The Big Unanswered Question About Pending Iran Deal

We need to work out why the Americans are capitulating to the Iranians in the nuclear talks; Israel's future may depend on it.

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President Barack Obama, July 7, 2015. What is he thinking with his Iranian strategy?Credit: Reuters
Israel Harel

The inevitable revenge for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s deluded flirtation with the Republicans and Congress has arrived. It’s crystal clear: Because of Netanyahu’s contrarian and irresponsible behavior, bridges with the U.S. administration were burned and Israel was ousted from the circle of influence on the pending nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu bears part of the responsibility for the bad deal that will be signed with Iran.

If any Israeli figures had a real impact on our inability to prevent a bad deal, however, it was Meir Dagan, Yuval Diskin and Gabi Ashkenazi – the principal opponents who leaked their objections to a military operation. They, along with the noisy chorus of America’s proxies in Israel, torpedoed the credibility of the brinkmanship strategy Netanyahu was leading. Iran, free of Israeli pressure, kept galloping toward the bomb.

True, Netanyahu’s mistakes – even in the area of Iran – are not few in number. However, anyone who assigns him responsibility, even indirect, for the heap of failings of the U.S. administration with regard to Iran discounts the American president and insults the memory and intelligence of the public.

The accusers, whatever their obligations to the United States, have exempted themselves from the need to think more deeply about the interests underlying America’s capitulation to Iranian chutzpah. For the sake of the future, it is dependent upon Israel to solve the big unknown: what motivates President Barack Obama to ease – in reality, cancel – sanctions before the Iranians prove, within a significant time frame, that they have left the path of nuclear arms, terror and fraud. Why is he providing the ayatollahs’ state with economic power – and therefore political and military power – to continue harming its allies in the region. And, finally, why doesn’t the agreement include an explicit demand for Iran to completely turn away from the path of terror?

Cracking America’s unclear, scarcely believable code of conduct is a major challenge. It is simply not logical that the American president, who bears responsibility for the fate of the world, should capitulate to the Iranians – unless he has a decisive reason – and cede effective supervision of nuclear sites.

The Iranians need American benevolence – not the other way around. So why are the Iranians able to bend the Americans, and not vice versa? In any event, the reason for their success does not lie, as many tend to think, in typical American naveté – and certainly not in weakness or foolishness, as some say about Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israel’s point of departure needs to be – and this is the truth – that the U.S. president is acting in line with his nation’s interests, and that John Kerry is executing his policy. The latter’s behavior, as reflected in caricatures and articles criticizing him, is in accordance with the president’s directives, and not because he is a weak or shallow figure.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of cracking the code that has caused the administration to capitulate. It’s liable to put us, albeit not in the near-future, in a situation where all hope will be lost. Then, we will be forced to make it clear to the Americans: You, who pushed us into a corner, like in the words of the Book of Isaiah – “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I beheld in astonishment, and there was none to uphold” – bear responsibility. In a situation of no choice, we will act – and we will have to act – for as the verse continues, “And My fury, it upheld Me / And I trod down the peoples in Mine anger.”