While the media waits for word from the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, a much more important deadline is looming.
We refer to the Monday deadline for reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. At this point, the Obama Administration appears determined to reach any sort of deal, regardless of how bad it might be. Writing at National Review, Fred Fleitz warns that any prospective accord may represent little more than a complete capitulation to Tehran:
Many in Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — are coming to the realization that the nuclear talks amount to a dangerous U.S. sellout to Tehran. But few of them realize how far this sellout has gone.
The reported American concessions to Tehran represent a stunning reversal of years of U.S. policy and include implicitly recognizing Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium, allowing Iran to operate 6,000 uranium centrifuges, and dropping longtime Western demands that Iran halt construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor, which will be a source of plutonium when completed. Iran also will not be forced to give up its large stockpile of reactor-grade uranium that currently could be used to make at least eight nuclear weapons if further enriched to weapons-grade.
Based on the enormous concessions offered by the United States last fall to get Iran to the negotiating table, further U.S. concessions made during this year’s talks, Iran’s failure to cooperate with the IAEA, and its cheating on the interim agreement, many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle believe that any nuclear agreement struck with Iran will be weak and unverifiable and will do little or nothing to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.
Mr. Fleitz, a veteran intelligence officer, believes the White House's desperation for any sort of nuclear deal reflects bleak assessments on two fronts. First, there's the realization that Mr. Obama has allowed the world to become a much more dangerous place on his watch, and needs some sort of "accomplishment" to counter-balance a legion of blunders. A nuclear deal with Iran would (supposedly) represent a rare, foreign policy triumph.
Secondly, there appears to be a growing consensus among administration officials--and policy wonks who share their world view--that a nuclear Iran is inevitable, and containment represents the best policy. Those dangerous beliefs, Mr. Fleitz observes, were recently articulated in op-ed pieces by a pair of liberal pundits, Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution and Paul Pillar, a faculty member at Georgetown University. Both are former CIA officers who argue that the threat from a nuclear Iran has been "over-hyped," and can actually be contained, similar to the strategy used for decades against the former Soviet Union.
Both Pollack and Pillar believe it is unlikely that Iran would share nuclear technology--or finished weapons--with other rogue states and terrorist groups. They also claim it would take Iran decades to match Israel's nuclear arsenal, while Jerusalem could easily add to its stockpile and is currently deploying more delivery platforms, including submarines capable of firing cruise missiles.
There are obvious dangers in this line of thinking (and we use that term advisedly). It's a given that Tehran has a much different world view than the Soviet leaders who paraded their weapons through Red Square, but thought very carefully about using them. Iran remains committed to becoming the regional hegemon of the Middle East, and its generally agreed that Tehran would employ nuclear weapons more quickly against such adversaries as Israel--or U.S. military forces in the Persian Gulf.
And, having used terrorist proxies to fight its foes for more than 30 years, why should anyone doubt Iran's willingness to share nuclear technology with them, particularly when the U.S. has a long history of casting a blind eye towards enablers of nuclear ambition (think Pakistan). Beyond that, Tehran may also believe it has the Obama Administration over a proverbial barrel. In exchange for its "assistance" with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the mullahs probably expect even more flexibility from Washington on the nuclear issues.
At this point, it's still unclear if a deal will be reached by the Monday deadline. But regardless of when an agreement is struck, it will be--almost assuredly--a terrible bargain, one that will likely codify Iranian gains, and put Tehran even closer to getting the bomb. That, in turn, will trigger an even wider arms race in the Persian Gulf, as erstwhile American allies scramble to defend themselves, believing that Washington is no longer a reliable partner.
That will be one of the lasting legacies of Barack Obama. As for Republicans, they certainly talk a good game, but offer little in the way of an alternative. Readers will note that GOP members of Congress left town this afternoon for their Thanksgiving break, saying almost nothing about Monday's deadline and what Mr. Obma is about to do.