On the New York Times op-ed page, Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit writes that if an American-Iranian nuclear agreement is signed “it would represent an Iranian victory – and an American defeat.” It would “guarantee that [Iran] would eventually cross the [nuclear] finish line.” It is the product of “a Munich mind-set” creating “the illusion of peace-in-our-time while paving the way to a nuclear-Iran-in-our-time.” It is “a deeply flawed agreement” that “is an illusion”–and the “so-called moderate president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is an illusion, too.” Obama ignored allies “who warned him that he was being naïve,” and America “missed the opportunity for assertive diplomacy.” Now Obama is pursuing “a dangerous interim agreement.”
So naturally, Shavit blames Bush.
Five years into Obama’s presidency, it is a bit late to blame the predictable results of Obama’s feckless diplomacy on Bush. In 2009, Bush handed Obama a P5+1 structure already in place, having declared the U.S. was addressing Iran through a multilateral framework since a “group of countries can send a clear message to the Iranians” that “we’ll find new sanctions if need be,” beyond the multiple UN Security Council sanction resolutions already then in effect. The Bush administration also announced it was “confident that if given the opportunity to choose their leaders freely and fairly, the Iranian people would elect a government that … would choose dialogue and responsible international behavior,” rather than terrorism and nuclear weapons.
It was not Bush who thereafter: (a) stood mute as the Iranian regime stole an election and brutally repressed a popular revolt; (b) met each failure by Iran to respond to his outstretched hand with an announcement there was still “time and space” for them to respond; (c) consistently opposed stronger sanctions by Congress only to claim credit for them once they were enacted; (d) is currently pushing a bad deal, claiming sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table but that stronger sanctions would cause them to leave it; and (e) is palpably salivating for a deal to “put more time on the clock” now that time is running out and Iran is approaching the goal line.
Last Thursday, in the course of his ObamaCare press conference, Obama was asked about critics who contend only tougher sanctions will make Iran capitulate. He responded that the purpose of sanctions “was to bring the Iranians to the table” and an agreement would “provide time and space” to test whether Iran is “prepared to actually resolve this issue.” “We can buy some additional months,” he said.
But the purpose of sanctions was not to bring Iran to the table, but make Iran comply with binding UN resolutions; and additional months are precisely what Iran needs to complete its nuclear program. Obama is about to pay them $10 billion, and reduce sanctions, giving them more time and space to cross the line. It is a fiasco that can’t be blamed on Bush.