It’s a done deal. At 7 a.m. this morning, Barack Obama made a televised appearance in which he announced that his “historic agreement that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon” had been finalized. A video of his remarks at whitehouse.gov was experiencing technical difficulty at the time of this writing, but luckily plenty of verbiage is available at the page to explain to realists why this move — irrespective of the limitations delineated below — isn’t just another arrow in Obama’s transformative quiver but a big win for the U.S. and the world.
For those who don’t like to read, there are pictures reminiscent of the posters in periodontists’ offices that good-naturedly admonish young children about will happen if they don’t take care of their teeth.
Here is one that shows two alternate universes, one in which a deal has been reached (signified by a handshake icon), and one in which it has not (signified by what looks like a down vote). Interestingly, the “with a deal” line is in blue, presumably indicating that it is a Democratic contrivance — hence, good — while the “without a deal” line is in red. Figure out the symbolism for yourself.
Here’s another drawing that is more convoluted but is intended to explain how the deal prevents Iran from building a nuclear program in secret.
So what could be bad? Unfortunately, there are no more pictures, but the downside of the deal is fairly easy to envision. First, there is the unhappy reality that the agreement could unfreeze more than $100 billion in Iranian assets, a consideration that has even the White House worried. An official with the State Department told the Daily Beast:
We are of course aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions.
Second, Iran is on our government’s own list of state sponsors of terrorism and recently expanded its military involvement across the region, supporting the Syrian regime, Palestinian Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Shiite militias in Iraq. The deal with the devil will not only further embolden a bad actor in the region, but the White House has been clear that its goal was “to keep the nuclear diplomacy separate from … its concerns about Iran’s role in supporting international terrorist groups.”
Ditto for human rights issues, which — third — leaves unresolved the fate of three American-Iranian citizens imprisoned in Tehran: Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati. The families of these detainees pressed diplomats in Vienna to tie any agreement to their release, but the administration wasn’t going to allow a few prisoners skunk Obama’s chance to include a foreign policy coup in his legacy.
Congress now has 60 days to review the agreement, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox News would be a ”very hard sell.” Before you settle into complacency over that reassurance, you may want to watch this instructive video clip from last night’s “Special Report with Bret Baier.” It doesn’t have pictures either but paints a very grim scenario nevertheless.
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