions via the JCPOA’s “robust” inspection procedures is to have any credibility. We are perhaps fixated on the concept of intelligence failures from Pearl Harbor to the Yom Kippur War, while ignoring the flipside, the reluctance to use available intelligence.We are not dealing with cases where the intelligence source is discounted as “alarmist,” a pejorative frequently hurled against Netanyahu. Nor are we dealing with a situation where competing intelligence services have clashing views on enemy capabilities or intentions or where a preconception blinds intelligence gatherers and policy makers to the information that they are receiving.The Iran case involves a refusal to act upon intelligence because the consequences of such action was unthinkable. Sometimes this refusal can be fully justified. Although the USSR was officially uninvolved in the Korean War, Soviet pilots flew in Chinese and North Korean planes against the UN forces. Although instructed to stick with basic Korean, they would inevitably swear in Russian. So obviously the US knew of Soviet involvement, but sat on the intelligence because once it became public matters could escalate to a nuclear war.What happened with Iran more closely resembles the period between the two World Wars. German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann could be compared to Iran's Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and his protégé Hasan Rouhani. Stresemann was a staunch German nationalist, but in order to free Germany from the limitations of the Versailles system, he had to appear moderate and accommodating.By pledging to respect the post-World War I borders (something he called theoretical, as Germany in the mid-1920s was in any case unable to attack), he was lionized as a peacemaker and shared the 1926 Nobel Peace Prize with Aristide Briand. However, the Nobel Prize winner was simultaneously conniving at Weimar Germany’s illegal rearmament organized by the Reichswehr.Germany evaded the Versailles restrictions by opening factories and training troops in the Soviet Union. Weimar Germany was a more open society than contemporary Iran and the German Social Democrats raised the issue on the Reichstag floor, nullifying Stresemann’s attempts to muzzle the issue. Even without the parliamentary debates and press reports, the French Deuxième Bureau had a pretty good idea about what was afoot. Indeed, as British historian Peter Jackson has demonstrated in his 2000 book, “France and the Nazi Menace,” France was not caught napping, while Germany rearmed; France was fully awake and chose not to act as Jackson concludes.“France’s political leadership was psychologically incapable of accepting the message they were receiving from military intelligence.To accept the Deuxième Bureau's interpretation of the European situation was to admit the likelihood of war. For a generation of politicians with vivid memories of the horrors of the last war, this was an extremely difficult, if not impossible, step to take.”Instead, as Hans Gatzke wrote in his “Stresemann and the Rearmament of Germany,” “They had to close their eyes to many things that went on in Germany, putting their trust in the good will of Stresemann.”The JCPOA was born in a similar state of paralysis. The ultimate argument of the deal’s proponents was that the alternative to the agreement was war, thus branding opponents as warmongers. In addition to Obama’s innate distrust of American power, he, like the French leaders in the 1920s and 1930s, considered the military option unthinkable. With the Europeans the situation was worse. A Pew survey taken in 2015 found that most Europeans opposed upholding Article 5 of the NATO treaty, meaning that they opposed declaring war if a fellow NATO member was invaded. They expected the US to do the heavy lifting in terms of military action. This anti-war sentiment was particularly strong in Italy, France and Germany, representing two of P5+1 states and the EU’s High Representative to the negotiations. If such pusillanimity was exhibited toward a conflict involving Europe itself, a conflict in the Middle East was totally unthinkable.This self-inflicted position of Western weakness allowed Iran to obtain a lopsided agreement. Although Israel, Netanyahu claims, has shared its Iranian haul with 22 other countries, there is little room for optimism. The problem is not hard intelligence but the courage to act upon it.