Apr 20, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 30 • By LEE SMITH
Ever since it announced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran last month, the Obama administration has flooded the news media with technical details elaborating the many virtues of the proposed framework agreement. Indeed, the White House sent its energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, onto the Sunday shows to helpfully explain the knotty fine points that are likely to be lost on laymen—or anyone who doesn’t celebrate its signal accomplishment.
If you don’t think it’s a good deal, said CIA director John Brennan, you don’t know the facts. The science is in! But like it does with so much else, the White House is using “science” as a smokescreen to obscure its failure in Lausanne. John Kerry and the American negotiating team were supposed to lock down not technical details but political arrangements, like the pace of sanctions relief and inspectors’ access to Iranian nuclear sites. None of these issues has been resolved—nor, says Iran, will it accept White House demands.
As the deans of American foreign policy, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, wrote last week in an important Wall Street Journal article: “Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications.” It’s time then to look at the bigger picture that the proposed deal points to—a new Cold War.
Advocates of the deal make Panglossian assumptions about the nature of the Iranian regime. As Kissinger and Shultz note, to some, a deal would represent “a moderation of Iran’s 3½ decades of militant hostility to the West and established international institutions, and an opportunity to draw Iran into an effort to stabilize the Middle East.”
That’s a pipedream. Iran now boasts of controlling four Arab capitals. Tehran and its allies have fomented war throughout the Middle East, from Beirut and Damascus to Baghdad and Sanaa. The White House’s coordination with Iran in the campaign against ISIS hardly conceals the fact that Iran is targeting American allies, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia, and now Jordan.
Some argue, write Kissinger and Shultz, that “the nuclear deal is a way station toward the eventual domestic transformation of Iran.” The opposite is true. Domestically, a deal strengthens the hardliners who actually manage the nuclear weapons program.
“Some advocates,” Kissinger and Shultz explain, “have suggested that the agreement can serve as a way to dissociate America from Middle East conflicts.” But this is not what happens when a state goes nuclear. Rather, such a state only becomes a bigger threat.
Right now, that means primarily in the Middle East—from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. An Iranian bomb will push Riyadh to acquire one as well, setting off a nuclear arms race that may come to include the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, and Jordan. Accordingly, the regional Sunni-Shia conflagration now embroiling Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon will be funded and fought by two or more nuclear powers.
As a nuclear power, Iran will find new friends eager to sign on to its project of challenging the established order—an order underwritten by American power. In effect, an Iranian bomb will engender another empire in thrall to evil.
Tehran has already seeded assets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A Defense Intelligence Agency assessment contends that within a year, the Iranians will have a ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.
The White House argues that the only alternative to its terrible deal is war, but that’s nonsense. Iran has no ability to make war on the United States except as a continuation of the terrorist war it has been waging against us for the last 36 years. As the former prime minister of Israel Ehud Barak and Senator Tom Cotton have argued, the White House is overstating both the nature of the military strike that would bring Iran’s program to a halt and Iran’s capacity to retaliate.
But all that changes once Iran gets the bomb. At that point, as Kissinger and Shultz know only too well, we must contend with the prospect that they will use it. A similar prospect caused the United States and the Soviet Union to engage in a high-stakes struggle on four continents for nearly half a century. Obama’s foreign policy legacy, enshrined by a deal that opens the door to an Iranian nuke, wouldn’t be a historic reconciliation with an adversarial regime, but a return to the nightmare of the Cold War.
Apr 20, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 30 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
What is to be done about Obama’s Iran “deal”? We could, fatalistically, lament the collapse of American foreign policy. We could, indignantly, gnash our teeth in frustration at the current administration. We could, constructively, work to secure congressional review of the deal and urge presidential candidates to commit to altering or abrogating it.
Or we can stop it now.
Mar 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 26 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Three moments stood out for me as I watched Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday from the gallery of the House of Representatives.
Mar 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 25 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Sometimes a speech is just a speech. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech about Iran policy on March 3 will not be his first address to Congress. It will make familiar, if important, arguments. One might assume that, like the vast majority of speeches, it would soon be overtaken by events in Israel and the United States and the world.
Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
It did not take the attack on Charlie Hebdo to reveal that the Islamic world has a terrible problem. For quite some time, that’s been clearer than day. This is not an assertion made from outside Islam or against Islam. On New Year’s Day, the president of Egypt, in a major speech, called for a “religious revolution” in Islam that would replace an embrace of violent jihad with “a more enlightened perspective.” “We have to think hard about what we are facing,” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the clerics of Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
How to introduce students to conservative thought? It’s hard. The colleges and universities aren’t interested. The media and popular culture are hostile. What if young Americans nonetheless become aware of the existence of such a thing as conservative thought? How to convey its varieties and complexities? Even tougher. You can write articles and put things online, but there’s an awful lot competing for young people’s attention these days.
But there’s good news nonetheless. Help has arrived. Its name? President Barack Obama.
Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Republican voters are down on the sluggish GOP officials they elected, and the officeholders whine about the unreasonable people who voted for them. Republican backbenchers complain about their lame leaders, and GOP leaders grumble about their unruly followers. Right-wing pundits despair of unimaginative Republican pols, and the hard-headed pols are impatient with impractical commentators. Conservative activists loathe the GOP establishment, and the establishment is terrified and contemptuous of the base.
Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
In his September 10 speech to the nation, President Obama said, “This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.”
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
"Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy and it won’t be quick,” President Obama told the American Legion’s annual convention in Charlotte on Tuesday, August 26. He repeated the thought in his pre-Labor Day weekend press conference on August 28. A week before, the day after the murder of James Foley, Obama had remarked, “From governments and peoples across the Middle East there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:05 PM, Aug 22, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the supposed "good failure" the Obama administration is touting in their failed effort to save the late James Foley, who was brutally killed by ISIS.
Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On Tuesday, August 19, an American citizen, James Foley, was savagely killed. The group of jihadists known as ISIL had previously killed and brutalized tens of thousands of non-Americans. But they killed Foley because he was an American. They titled the grotesque video of this particular act of barbarism “A message to America.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:48 PM, Jul 28, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's track record on the rule of law, Israel, Immigration, and more.
Aug 4, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 44 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On Tuesday, President Obama visited the Dutch embassy in Washington to pay his respects to the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, shot down over Ukraine by forces armed and backed by Vladimir Putin. Obama wrote in the embassy’s condolence book, “We will not rest until we are certain that justice is done.”
Then he rested.
Actually, that’s not fair. Obama didn’t rest. He flew off to the West Coast on a busy fundraising trip.
Jul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook has previously lauded the work of the Foundation for Constitutional Government. To support the serious study of politics and political philosophy, it’s developed a series of websites devoted to important, contemporary thinkers (Walter Berns, Irving Kristol, Harvey Mansfield, James Q. Wilson, and more to come).
Jun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Commenting on the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, NBC’s Chuck Todd remarked, “This poll is a disaster for the president.” Indeed, he continued, “essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over.’ ”
But it isn’t over. It won’t be over for two and a half years. And that’s a problem.