Too many on Capitol Hill are still afraid to admit what is so horribly wrong with John Kerry’s Iran deal. The forced urgency is suspicious enough, considering that we have worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions for decades, a lot longer than the 10-year compliance window being offered. The same sanctions are already in place that Obama plans to use if Iran violates the agreement. What is most disturbing, though, is that the nature of who and what we are dealing with should have killed this very bad idea before it even got started. It didn’t, even after we heard calls for Death to America from a government composed of two very dangerous things: Islam and a rigid, hateful theocracy.
The White House has confirmed that the Islamic terrorist regime we are negotiating with has enough nuclear material for ten weapons.1 This admission may help sell a deal in the name of keeping those weapons from being built, but it also reflects on the failure of Obama’s strategies in the Middle East and ignores the obvious problem: Iran is ruled by a Muslim cleric who publicly espouses evil and the destruction of our country.
Evil theocracy pledges death to America. White House celebrates.
Obama is so focused on his bet that Iran can be trusted that he is willing to bargain with terrorists and a theocracy that proves Islamic fundamentalism is fundamentally evil.
While Michelle Obama celebrated the Iranian Nowruz New Year last March2 and our State Department extended its best wishes, Iran’s supreme religious leader had a few words for us. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton remarked:
Ayatollah Khamenei has never been a great admirer of the [sic] America, of course. He sometimes likes to refer to us as “the Great Satan.” During his Nowruz speech, he whipped the crowd into frenzied chants of “death to America!” What was his response to that chant?
He said, “Yes, certainly, death to America!” Death to America.3
Perhaps we have become so familiar with hearing chants of death to America and Israel that we no longer take them seriously, even when they take place alongside our attempt to dissuade Khamenei’s country from weaponizing its nuclear program by agreeing to release billions made inaccessible by sanctions.
Death to America has become a comfortably familiar threat (see: Why America Has No Death to Allah Day). Theocracy and fundamentalism also mean very real death and imprisonment for those who step out of line, something a nuclear deal will help us forget.
Islamic theocracy means abuses against non-Muslims
The word “theocracy” is never used in our government’s 2015 report on International Religious Freedom. The report’s findings contrast starkly with the all-out effort to make Islam respectable, citing prison sentences meted out by Iran for those charged with “insulting Islam, criticizing the Islamic Republic, and publishing materials that allegedly deviate from Islamic standards.”4
It is all too easy to forget that sanctions are only part of the big picture:
The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran because of its sponsorship of terrorism, refusal to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency regulations regarding its nuclear program, and for severe human rights and religious freedom violations. According to the State Department, these sanctions are intended to target the Iranian government, not the people of Iran.5
The sanctions may be directed at the government, but the role of the people is central to whether a nuclear deal is a waste of diplomatic hot air (see: Do Middle East Muslims Have the Courage for D-Day?). Charles Schumer figured that out. John Kerry probably never will.
Kerry indulges fantasy, but Schumer gets it right
Talking about abuses in South Sudan, John Kerry allowed some insight into the big mistake he is making:
Legitimacy is not a presumed right of any government. It is conferred by the people, and it is sustained only by demonstrating leadership to protect and serve all citizens—responsibilities the government has neglected. 6
Legitimacy is only relevant when the people have a chance to grant it. That is not the case in Iran or any country guided by Islamic fundamentalism. Our willingness to bargain and to give the appearance of resuming relations with Iran makes a sham of our professed belief in rule by the people.
In breaking with the administration and saying no to Obama’s deal, Senator Charles Schumer observed how little influence the people have on what happens in Iran:
It is true that Iran has a large number of people who want their government to decrease its isolation from the world and focus on economic advancement at home. But it is also true that this desire has been evident in Iran for thirty-five years, yet the Iranian leaders have held a tight and undiminished grip on Iran, successfully maintaining their brutal, theocratic dictatorship with little threat.7
That desire seemed evident across large sections of the Middle East when Kerry fell for the false signals given off by the Arab Spring. Fortunately, lawmakers who will have the final say don’t have a problem pointing out the elephant in the room:
We can have no doubt about the malevolent intent of a country’s leaders who chant ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ just days after concluding a deal.8
Disregarding history, Iran’s threats, its arguments against the deal, and the beliefs underlying the country’s theocracy, John Kerry threatens that refusing to play ball will cause our adversary to proceed down the path to developing a weapon.9 While that might be true, it is also true that Iran’s theocracy is predictable, patient, and has been in place for a very long time. A government comfortable with threatening death to America while negotiating knows what it wants and sooner or later it is going to find a way to get it, bad deal or no deal.