President Obama used NY Times Columnist Tom Friedman as a conduit to download his defense of last week’s Iran deal (I guess Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic was busy). Published in Sunday’s NY Times the interview was little more than a public display of adoration and an opportunity for the President to whine about how the Jews aren’t nice to him anymore.
In this supposed interview Friedman didn’t ask one tough question about the Iran deal. He didn’t ask why Iran is not closing a single nuclear facility, not one centrifuge gets dismantled, or some of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium gets “converted” but all of it stays in the country. Friedman didn’t ask why Iran’s infrastructure remains intact, or why Iran gets to continue it’s nuclear research, the ballistic missile program continues.
Friedman didn’t ask Obama about the disagreements between Iran and the U.S. as to what was actually in the agreement as laid out by the Times of Israel:
1. Sanctions: Ya’ari said the US has made clear that economic sanctions will be lifted in phases, whereas the Iranian fact sheet provides for the immediate lifting of all sanctions as soon as a final agreement is signed, which is set for June 30. (In fact, the US parameters state that sanctions will be suspended only after Iran has fulfilled all its obligations: “US and EU nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.” By contrast, the Iranian fact sheet states: “all of the sanctions will be immediately removed after reaching a comprehensive agreement.”)
2. Enrichment: The American parameters provide for restrictions on enrichment for 15 years, while the Iranian fact sheet speaks of 10 years.
3. Development of advanced centrifuges at Fordo: The US says the framework rules out such development, said Ya’ari, while the Iranians say they are free to continue this work.
4. Inspections: The US says that Iran has agreed to surprise inspections, while the Iranians say that such consent is only temporary, Ya’ari said.
5. Stockpile of already enriched uranium: Contrary to the US account, Iran is making clear that its stockpile of already enriched uranium — “enough for seven bombs” if sufficiently enriched, Ya’ari said — will not be shipped out of the country, although it may be converted.
6. PMD: The issue of the Possible Military Dimensions of the Iranian program, central to the effort to thwart Iran, has not been resolved, Ya’ari said. (The US parameters make two references to PMD. They state, first: “Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.” And they subsequently add: “All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordo, Arak, PMD, and transparency).” The Iranian fact sheet does not address PMD.)
Friedman did allow Obama to cry about how sad he is that many Jews believe he is anti-Israel:
“This is an area that I’ve been concerned about,” the president said. “Look, Israel is a robust, rowdy democracy. … We share so much. We share blood, family. … And part of what has always made the U.S.-Israeli relationship so special is that it has transcended party, and I think that has to be preserved. There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as … opposing Israel. There has to be a way for Prime Minister Netanyahu to disagree with me on policy without being viewed as anti-Democrat, and I think the right way to do it is to recognize that as many commonalities as we have, there are going to be strategic differences. And I think that it is important for each side to respect the debate that takes place in the other country and not try to work just with one side. … But this has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.”
Funny Tommy didn’t ask Obama about his administration breaking a deal about settlements Israel had with the US, or all of his one sided actions or criticism. Friedman also didn’t ask specifics on why the Jewish People think he is anti-Israel. If the columnist needed some help he could have read this blog.
You take it personally? I asked.
“It has been personally difficult for me to hear … expressions that somehow … this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest — and the suggestion that when we have very serious policy differences, that that’s not in the context of a deep and abiding friendship and concern and understanding of the threats that the Jewish people have faced historically and continue to face.”
Oh boy, I think I am going to cry I feel so bad.
After reading this interview I have a suggestion for the NY Times to save some money. Next time Obama wants to give the paper an interview, have him write it himself. There would be little difference between that interview and the one done by Thomas Friedman.
Cross-posted at The Lid.