As we learned in the last month, the “echo chamber” of White House spin repeated by the liberal mainstream media helped justify the Obama administration’s push for a nuclear deal with Iran. At the heart of that big lie was the notion that the Islamist regime was moderating and that it was incumbent on the United States to, as President Obama put it, help it “get right with the world.” That was always a myth since the talks began before the elevation of the faux moderate Hassan Rouhani to the presidency in a faux election, but even in the months since the deal began to be implemented, we’ve seen more proof that Iran isn’t changing. Tehran’s decision to continue testing ballistic missiles and the strengthening of the most radical elements in key positions already made it clear that it wasn’t interested in a rapprochement with the West. But the latest piece of evidence of the contradiction at the heart of the administration’s signature foreign policy achievement doesn’t come from its critics or even from reports inside Iran. It comes from the same State Department that has been otherwise engaged lately in Stalinist-style efforts to bury the truth about its lies about Iran.
The release late last week of the annual State Department report on terrorism covering the year 2015 is a reminder of just what kind of a nation it is that the U.S. has enriched immeasurably with the end of economic sanctions and rewarded with more than $100 billion in released frozen assets. The following concluding paragraph from the section on Strategic Assessment says it all:
Iran remained the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015, providing a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to groups around the world – particularly Hizballah. Iran continued to be deeply involved in the conflict in Syria, working closely with the Asad regime to counter the Syrian opposition, and also in Iraq where Iran continued to provide support to militia groups, including Foreign Terrorist Organization Kata’ib Hizballah. In addition, it was implicated for its support to violent Shia opposition group attacks in Bahrain. Iran was joined in these efforts by Hizballah, which continued to operate globally, as demonstrated by the disruption of Hizballah activities in Peru in 2014 and Cyprus in 2015.
Let’s be clear that the administration never exactly claimed that Iran would cease supporting terrorism or even stop threatening Israel with destruction. The theory that the administration would sometimes put forward about the Iran deal was that the nuclear issue was separate from other concerns. If the president and his partisan apologists were right and Iran was stopped from getting a nuclear weapon, that would be a good thing and a goal worth pursuing even as the U.S. remained worried about its other activities. It’s also true that the U.S. has a certain strategic ambivalence about Iran since it has become to some extent a tacit ally in the struggle against ISIS.
To those who brought up Iran’s bad behavior, the answer has been that the world is a complicated place, and the U.S. relationship with Iran was equally complicated. We were assured that the U.S. would continue to work against Iran’s terrorist activities while trying to make it less dangerous via diplomacy.
But the conceit at the core of this thesis has always been wrong. Iran doesn’t want to get right with the world. Nor has it been forced to give up its nuclear program as the president promised four years ago when he was running for re-election. Despite the boasts of the administration about its great achievement — claims that were repeated by Hillary Clinton in what was the least persuasive moment of her otherwise effective foreign policy speech denouncing Donald Trump last week — the deal does not eliminate the threat of an Iranian bomb. To the contrary, not only does it leave in place Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and allow it to continue its most advanced work, it will expire in a decade after which the regime will be able to quickly move toward a weapon.
But just as discouraging is the fact that the cost of getting Iran to agree to that delay is enormous in terms of pumping up its failing economy and ending efforts to isolate it. The relevance of the State Department’s terrorism report to the deal is that the resources Tehran — and most specifically the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — will now have at its disposal to further its terror campaign will now greatly increase.
The IRGC is significant because it is not merely a terror group; it’s a terrorism conglomerate. It has a hand in the funding of terrorism around the world and is a major player in the Iranian economy, which owns many state-run businesses. As the New York Times reported earlier this year, very little of the foreign investment that is pouring into Iran since the sanctions collapsed are going to the private sector in that country. Almost the entire vast windfall in cash is going to state-run companies, many of which are controlled by the IRGC.
That means the only immediate effect of the deal is to help make it easy to continue and intensify the same activities that the State Department correctly points out make it so dangerous.
All of this illustrates again how self-contradictory the administration’s Iran policy has become. As our Max Boot noted last week, the tacit alliance against ISIS is not only of questionable utility, at best, it means exchanging the rule of one terrorist regime for another as Iran’s terror proxies in Iraq that are mentioned in the State Department report will dominate the country, not the Baghdad government backed by the U.S.
All this also shows how hard it will be for Obama’s successor to undo the damage that has been done by the nuclear pact and a policy of appeasement of Iran. Iran is using its terrorist proxies to advance its goal of regional hegemony in the Middle East. That threat that has forced Saudi Arabia to look to Israel rather than to a United States that no longer seems willing to stand up against Tehran. Add to that the fact that Iran is now immeasurably richer and that the new economic ties with Europe make it impossible to re-impose international sanctions, and it’s easy to see how much more dangerous the world has become as a result of Obama’s nuclear diplomacy. The fact that the confirmation of this dismal prospect comes from his own State Department rather than critics seems to be lost on the administration and its cheerleaders who helped sell the country on this unfolding disaster.