What don’t you understand about “Death to America?”
“I say this not to be provocative, but to state a fact.”
That was the theme of President Obama’s speech today at American University, in which he offered a spirited, low-blown defense of the Iran nuke deal. The address, however, was indeed provocative, and more often than not devoid of the very facts that have turned what the Administration desperately wanted to be a legacy moment into a full-blown battle on Capitol Hill.
It was evident that Obama fully recognizes that the battle has taken a turn. At one point in his speech, he compared his Republican detractors in Congress with hardliners who chant “Death to America”:
“Just because Iranian hard-liners chant ‘death to America’ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe,” Obama said to strong applause from the audience.
“In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo,” Obama said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s those hard-liners chanting “death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal.”
“They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus,” Obama said to laughter and wild applause.
This morning, Professor Jacobson penned a takedown on Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that Congress should tread lightly before screwing over Tehran. He pointed out that the balance of power has been flipped 180 degrees, and now it is Iran who holds the cards:
We are now the weak horse, being trained by our masters.
John Kerry is dangerously naive.
His boss isn’t naive, this is all part of the “Grand Bargain” strategy with Iran Obama has been pursuing since he took office, something we highlighted back in June 2009, when Obama abandoned the uprising against the Mullah regime:
During the campaign and after assuming the presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly stated his willingness to engage in negotiations with Iran without any preconditions. But that was and is not true.
The events of the past two weeks, including the revelation that Obama sent a letter in May to “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reveal that there is one precondition to negotiations which Obama willingly embraces: United States acceptance of Mullah rule in Iran in perpetuity.
Acceptance of Mullah rule, notwithstanding what the people of Iran may want or basic human rights, is the key to the Grand Bargain the Obama administration seeks to strike with Iran. In fact, U.S. help to perpetuate the Mullahtocracy appears to be the ONLY precondition.
Someone is going to get screwed here, and it’s not the Ayatollah.
Critics of the deal have already taken a beating, and this speech added insult to injury. Those opposed to the deal not only disputed the claims President Obama floated in his speech, but pointed out the obvious—this was a low point, even for the Obama Administration:
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) August 5, 2015
Near the end of the speech, Obama decries the existence of “knee-jerk partisanship,” saying that political opposition to the deal is acting as an inconvenient (and indeed irrational) roadblock to its passage. While partisanship exists in any debate on any issue, that’s not what’s preventing even Obama’s own caucus from supporting this deal.
Throughout the address, Obama offers an whole list of reasons why he believes his opponents have developed their wrongheaded approach to the deal. He mentions Iran’s abysmal human rights record, their hostility toward Israel, and their habit of offering both monetary and practical support to Hezbollah and other enemies of the western world. He even admits that “Iran cannot be dealt with diplomatically”—but in the end, chalks all of this up to threats being “magnified,” and politicians “playing on the fears” of the American people.
Should we not be afraid?
Even if “fear” alone is the wrong approach to Iran—and I would argue that fear alone is and should never be considered enough when dealing with such an enemy—is it not reasonable to proceed with caution, to debate, and to accept the counsel of those who host on their very doorstep the threat of a nuclear Iran?
Obama fears the loss of America’s credibility should Congress reject the nuclear deal, but in reality, that credibility was lost the moment her President stood before the entire world, compared his political enemies to the enemies of life, liberty, and peace, and insisted that making deals with despots and terrorists is the best form of diplomacy we could hope for.
You can watch the full speech here:
Full text via WaPo.