The Iran Deal Wasn’t About Nukes At All

The Obama administration decided early on that the only way to get the United States out of the Middle East was to replace it with Russia and Iran.

Remember the Iran deal? Of course you do. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was one of the greatest diplomatic agreements of our time, a last-ditch effort to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb and thus avert inevitable military action by the United States and its allies. Hard negotiations provided a verifiable inspections plan that would keep Iran walking the straight and narrow for at least a decade, if not longer. The media, of course, served only as the impartial platform for analysis and debate.

Anyone who doubted this narrative or raised almost any objections to the deal was just a hater, maybe even a racist with a personal grudge against Barack Obama. (Also against the deal, of course: Jews with divided loyalties.) After all, the experts—non-partisan, of course—assured us that everything was in order.

This was all nonsense. What really happened was that the White House put out a set of talking points, not all of them true or accurate, to a trusted circle of journalists and advocacy groups. Those groups worked with experts in other groups, who then supported those talking points in media already friendly to the White House narrative. Asked for comment, the White House agreed with the experts it had primed, then fed more talking points back into the loop.

We no longer have to speculate about this. As anyone paying attention now knows, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes—it’s so hard to type those words—couldn’t help but take a victory lap in front of The New York Times. Rhodes named names and organizations, crowing that the White House had created “an echo chamber” mainly composed of journalists who are “27 years old and…literally know nothing.”

Follow the Money, Indeed

Except there was plenty of money out there. The Ploughshares Fund has been completely upfront about the cash it dumped on other groups before and during the Iran deal debate. Let’s leave aside some of the arms-control experts, since I think it’s fair to say there is no circumstance in which those organizations would oppose a nuclear deal between Obama’s White House and the Iranians. (Whether they sugar-coated aspects of the deal is another matter, but we’ll get back to that.)

We’re Spending Money for No Reason At All

The idea that the Obama administration was ever going to go to war over the Iranian nuclear program is ridiculous, but it was a central talking point during the fight over the JCPOA. To believe Obama would have used force against Iran would have represented either incredible credulity, or revealed a conscious effort to participate in a campaign meant to create an echo chamber, in which…

What’s the Real Game Here?

The smug admissions by Rhodes and others that the “echo chamber” was real and did its job are grating. But to focus on Rhodes and Cirincione spiking the football is to miss a more important question: Why did everyone go to such lengths over a deal that was supposed to be so good?

Rhodes, of course, says it’s because everyone but the White House and its friends were too stupid to understand how smart the deal was. The real answer, however, is as unsettling as it is simple: selling the deal required subterfuge and misdirection because the Iran deal was never about nuclear weapons.

The White House and its supporters were set on two goals, one of them trivial, the other terrifying. The trivial objective was to give a failed presidency at least one foreign policy legacy item. That was to be expected, since the Obama administration, in permanent campaign mode since the day the president took office, has presided over the worst American foreign policy in the modern era.

The more stomach-churning objective is that the administration, as it turned out, really believed in its pledges to get America out of the Middle East, and decided early on that the only way to do this was to replace the United States in the region with a duumvirate of Russia and Iran. Here, the JCPOA was part of a huge gamble to transform the region, with nuclear weapons the secondary rather than primary issue. That’s why J Street and others were involved: they were far less concerned with notional Iranian nuclear weapons than they were with advancing President Obama’s Middle East legacy—without having to admit what it was.

This Wasn’t About Nukes At All

It makes no difference if this or that provision of the deal is ironclad, because the White House never had an intention of enforcing any of it. The JCPOA wasn’t a deal to stop a nuclear weapon, it was part of a plan to further a foreign policy agenda with which very few Americans would agree if it were stated to them clearly and unequivocally.

For those of us who thought the Iran deal didn’t pass the sniff test from the start, it is bitter consolation that all this is coming out now. Sometimes being right isn’t much of a comfort, and this is one of those times. But there’s a far more damaging problem in all this: not only has the United States burned a lot of its credibility in this farce, but so have a fair number of journalists and experts.

We’re Better than You So We Can Break the Rules

Full article: The Iran Deal Wasn’t About Nukes At All (The Federalist)

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