The details of the negotiations to nowhere are beside the point.
We Met fans were thrilled by the brilliance of Matt Harvey, who tossed six shutout innings in his first start after missing 19 months due to elbow surgery. It reminded us, though, that “The Dark Knight” is going to demand a huge contract down the road.
It got me to daydreaming about the negotiations. Let’s say that, as the contract deadline approaches, Harvey says he wants $210 million over seven years — the going rate for pitching aces just set by the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer. The Mets’ ownership, the parsimonious Wilpon family, counters by offering five years at $15 million per. The two sides are not even close.
The deadline is about to strike midnight. Knowing his fan base will go ballistic and boycott Citi Field if their idol is not inked to a contract, a panicked Fred Wilpon calls a press conference. There, he waves around a blank sheet of paper. Only he insists that it’s not an empty page. It’s a framework! “Don’t worry fans, we have an agreement in principle,” the owner assures us. “We just have to work out a few, er . . . details.”
Then I shake my head and realize: I’m not dreaming the nightmare of the Mets’ Harvey negotiations; I’m living the nightmare of Obama’s Iran negotiations.
There is not, nor has there ever been, an Iran deal. The “framework” the president announced last week was just a stunt. As yet another negotiations deadline loomed with the president plainly unwilling to walk away despite Iranian intransigence, Congress appeared poised to end the farce by voting to stiffen sanctions. The “framework” is a feint designed to dissuade Congress and sustain the farce.
In reality, what we have is simply an Obama administration assumption and a timetable. The assumption is that Iran will become a nuclear-weapons power. The timetable involves dragging out the enervating negotiations-to-nowhere for as long as it takes to inure Americans to the prospect of a nuclear Iran.
I have a confession to make: I don’t follow with rapt attention the “er . . . details.” Oh, I hear day after tedious day of State Department flim-flam. But I can’t take the bargain jargon seriously. You know the old saw about how you just want to know what time it is but the guy instead drones on and on about how to build a clock? That’s Obama’s Iran negotiations.
Well, here’s what time it is: Iran has built its foreign policy around the goal of “Death to America” for the last 36 years. It continues, unabashed, to be the world’s leading state sponsor of jihadist terrorism — in particular, anti-American terrorism. It has killed and abetted the killing of Americans throughout the current regime’s existence. It is a totalitarian sharia state that, at this moment, is imprisoning at least three Americans. One of them, Saeed Abedini, has been sentenced to eight years’ incarceration for establishing Christian houses of worship, which the regime says is a threat to national security. The regime, further, has repeatedly vowed to exterminate Israel, our close ally and the only true democracy in the region.
With such a rogue state, there is only one negotiation a sensible nation — particularly the world’s most powerful nation — can have. You tell them that until they convincingly disavow their anti-American stance, cease their support for terrorism, release American prisoners, and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, that there is no point in discussing anything else.
This is not complicated. It is not, as Obama would have us believe, a call to invade Tehran at midnight and keep 300,000 American troops there for a decade or three. You tell the mullahs that the basic tenets of their existing government make it an enemy regime, so naturally our response must be to use every component of our government — financial, treasury, trade, diplomacy, law-enforcement, intelligence, and military — to punish the Iranian regime until it reforms or disappears. You tell them that, in view of their posture toward our country and our allies, and of their violation of international commitments and resolutions, we regard their nuclear and ballistic-missile programs as unacceptable. Without committing to any specific tactic or set of tactics to undo them, you convey that we are quite serious about taking no options off the table.
Is it true, as the president likes to say, that we should never be afraid to negotiate? Only if we enter negotiations with a firm grasp of our bottom-line requirements. Those must be non-negotiable. We should be afraid of “negotiations” that entail abandoning bottom-line requirements. If that’s what “negotiation” means, it’s just a euphemism for selling out our national interests. They wouldn’t be national interests if they could be compromised without fearful consequences.
In the middle of their negotiations with Obama, the mullahs had one of their top military commanders announce that, as far as Iran is concerned, “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable.” That is one of their bottom-line requirements. Obama’s job is to move them off their bottom line, not erase ours.
He isn’t even trying. Thus, the details of Obama’s negotiations with the mullahs are beside the point; the fact that we are negotiating becomes a humiliating defeat — an implicit admission that we accept Iran’s aggression.
Nevertheless, if we bypass this inconvenient reality for the moment and consider Obama’s “framework,” its chicanery is manifest. In the first five minutes of law school, students are presented with a formal principle that, they quickly realize, they have understood since childhood: An agreement is a meeting of the minds. Absent a mutual understanding by both parties of what each has promised to do, you don’t have a “framework” with some “er . . . details” to be worked out. You have bupkis.
And that’s what Obama will surely end up with. Such disdain does the Iranian regime have for the United States, such contempt for our president and his desperation, that Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei won’t even allow Obama the pretense of a deal. With relish, he mocked the president’s phony “framework” this week, declaring the undeniable truth that there is no agreement, that the parties are not even close on the fundamental elements of a pact, and that the “White House fact sheet” is the product of “lying and breaching promises.”
When not smiling across the table at our smitten secretary of state, Iran’s foreign minister can be found laying a wreath at the grave of Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah, the man who orchestrated, among countless other atrocities, the 1983 attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut. Two weeks ago, while the hapless Secretary Kerry hailed supposed progress in the negotiations, Khamenei reaffirmed his call for “Death to America.” As the negotiations limped along, Iran-backed jihadists known as the Houthis ousted the government of Yemen, triggering the emergency abandonment of the U.S. embassy and potentially enabling Iran to disrupt key commercial sea lanes while establishing a menacing presence on Saudi Arabia’s border. Iranian military officials continue to proclaim that “the American Navy is one of our targets”; just a few weeks ago, as Obama’s negotiations entered what was portrayed as the critical phase, Iran fired ballistic missiles at a mock-up of a U.S. aircraft carrier during naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz.
Some negotiations. They thunder about attacking us. We twaddle about how many thousands of centrifuges they should keep.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.
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