America’s Middle East Posture
Once again, the current administration has committed another breathtaking break with well-established U.S. policy. It came out weeks ago that, far from the long-standing American position of never negotiating with terrorists, the U.S. had actually been engaging in secret talks with representatives of Iran. Congress was not apprised, let alone asked for advice or consent.
The news had all the attributes of another scandal, particularly in light of regular public statements on Iran’s nuclear program indicating that “all options” were “on the table,” meaning that an American military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities remained a strong possibility if Iran’s nuclear progress were deemed to be an imminent danger.
The next thing we knew, Secretary of State John Kerry had interrupted his scheduled travels in a detour to Geneva to join in the construct of a diplomatic agreement with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu issued one statement after another, warning that the Iranians had proven they couldn’t be trusted to be honest, and any agreement would only put the nation of Israel in additional peril.
By this time, things were happening fast. The president took to live national television to announce that a “preliminary, interim agreement” with Iran had been reached, and economic sanctions would be eased. Depending on who you ask, this agreement is either the best prospect for avoiding a Middle East war, orsomething that makes the prospect even more likely.
The lifting of sanctions puts tens of billions of dollars at Iran’s disposal, which is motive enough for a handshake. What the world gets in return is rather murky. The agreement purportedly allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium to levels inadequate for nuclear weapons. Even that consolation violates a raft of UN resolutions demanding that Iran cease enrichment.
No sooner did the administration start trying to sell the attributes of a diplomatic arrangement with the mullahs, but Iran spoke up charging U.S. spokesmen with misrepresentation. Misrepresentation? This administration?
This truly is something to contemplate. Iran is known to have lied to the UN nuclear commission for years. They were caught red-handed so many times that the whole relationship with the IAEA had broken down. Iran’s chief prevaricator in the drama was none other than Hassan Rouhani, who is now the president of Iran.
So we’re treated to handshakes and hugs between Kerry and the Iranians as the sanctions are lifted and enrichment continues with the knowledge and consent of the United States. Netanyahu called it a historic mistake, and it seems the whole Middle East is scrambling for security, in some cases making new and unlikely alliances to adjust to new realities presented by an unpredictable U.S. administration.
This is not the first time the current administration has upended the established status quo in the region. Look at what’s happened with Egypt! The country is now under military leadership, and hoping for enough stability to re-establish some order and quality of life. After betraying Mubarak, befriending the Muslim Brotherhood then cutting off U.S. aid once the brotherhood was deposed, Egypt is reaching out to Russia. It is not clear how the policy makers in D.C. intended this to turn out, but it is a serious blow to the perception of America to Egypt and everybody else in the world who watched these unbelievable events unfold. Surely driving Egypt out of the American orbit and into the arms of the Russians wasn’t part of the plan, was it?
Reports are now all over the place about another unlikely alliance that may be forming, and that is between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Both were diametrically opposed to a U.S. deal with Iran. Even after the announcement of a U.S. deal with Iran, Israeli spokesmen continue to say that military intervention against Iran may be necessary to preserve Israel’s security. Saudi Arabia also hates the prospect of Iran getting nuclear weapons and sees it as a direct threat. There are hints that the Saudis might even make airbases available to Israeli jets, which would make strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities more feasible.
And what if Israel did “go it alone” against Iran? Would that not constitute a direct provocation against the current administration?
Outrage is all over the place. Iran is furious that the “deal” is being sold as having put the lid on its nuclear activities. Israel feels abandoned by its formerly staunch benefactor, as does Egypt. The Saudis are in such a tizzy, they may do military business with Israel. And now Netanyahu is meeting with the pope for the first time, making his complaints and fears about the American/Iranian arrangement known.
Is there anything else that can be done to weaken U.S. posture, insult and endanger our allies while making the whole world a much more dangerous place? Transformation has obviously not stopped at the water’s edge. American foreign policy has also become completely unrecognizable.