November 22, 2013

As of this writing, there is no deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers meeting in Geneva. Reports suggest they are hung up over Iran’s claim to a “right” to enrich uranium, which is found nowhere, and which suggests the entire exercise is useless. Six United Nations resolutions have made clear that Iran’s flagrant violations of international law have rendered Iran entirely unfit for activities that can create (and in this case, are aimed at) a nuclear weapon. Iran’s intransigence on keeping its enrichment and quest for a nuclear-weapons capability comes as a surprise to no other than U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama.

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a news conference. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a news conference. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

One, however, expects the other shoe to drop — for the Obama administration to drop any semblance of respect for the insistence of the “international community” that Iran give up its stockpile, cease enriching and destroy its weapons program. (The president allowed Bashar al-Assad to use WMDs without consequence so it’s not like this comes as a surprise.)

The irony here is great. The world’s only superpower refuses to act like a superpower and resolutely defend the West. Instead, those who demand the administration do so are accused of “marching toward war.” (To which the critics might reply, the insistence on disarming Iran or face military action wasn’t our red line. It was Congress’s red line, the U.N.’s red line and the president’s red line.)

Whether or not a deal is struck few expect Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. It may be the tiny Jewish state (albeit one with a first-rate military) in a sea of Arab lands that steps up to the plate to defend itself, its Sunni neighbors and the West. Winston Churchill, in his 1921 visit to what was then Palestine, may have been prophetic when he said, “I believe that the establishment of the a Jewish National Home in Palestine will be a blessing to the whole world, a blessing to the Jewish race scattered all over the world, and a blessing to Great Britain. . . . The hope of your race [the Jewish people] for so many centuries will be gradually realized here, not only for your own good but for the good of all the world.” Israel would quite literally be doing just that if forced to strike Iran. (The man who pointed this out to me and wrote a definitive work on Churchill and the Jewish state, Michael Makovsky, visited the current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is himself a Churchill buff, this fall.) Let’s pray it doesn’t come to that.

In an effort to avoid the Hobson’s choice of war or a nuclear-armed Iran, the Senate is taking the lead. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would, he explained, “ensure Iran is in full compliance with any interim agreement and agrees to the essential terms of an acceptable final deal before the U.S. could further lift sanctions.” He continued, “It would further cause any sanctions relieved in the interim to snap back if Iran violates any of its commitments under such an agreement.”

Corker is not the only one alarmed by the administration’s rush to a rotten deal (“Many of us have concerns that an interim agreement in Geneva will diminish U.S. leverage without Iran meeting its existing international obligations. That outcome could result in the interim deal becoming the final deal, legitimizing Iran’s enrichment activities in violation of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Corker said.) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), in defiance of the White House, has agreed to vote on sanctions after the Thanksgiving break. “The Senate must be prepared to move forward with a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving recess. And I am committed to do so. I believe we must do everything possible to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability,” Reid said.

The sad reality is, as Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, put it in an e-mail, that “[by] now, most Americans have caught on to what we knew all along – that President Obama cannot be trusted.” It’s not just American voters, but lawmakers of both parties and a number of foreign governments. Maybe Iran’s latest demonstration of recalcitrance will bring the administration to its senses. If not, Israel will have to act “not only for [its] own good but for the good of all the world.”

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.