Obama couldn’t do better than this Iran deal? That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

The perfect metaphor for our negotiating position: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif leads British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and a hobbled John Kerry off the stage in Vienna Tuesday. (Carlos Barria / Pool Photo via AP)

The perfect metaphor for our negotiating position: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif leads British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and a hobbled John Kerry off the stage in Vienna Tuesday. (Carlos Barria / Pool photo via AP)

President Obama has his deal with Iran. That sentence was always going to be written one day, because no serious person believed, as Secretary of State John Kerry still insists, that Obama was willing to walk away from the table. Nothing about his actions in these negotiations — nor, really, during his presidency — suggests that was true.

So there was going to be a deal. And the question was always going to be whether it would be a relatively good deal (perfection in these matters is impossible) or a relatively bad deal. As details about the deal continue to emerge, I suggest your answer to that question depends on whether you believe the nature of the Iranian regime is likely to change in the next 15 years.

The central feature of this deal, it appears at this stage, is its series of expiration dates. First comes the expiration of the asset freeze that has kept some $100 billion (more than 25 percent of the county’s GDP; so, a heckuva lot of money) out of Tehran’s hands. Then comes the the expiration of a U.N. ban on conventional arms sales involving Iran, in no more than five years. After that, the expiration within eight years of a U.N. ban on ballistic-missile sales to Iran. Finally, the deal lasts only 10 years in total, albeit with a five-year wind-down afterward.

So the question is whether you believe the Iranian regime — which continues to sponsor terror against its sworn enemy Israel via the likes of Hezbollah, and to back Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the murder of his own people, among other examples of regional adventurism — will greet an infusion of money, new global respectability and lowered limits on its arms dealings as an opportunity to mellow out as it approaches middle age.

Obama spoke this morning of a deal “not built on trust, (but) on verification,” but that is almost certainly incorrect. First, the deal gives Iran another 24 days before inspections can begin, time to finish any scrubbing of the sites already under way. The inspections and other features of the deal intended to allow for verification — the stick to go along with the carrots — are premised on the idea of a “snapback” of sanctions. But these sanctions had only become effective after they had been in place about as long as this deal will last. And even in the unlikely event Russia (and China) would assent to reinstating sanctions, Iran will already have its money. The decade spent squeezing Iran to the point it had to negotiate has been traded for a decade-long deal that cannot repeat the rigor of those sanctions.

One constant in Obama’s foreign policy has been his complete misreading of the people with whom he has dealt. The “reset” with Russia only emboldened an already aggressive Vladimir Putin. The intervention in Libya yielded a more dangerous country overrun by terrorists. The chemical weapons “red line” in Syria was (and continues to be) summarily ignored by Assad. The “JV team” known as ISIS now seriously threatens the Iraqi security bought by much American blood and treasure. Our only unswerving ally in the Middle East, Israel, is viewed with contempt by the administration and has come to return the favor. Our more tenuous allies in the Gulf states are slowly concluding they cannot trust us any longer. Cuba is getting all the benefits of normalized relations with the U.S. even as the regime’s political enemies languish in its prisons. None other than Jimmy Carter deems the Obama presidency as one in which America has lost standing in the world.

Now we are to believe that Iran can be trusted to hold up its end of this bargain, because of untested verification measures to be implemented after the farm has already been given away. We’ll get right on that verification, just as soon as we secure the OPM website from foreign hackers.

In light of all this, maybe Obama’s supporters are right, and this was as good a deal as Obama could negotiate. More’s the pity, then, that you go to the negotiating table with the president you have, not the president you might wish to have.

Reader Comments 0

301 comments
Mf Pass
Mf Pass

All arms treaties are flawed, that's not the point. The point is to get nations like Iran, or organizations like Hammas, to have a dialogue with the rest of the world. That is the essential first step towards peace. By bringing the IRA to the legitimate bargaining table, England was able os broker a peace that, however fragile,, has held for two decades. But the fanatics in the GOP and the Israeli lobby do not want peace. Peace doesn't sell with those constitutes. 

LarryLinn
LarryLinn

Without this multinational agreement, Iran would continue with their development of nuclear weapons at a fast pace.

 

Raf111
Raf111

Reading these comments if I was Iranian I would want my country to have a nuke.  If the politicians are half as crazy and as the commentators here I would want to be well armed.

Juanx
Juanx

" In light of all this, maybe Obama’s supporters are right, and this was as good a deal as Obama could negotiate. More’s the pity, then, that you go to the negotiating table with the president you have, not the president you might wish to have.'


Kyle, and that President would be McCain, Romney, Bush? A recent interview with a prominent American historian states that President Obama will be viewed by historians as having made history, (just) for bringing allies to the table for discussion and a written draft agreement. Not the final agreement. When Tom Cotton had his missive to Iran shot down it merely complained, not recommended resolutions. Where was Cotton's President(s)? War is hell. We prefer President's Obama's solutions.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Juanx "President Obama will be viewed by historians as having made history"

That's not necessarily a good thing. Plenty of people are "viewed by historians as having made history" with ill results.

straker
straker

Dusty - "the war we won"


You have a very odd idea of what winning is.

Kerry_James
Kerry_James

The U.S. can inspect sites where and when Iran allows it.

Iran can continue to make nuclear weapons if it does not abide by the deal


How can the U.S. be sure Iran won't cheat?


It can't!

Helleva job Barrack.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kerry_James An musing way of looking at diplomacy. Has there ever been any "deal" between nations when one side could be SURE the other side would not cheat?

332-206
332-206

Kerry_James

7 hours ago

"The U.S. can inspect sites where and when Iran allows it."

Kerry, could you specify which section of the agreement supports that statement?

ClimpJones
ClimpJones

who cares. A year from now, if not sooner, Barney Fife Bozama will be that much further along for being the fraudster that he is.  

Dusty2
Dusty2

Awww Liberals got out of bed this morning with a bad disposition.  No wonder.  Trying to make the current capitulation to Iran look good is very hard to do. As to current world powers, we must be down to about six or seventh place.  All that great respect!!  HO hum...


But throw in remarks about Bush and Iraq ( the war we won in case you forgot) and try to elevate the opinions about Obama worldwide. and nation wise.  It's a tough burden to lift. 


But carry on.  Maybe we can overcome that giant Cuba and make peace agreements with Canada's Frenchies!!.  Both could bring more medals for the President, 'specially one from Russia with a smiley face on it.  At least ,Putin loves us!

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Dusty2  Awww Conservatives like Dusty2 have it easy. They just spit out something like "capitulation to Iran," do not bother with any reasoning, and they have their story and they will stick to it.

Quandry
Quandry

I have some questions.

Where were the Republicans during the negotiating?

What was their plan?How would they have enforced it?

We all know that Iran was NOT going to lay down their arms nor were they going to suddenly embrace Israel.

I don’t know if it’s a matter of a deal is better than no deal, but what I see is the continued Republican agenda where they want the President to crash and burn.

They want him to fail.How do you work with a group who does not want to work with you?

I know,  many would say that the President does not want to work with the Republicans, but he is not the one on record saying that he wants the Republicans to fail - but some of the Republicans are......

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

If the 'deal' was so great for the USA, why did Obama come out all defensive on JUly 14, and immediately start threatening the Congress  -- if they did not do what he wanted them to do? 

A larger question is now looming, and that is whether or not Obama is going to GIVE AWAY US sovereignty by allowing the UN to make the final decision -- WITHOUT the US Senate's stamp of approval (in accordance with the US Constitution)?

Will have to hand it to Obama.

He has managed to knock out many pillars that had made the USA the marvel of the world -- in less than seven years (and one to go). Cannot recall in my 76 years a more divisive society; more citizens no longer seeking work (98 million); less national defense (except for the first couple of years after our birth); and the total loss of confidence and trust in government and its institutions (as measured by Gallup 

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183593/confidence-institutions-below-historical-norms.aspx  ).


What a blooming mess this man has created, and sadly, believe it was done by design! He perceives himself as an elected dictator, and his disdain for the US Constitution is now VERY TRANSPARENT!

PS: By the way, what is the status of the four American citizens being held captive in Iran, including a former US Marine, and a Christian Pastor?Didn’t Obama state that he would not leave a ‘Soldier Behind’??

332-206
332-206

You paint a picture of a very powerful man, Pappy.

tnt65
tnt65

The only real information here is that Kyle doesn't like Obama...not much of an analysis.  The rest of it is inaccurate, hyper-exaggeration, and pure fantasy.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@332-206 Given that this is a deal that requires a great deal of trust, does that really surprise you?

Juanx
Juanx

@Kyle_Wingfield @332-206  ...no respect for the other members of this agreement team. America may have bigger guns but this was about diplomacy, not bullets. Typical Republican mentality, " do as I say, or else, I will kick you to the curb".

332-206
332-206

No. But more than disappointing, it's distressing for what it says about the state of our politics, and ability to govern ourselves.

Because the issue of trust should go to Iran, not the President. For all his shortcomings and mistakes, I feel the level of invective directed toward this President corrodes our system and process more than the man. Making the rest of us the loser, not the guy twice elected to America's highest office.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@332-206 "the issue of trust should go to Iran, not the President"

Yes, but if the only person who trusts Iran is the president, we end up back at the original point of whether you trust the president to be right about this.

Scrufffy
Scrufffy

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday claimed a major victory in his negotiations with the U.S. and other world powers, by noting that Iran will still be able to enrich uranium on its own soil under the nuclear agreement announced this week."

Yippee, Iran can enrich uranium all they want and they promise not to use it for bombs, and they will still be able to develop an ICBM to not deliver the nuke bomb that they are not developing. WHAT A DEAL!!

Obama is truly the "Enemy from Within".

332-206
332-206

"Yippee, Iran can enrich uranium all they want..."

Scrufffy, could you specify which section of the agreement supports that claim?

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

This "joke of a president" made a deal with the devil. This legacy issue will haunt him forever.

DannyX
DannyX

"that you go to the negotiating table with the president you have, not the president you might wish to have."


Gosh, I sure wish we had the President we wish we had.  Our foreign policy is now a joke.  With a Republican President we could have Shock and Awed Iran, spent 2 trillion dollars on a war with them which would be paid for with massive tax cuts.  With a Republican we could have a President the world hates, because that's how you win the world over.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@DannyX

Real Americans are more concerned with national security and less concerned with international popularity contests.

Obama has made us less safe by caving to the world's leading sponsor of Islamofascist terrorism.

It's all good as long as your hero wins his second (worthless) Nobel though, right?

332-206
332-206

Kyle decides it's sharp to channel one of Donald Rumsfeld's more infamous remarks.

Why? GOK...

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

At least you know what the deal is this time before criticizing.  You always look at these issues in a vacuum with no context whatsoever.  A Republican president wouldn't have done anything differently.  


1. Bush allowed Russia to invade Georgia in 2008.  The reset was to calm aggression.  It did not cause or embolden the aggression.  Putin has faced more punishment for Crimea than he did in Georgia.


2. Libya was going to be a mess anyway.  We are not stuck there.  The point was that we didn't want to be trapped in a country that we didn't care about.  Half of the countries in the world are a mess.  This is just another one of them.


3. Syria is Russia's closest ally.  We can't invade Syria just like Russia can't invade Israel.


4. ISIS is the JV team.  They are losing pretty bad, and that they are not complety defeated has nothing to do with Obama.  Obama has sent the authorization to use force to Congress.  Republicans actually have power to change this.  They demanded the authorization then did nothing because they don't want to be on the record. 


5. Cuban Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba.  We do business with Russia, the country that actually put the missiles in Cuba but not Cuba.  This is also part of a long term strategy to bring Cuba under the American umbrella once the Castros go.  The youngest brother is 84.  Cuba is about to turn over.


6. Israel is run by some not so great people.  I know you know that and don't care.  They can do no wrong whatsoever to you and your contingent.


NorthAtlanta
NorthAtlanta

@JFMcNamara

6. Israel is run by some not so great people.  I know you know that and don't care.  They can do no wrong whatsoever to you and your contingent.


------

Reading that tells anyone everything they need to know about you and your opinion.  Hyperbole and antisemitism and little else.  

leefrommeeks
leefrommeeks

In Iran's Holy Book it OK to lie to Christians, Jews and any non muslim. Only a fool would think that they are going to keep any part of this agreement.

jimbob22
jimbob22

Iran is a puppet government of the US and Britain, which is why the 'left' support it so much.  This same 'left' hates the Jews just as it has always done.


I hope Israel does whatever is necessary to preserve civil rights in palestine.

LDH2O
LDH2O

Obama's deal? Recall that the Britain, France, Germany, not to mention Russia and China signed on. Consider that France and Britain have more problems with Islamic fundamentalism than the US does but the signed the deal. Kind of proves the reality that is missing from Kyle's claims.

ByteMe
ByteMe

 The decade spent squeezing Iran to the point it had to negotiate has been traded for a decade-long deal that cannot repeat the rigor of those sanctions.

Factually not accurate.  We spent 1995-2005 was unilateral and targeting just nuclear work.  2005-2010 saw the involvement of the security council but still targeting individuals and certain companies related to their nuclear and energy work.  In 2011-2012, we got the UN security council to sanction the Iran government and state bank and military directly. That's when we really started to turn the screws.  So saying it took a decade to squeeze them is an error by omission.


And the "Obama is weak" meme is so tired and untrue.  You act like the US wants to go save Ukraine or Syria and you just don't have (and won't get) public support for that, so is "Obama" weak or is our current public desire to avoid further entanglements in foreign conflicts that don't really affect us and he's agreeing that he doesn't want to either?  Bush showed the world how easy it was to manipulate us into going to war and how hard it was to disengage from that war once it gets started.  Obama isn't taking advantage of us like that.

Dman
Dman

Negotiating with Iran is like negotiating with a modern day Hitler. Yeah, we got a deal done. Oh I feel so much safer now. Wake up people...

David West
David West


Israel wants war with Iran but they want the USA to fight it for them. No nuclear deal would ever be good enough for them. The Jewish Congress people, Senators and Republican War Nuts will try to stop this deal. They only want war per Israel’s request. I say don't let Israel force the USA into another war of choice that would last for decades. I say stop the on-going decade’s long wars of choice and don't start new wars of choice. War should only be started as a last resort. If our congress does vote for a new war over peace hopefully China and Russia will stop us.




DoctorJNB
DoctorJNB

The problem with the claim that "Obama couldn't do better than this deal" is that you could say the same thing about Neville Chamberlain and the 1938 Munich Accord with Germany.   It was the best agreement which could be wheedled out of the Germans at that time, and it provided a temporary (one year) respite from war.  But no agreement, even an immediate war, or tremendous sanctions and diplomatic isolation of Germany, would have been better for the Allies at that time, and the same applies to the current situation with Iran.


In 15 years that will become rather obvious... 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@DoctorJNB  A more inappropriate analogy than with the Munich Accord would be hard to find.

lvg
lvg

Interview with Joe Biden one week after W's Axis of evil speech about punishing Iraq, Iran and N. Korea as terrorist sponsors:  


"""We're told that the "axis of evil" line signalled a significant policy shift. Do you see it as that? If so, why now?

I don't see it as that. Within a week after that "axis of evil" speech the administration officials were talking about, publicly, "No, we want dialogue with Iran, we want dialogue with North Korea." In the president's Asian trip he went out of his way to point out that this did not preclude a dialogue. The night that he made the speech, all of us in my business assumed he meant, "That's it, no discussion. We're not talking." And I think that's how the people who were spinning his speech spun it.

But within a matter of two weeks, there was a -- I won't call it backpedaling because that's pejorative -- but I think there was a refinement of what they meant by it. ...

Do you think they overreacted to what they perceived to be what he wanted to say?

Well, you know, this is dangerous territory for me, guessing what the president's advisors meant and did. I can only speak to what my personal conversations with the president and his chief advisors, Condoleezza Rice and the Secretary of State, have been. Which is, [they] immediately let me know that this did not mean the president wasn't prepared to enter into serious discussions with anyone, including the Iranians and the North Koreans.""""

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tehran/axis/axis.html

332-206
332-206

Uh, ivg, you do understand that facts only provoke Teaanderthals, yes?

CarltonWest
CarltonWest

It is time to establish full diplomatic & trade relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to tell deadbeat Israel to go pound sand.

sssinff
sssinff

Typical GOP response:


"I don't know what's in the deal, but I don't like it."

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@sssinff And a typical mischaracterization in response.

I acknowledged that I didn't know everything in the deal, but that the known elements at the time did not inspire confidence. And nothing I've learned in the interim has given me more confidence in the deal.

332-206
332-206

Ah, you're revealing yourself as one who actually read Kyle's acknowledgement?

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

As someone who regularly attended Sunday School as a child, and also an as an adult, I was often, amazed, perplexed, and confounded, etc. when we studied the Old and New Testament Bible prophecies about the End Days,  and how that in the end, the whole, entire world would turn against Israel.


I always thought and believed that to be a fantasy. I thought that even if the rest of the world turned against Israel, the United States would never ever do that. And if it did, it would be long after my life had ended . . .  I once thought that. But that was several decades ago. And things can certainly change, and they change faster these days than ever before in history. 


Today, it became very clear how the entire world, lead by the United States, of all nations,  will turn against Israel, as prophesied in the Bible. And that, coupled with the clear  beginning of the decline of the United States - as in the decline of the Roman Empire (laugh if you want, but study a little world history before you do,  because the close comparisons just might rattle you a bit)  - will leave Israel no where else to turn, other than where the Bible says it will turn - and the cataclysm that will follow. 


The Bible prophesied that the Jews, after the Diaspora that occurred two thousand years ago, and  against all odds (including the Holocaust), would return and take back Israel. And they did. And, I  am betting today that the entire world will turn against Israel, as prophesied. as then End Times approach, and based on today's news, America will lead the way. 

332-206
332-206

Isn't Rexella pretty?

Raf111
Raf111

@Ficklefan Don't bring your fairy tales into an adult conversation.