Sept. 28, 2015
Below are the remarks that Mona Charen delivered during the Values Voter Summit Breakout Session, “Irreconcilable Differences: Can Anything Bridge the Interests of the United States, Israel and Iran?”
No one in this audience needs to be convinced that we are in a profoundly troubling moment in American history. This is particularly true with respect to foreign policy. This administration’s goal has been to diminish and subdue not the terrorists or tyrants of the world, but the United States of America. It reminds me of Robert Frost’s reflection that “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”
As someone who wrote a book called “Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First,” I cannot claim to be completely surprised.
The Democratic Party has been weak-minded on defense for decades, but with the Iran capitulation, they’ve achieved a new threshold of cowardice and treachery.
Only a handful of Democrats have resisted the President’s pressure to sign a miserable agreement with Iran, the overwhelming majority have chosen to go over the cliff with a President who never met an enemy he didn’t wish to conciliate or an ally he didn’t seek to betray.
Democrats have long tended toward appeasement of aggressors. Throughout the Cold War, they scared themselves (and everyone else) silly conjuring specters of nuclear holocaust. Then-Senator John Kerry was one of many prominent Democrats who endorsed the “nuclear freeze.” It wasn’t America’s enemies that we should fear, the Democrats argued, but the weapons themselves.
Democrats rejected the insight of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and others that the surest way to prevent war was “peace through strength.” Reagan was regularly accused of courting Armageddon because he described the Soviets accurately (something liberals were too intimidated to do) and because he declined unilaterally to disarm. The dumbfounding reality is that the Democrats have never acknowledged that Reagan’s approach succeeded. Instead, with Iran as our chief enemy now, they hope to replay the Cold War so that this time, we fully surrender.
At least the Soviets made it easy for them, playing up the “peace” angle at every opportunity and investing heavily in organizations with names like the “World Peace Council” and the “International Institute for Peace.” Soviet leaders and propagandists of the 1970s and 1980s spoke silkily of their desire for “peaceful coexistence” with the West even as, behind the scenes, they were engaged in every form of subversion, terror, espionage, and violence.
Iran, by contrast, doesn’t bother to disguise its hatred for our country. There is no disingenuous talk of coexistence. “Death to America” is their motto, and the Supreme Leader (not some mythical “hardliners” in the background) has repeated it with grinning audacity even as his negotiators sat across from John Kerry in Vienna. “Yes, yes, Death to America” he said to cheering crowds as recently as six months ago.
No regime on Earth has been as diligent in executing attacks on Americans since 1979 as Iran. By itself or through proxies, the Islamic Republic took Americans hostage, bombed our embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut, bombed our embassy in Kuwait, and destroyed the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia housing U.S. servicemen. Hezbollah’s tentacles extend far beyond the Middle East, with a flourishing branch in the tri-border area (Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil) of South America. During the Iraq War, Iran’s IEDs accounted for up to a quarter of the 4400 casualties we suffered there. Even members of the Obama administration acknowledge that Iran has an ongoing cooperative arrangement with Al Qaeda — though the administration declines to publish the extended evidence discovered at bin Laden’s bunker.
The world’s leading terror state is expanding its hegemony and contributing, through its brutal support of Syria’s Assad, to the horrific refugee crisis now swamping Europe. Even the grotesque Sunni extremist group ISIS owes part of its success to Iran, which has so frightened the Sunnis that some have been willing to support such monsters of their own sect. And the Islamic Republic has threatened, unabashedly and consistently, to annihilate the state of Israel.
This is the regime the Obama Democrats will now enrich, grant international legitimacy to as a nuclear threshold state, and invite to monitor its own nuclear sites. This is beyond naiveté — it is sheer lunacy. The Democratic Party has forfeited any claim to national leadership.
A question has hung in the air since Barack Obama first moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and began his “fundamental transformation” of this country: Did he intend harm or was he merely so blinded by ideology that he could not see the damage his policies were creating? The Iran deal provides an answer.
At his press conference, our duplicitous leader chose to call black white, and claim that the deal does the opposite of what it does – allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, albeit after a decent interval. We are deep into Orwellian territory now. “War is peace. Ignorance is strength.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is crowing that Iran achieved all of its objectives and the U.S. none.
The bombproof facility in the mountain at Fordow — which, until recently, the US had demanded be shuttered and locked — will now have an “international presence” so that attempts to thwart its progress even by sabotage will be effectively blocked. This is permission masquerading as prevention. It’s of a piece with the administration’s pressure on Israel to refrain from military action. When Israel submitted to this pressure, it was rewarded with Obama aides calling Netanyahu a “chicken….” and crowing that his chance to prevent a nuclear Iran by military means had passed.
Permission masquerading as prevention sums up the whole deal. In the beginning of these negotiations, the U.S. had demanded anywhere/anytime inspections, and insisted that sanctions would be lifted only after evidence of Iranian compliance. Now, the inspections regime is a joke: Iran gets 24 days’ notice and sits on the committee that decides if inspections are necessary. The most important sanctions are lifted immediately, handing the world’s chief sponsor of terror a $100 billion windfall. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, who was captured on videotape in April saying anytime/anywhere inspections would be required, now denies that the U.S. ever made that a condition.
While the administration claimed it couldn’t negotiate for the release of four Americans held unlawfully in Iranian prisons because that was outside the scope of nuclear negotiations, they did agree to lift the embargo on conventional arms and intercontinental ballistic missiles, which were also outside the compass of nuclear concerns. Why the difference, they were asked. How did the administration spokesman explain it: Because “Iran demanded it.” Well, ok then.
President Obama’s press conference was a spectacle of bad faith. A virtuoso of lip service (see, for example, his supposed sympathy for Israel’s security concerns) and endless conjurer of straw men, he took few questions but silkily implied that he had answered all objections.
Perhaps the most absurd was his attempt to assert that this deal would leave a future president with all of the same options on the table, including the military option that he had. “There is no scenario in which a U.S. president is not in a stronger position 12, 13, 15 years from now, if in fact Iran decided at that point they still wanted to get a nuclear weapon.”
What? That is ludicrous. In the first place, the reason Iran was at the negotiating table at all was because the sanctions regime had so damaged the Iranian economy. Together with other nations, the U.S. was, in effect, forcing the Islamist regime to choose between its desire to become a nuclear weapons state and feed its people. Once the money begins to flow into Tehran after sanctions are removed, that leverage is gone and cannot be recaptured. The so-called snap back sanctions couldn’t do it either, by the way, because all contracts undertaken between now and the mythical date when sanctions would snap back are grandfathered in.
Before Obama came on the scene, Iran was universally acknowledged – including by the United Nations – to be a dangerous rogue state that could never be permitted to have any sort of nuclear program. It’s Obama’s great achievement that with this agreement, Iran is welcomed into the international community as a normal nation. It will be knitted into a system of international business deals that will create strong constituencies in places like Germany, France, the UK, and even here, for interpreting any suspected violations of the agreement in a benign way.
As for the military option, Obama’s deal will make that infinitely harder too.
In 12 to 15 years, Iran will be an immensely wealthier, better-armed, and more powerful country than it is today. It will be, to quote Mr. Obama, “a very successful regional power” and then some. It will have acquired advanced anti-aircraft weapons and ballistic missiles, and doubtless a much-improved air force.
The dishonest core of the president’s pretense is this: that the choice was between war and diplomacy. Every school child knows that diplomacy without the credible threat of force is a nullity. As Frederick the Great said:
“Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.”
Besides, Obama knows how to frighten and intimidate when he wants to. See his conduct toward Republicans or Binyamin Netanyahu or the Supreme Court.
There was always a very different path available. He could have increased the sanctions instead of pleading with Congress not to impose them. He could have attacked Syria when it crossed his “red line” rather than folding and thereby conveying his fecklessness to Tehran. He could have refrained from calling everyone in the U.S. who favored a hardline against Iran a “warmonger” — again conveying that Iran had nothing to fear from him. He could have supported the protesters in the streets in 2009 rather than signaling his support for the regime. He could have left the negotiating table many times, but especially after the IAEA reported earlier this year that Iran was in violation of earlier nuclear treaties and had increased its stockpiles of enriched uranium by 20 percent. And yes, if all of the above failed, he could have deployed strategic bombing to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.
But from his first inaugural address onward, Obama both secretly and openly wooed the Iranian regime. In the process, he repeatedly lied to the Congress, our allies, and the American people, settling, to my satisfaction at least, that he is inflicting this potential catastrophe wittingly.
I’d like to end with three quotes.
I was elected to end wars, not start them. – Barack Obama
The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. – George Orwell
The final quote I want to share with you is from the late, great Jeane Kirkpatrick, a former Democrat who became a Republican because she loved the United States and opposed all forms of tyranny. It was she who, in 1984, labeled the Democratic Party the “blame America first” party — a pithy shorthand. Jeane Kirkpatrick’s spirit is one I hope we can capture in the next presidential election. When Ronald Reagan appointed her to be US ambassador to the United Nations, she said “We’ve removed the kick me’ sign from our backs.”
We need a president in 2017 who will do the same and then some.