Obama tried to set the arc of history towards the Mullahs, handing Iran the Middle East in exchange for nuclear compromises. Trump just bent that arc. Whether that bend ends up breaking Iranian regional expansion remains to be seen.
In the short run, the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps., is a complete victory for Trump. The killing came after a long series of Iranian provocations over the past several months and years.
The killing of an American and the attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad, together with planned attacks in the near future, were too much and provoked the drone attack on Soleimani.
The tepid retaliation of the Iranians, firing a modest number of missiles at bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq with no casualties, seems to have been mostly for show, so the Mullah regime could tell Iranians that retaliation was taken without provoking a strong American rection. That domestic Iranian audience was told that dozens of Americans died, when in fact no one died.
Of course, the retaliation may not be over, and we are likely to see an attempt to bleed Americans in the region — but that carries a risk of American reaction even if carried out by Iranian proxies. So let’s see how this develops.
The reaction-retaliation analysis that dominates the media, with a heavy focus on the Iran Nuclear Deal, misses the bigger importance of what Trump has done. By taking out the military architect of Iran’s expansionist plans in the Middle East and beyond, and then forcing the Iranians to back down from meaningful relatiation, Trump has disrupted Obama administration Middle East plans.
The Iran Nuclear Deal has to be understood as one part of a bigger Grand Bargain promoted on the left. That Grand Bargain normalized the Mullah regime as a regional power in exchange for the Mullahs playing nicer on nuclear and other issues. That was the objective pursued by the Obama administration, to hand the Middle East to the Iranians in exchange for a decade delay in Iran developing nuclear material for a weapon.
It was what in early June 2009, near the start of the so-called Green Revolution, I called Negotiations Preconditioned On Mullah Rule:
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.
That Grand Bargain was still at issue when nuclear negotiations entered a critical phase in 2012, as I wrote in Obama on verge of his grand Iranian bargain:
It looks like Obama is going to get the “grand bargain” which has been the point of U.S. policy towards Iran since the Obama administration stood silently as Iranians took to the streets in June 2009.
The grand bargain theory assures the Iranian theocracy’s continued control over not just Iran but an extended terrorist web extending from Syria and Lebanon to South America in exchange for supposed beefed-up monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program. It is the culmination of Obama’s “negotiation without precondition” campaign promise, which presupposes the false choice between war and peace, when non-military confrontation of the mullahs and support of the Iranian people is a third way which is off the table….
The mullahs keep their nuclear program, put some window dressing on inspections, and get economic and political lifelines as well as international assurances.
Meanwhile, the U.S. becomes complicit in the continued existence of the mullah regime, protecting it from its own people and assuring another generation of terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.
The Iran Nuclear Deal was the consummation of this Grand Bargain, as I wrote in 2015, Obama sweeps history toward the Mullahs:
I can’t recall an event since I started this website in 2008 that has been as historically consequential as the nuclear deal the United States and five other countries just struck with Iran.
It is the sweep of history.
The deal is Obama’s deal. He drove it, he crafted it with John Kerry as the scrivener, and he pulled the other powers along with it.
But what has troubled me the most as I read through the varied technical analyses is the same thing that has bothered me since June 2009, when the Iranian people rose up against the Mullah regime after fraudulent elections….
Barack Obama cast his lot with the Mullahs in 2009, and has again in 2015.
The economic and military sanctions on Iran will be lifted, the nuclear program continued, and above all, the Mullahs strengthened throughout the region, and beyond.
In every way, Iran is the new hegemon.
That will be the sweep of history, and it didn’t need to be that way.
But it’s what Obama always has wanted, and his greatest achievement.
That Grand Bargain is the context in which Iran used the tens of billiions of dollars it obtained from the Iran Nuclear Deal to ramp up it’s meddling throughout the region. Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal was an important step in dismantling this Grand Bargain, but the Iranians were under the illusion that they could continue their expansion throughout the region anyway.
Trump taking out Soleimani has the potential to the end that Grand Bargain, and what little is left of its main component, the Iran Nuclear Deal.
The Obama administration tried to set the arc of history towards the medieval Mullah dealth cult, handing Iran the Middle East in exchange for nuclear compromises. Trump taking out Soleimani and staring down threats of retaliation, just bent that arc. Whether that bend ends up breaking Iranian regional expansion remains to be seen.DONATE
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