Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Obama Appeasing Iran?

The Iran Deal has been litigated to death; mostly on social media, but also in the media. Recently, Politico published a new article by Josh Meyer with new allegations about the Obama administration appeasing Iran via lenience towards Hezbollah. The article is long, but can be summed up as such: the DEA had a task force targeting Hezbollah's drug trafficking operation and related activities and there was an unwritten order from the top down (the author insinuates from the very top) to let Hezbollah off the hook as the possibility of a deal with Iran was of greater concern.

As expected, this has led to the usual suspects re-litigating the Iran Deal, and, per usual, the ratio of substantive commentary to ad hominem attacks is unfavorable. This is not worth spending much time on, as the quality of arguments from both sides tend to be limited, though it should be noted that the allegedly mighty "echo chamber" has chimed in vociferously against their usual opponents.

As I noted in the past, the "echo chamber", portrayed by the right as a well-oiled and effective machine, was most active during a period when support for the Iran Deal dropped by 50%. The focus, unfortunately, has been based on the usual tired tropes rather than anything substantive.

One argument worth mentioning is from Ilan Goldenberg. A former Obama official and pro-JCPOA intellectual, he asked Meyer a simple question: 'do you have any proof that any of this is explicitly because of the Iran Deal'. Goldenberg acknowledges flaws in the Obama approach to Iran, and that Meyer's background investigative work is great, but points to this failure to produce anything explicitly linking the two. Meyer has not yet responded.

There is in fact evidence that Obama's administration appeased Iran specifically because of the Iran Deal negotiations. We have it on the record that Secretary of State John Kerry and/or President Obama himself blocked the release of the updated Iran 1951-1954 Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) up until the inauguration of President Trump in January 2017 (it was then discreetly released in the summer) The belief is that the ongoing nuclear negotiations were sensitive and releasing more information on the 1953 coup in Iran which the United States, Britain, and various Iranians were involved in, would be a literal deal breaker. For whatever reason this appeasement continued years after the deal was signed.

While it is unclear how far the administration went to facilitate the deal, how much leeway they gave Iran, Hezbollah, and Iran's other proxies, there is at the moment, little substantial and attributable evidence of appeasement aside from the FRUS incident.

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