In President Barack Obama’s defense of his nuclear deal with Iran Wednesday, he said there are only two types of people who will oppose his deal – Republican partisans and Israel- firsters – that is, traitors.
At American University, Obama castigated Republican lawmakers as the moral equivalent of Iranian jihadists saying, “Those [Iranian] hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal… are making common cause with the Republican Caucus.”
He then turned his attention to Israel.
Obama explained that whether or not you believe the deal endangers Israel boils down to whom you trust more – him or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And, he explained, he can be trusted to protect Israel better than Netanyahu can because “[I] have been a stalwart friend of Israel throughout my career.”
The truth is that it shouldn’t much matter to US lawmakers whether Obama or Netanyahu has it right about Israel. Israel isn’t a party to the deal and isn’t bound by it. If Israel decides it needs to act on its own, it will.
The US, on the other side, will be bound by the deal if Congress fails to kill it next month.
So the real question lawmakers need to ask is whether the deal is good for America. Is Obama right or wrong that only partisan zealots and disloyal Zionists could oppose his great diplomatic achievement? To determine the answer to that question, you need to do is ask another one. Does his deal make America safer or less safe? The best way to answer that question is to consider all the ways Iran threatens America today, and ask whether the agreement has no impact on those threats, or whether it mitigates or aggravates them.
Today Iran is harming America directly in multiple ways.
The most graphic way Iran is harming America today is by holding four Americans hostage. Iran’s decision not to release them over the course of negotiations indicates that at a minimum, the deal hasn’t helped them.
It doesn’t take much consideration to recognize that the hostages in Iran are much worse off today than they were before Obama concluded the deal on July 14.
The US had much more leverage to force the Iranians to release the hostages before it signed the deal than it does now. Now, not only do the Iranians have no reason to release the hostages, they have every reason to take more hostages.
Then there is Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the US.
In 2011, the FBI foiled an Iranian plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington and bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the US capital.
One of the terrorists set to participate in the attack allegedly penetrated US territory through the Mexican border.
The terrorist threat to the US emanating from Iran’s terrorist infrastructure in Latin America will rise steeply as a consequence of the nuclear deal.
As The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote last month, the sanctions relief the deal provides to Iran will enable it to massively expand its already formidable operations in the US’s backyard. Over the past two decades, Iran and Hezbollah have built up major presences in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Iran’s presence in Latin America also constitutes a strategic threat to US national security. Today Iran can use its bases of operations in Latin America to launch an electromagnetic pulse attack on the US from a ballistic missile, a satellite or even a merchant ship.
The US military is taking active steps to survive such an attack, which would destroy the US’s power grid. Among other things, it is returning the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to its former home in Cheyenne Mountain outside Colorado Springs.
But Obama has ignored the findings of the congressional EMP Commission and has failed to harden the US electronic grid to protect it from such attacks.
The economic and human devastation that would be caused by the destruction of the US electric grid is almost inconceivable. And now with the cash infusion that will come Iran’s way from Obama’s nuclear deal, it will be free to expand on its EMP capabilities in profound ways.
Through its naval aggression in the Strait of Hormuz Iran threatens the global economy. While the US was negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran, the Revolutionary Guards unlawfully interdicted – that is hijacked – the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris and held its crew hostage for weeks.
Iran’s assault on the Tigris came just days after the US-flagged Maersk Kensington was surrounded and followed by Revolutionary Guards ships until it fled the strait.
A rational take-home message the Iranians can draw from the nuclear deal is that piracy pays.
Their naval aggression in the Strait of Hormuz was not met by American military force, but by American strategic collapse at Vienna.
This is doubly true when America’s listless response to Iran’s plan to use its Houthi proxy’s takeover of Yemen to control the Bab el-Mandab strait is taken into consideration. With the Bab el-Mandab, Iran will control all maritime traffic from the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Rather than confront this clear and present danger to the global economy, America abandoned all its redlines in the nuclear talks.
Then there is Iran’s partnership 20-year partnership with al-Qaida.
The 9/11 Commission found in its report that four of the 9/11 terrorists transited Iran before traveling to the US. As former Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Mike Flynn told Fox News in the spring, Iranian cooperation with al-Qaida remains deep and strategic.
When the US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, they seized hard drives containing more than a million documents related to al-Qaida operations. All but a few dozen remain classified.
According to Flynn and other US intelligence officials who spoke to The Weekly Standard, the documents expose Iran’s vast collaboration with al-Qaida.
The agreement Obama concluded with the mullahs gives a tailwind to Iran. Iran’s empowerment will undoubtedly be used to expand its use of al-Qaida terrorists as proxies in their joint war against the US.
Then there is Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The UN Security Council resolution passed two weeks ago cancels the UN-imposed embargoes on conventional arms and ballistic missile acquisitions by Iran. Since the nuclear deal facilities Iranian development of advanced nuclear technologies that will enable the mullahs to build nuclear weapons freely when the deal expires, the Security Council resolution means that by the time the deal expires, Iran will have the nuclear warheads and the intercontinental ballistic missiles required to carry out a nuclear attack on the US.
Obama said Wednesday that if Congress votes down his nuclear deal, “we will lose… America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy. America’s credibility,” he explained, “is the anchor of the international system.”
Unfortunately, Obama got it backwards. It is the deal that destroys America’s credibility and so upends the international system which has rested on that credibility for the past 70 years.
The White House’s dangerous suppression of seized al-Qaida-Iran documents, like its listless response to Iran’s maritime aggression, its indifference to Iran’s massive presence in Latin America, its lackluster response to Iran’s terrorist activities in Latin America, and its belittlement of the importance of the regime’s stated goal to destroy America – not to mention its complete collapse on all its previous redlines over the course of the negotiations – are all signs of the disastrous toll the nuclear deal has already taken on America’s credibility, and indeed on US national security.
To defend a policy that empowers Iran, the administration has no choice but to serve as Iran’s agent. The deal destroys America’s credibility in fighting terrorism. By legitimizing and enriching the most prolific state sponsor of terrorism, the US has made a mockery of its claimed commitment to the fight.
The deal destroys the US’s credibility as an ally.
By serving as apologists for its worst enemy, the US has shown its allies that they cannot trust American security guarantees. How can Israel or Saudi Arabia trust America to defend them when it is endangering itself? The deal destroys 70 years of US nonproliferation efforts. By enabling Iran to become a nuclear power, the US has made a mockery of the very notion of nonproliferation and caused a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
The damage caused by the deal is already being felt. For instance, Europe, Russia and China are already beating a path to the ayatollahs’ doorstep to sign commercial and military deals with the regime.
But if Congress defeats the deal, it can mitigate the damage. By killing the deal, Congress will demonstrate that the American people are not ready to go down in defeat. They can show that the US remains committed to its own defense and the rebuilding of its strategic credibility worldwide.
In his meeting with Jewish leaders Tuesday, Obama acknowledged that his claim – repeated yet again Wednesday – that the only alternative to the deal is war, is a lie.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Greg Rosenbaum, chairman of the National Democratic Jewish Council, which is allied with the White House, said that Obama rejected the notion that war will break out if Congress rejects the deal with veto-overriding majorities in both houses.
According to Rosenbaum, Obama claimed that if Congress rejects his nuclear deal, eventually the US will have to carry out air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to prevent them from enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels.
“But,” he quoted Obama as saying, “the result of such a strike won’t be war with Iran.”
Rather, Obama said, Iran will respond to a US strike primarily by ratcheting up its terrorist attacks against Israel.
“I can assure,” Obama told the Jewish leaders, “that Israel will bear the brunt of the asymmetrical responses that Iran will have to a military strike on its nuclear facilities.”
What is notable here is that despite the fact that it will pay the heaviest price for a congressional defeat of the Iran deal, Israel is united in its opposition to the deal. This speaks volume about the gravity with which the Israeli public views the threats the agreement unleashed.
But again, Israel is not the only country that is imperiled by the nuclear deal. And Israelis are not the only ones who need to worry.
Obama wishes to convince the public that the deal’s opponents are either partisan extremists or traitors who care about Israel more than they care about America. But neither claim is true. The main reason Americans should oppose the deal is that it endangers America. And as a consequence, Americans who oppose the deal are neither partisans nor turncoats.
They are patriots.
A version of this piece previously appeared on The Jerusalem Post.