[Major] Garrett’s question [at Obama’s news conference on the Iran deal], though loaded, was legitimate; one of those being held on bogus charges in Iran is Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief. And Obama’s answer was revealing: Full of Sturm und Drang, he ultimately acknowledged that the United States just doesn’t have the clout to enforce its will.
This was an undercurrent of the whole news conference Wednesday afternoon, and of Obama’s overall defense of the Iran deal. He was tough and strong, but in service of the argument that American power is limited — that this is the best deal we could get with our declining leverage. His defenders call it realism; it also may amount to ratifying retreat.
Obama took on those who said a better deal would have stripped Iran of all nuclear capability. “The problem with that position is that there is nobody who thinks that Iran would or could ever accept that, and the international community does not take the view that Iran can’t have a peaceful nuclear program,” he said. “And so we don’t have diplomatic leverage.”