Tags: Barack Obama. Middle East | Iran | Israel

Obama Mistakenly Sees Iran Deal as Escape from Mideast

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Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015 04:29 PM Current | Bio | Archive

With even Obama supporters now questioning the deal with Iran, with the revelation Iranian leaders made a side deal with the IAEA, with recognition that al-Qaida has a sanctuary in Iran, with the U.S. excluded from the inspection team, with leaders in Iran shouting “death to America” and with the supreme leader indicating that Israel must be “annihilated,” why does President Obama insist on this arrangement?

From a perspective that is coming into focus, President Obama and his colleagues see themselves as the Sykes and Picoh of the Middle East.

That is to say, like members of the British and French foreign offices in 1916 who drew lines in the sand creating states out of the dismembered Ottoman Empire, President Obama regards the nuclear deal with Iran as a way to redraft Middle East geography and, simultaneously, have the U.S. withdraw from the region.


If Iran is in possession of nuclear weapons – a pathway created through the “deal” – it becomes the regional “strong horse,” a condition that justifies U.S. withdrawal.

While there is the recognition Sunni nations will object to this hegemonic status for Iran, the Obama team contends that Iran will be a more reliable (Obama used the word “responsible”) partner in stabilizing the Middle East than Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan.

That is a strategic calculation that many regard as misguided. Why would you put Iran, the major state sponsor of terrorism, in a position to stabilize a region it has helped to destabilize? This is the question that many, including Democratic officials, are asking.

The answer lies in a belief that Persian Shia are better prepared and more stable than their Sunni counterparts, an hypothesis that requires further explication.

Since Egypt has recently had two revolutions in three years, even the presence of popular President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi isn’t reassuring. After all, he has a bull’s-eye on his back with the Muslim Brotherhood taking aim.

The House of Saud is in disarray. King Salman is aging and ailing. Succession could be a problem. Moreover, a growing secular influence in the country could profoundly disturb the seeming equilibrium.

One would be unwise to wager on a Saudi Arabian government in five years that resembles the present one.

Change is on the near horizon and probably dramatic change at that.

Jordan is a nation populated by a majority of Palestinians who are restless with King Abdullah. The Hashemite family, that claims to be descended from Prophet Mohammed, has ruled Jordan since 1946. With ISIS on its border and terrorism internally, Jordan is also in a fragile political position that could lead to violent revolution.

That there is instability in the three leading Sunni nations does not detract from the problems Iran faces as well. Twenty-percent of the population over 15 are drug addicts. Fertility levels have collapsed. Chlamydia infections rates, as David Goldman points out, are three times the worldwide average.

By any objective measure Iran is a civilization in decline, one might even say one that is dying. Yet it is being bolstered by an Obama administration that believes this is the only government in the region that has a chance of stability.

While this calculus is probably wrong, it nonetheless offers President Obama his dream of extricating the United States from the Middle East.

In his judgment, if I read minds accurately, Israel is a distraction that interferes with the plan since ties to Israel force the U.S. to remain in the region.


Better to leave the fate of this ally to the United Nations so that our involvement is limited.

With this as a plan, the Iran deal from Obama’s perspective makes sense even if it is entirely one-sided.

The U.S. has justification for withdrawal; the president can concentrate on his plan to extend government influence at home and the U.S. can channel foreign policy through the United Nations.

Yes, this is a different America and a very different world.

Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.

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That there is instability in the three leading Sunni nations does not detract from the problems Iran faces.By any objective measure Iran is a civilization in decline. Obama regards the nuclear deal with Iran as a way to redraft Middle East geography and have the U.S. withdraw.
Barack Obama. Middle East, Iran, Israel
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2015-29-24
Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015 04:29 PM
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