Friday, July 24, 2015

Appeasement Doesn't Appease

I’ve watched the negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran, as others, with horror. And puzzlement. 

The negotiations were pointless from the outset. There was stasis before. Sanctions prevented Iran from having the money to pursue its nuclear goals. The Iranian people recognized it was their leadership’s unwillingness to play nice on the world playground that was keeping them down, so they rightly blamed them instead of us. Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons, but was hindered by worldwide disapproval and pressure.

What did the US have to gain from entering into negotiations? What was so valuable that it was worth guaranteeing Iran would develop nuclear technology—along with weapon delivery technology? At least when a similar ridiculously bad negation led to North Korea getting nukes, it didn’t say, “And, by the way, you’ll want these accessories in order to hit distant targets.”

The “executive agreement” signed last week may go down in history as the worst negotiations between nations in the history of the world. I am not using hyperbole. (Nor am I the only one to think so: read here and here.) We went from being in the positive position that was keeping this rogue nation from getting nuclear technology to guaranteeing that they get it in a decade or sooner, along with capabilities to attack not just nearby nations but the United States, with our apparent approval.

And in exchange we got—and asked for—nothing. Not release of Americans being held captive. Not human rights improvements. Not meaningful inspections of nuclear technology development. In fact, rather than US inspectors getting their own samples of uranium, they will blithely accept samples offered to them by Iranian officials. Trust, but don’t verify.


Because this president wanted to have as a legacy a nuclear deal with Iran. Not a deal to prevent Iranian nukes, just any random agreement that includes discussion of Iranian nukes. And for no reason, really; it’s just part of his bucket list. And all of us are supposed to be willing to risk our not-too-distant-future world for the sake of his whimsical wish.

He wanted it so obsessively, he and Kerry were obviously desperate to sign, no matter what. Iran sat back, refusing everything that was supposed to be on the table. Death to Israel is still their policy toward our ally; that was OK with the Obama team. Continued nuclear program. Everything. Even the ICBMs that were thrown in at the last minute. They knew Obama and Kerry were desperate enough to accept any terms, under any conditions. And they took advantage. We’re lucky they didn’t think to add in, “Oh, by the way, Alaska now belongs to Russia.”

Here’s one description, by Matthew Continetti:

If the deal favors Iran which it unequivocally does—without so much as closing a nuclear facility, this rogue regime gets cash, legitimacy, and an end to U.N. bans on sales of conventional weapons and ballistic missile technology it is because Obama wanted desperately to pursue the diplomatic option and prove its validity.

When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue. We had hit bottom. Or so I thought. Then on Tuesday the final terms of the Iranian nuclear deal were published. I was wrong.
Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional-arms and ballistic-missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations?
Victor Davis Hanson, historian and classicist, draws the comparison to the Neville Chamberlain appeasement to Hitler. I think that is a too-kind way of looking at this. But he points out several things we know about appeasement, and how they are likely to play out:

·         First, appeasement always brings short-term jubilation at the expense of long-term security…. A few years from now—after Iran has used its negotiated breathing space to rearm, ratchet up its terrorist operations, and eventually gain a bomb to blackmail its neighbors—the current deal will be deeply regretted.
·         Second, the appeasement of autocrats always pulls the rug out from under domestic reformers and idealists…. Until last week, Iranian dissidents and reformers had blamed the theocracy for earning Iran pariah status abroad and economic ruin at home. Not now.
·         Third, appeasers always wrongly insist that the only alternative to their foolish concessions is war. Just the opposite is true. Time was not on Iran’s side. Teheran was growing desperate for financial and commercial relief from global sanctions and embargoes. In contrast, the world had no such urgency and could have easily waited for a cash-strapped and ostracized Iran to give up on a bomb…. Expect that in five years Iran will be better armed, richer, more confident, more aggressive—and nearly impossible to deter without the use of force.
·         Fourth, beneficiaries grow to hate their appeasers…. Under the rules of appeasement, an aggressor privately has only disdain for compromises that benefit him, and yet feels a weird sort of respect for those who deter him. Expect an emboldened Iran to double down on its anti-Americanism, as it brags about how a weak and decadent Great Satan meekly caved to its demands, which will only grow greater.
·         Fifth, allies are always the big losers in appeasement…. Our apprehensive friends and allies in the Middle East—the Gulf states and Egypt especially—will naturally, for their own protection, expect the same sort of nuclear deal that we accorded our enemy, Iran.  America is for a while longer out of Iranian missile range. Not so the Arab world, Israel, and perhaps southern and eastern Europe.
·         Finally, outside observers of appeasement always make the necessary geostrategic adjustments…. China and Russia will never again see any advantage in joining the West in embargoing and sanctioning a would-be nuclear state—not when such a hard-won common front can become utterly nullified at any moment by a fickle United States. Both powers will grow closer to Iran.

There is a very long list of things this president has done that are detrimental to America. This is beyond Obamacare. This is beyond using the IRS to target his political foes. This is beyond forcing nuns to pay for employees’ abortion-inducing drugs. Although it is hard to believe we live in a world where any of these things could happen in America, this is far worse. This is existential.

Obama calls this an “executive agreement,” rather than a treaty, so that he can bypass Congress. Still, he had promised Congress sixty days to go over the agreement (and disapprove with legislation which he would veto). But he broke his word (no surprise) after just a few days and sent it on to the UN Security Council, which approved it soundly—a clue that it’s a bad idea.

The deal is so clearly bad for America, so clearly the worst negotiation terms ever agreed to by people with free will, but what we do not know for certain is motivation.

It is possible that Obama and cohort Kerry actually believe America is a bad and evil actor on the world stage, and that the only way to be fair, if we can’t deprive ourselves of nuclear weapons, is to let all the other countries have them as well, including the "Death to America" radical enemies. It’s possible that they believe “the right side of history” is to recognize America is in decline and the decline is to be “managed,”—which we might have expected would mean “make the best of the bad situation” rather than “make it so.” They might think they’re the best people to run the ship when it needs to be run into the iceberg. They have expressed things that lead to these conclusions.

Or it’s possible that Obama HATES the very basis for this country—God-given human rights to life, liberty, property and ways of pursuing happiness. He hates the limits written plainly in the Constitution. He hates freedom, prosperity, and civilization. He hates anything that opposes him in whatever he wants to do for whatever reason. He wants America to fall into the dustbin of history. And he loves the evils of force, dictatorship, tyranny in every form—as long as he’s in power to tyrannize others.

Either he is the stupidest negotiator ever to lead a major nation, or he is much more evil than we could have imagined. Or a combination. Either way, he has set in motion arming radical Islamists and has facilitated their worldwide attacks. J’accuse.

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