The American President Iran was Waiting For
President Obama had a dream.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was simply misunderstood. The U.S., the sole superpower, as befits the typical arrogant colonial power, had intervened in Iran in 1953 by sponsoring a coup of the beloved Iranian prime minister, Mossadegh. The Iranian regime hated the U.S. for that act, and for other acts of colonialism.
Ignore the fact that this view of the 1953 coup against Iran cannot be the cause of the Iranian regime’s hatred of the U.S. The founder of the current Iranian regime opposed the leftist, corrupt and undemocratic regime of Mossadegh, and the Islamist clerics of Iran were supportive of the British-led, American supported ouster.
Anyway, President Obama believed (and still believes) that all the U.S. needed to get right with Iran was to elect the right kind of U.S. president. A humble man, like Obama, who understood and respected the Islamic faith, and who could apologize for the great wrong done by the U.S. to Iran. If the president did that, then a deal could be struck to end the danger of Iranian nuclear weapons and help moderate Iran’s government.
Of course, apologizing wasn’t all President Obama was prepared to do to make nice with the Islamic Republic.
Under President Obama, the U.S. agreed to “political commitments” with Iran that: 1) relieved U.S. and international sanctions on Iran estimated to be worth at least hundreds of billions of dollars for the Iranian regime; 2) restricted the West and international agencies from gaining full access to Iran’s nuclear weapons program sites; 3) provided Iran with $100 - $120 - $150 billion in frozen oil money, from the JCPOA; 4) gave Iran $12 – $20 – $33.6 billion in frozen oil money, probably in cash, from the JPOA; 5) furnished Iran with $1.7 billion, all hard cash, as ransom for American hostages.
In return, Iran gave up some hostages, which it quickly replaced, and made some insincere promises about nuclear weapons research.
Under President Obama, the U.S. has deferred to the Islamic Republic’s wishes on issue after issue. Because of Iran’s willingness to officially walk away from the nuclear political commitment, Obama has allowed Iran to continue to violate the conventional weapons international ban by supplying its terror proxies from Hizb’allah, to the Houthis, to Hamas with weapons. Obama has permitted Iran to violate international law by grabbing and humiliating U.S. sailors, and harassing U.S. Navy ships. Obama has allowed the Iranian regime to escape any repercussions for: grabbing new American and other Western hostages; adding $600,000 to the Iranian bounty for the killing of blasphemous British author Salman Rushdie; pledging that every family of a Palestinian terrorist will receive $7,000 from Iran; and executing the entire adult male population of an Iranian village for drug offences.
Even before the president was officially negotiating with the Iranians, he was prostrating himself before them. When the Green Revolution began in 2009, rather than do what most U.S. administrations would do -- support with words and funding the democratic political movement protesting the bloody and violent anti-American, Islamist totalitarian regime, President Obama refused to take a public stand. He instructed the CIA not to provide any funding for these dissidents for communications, or even arms, and to sever its contacts with the Green Movement. Obama further ended U.S. programs to document Iranian human rights abuses. This was quite in contrast to how President Obama behaved towards the pro-American and far less bloody dictator in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, whom he pressured to step down, leading to a takeover by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.
President Obama also caved to the Iranian regime over Syria in 2012-2013. Rather than enforce his own red line on the use of chemical weapons, he walked back his commitment to oust the Syrian butcher Assad, after the Iranians made it clear they would never negotiate with him otherwise. This allowed the prolongation of the Syrian civil war, which has killed over half a million people and destabilized both the Middle East and Europe with millions of Syrian refugees.
President Obama was, of course, wrong in his assumptions. His catering to the Islamic Republic did -- and will -- not lead to an end to their nuclear weapons threat, or to moderation by the Iranian government. Instead, President Obama’s dream has become the Iranian regime’s fondest wish, the creation of a powerful, violent, and bloodthirsty Islamist Iranian Caliphate, which is a nightmare for the rest of the Middle East.
In 2008, when running for president, Barack Obama said “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
President Obama has certainly brought change to the Middle East. It may or may not have been the change that Americans were waiting for. But when it comes to the Islamist theocratic regime in Iran, there can be no doubt -- Barack Obama was the U.S. President the Iranian’s were waiting for.
Adam Turner is the General Counsel & Legislative Affairs Director for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).