John Bolton should not play Obama/Biden game on the Iran 'deal'

It would never have occurred to me to call John Bolton "naïve" on anything, let alone the Iran nuclear "deal," but his recent Newsmax interview left me puzzled.  This was not because Ambassador Bolton changed his position on the "deal" — after all, it was during his stint as President Trump's national security adviser that the U.S. pulled out, and clearly, his views of the danger of the deal did not change one bit.  What astonished me was his reading of Obama's and Biden's motives for getting into the "deal" in the first place.  It struck me as unbelievably naïve, and it was strange to hear this truly hard-nosed observer of the world talk this way.

According to Bolton:

"Although [Obama/Biden] don't like to say it publicly, [the deal] rests on the assumption that if they could just calm the Ayatollahs down and convince them that they don't need to worry about the United States and Israel, they can solve the nuclear program, Iran will behave like a normal nation, and sweetness and light will break out in the Middle East.

"It really is a fantasy, and it's a dangerous fantasy."

President Joe Biden's pushing to resume JCPOA talks — after former President Donald Trump decertified it — is an "extraordinarily dangerous" way to stem nuclear proliferation, Bolton added to host John Bachman.

"They think it was working, and they're just completely wrong on that," Bolton said. "They have no idea how flawed the deal is, and they see it as something that can be a model really for their nonproliferation efforts around the world, and it's extraordinarily dangerous.

Israel sees it. The Gulf Arab states see it. They do not."

Speaking of assumptions, it is clear that John Bolton's assumption that Obama and Biden "have no idea how flawed the deal is" is based on yet another assumption — that Obama and Biden were actually trying "to stem nuclear proliferation."  Only then does Bolton's indignation at Obama/Biden naïveté makes sense.

But consider a different motivation for striking a "deal" with Iran in which America granted legitimacy to Iran's nuclear project in exchange for a fifteen-year hiatus in the production of the actual weapon: the desire to push this assumed eventuality past the Obama, and his follower's administration (which was assumed to be Hillary Clinton's).  Assuming that Iran's drive to get nuclear weapons was unstoppable, Obama decided to buy fifteen years of quiet at the expense of granting acceding to Iran's nuclear program.  The entire deal is based on the notion that Iran's nuclear bomb is inevitable.  Else, the "deal" makes zero sense.  By the Obama/Biden logic, Iran was to get the bomb anyway — so why not push it to fifteen years later, when it would fall into another, and likely Republican, administration's lap?

In other words, non-proliferation was never on Obama/Biden's mind; that Iran would get a bomb was a foregone conclusion, as evidenced by Obama's rhetoric that its nuclear knowledge could not be unlearned and that the only alternative to a "deal" was a war.

So no, Mr. Bolton — Obama and Biden have an excellent idea of "how flawed the deal is," and they aggressively went for it precisely because they were not at all trying "to stem nuclear proliferation."  They gave up on blocking Iran's bomb, accepting it as a future fait accompli.

People on the presidential level are not stupid.  It was to their advantage to pretend that they were trying to prevent Iran's atom bomb and try to fool the public — but Mr. Bolton does not need to play their game, responding to Obama/Biden's laughably childish excuses in kind, as if he takes them seriously.  We should not accept their frame of reference or their terms of discourse.  Rather than pretend they care for non-proliferation and lament their naiveté, we should call a spade a spade — and unmask the pretenses of Obama/Biden's "deal," showing it to be the obvious game of smoke and mirrors that it is.  Mr. Bolton should certainly be able to see through it.  

Photo credit: Michael VadonCC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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