As the negotiations between President Obama and Iran gather momentum I experience a combination of bewilderment, disappointment and grave concern. The Iranians are expert negotiators with strategic, long term thinking and patience. Even from the perspective of the casual observer it seems clear that their recent demonstration of dominance over American commercial vessels in the Straits of Hormuz, their toughening of their negotiating stance at critical junctures, their brazen military support for Hizbollah in Syria and Lebanon and of course the violence in Yemen and their unrelenting calls for the destruction of America and Israel would seem to be a red light…or at least a blinking red light.
President Obama’s myopic view of the goals of the negotiations demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Iran’s motives and what is important. The very simple facts are this: 1) Even if Iran complies with the conditions of the agreement it is time limited, i.e. ten years. There is no evidence to suggest that their geopolitical goals of financing terror will change for the better in the next decade. 2) Once sanctions are lifted they will have more money to support Hizbollah, Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. So the outcome of dropping sanctions, in the best case scenario (in the absence of a very good deal), would be development of a nuclear bomb by the strongest terror state in the world after the 10 year period and increased support for terror in the meantime and of course the desire and probably actions of other unstable and volatile fundamentalist Islamic states in the region to develop the same. Iran also knows that they can achieve their goals of developing nuclear weapons capacity while Obama can simultaneously achieve his goal of “getting to an agreement.” They are different but not contradictory goals.
Anyone who has bargained in the Shuk understands the dynamics of negotiation. Start with a position that it untenable, bargain back and forth and get your opponent to become more interested in a deal than in the final terms. Once your opponent is more interested in closing the deal, change the terms a bit to your advantage.
A further indication that “the agreement” is more important to President Obama than the outcome and content is his attempt to placate some of the most repressive regimes in the world with an offer of selling the most advanced stealth technology in order to placate those countries in advance of a terrifying outcome to the negotiations. Specifically, the consideration and perhaps offer of selling F35s to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is no reason to believe that these countries will not become even more radicalized and that these F35s will not be turned against Israel. Mr. Obama, please explain how selling F35s to Saudi Arabia and the UAE fits into your moral code but your disappointment with a Hamas affiliated rule in Egypt that was overthrown meant that you had to withhold military aid from Egypt. It would be fascinating to see the moral math on this.
President Obama started his career as a Community Organizer in Chicago. A few hours north of Chicago, in Wisconsin, the Center for Community Change wrote a paper entitled “Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots.” This paper lays out ten principles of community organizing. Number six states, “6. Sometimes winning is losing.” Mr. Obama, this loss will be costly, perhaps not to you personally but to the world you leave behind you.