The vanity and art of the deal

‘They have no plan.”

This is the clarion call of Obama acolytes – including most of the mainstream media – who support the capitulation which they choose to call a “deal.”

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A deal, like a contract, in its simplest form, refers to an exchange between two or more parties; where mutual accommodations are made to achieve the desired outcome.

Under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal), the Islamic Republic, we are told, agreed to put the brakes on its nuclear ambitions for a brief period – at best delaying its “breakout” potential by a few years. That’s it.

The west gave up every shred of leverage it had. The deal terms dropped economic sanctions; provided billions in cash to support global terrorism; accepted absurdly lax inspection protocols of Iranian nuclear and military sites; did not address the issue of containing Iranian territorial ambition in the Middle East; and did not address Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program.

The JCPOA was an epic hoax. And a failure.

Smug leadership utterly disconnected from the brutal reality of the Middle East pontificated to the mob, edifying us, in our simplicity, as to how complex it all is and how brilliant they all were to coax the so-called “moderate” faction of the Iranian leadership to the table and negotiate such a brilliant outcome.

Until President Donald Trump began “talking turkey” last October, no deal proponents spoke about modifying it, supplementing its deficiencies with a stronger addendum. There was no need for such nonsense because the deal was as good as it gets.

Suddenly, in an eleventh- hour panic, supporters of the so-called deal are strong advocates of putting a new squeeze on Iran and imposing more stringent terms in an addendum. On what basis this fantasy is promoted eludes me. The Obama rationalization of JCPOA was that it was a triumph of diplomacy and it would be impossible to extract different terms from Iran. The Obama Administration approached the terrorist theocracy with a weak mindset and seemed to think – and said straight up – that respecting the Iranian regime would yield better results.

Huh? Exactly what results were those? And – what was their plan? The truth is, they have and had no plan, other than to secure any deal at any cost in order to provide former president Barack Obama with his desired legacy trophy. Vainglory.

I watched the American pundits and media holding forth on Tuesday night in the aftermath of Trump’s announcement, replete with heavy sighs, angry head shakes, eye rolls, every indicia of contempt imaginable. Yet, the substance of their reaction was uniformly blank.

First prize for empty smugness goes to CNN’s marquee international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, who sets the tone for the network’s coverage. In addition to lamenting the lack of a “plan”, she relished disparaging Bibi’s “show and tell” broadcast last week disclosing the Mossad cache of Iranian nuclear documents taken from Tehran. In what seemed to be an apoplectic moment, Amanpour stated that Trump wants “insane” things from Iran. One presumes that by “insane” she invokes his intention to have Iran cease its support of global terrorism, meddling in Syria and Lebanon and Yemen and elsewhere, allow a semblance of civil liberties domestically, and put a kybosh on its ballistic missile program.

Why on earth are any of those demands “insane”?

What strikes me as “insane” is the fact that Obama and supporters of the deal seem oblivious to the fact that a wide range of state actors in the middle east, representing divergent interests and cultures, are and have been resolutely opposed to the JCPOA. These countries – including Saudi Arabia and Israel – two important and longstanding American allies in the region, are on the front line of Iranian aggression and prime targets of any nuclear deployment. One would think that Obama might have considered their views to be significant.

But, he did just the opposite. In his imperial manner, he dismissed any and all detractors as being either less intellectually sophisticated than he was or adhering to a worldview that was brittle and dated.

THE OBAMA DOCTRINE, such as it was, eschewed the use of American power to achieve foreign policy outcomes and instead presumed that western, liberal, rational approaches to issue management would resonate and be adopted by Iran, a country controlled by a regime which has stood in emphatic counterpoint to each of those traits for four decades.

Talk about trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

The disconnect between what passes for thoughtful analysis and the very grounded and reasonable views of the muzzled majority is surreal.

With all due respect to Ms. Amanpour and her ilk, many reasonable and intelligent people find Obama’s approach to foreign policy, particularly in the middle east, to be delusional. Perhaps even insane.

The most compelling plea for upholding the JCPOA came during President Emmanuel Macron’s address two weeks ago to the US Congress, when he invoked good, old-fashioned honor: “A deal is a deal.”

If the United States backed out, he warned, then that may bode ominously for international order and future trust.

If only it were so simple.

By that rationale, the Allies would have chosen to go the way of Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement – which the Czechs have historically regarded as having been anything but. They called it the Munich Diktat.

And the so-called “deal” was no deal.

The author was the Canadian ambassador to Israel between 2014 and 2016. She resides in Tel Aviv.