To the Editor:
fter reading Omri Ceren’s review of Jay Solomon’s The Iran Wars, I’m certain the book will become the centerpiece of an enormous literature on Obama-administration foreign-policy failures (“Let’s Make a Bad Deal,” October). That administration has pursued an idée fixe of détente with Iran, with mind-boggling mendacity and contempt both for Congress and Constitution. It threw away initial enormous negotiating leverage, created by a carefully constructed sanctions regime that strangled Iran economically. Reagan-administration officials only brought a cake to Tehran. Obama’s all-star diplomats baked and lavishly decorated this crumbling confection of an agreement and have allowed the Iranians to continue nibbling at it.
Terrified that Iran might walk away from this monumentally bad deal, the administration has endured humiliation after humiliation. It thanked Iran for the mistreatment of captured American seamen and has remained mute about the repeated harassment of American ships in the Gulf. It has countenanced Iran’s missile tests, nuclear cooperation with North Korea, increasing regional aggression, and terrorism support. The administration significantly enabled terrorism by sending Tehran, in the dead of night, a planeload of $400 million in foreign currency as ransom for four wrongly held Americans.
An endless stream of secret side deals keeps emerging: a premature end to some nuclear restrictions on Iran, a pass on compliance-dates slippage, and so on. The administration has winked at Europeans who ignore American financial restrictions and hint at allowing Iranian access to the U.S. financial system. Sanctions have been removed from two especially rogue Iranian banks. We have even purchased Iran’s heavy water. The false luster of this legacy achievement will dim entirely once its full catastrophic consequences come raining down on the United States.
Richard D. Wilkins
Omri Ceren writes:
ichard D. Wilkins brings to mind the ongoing and increasingly pointed debate taking place in the political and policy communities where Iran is discussed: Given that by January 2017 Iran will be in functional control of Lebanon and Iraq, and in partial control of Syria and Yemen, did the Obama administration always intend to empower Tehran? There is significant evidence to suggest that the president deliberately set out to recalibrate the geopolitical balance in the Middle East, boosting the Iranians at the expense of America’s traditional Israeli allies. Obama’s comments that Iran will become a regional power and the Saudis will simply have to accept it, coupled with his explicit policy of creating “daylight” between the United States and Israel, suggest that sort of framework. On a more granular level, however, literally and figuratively inside the negotiating room, Secretary of State John Kerry has been a staggeringly poor diplomat, and some concessions during nuclear talks were undoubtedly the result of his simply being outmaneuvered.
Mr. Wilkins mentions that the administration boosted Iran’s terror capabilities by sending Tehran $400 million ransom in foreign currency. The cash ransom was far larger—$1.7 billion—and it was sent in between two wire transfers for other issues totaling $10 million, on top of $11.9 billion in currency and wired money given to the Iranians to keep them at the table during nuclear negotiations. From a certain angle it looks as if, for the last three years, the Obama administration has been bribing Tehran not to blow up the pretense of diplomacy—and using that pretense to bash critics as irrationally skeptical warmongers.