Wishful thinking is neither a credible geopolitical strategy nor a reason to enrich extremist dictators

Today, a friend of mine and a well-meaning supporter of the Iran Deal, a person that I know genuinely doesn’t want to see Israel destroyed or Iranian ICBM’s with nuclear warheads aimed at and threatening America, shared with me an article entitled “Nuclear Deal Could Transform Iran” by Nader Hashemi. This friend told me that “[t]his article sums up what I think on Iran” and he added, “I just don’t believe Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map.” Sadly, the delusion and baseless speculation represented by this article (and my friend’s disbelief about the Iranian regime’s murderous intentions) seem to be the principle reasons for people (who don’t just want to empower a radical Islamist regime with the means to make good on its leaders’ repeated threats to “wipe Israel off the map”) to support the P5+1 (and IAEA secret) agreements with Iran.

With respect to the failure to believe that Iran’s leaders want to wipe Israel off the map, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said it best when he was asked what he learned from his survival of the Holocaust. His reply, “When someone says they want to kill you, believe them.”

Sadly, Jewish history is full of both Jews and well-meaning non-Jews mistakenly dismissing the threats made by extreme Jew haters to mass-murder Jews. It is remarkable and exceptionally frightening that during Eli Wiesel’s lifetime, we get to once again hear people dismiss as “mere rhetoric” a radical dictator’s threat to murder millions of Jews.

As for the article that my friend said “sums up what [he] thinks [on the Iran deal],” it is remarkably flawed and mistaken.

First, its very title reveals this article’s fundamental flaw — the “Nuclear Deal Could Transform Iran” (emphasis added). So the entire premise for the author’s (and apparently my friend’s) support for the deal with Iran is that it COULD transform Iran. Complete and utter speculation, nothing more, that this deal will somehow transform a brutal dictatorship. Since it took over Iran 36 years ago, this dictatorship has never wavered from its repressive ideology, has supported radical Islamist terrorism all over the world, has murdered more than 6,000 people simply for being Gay, and it brutally murdered many of its own citizens in the street just 6 years ago for the crime of engaging in peaceful protests. This regime, because of a deal that makes the Mullahs richer and more powerful militarily, will “transform” into a nicer, friendlier, and more democratic government.

If that speculation itself is not bad enough, the article supports its premise that this hope for a miraculous transformation of one of the most dangerous dictatorships in the world is worth it because according to the author the agreement actually “cuts off Iran’s pathway to a [nuclear] bomb.” Sadly, that is not even remotely accurate. The agreement actually provides Iran two paths to the bomb. One, through compliance with the agreement for 12 years, where thereafter Iran will be a threshold military nuclear power with a one to four week breakout time to multiple nuclear bombs. The second path, which is far more likely and has been made quite easy by this awful agreement, is by cheating. And to be clear, this agreement with its secret side deals with the IAEA, the failure to require the dismantling of most of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in exchange for the gradual dismantling of the sanctions regime, and the completely ridiculous 30 to 85 day notice period for any inspections of suspicious sites in Iran, all make cheating by Iran incredibly likely.

On top of that, the agreement with Iran provides no disincentive for Iran to cheat because the agreement: (a) provides that sanctions can be restored only for “significant non-performance” by Iran (meaning Iran can apparently cheat without it being “significant” and the agreement doesn’t specify what the Security Council or the IAEA should consider “significant”); (b) provides for all of the sanctions relief upfront; and (c) protects (meaning, ‘grandfathers’) from any new sanctions any contracts that Iran signs with foreign governments or companies before it is determined that Iran engaged in “significant non-performance.”

On top of misrepresenting that this agreement “cuts of Iran’s path to the bomb” the author of this wishful thinking article wants Americans to support the proposed agreement with Iran because of his claim that many “hardliners” in Iran are voicing their opposition to this deal and their supposed belief that Iran got run over by the P5+1 in this agreement. President Obama said essentially the same thing yesterday when he sadly (and to his everlasting discredit) compared “hardliners” in the Iranian regime to American Republicans when he said “It’s those hard-liners chanting ‘death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal.” And then President Obama added: “They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.”

Setting aside the awful comparison of Republicans in Congress to Iranian hardliners, the incredible failure by President Obama to comprehend that the Iranian regime is itself a “hardliner” and that the “Supreme Leader” of Iran himself (who is the dictator that agreed to this deal) is one of the “hardliners” regularly chanting for and (in his own words) praying for “death to America,” displays how badly basing a strategy on hope and speculation can cloud one’s judgment.

Our President and Mr. Hashemi (and others that make “common cause” with them in support of this deal) apparently both believe that in a brutal dictatorship where political prisoners are regularly executed for voicing any disagreement with the regime that there are nevertheless “hardliners” (who are more “hardline” than the “Supreme Leader”) that are really upset about this agreement and are therefore publicly and loudly voicing their concern about what a defeat for Iran this agreement represents. Really? Does that seem likely? In America, Europe and Israel people can and regularly do publicly criticize their government. In dictatorships, however, when such public criticism or complaints occur it either results in an arrest and delivery to the “gulag” or it is a ploy for consumption by the gullible and wishful thinking members of our media.  If these “hardliners” were truly upset about this deal and were truly criticizing the “Supreme Leader” without his permission, does anyone really think they would be long for this world?

More importantly, why would any Iranian “hardliner” be against this deal? Two years ago Iran was dealing with crippling banking sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress (against President Obama’s wishes), which had Iran’s economy and the hardline radical Shiite regime on the brink of extinction for Iran engaging in illegal nuclear development and enrichment activity.  Notably much of what we now know about Iran’s nuclear activity at numerous illicit sites that Iran for years had refused to admit exist, we discovered due to Western intelligence breakthroughs and information provided to us by Iranian defectors.

Now, however, thanks to this proposed agreement and the capitulation of the Kerry-led negotiating team, Iran is going to get complete sanctions relief within 6 months without having to do almost anything (let alone demonstrate continued compliance), get international approval of Iran’s (up till now) illicit nuclear program, barely have to dismantle any of their current nuclear infrastructure, get hundreds of billions of dollars to spend on their military and terror proxies, massive room for cheating, ability to work on advanced centrifuges, relief from all conventional arms and ICBM embargos within 5-8 years, and in 12 years or at the time of their choosing (just like North Korea in 2006) announce to the world that they are a military nuclear power (with a lot of money and the best weapons and ICBMs money can buy).

So it bears repeating: why would any Iranian “hardliner” be opposed to a deal that within less than 15 years ensures that Iran can be an incredibly rich military and nuclear power when only two years ago their economy and their regime was on the brink of collapse?

Unfortunately, even the highly suspect assertion that there are numerous “hardliners” in Iran that are genuinely opposed to this deal pales in comparison to the absurdity of the notion that making this brutal Iranian regime, its military, its terror proxies and its secret police all incredibly rich under this agreement (to the tune of over a trillion dollars in 10 years) will somehow enhance democracy in Iran, demonstrates a breathtaking lack of understanding of history and what animates this repressive regime. The Soviet Union fell in large part because its economy collapsed. If its economy was handed a lifeline by the West when its economy was on the brink, then the U.S.S.R. would likely be holding Refusniks in jail to this very day.

By the same token, the Chinese dictators are very rich. We have heard this Administration express its hope that because of this nuclear deal that Iran will no longer be isolated and will become part of the “international community.” Well, China is not isolated and it is certainly part of the international community and global economy; yet, it remains incredibly repressive. In fact, China may be the only country that actually executes more political prisoners than Iran. And because of the size and strength of its military and its economy China is becoming bolder and more aggressive with its territorial ambitions in the Pacific. Why does anyone in President Obama’s administration expect an Iran, whose regime is entirely animated by a desire to spread an 8th Century version of Shiite Islam all over the world, to behave better when it becomes more powerful economically and militarily?

This article cited too appreciatively by my well-meaning but misguided friend references a vast pro-democratic middle class in Iran that the author believes will be supposedly strengthened by this deal. Again, this appears to be pure wishful thinking without any basis in history. Radical dictatorships don’t fall or become less radical when they get richer. And the “pro-democratic middle class” in Iran is lamentably irrelevant. If the Mullahs can keep the Iranian economy moving along because of this deal (and the collapse of the sanctions) then they will increase their power and hold on the country, not lose or loosen it.

Bottom line: this agreement does not in any way, shape or form “block” Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. It insures that a very rich and much more powerful Iran can have a nuclear arsenal within 10 to 15 years (or earlier, if it decides to cheat sooner rather than later); and to rationalize that America should enter into this awful agreement based on the wishful thinking and pure speculation that making Iran much richer and much more powerful militarily will somehow make it more democratic and less committed to the annihilation of Israel and the USA (and to Radical Shiite Jihad) is beyond irresponsible. It is madness.  And it is a madness that hopefully more than two-thirds of the U.S. Congress will have the courage to reject (despite the President comparing those that question this deal to Iranian “hardliners”).

About the Author
Micha Danzig is a practicing attorney in San Diego and board member of T.E.A.M. (Training & Education About the Middle East). He is also active with Stand With Us and a former soldier in the IDF.
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