The Prince: Obama and a Nuclear Iran
Even Conservatives must admit to some begrudging admiration for President Obama’s ability to further his agenda. “If only,” we are tempted to think, “we had such a figure on our side. We’d have lower taxes, a stronger military, more secure borders, and protection for the lives of our Unborn!”
Look at how much Obama accomplishes, even as a lame duck president. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, House of Representatives, in the statehouses, and (in terms of Republican appointed judges) the Supreme Court. Yet they can barely slow his Progressive agenda. Perhaps if the Republicans can maintain their advantages and add the White House, and Obama is retired to mansions in Hawaii and Chicago, then maybe Republicans can manage to at least defund Planned Parenthood, a relatively minor thing. But I doubt it.
Barack Obama’s strength is his ‘by any means necessary’ approach to politics. He is not a man ashamed to lie. Obama is not, of course, the only politician not afraid to lie. But he is easily the best.
Compare him, for a moment, to his appointed successor, Hillary Clinton. While both have shown an equal willingness to lie, Obama is seen as trustworthy by 53% of Americans but Clinton is seen as untrustworthy by 57%.
The difference is, while neither hesitated to lie about such things like Benghazi being the result of a YouTube video, for example, Hillary is also willing to make such ridiculous or easily disprovable claims such as saying that she as a 27 year old recently married woman teaching law at the University of Arkansas attempted to enlist in the military as a Marine.
She is, as William Safire called her in 1996, “a congenital liar.” President Obama is Machiavellian.
Take his classic steamrolling over opposition to Obamacare for example, which was promised to not only create jobs and cut the cost of the average family’s health care but allow us to keep our current doctor and health care, if we liked them, as well. “A ruler will never be short of good reasons to explain away a broken promise.”
Or see how he manhandled the Tea Party, first by orchestrating a campaign to label it as a racist movement, then siccing the IRS upon them to suppress any influence they may have in the 2012 elections. “A prince who wishes to maintain his power ought therefore to learn that he should not be always good, and must use that knowledge as circumstances and the exigencies of his own affairs may seem to require.”
I was reminded of these quotes from Machiavelli’s The Prince while listening to President Obama speech at American University in defense of his Iranian deal. This speech should be used as a case study for students of Machiavellianism. It is a primer for it.
Obama said in this speech “Among U.S. policymakers, there’s never been disagreement on the danger posed by an Iranian nuclear bomb. Democrats and Republicans alike have recognized that it would spark an arms race in the world’s most unstable region and turn every crisis into a potential nuclear showdown.” However Obama himself scoffed at the notion of a dangerous Iran, saying that it was a tiny country, not dangerous compared to the Soviet Union, and wouldn’t stand a chance if it ever did try to pose a serious threat to us. President Obama also claimed “Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.” So again, why should we fear an Iranian nuke if there is a fatwa against it?
Obama added, referring to his proposed Iranian deal, “we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” and the deal “cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.” Yet the deal actually puts Iran on a pathway of a nuclear bomb in 15 years, by Obama’s own admission, so the prohibition is hardly permanent at all.
The President boasted “while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take up to 24 days, once we’ve identified a site that raises suspicion, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in. And by the way, nuclear material isn’t something you hide in the closet. It can leave a trace for years.”
But others, like David Albright, former weapons inspector in Iraq, point out that 24 days might give the Iranians all the time they would need to hide their handiwork from inspectors: “If it is on a small scale, they may be able to clear it out in 24 days. They are practiced at cheating. You can’t count on them to make a mistake.”
It should also be pointed out that, as stated by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, “inspectors should be from countries that have diplomatic relations with [the] Islamic republic of Iran.” Inspectors therefore will be from Russia, Syria, and others who will be incentivized to not be especially diligent in reporting any cheating on the Iran deal.
This assumes that Iran will cheat on the deal. They may not. They may simply disregard it, perhaps almost immediately, or perhaps later when they find the deal does not serve their interest. Obama warned in this speech that rejection of the deal could result in a nuclear Iran in as little as six months. History tells us that no nation six months away from being able to build a nuclear weapon will be dissuaded from having a nuclear weapon built in six months by economic sanctions.
This takes us to the boldest lie Obama said in his speech, or at least the one that rankled me most. Obama, despite decrying earlier in the speech “it’s easy to play in people’s fears, to magnify threats” claimed “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war.” But if diplomacy is defined by this level of acquiescence to Iranian demands, then there is at least one favorable alternative to diplomacy, which is to let maintain the international sanctions, which have had a visible effect on Iran’s economy.
Even if the specious claim that these international sanctions were collapsing and that collapse is inevitable is true, then the US is capable of imposing damaging unilateral sanctions. The Iranian economy has been weak and heavily dependent upon the sale of oil, and the lost of a customer as deep-pocketed as the US would leave a mark.
Furthermore the US has the capacity to, as Senator Tom Cotton put it, set “Iran’s nuclear facilities back to day zero.” The sort of strategic strikes to which Cotton is referring would not necessarily mean a war against Iran – Israel struck Iraqi nuclear facilities without engaging in a full war with Iraq – nor should it be as anything other than an option of last resort. But if a strike against Iran does indeed become necessary to prevent the World’s Leading Sponsor of Terrorism from threatening the world with a nuclear weapon, it is better than strike them now, before they have such a weapon, than later, when they may already be a nuclear state.
This nuclear deal will undoubtedly soon be in effect, at least for as long as the Iranians see it to their advantage. Because Obama has already cleverly manipulated the treaty as not a treaty, Obama only one-third plus one of the Senate or the House to override a veto of it. Obama will spend the upcoming weeks portraying himself as a Bringer of Peace and someone who has earned his Nobel Peace prize, and will use the visiting Pope Francis to buttress that impression. Dissenters, such as prominent Democratic senator Charles Schumer, will continued to be attacked as a Jew more loyal to Israel than the United States. And Republicans will be said to be in “common cause” with those Iranians chanting “Death To America” while Obama and the Iranian leadership will be the adults in the room, despite Ayatollah Khamenei comments and recently published book “Palestine” which makes clear no such separation between Iran’s leaders and “death to America” chanters exist.
But any peace bought by this deal will be short-term and to America’s disadvantage. That is one lesson from Machiavelli that I wish Obama had not missed. “There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.”