It’s For Your Own Good
Elected on a wave of goodwill, hope and change, the Obama administration sought out opportunities to not only “fundamentally transform America,” but to “restore America’s standing in the world.” These efforts included changes to the ways the administration addressed both allies and enemies alike. High up on the Obama regime’s list – even before the 2008 election – was outreach to the rogue state of Iran, well known as the predominant sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and around the globe, and a threat for nuclear proliferation.
Early on in the Obama tenure, domestic policy became the main focus as the efforts to pass Obamacare and the bloated $900 billion “stimulus” occupied most of the energy, attention and political capital of the regime. But behind the scenes, especially at the State Department, small but noticeable changes began taking place that would lay the groundwork for the diplomatic outreach to Iran.
Chief among the movers and shakers, it has since come to light that Ben Rhodes, Obama’s mind-meld buddy, crafted a narrative designed to sell the Iran nuclear deal to a wary public and Congress. According to the New York Times, Rhodes – as the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications – worked with other members of the Obama regime to carefully and deliberately structure the publicly reported aspects of the deal to conceal not only that the deal making had begun in earnest in 2012, but that the benefits of the deal, touted by the regime as positive and in America’s interest were actually largely fiction.
“The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency.”
Rhodes’ efforts to mislead the public and Congress had one singular intent: to get the deal passed at any cost. Opposition to the deal could be framed as misguided, ill-informed or reactionary, as the regime could point to the details of the deal, or the timetable of negotiations both of which were fiction as proof that those opposing the deal either didn’t understand what they were talking about, or were biased for other reasons.
The regime consistently sold the idea to an increasingly skeptical public and wary Congress as not only the best possible deal, but the only possible deal. Any other considerations or debates were described as entirely arbitrary and “aligning with the mullahs.”
The net outcome of these lies were that the Iran deal arrived at Congress as largely a fait accompli, with the regime touting the perceived benefits and dismissing as mere hyperbole any concerns expressed with regard to the aspects of the deal; regardless of the side of the aisle from which it came. The demand for immediate passage was non-negotiable from the regime’s perspective.
That’s the Way the Narrative Crumbles
Complicating matters was the fact that on the night of January 12, 2016, while President Obama was due to deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress, in which it was anticipated that he would lay out both the history and rationale for the deal with Iran, real life interfered.
Iran’s navy seized an American ship in the and images of U.S. sailors, on their knees, with their hands held behind their heads, in a position of submissive, subservient surrender, dominated the airwaves as news outlets broadcast video produced and released by the Iranian government.
The Obama regime and Rhodes in particular were understandably outraged, but not for the act of aggression that resulted in American sailors being held as prisoners, or an American ship being boarded and held by a hostile force in international waters; rather, the regime was angry and frustrated that the news of this war-like act would set the narrative for the talks with Iran, and shape perceptions and reactions, rather than the regime’s preferred, carefully crafted message.
Again, from the New York Times (emphasis mine); “For much of the past five weeks, Rhodes has been channeling the president’s consciousness into what was imagined as an optimistic, forward-looking final State of the Union. Now, from the flat screens, a challenge to that narrative arises: Iran has seized two small boats containing 10 American sailors. Rhodes found out about the Iranian action earlier that morning but was trying to keep it out of the news until after the president’s speech. “They can’t keep a secret for two hours,” Rhodes says, with a tone of mild exasperation at the break in message discipline.”
This situation put the regime in a rather precarious situation; out on a limb, exposed as nakedly incompetent and naïve for all to see. First and foremost, the narrative (that is, the official version of reality as decreed by the regime) that the Iranian government is an honest and trustworthy partner has been shattered. The reality is there for all to see: American sailors being held as prisoners.
Secondly, the illusion that members of Obama’s team, and much more importantly, Obama himself are competent, honest and trustworthy has also been shattered. How could Obama explain why this Middle Eastern government, which hitherto had been lauded as a “partner for peace,” was now nakedly and aggressively taking actions designed to provoke and exacerbate conflict?
Clearly, the root of the problem was the conflict of interest at the foundation of the issue; specifically, the regime’s obsession with getting a deal – any deal – done with Iran at whatever cost. According to former UN Ambassador, John Bolton; “The Iran Deal is an ideological obsession for Obama and the New York Times article proves how much he wants to restrain not Iran, but us.”
This problem could easily have been avoided if Obama and members of his regime had approached problems and challenges rationally, transparently and without the desired outcome as the only governing criteria in the discussion. But that is a bridge too far for both Obama and his team. The expectation that nuclear negotiations would not only produce an outcome in the best interest of America, her allies and her long-term security was a natural one for members of congress and citizens of the nation; it became clear that it was likely not at the top of the regime’s checklist.
The Ends Justify The Means That The Means Justify The Ends
What is most worrisome is not that the Obama regime pursued the nuclear deal with Iran. That – in and of itself – is not the problem. The linchpin to the entire debacle is that the deal was so bad, left so many questions unanswered, and so fundamentally fails to address the most basic American security concerns and needs, much less those of our allies, especially those in the immediate region, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The problem largely stems from the fact that the Obama regime was largely unconcerned – or at least very much inadequately concerned about the actual outcome and actual results of the deal, and much more concerned – to an obsessive degree, with the perception and the narrative of the deal-making.
The goal was to give the regime a feather for its cap, one that it could tout as a legacy-building accomplishment in foreign policy. Obama reaches nuclear deal with Iran. That’s it. That’s the entirety of the rationale and modus operandi of the Obama foreign policy team at home and abroad. Nothing else was ever truly under consideration, because nothing else mattered.
Seen only in this context, the pragmatic approach of achieving this goal is entirely understandable. Such an accomplishment, spun just the right way to faithful acolytes in the media, and swallowed hook, line and sinker by a clueless public would serve the purpose of ensuring that Obama’s stature as statesman was assured past his tenure.
But seen from the broader perspective, wherein the neighboring countries were being put into harm’s way on a delay timer, one quickly understands that the nature of the challenge is that of existential threat; one that cannot easily or summarily dismissed by vapid talking points and acerbic spokespeople.
The fact that the regime, led by Obama himself, with an assist from Rhodes, who worked as the deal’s midwife, nursemaid, mastermind and architect lied to the American public, the Congress and the American press is bad enough, and grounds for the growing distrust, unfavorability and disdain which an increasing number of people (both political and apolitical) now feel with regard to the regime.
Worse still is the fact that this cold calculation – to the extent that it was a purely utilitarian decision; make Obama look good, completely ignores actual facts on the ground, the needs and concerns of our allies in the region, and fundamentally weakens the American position tactically and strategically.
The Obama regime’s position places Israel in a dangerously tight corner, one in which it may find itself without any good choices. With Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah to its north in Lebanon, Iranian-sponsored Hamas in the areas controlled by the Palestianan Authority in the Gaza strip and in some areas of Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank), and with ISIS occupying much of neighboring Syria and northern Iraq, Israel no good options on the table, and may be forced to take offensive action sooner than later.
Likewise, Saudi Arabia which views itself as a natural power center in the region has found itself on the outside looking in, with its agenda checked by a newly resurgent Iran that is flexing its economic and foreign policy muscles across the region. Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are longtime rivals and have conflicting agendas. The nuke deal creates an additional layer of instability between these two regional powers, possibly exacerbating tensions.
The ultimate fact is that all of this – the deal, the media manipulation, the misleading of the American public and the Congress, and all of the subsequent consequences – was predicated on a lie, one told for the most vapid and mundane of reasons – the personal glory and prestige of a failed leader. That alone fails any possible test of ethical, honorable decent behavior.