Most psychologists will tell you that “self-deception” is enabled by rationalization and that rationalization is the use of weak but seemingly plausible arguments either to justify something that is difficult to accept or to make it seem like it is OK or even good.
In The Long Tomorrow (set in the aftermath of a nuclear war), Leigh Brackett wrote: “There’s never been an act done since the beginning, from a kid stealing candy to a dictator committing genocide, that the person doing it didn’t think he was fully justified. That’s a mental trick called rationalizing, and it’s done the human race more harm than anything else you can name.” Sadly, last week was certainly a banner week for those who enjoy gross rationalizations and justifications for doing things that any person with a moral compass should know are wrong.
First, we learned on Friday (August 21, 2015) that Congressman Jerrold Nadler was so impressed by President Obama’s personal letter and assurances to him that he decided to vote in favor of the Iran deal. Then on Sunday (August 23, 2015), we saw British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond express his “delight” to be in the Iranian capital for the reopening of the British Embassy and for being the first ministerial visitor from Britain to Tehran in over a decade.
In explaining their respective positions, both Nadler and Hammond displayed the same weak rationalizations and self-deception that people and nations have always made when they compromise their values and engage in conduct that flies in the face of their values.
Before receiving President Obama’s August 19th open letter to him with the President’s “assurances” (and whatever behind the scenes pressure was imposed on him by the leader of the Democratic Party and the most powerful person in the world) Congressman Nadler was expressing concerns about a deal with the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, a deal that clearly does not verifiably and completely cut off every possible path to a nuclear bomb. On August 21, however, Representative Nadler wrote that he “concluded that, of all the alternatives, approval of the JCPOA [otherwise known as the “Iran Deal”], for all its flaws, gives us the best chance of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” Nadler’s reasons for reaching this conclusion are textbook examples of willful rationalization and self-deception.
First, it is important to note that Congressman Nadler’s statement followed the revelation by the Associated Press (AP) that of the many secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA, which are part of this Iran deal, the secret side deal regarding the Parchin nuclear facility incredibly bars IAEA inspectors from Parchin, where nuclear weapons development has long been suspected, and lets Iran inspect the site itself. Rather than having IAEA inspectors collect soil samples and evidence at Parchin, Iran will be collecting samples from Parchin, using Iranian personnel and Iranian equipment. Rather than allowing the IAEA to collect everything it wants from wherever it wants in Parchin, under the secret side deal, only seven samples will be handed over by Iran from locations Iran chooses. And rather than giving IAEA inspectors’ unfettered access to Parchin, photos and videos will be taken only from locations the Iranians agree to and these photos and videos will only be taken by Iranian personnel.
This should be enough to make any person concerned with actually “stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon” conclude that this deal is beyond just “flawed,” it is fatally stupid. After all, that would be the equivalent of letting athletes competing in the Olympics, decide when to: test themselves for steroids, collect their own urine samples, conduct the tests themselves, and then report to the Olympics committee on the results of their tests. If the IOC agreed to such testing for steroids or performance enhancing drugs for any country participating in the Olympics, there would (correctly) be an uproar over how naïve and stupid such a protocol would be. Yet for testing military nuclear activity – by a genocidal regime that has been working on nuclear weapons for 20 years in violation of its previous IAEA commitments and obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — this ludicrous “self-testing/self-inspection” somehow is OK?
Incredibly, Congressman Nadler’s statement in support of his decision to vote for the Iran deal fails to even address the secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA. At the same time, that Congressman Nadler fails to address the secret side deal on Parchin, he repeats over and over again throughout his statement (with his many rationalizations for why he is voting in favor of the Iran deal) some version of the following statement (which first appears on page 2 of Nadler’s statement) “the JCPOA components, including its inspections and verification provisions, are sufficient and are not based on trusting Iranian compliance.” So Congressman Nadler repeatedly refers to the JCPOA’s “components” but ignores that the secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA which are an integral part of the inspection and verification regime in the JCPOA and he glaringly ignores that the only side deal he (or any other member of Congress) has read is the one discovered by the AP regarding Parchin, and it allows Iran to inspect itself. Talk about self-deception… this is self-delusion!
Another whopper by Congressman Nadler is where he admits that Iran “sponsors terrorism, threatens the destruction of Israel, backs regimes guilty of human rights abuses [also a whopper of an understatement given that Syria’s Assad Regime has killed over 200,000 of its own citizens] and foments instability throughout the region.” But yet Nadler goes on to rationalize his decision by claiming that the Iran deal “is not intended to … solve these problems.” Not intended to solve these problems? How about the fact that it massively exacerbates these problems? How about the fact that by adding approximately $1 trillion dollars to the Iranian Mullahs’ coffers, which this deal allows them to spend on anything they want, including weapons for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Syria, Hezbollah, etc., this deal makes it far more likely that Iran will be a much more dangerous foe to America and our allies than it is currently?
Congressman Nadler does not explain how this makes sense given the fact that in exchange for this largess, Iran does not have to dismantle and give up on its nuclear infrastructure, which clearly would be the only way to (as Congressman Nadler put it) “verifiably and completely cut off every possible path to a nuclear bomb.”
After ignoring the secret-side deals and how much help this deal is going to give Iran’s unrepentant and rapacious Mullahs with their pursuit of their murderous Jihadist agenda, Congressman Nadler then rationalizes away the fact that this Iran deal frontloads the sanctions (and has a cumbersome virtually impossible “snapback” provision) with the incredible statement that “[t]he lifting of sanctions was always expected if we reached a deal.” What Congressman Nadler conveniently forgets (as he deceives himself into supporting this admittedly “flawed” deal) is that the Congress itself stated that these sanctions should only be dismantled when the Iranian regime dismantles its military nuclear infrastructure. Not a minute before. And certainly not within the first 6-9 months of a deal that doesn’t require the Iranians to permanently destroy any of the products of their illicit nuclear activities of the last 20 years.
Congressman Nadler also claims that lifting the ballistic missile embargo on Iran “must be considered part of what is necessary to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb.” Setting aside that a few paragraphs later Congressman Nadler acknowledges that even if the Iranians don’t cheat on this deal (as they have done with every other international agreement over the last 20 years) that under this deal Iran will have a clear path to a nuclear bomb in just 10-15 years, Nadler’s rationalization ignores the fact that Iran does not have any need to hold onto its military nuclear infrastructure or have ICBMs if they were truly giving up on developing nuclear bombs. What does Congressman Nadler think the Iranians plan on putting in the ICBMs that this horrid deal allows them to develop? The question answers itself (unless you are deep into a stupor of self-deception).
The most egregious of Congressman Nadler’s rationalizations, comes in his statement when he repeats the claim from the personal letter he received from the Rationalizer-In-Chief, that “[e]ven after 15 years, the options available to a future President to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb would be, at worst, no different or more restrictive than the options available now.”
This rationalization is so obviously false and so enormously silly, that it should be grounds for immediate dismissal and disqualification from public office of any person that utters it. If this deal is implemented, then the options available to a future U.S. President in 10-15 years in dealing with a genocidal, Jihadist regime sprinting towards the completion of its nuclear arsenal will not be worse than they are today??? Has our President and Congressman Nadler forgotten that under this deal Iran will have ICBMs in about 5-8 years? Heck, in about 90 days (thanks to this deal) Iran will have the most advanced air-defense system in the world, which it is buying from the Russians.
Without this deal, this extraordinary capitulation to the Iranians, the Iranian military would be left with its largely depleted arsenal of outdated and obsolescent weapons (resulting from 30 years of wars and sanctions). Now thanks to this deal, Iran is planning on a military shopping spree. So in addition to the Russian S-300 surface to air missile system, which will make any future attack on Iran’s nuclear arsenal much more dangerous and less likely to succeed, in a matter of years, Iran will have the most advanced weapons that Russia and China possess. And just a few weeks after this deal was signed with the P5+1, Iranian officials were bragging that Iran vows to buy weapons “wherever and whenever possible” and that Iran will sell arms to “whomever it considers appropriate.”
10-15 years from now — after Iran has been enriched by over a trillion dollars thanks to this deal and has spent much of those dollars on the most advanced weapon systems in the world and has ICBMs that can reach targets anywhere in the world, including the USA, and has further hidden and strengthened the underground bunkers protecting its nuclear program — the options available to any future president to deal with Iran would plainly be materially different and more restrictive than they are today. The fact that two intelligent men like Congressman Nadler and President Obama could claim otherwise may be perhaps the greatest example of rationalization and self-deception since Samson convinced himself that Delilah loved him. Samson’s self-deception led, however, only to his demise. President Obama’s and Congressman Nadler’s delusions could lead to much worse. Unthinkably worse.
At the same time that we were digesting Congressman Nadler’s rationalizations and delusional justifications for his decision to side with President Obama on the “flawed” Iran deal, we got to hear Foreign Minister Hammond express his “delight” to be in Tehran for the opening of the British Embassy. While celebrating the opening of the British Embassy in the capital of the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism and proponent of genocidal Jew-hatred, Hammonds also said: Iran is “a major regional player that can be an ally in fighting terrorism,” and “Iran is too large a player, too important a player in this region, to simply leave in isolation,” and that Iran and the United Kingdom “agreed on the need to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).”
In the mid to late 1930’s there many among the British elites and political class that believed the Nazis had legitimate grievances and that if they could reach an accord or understanding with the Nazis (and “Herr Hitler”) that Nazi Germany could be an important ally of the British in the fight against Communism, which many in Britain viewed as a far greater threat than Nazism. Those same delusional British elites chose to rationalize or ignore the expansionist rhetoric of the Nazis and the disgusting racist and anti-Semitic ideology that animated the Nazis. In order to rationalize their appeasement of the Nazis and their desire to incorporate the Nazis in their fight against their common enemy in the U.S.S.R., the British deluded themselves into thinking that the Nazi beast could be tamed and that over time it would soften its virulent ideology and become a bulwark against the Communists. We all know how that turned out.
Today, Foreign Minister Hammond says with a straight face that he believes the Iranian Mullahs and their Revolutionary Guard, which sponsor and support Islamist terrorism throughout the world, can be an ally in the fight against terrorism. This is almost as delusional as President Obama’s claim that in 10 years a future president will have the same options available to him or her as he presently does to deal with an Iranian “dash toward a nuclear weapon.” Further, demonstrating the power and danger of rationalizations, and ignoring the countless times before last week that the Iranian regime has made clear that it is the new standard bearer of virulent irrational Jew-hatred (that has tragically diseased the minds of totalitarians throughout the last 2000 years) Hammond said after the opening of the British Embassy in Tehran that he believes Iran really has a “more nuanced approach” to Israel’s existence. Hammond added that he felt that “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “revolutionary sloganizing” should be distinguished from “what Iran actually does in the conduct of its foreign policy.”
As his predecessors-in-shame in the British Foreign Ministry did before him in the 1930s, Hammond’s rationalizations about the Iranian regime ignore the actual conduct of the Iranian regime (providing massive support for terrorist organizations whose principle purpose is to destroy Israel and kill Jews, supporting an Assad regime that has already murdered over 200,000 people, planning terror operations all over the world that target Jews, organizing Holocaust Denial Conferences, etc.) as well as the expansionist, Shi’ite Supremist, Jew-hating ideology that is at the core of the Iranian Mullahcracy. As if the countless times various members of the Iranian regime have made clear that there is no daylight between them and the Supreme Leader’s “revolutionary sloganizing” about destroying Israel were not enough, just one day after Hammond’s visit, Hussein Sheikholeslam, a foreign affairs adviser to Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, said in response to Hammond’s remarks, “[o]ur positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan.” Sheikholeslam also added: “we reject the existence of any Israeli on this earth.”
Of course, none of us should hold our breath waiting for Foreign Minister Hammond to wake up to his self-deception as a result of Sheikholeslam’s rebuke and reminder of the genocidal nature of the Iranian regime. Hammond will continue to rationalize that this is just “revolutionary sloganizing.” Just the British and French back in the 1930s ignored and rationalized away the Nazi’s expansionist, genocidal and racist ideologies, the British elites and President Obama (and his Administration) have ignored and rationalized away the Iranian regime’s ideology, its Shi’ite messianism and end-times extremism. British and French rationalizations and self-deception gave Nazi Germany three more years to beef up and strengthen its military before the horrors of WWII began, and the current rationalizations of our leaders in the West will enable Iran to become a nuclear apocalyptic Shi’ite regime with billions, if not trillions of dollars coming to it as a result of these dangerous delusions. Money Iran will spend not only on further developing and strengthening its nuclear program, but also on its terror proxies and military, which Iran will have at its disposal to protect its nuclear program.
As renowned radio personality, author and political commentator Dennis Prager has often said, there can be nothing more dangerous than the world’s most dangerous regimes with the world’s most dangerous weapons. Thanks to the rationalizations and delusions of politicians like President Obama, Congressman Nadler and Foreign Minister Hammond, we are on the doorsteps of a deal that will enable the world’s most dangerous regime having the world’s most dangerous weapons as well as a very powerful and modern military and military infrastructure to protect it. At this point, we have to hope and pray that enough of Congressman Nadler’s colleagues in Congress don’t engage in the same rationalizations, and that Congress can muster up the votes and the institutional courage to stop this rationalized capitulation to evil.