Steve's Blog

Hey Iran, There’s a New Sheriff In Town

The deal the Obama Administration struck with Iran, relative to nuclear weapons, will go down as one of the worst deals in American history. Similar one-sided deals which come to mind are: native Americans parting with Manhattan for $24, the sale of Alaska by the Russians for far less than true value, and perhaps the Louisiana Purchase. Fortunately, the United States came out way ahead in these previous deals (although technically the Manhattan deal was between the Lenape Indians and the Dutch.)

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In essence, Iran agreed to delay the development of their nuclear weapons program for awhile, and in return, had sanctions against them lifted, and received $150 billion. The Obama Administration was so anxious to get a deal, any deal, that Iran got most of what it wanted, and gave up very little. Similarly, the Obama Administration was so invested in the deal, and so determined that it be considered a success, that it was willing to overlook the most egregious behavior by Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands on January 14, 2015 with US State Secretary John Kerry in Geneva. Zarif said on January 14 that his meeting with his US counterpart was vital for progress on talks on Tehran's contested nuclear drive. Under an interim deal agreed in November 2013, Iran's stock of fissile material has been diluted from 20 percent enriched uranium to five percent, in exchange for limited sanctions relief. AFP PHOTO / POOL / RICK WILKING (Photo credit should read RICK WILKING/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran, the world’s leading funder of terrorism, now has $150 billion more money to spend on terror, and it’s gone into overdrive. Iran is fomenting instability throughout the Middle East through proxy wars as in Yemen, and by directly funding terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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Iran took American sailors hostage who were in international waters, and publicly humiliated them. (Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iran for supposedly treating them so well, and for finally releasing them.) Iran has also been harassing U.S. Navy warships with so-called fast-attack boats, making hostile runs at our ships.

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And most provocatively, Iran has shot off several rounds of ballistic missiles, which could one day be armed with nuclear weapons. Such nuclear tipped missiles could soon reach the United States, and they could hit Tel Aviv within seven minutes.

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The Obama Administration did absolutely nothing in response to Iran’s provocative acts. It appears that the Trump Administration will be far different. Trump tweeted a few days ago “they (the Iranians) don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me.”

All I’ve got to say is it’s about time! Rather than being pushed around by Iran, as Obama was, we now have a president who, I believe, will insist that Iran’s behavior dramatically improve, or else. As to what the “or else” means, it’s not a bad idea to be intentionally vague, just as Trump’s National Security Adviser General Mike Flynn was when he put Iran “on notice.” Let’s keep Iran guessing as to what action the United States will take.

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Whatever action Trump ultimately decides to take with respect to Iran, I would encourage him to work with Congress, with our Arab allies in the region who are very wary of Iran, and most importantly with Israel. Israel shares our values. Israel has the most powerful, most sophisticated and battle-tested military in the Middle East. And a nuclear armed Iran could be an existential threat to Israel. After all, the last Iranian President threatened to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”

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Unfortunately, the previous administration seemed to go out of its way to cozy up to Iran, and criticize Israel. There are numerous examples of Barack Obama disrespecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli officials were reluctant to publicly acknowledge the many affronts and slights, but the disrespect pained Israel deeply. I know, because I met with many Israeli officials over the years, and what they said privately, and what they had to say publicly, were two different things. They were very reluctant to publicly criticize President Obama for the shabby treatment, because they risked losing even more U.S. support, and that support is critical.

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Fortunately, it appears that there is reason to believe that the Trump/Netanyahu relationship will be much warmer than the Obama/Netanyahu relationship. And next week Prime Minister Netanyahu will be coming to the U.S. and meeting with President Trump at the White House.

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Whether Trump will decide to scrap the Iran deal as a result of that nation’s missile tests and other provocative acts, remains unknown. I would suspect that that will not happen immediately, but that Trump will try instead to pressure Iran into behaving through stricter sanctions. We’ll see.

But whatever Trump decides to do on the Iran deal, he can do it by himself, through executive action. Why? Because Barack Obama arrogantly moved forward on the Iran deal by executive order, rather than by treaty, which would have required Congressional action. Isn’t it fitting that because Barack Obama acted unilaterally, his precious deal could also be unilaterally dismantled? I think so.

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