by Dan Margalit
The interim deal on Iran's nuclear program has upgraded the level of discussions of its significance in the defense establishment, in academia and in joint seminars for both communities. First because the agreement is important, and second because Iran experts are unable to reach a consensus on the deal's meaning for the future of dialogue with Tehran.
The more facts that come to light from the negotiations in Geneva, the more the agreement appears to resemble Swiss cheese. There are many holes in the agreement as well as some serious vagueness. Barack Obama and John Kerry are not persuading the average American that this was any kind of achievement. They simply assume that most of the American public are willing to have their leaders deceive them. This is what the fight is about on Capitol Hill. In the present round, Israel is not holding back its criticism of the agreement, but neither is it taking steps against the While House.
Analyzing the administration's conduct leads to the conclusion -- for which there is yet no proof -- that Obama has made a decision to reconcile himself to Iran's nuclearization. Perhaps full nuclearization, perhaps stopping at a point where Iran is a threshold country that can assemble four nuclear bombs in a very short period of time. There is no "smoking gun" to prove this circumstantial belief, but the evidence is getting stronger by the day.
The weakness of this decision from the White House's point of view is that Obama is not able to and does not want to admit it. It represents a collapse of all America's obligations, and a serious violation of its alliance not just with Israel, but with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf states and to a certain extent even Turkey.
Because the administration refuses to admit that it has decided to live with the Iranian nuclear program, it is exposed to criticism in the Senate and House of Representatives, which may yet thwart the White House's intentions.
The danger persists even if Iran does not complete the construction of a nuclear bomb and remains a threshold nation. Because if Iran is that close to a nuclear bomb, any diplomatic crisis, real or manufactured, any refusal to accept an ultimatum from Tehran, could serve as a pretext for the ayatollahs to announce that their country is completing construction of a weapon.
Who under such circumstances would use military force against Iran? Not Obama's America. He is a president that many countries disdain. The conflict erupting at present on a different front, on the open seas near China, is an interesting example of American foreign policy's quality control. Except that, in reality, Obama doesn't really care.
He is turning his back on allies that arose following an imperialist agreement with Britain and France (with the involvement of czarist Russia) orchestrated by the diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot.
These men laid the foundation for the current division of the Middle East, establishing ruling dynasties under the auspices of the great powers in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. Obama is responding to America's longtime allies in the region with a shrug or even worse.
His America is capitulating. The alliance with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan does not speak to him. It's not just the world that will pay the price. His own country will too, on his successors' watch.
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