Streetwise Professor

April 9, 2015

Rashomon Meets Rouhani, or Oh, Obama You’ve Done It Again!

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:50 pm

The days after the alleged consummation of the nuclear “deal” between Iran and the the US and other P5+1 nations bears a strong resemblance to the famous Kurosawa film Rashomon: the participants have totally different accounts of what happened, and what was agreed to.

In the US version, Iran agreed to many terms that will make it impossible for it to “break out” to build a bomb in less than a year during the 10 year term of the deal. Centrifuges will not process uranium. Stockpiles of processed uranium will be neutralized. There will be intrusive inspections. Sanctions will not be eliminated immediately.

In the Iranian version, none of these things are true. Indeed, the Iranians characterize them as “lies”. In particular, sanctions will be lifted immediately, and there will be no inspections of military sites.

So which version is true? Who knows? All we have to go on is the accounts of the participants. No document detailing the understandings reached has been released. Instead, each side has released “fact sheets” which are wildly contradictory. At least in Rashomon the basic contours of every story were the same, even if key details differed. Here, one wonders if these people were even in the same room.

Astoundingly, even if the American account is accurate, the US has made major concessions on every key issue. Obama had originally said Fordow (the hardened uranium processing facility) and Arak (the heavy water reactor) would be closed. Both will remain open, although allegedly they will be repurposed. For a while, anyways. There will be no accounting of past Iranian violations, making it impossible to establish a baseline against which to evaluate future actions. There will be no snap inspections. And on and on. All of these reflect dramatic concessions from the original American negotiating position. Iran made no similar concessions.

Remarkably, the CIA director John Brennan claimed the Iranians finally agreed to a deal because the Iranian economy was “about to go down” due to the existing sanctions regime. If that’s true, why didn’t our crack negotiating team present Iran with a take it or leave it offer that forced Iranian concessions on every matter, rather than fold on issue after issue? Why did the allegedly stronger party make all the concessions? Why didn’t Obama play good cop to the Republican bad cop, and tell the Iranians “unless you take give up your nuclear program, these crazy Republicans will impose even more sanctions”, instead of fighting the Republicans tooth and nail? Either (a) Brennan is wrong, (b) Obama is the world’s worst negotiator, or (c) Obama really had no desire to force Iran to give up its program.

Given the utterly ineffectual, inept and/or feckless American negotiating strategy, it is hardly surprising that the Iranians are now demanding yet even more concessions. In particular, they are saying that immediate elimination of sanctions is a red line: no lifting, no deal. They are also saying that there will be no inspections of Iranian military facilities. Another red line.

Obama apparently operates under the delusion that a revisionist, revanchist, and messianic power that is involved deeply in conflict throughout the Middle East, and which has made “Death to America” words to live by for the last 37 years will somehow become a normal, non-aggressive nation when sanctions are eased, the money flows, and it is on its way to getting the bomb, in 10 years even if Obama is accurate in his description of the deal and his belief that Iran will adhere to it, or even sooner if he isn’t. This is delusional. Iran didn’t become an aggressive, revanchist, terrorism-supporting nation because it was isolated from the international community: it was isolated from the international community because it has been aggressive, revanchist, and terror-supporting. Now it will be able to pursue its messianic and imperialist goals under far less constraint. Yes, this will work out well.

Outside of Obama’s amen corner, virtually everyone in the foreign policy establishment is aghast. Eminences grise Henry Kissinger and George Schultz wrote a long and devastating oped in the WSJ that eviscerated virtually every aspect of the deal. The administration’s response? State Department interim spokesidiot Marie Harf (whom I would say is right out of a dumb blonde joke, except that would be insulting to the subjects of dumb blonde jokes) said that the Kissinger-Schultz piece was “sort of” full “a lot big words and big thoughts.” Wow. What a telling riposte to the two most experienced diplomats of the post-WWII US.  The only more inane response would have been “Is NOT!”

And then there’s Obama himself, dishing out his usual sneering disdain at critics. For instance, he said that those who opposed the deal were taking “a foolish approach” and needed to “bone up on foreign policy.”

Maybe what he meant to say is that they need to be boneheads on foreign policy, and therefore more like him. This is a guy who has lurched from one foreign policy misjudgment (or disaster) to another. The examples are endless. Calling ISIS the JV is one. The recent FUBAR with the Chinese International Development Bank is another. But my favorite, because it illustrates Obama’s unique (and toxic) mixture of warped judgment and narcissistic belief in his own Olympian discernment, was his response to Romney’s statement that Russia is the US’s greatest geopolitical threat: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Hahahahaha. Touche! What a zinger! Silly Romney, living in the past, not like the progressive, hip, future-focused Obama.

Well, the problem with that is that Putin is living in the past too, and is itching to refight the Cold War. But our Barry knows better.

So yeah. Based on his stellar track record of being wrong 99.8 percent of the time we should totally trust his judgment that his “deal” with the Iranians will tame them and thereby usher in an era of peace and tranquility to the Middle East. In fact, the opposite is true, and we see more evidence of that daily, as Arabs gear up for a civilizational and sectarian war with Persians (with Yemen being only the first theater in this conflict).

Obama is the Mr. Magoo of foreign policy. He blindly and happily tools along in his jalopy, thinking he is accomplishing great things, totally oblivious to the chaos and destruction that he is leaving in his wake, proudly proclaiming “Oh, Obama! You’ve done it again.”

Yes. Yes he has. And every time he does it, the nation-and the world-moves one step closer to the abyss.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Fordow and Arak will be repurposed as children’s schools. No inspections will be needed or allowed. There is no reason to inspect children’s schools, and any inspection would upset the children.

    Comment by Andrew_M_Garland — April 10, 2015 @ 9:24 am

  2. @Andrew-I had heard one was going to be converted to a baby formula factory. My mistake.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 10, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  3. One of the important points alluded to in the Kissinger/Schultz piece is the problem with the “snap back” of sanctions, and that, even if the US reimposes sanctions, it is doubtful that anyone else will. This also raises an important question as to what extent the US is actually in the driver’s seat in these negotiations.

    Comment by JDonn — April 10, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

  4. @JDonn-Exactly. Anyone who actually believes the sanctions would be snapped back is delusional. So is Obama delusional or just a liar? I’m going with liar.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 10, 2015 @ 5:19 pm

  5. Maybe they’re pinning their “snap-back” idea on unilateral U.S. financial sanctions that put intermediaries in the position of choosing whether to do business in/with the U.S. or with Iran. That would be popular with our allies.

    Apparently even the French think that Kerry was too helpful to the Iranians. The original WSJ news story after the “framework” was announced thought that the main, astounding news was that the Obama administration caved on its public demands in the first day or week of negotiations. The Iranians said that they would never give up their program or close their facilities, so what else could Kerry & co. do? They rolled right over and started negotiating terms of the surrender. Unbelievable.

    Comment by srp — April 10, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

  6. Professor,

    I made that up as satire. It is hard to do satire in this world. My mistake.

    Comment by Andrew_M_Garland — April 11, 2015 @ 9:48 am

  7. @Andrew-I knew it was satire. I was responding satirically as well!

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 11, 2015 @ 11:08 am

  8. Hmmmm, the Russian information operations concept of “reflexive control” somehow strangely seems to fit how POTUS treats Congress & GOP.

    Comment by Mudak — April 11, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  9. SWP:

    In the new Russian dictionary, under the translation for the word ‘feckless,’ considerations are being made to remove the narrative & just put Obama’s picture there.

    Be well, Kind Sir. And thank you for this forum. It draws some incredible minds (Vlad’s excepted).

    VP VP

    Comment by Vlad — April 11, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

  10. Where’s the LOI or MOU on the so-called framework. There is none, which means there is no substance
    to any of this BS from BO. As for (a), Brennan is certifiable for institutionalization; (b), yes,
    but Kerry is worse; and (c), yup!

    Comment by eric — April 11, 2015 @ 11:45 pm

  11. @eric-Absolutely. As I said on Twitter: (1) I’d say the “deal” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, but it’s not written down so . . . , and (2) at least Chamberlain got a piece of paper to wave around; maybe Obama can wave around Kerry’s hotel bill.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 12, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress