Thursday, April 23, 2015

Halli Casser-Jayne interviews Martin Sherman

Check Out Entertainment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with The Halli Casser Jayne Show on BlogTalkRadio

I loved this part of the interview:

 “You need to know two things to give a really authoritative answer and if you know them you can’t really talk about them   Because you need to know A) what Israel’s true operational capabilities are, and my feeling is that Israel has far more destructive capability than people normally estimate and B), what operational intelligence  it has, if it can actually target the correct sites. Because I think that Israel would have to react but then I am not sure that Israeli leadership has the anatomical appendages to do it. It is a big decision.”

But if not having the balls to do it means being annihilated, isn’t the decision obvious?

Obama’s Nixon doctrine: anointing Iran

In December, President Obama said that he wished to see Iran ultimately become a “very successful regional power.” His wish — a nightmare for the Western-oriented Arab states — is becoming a reality. Consider:

● Gulf of Aden: Iran sends a flotilla of warships and weapons-carrying freighters to reinforce the rebels in Yemen — a noncontiguous, non-Persian, nonthreatening (to Iran) Arabian state — asserting its new status as regional bully and arbiter. The Obama administration sends an aircraft carrier group, apparently to prevent this gross breach of the U.N. weapons embargo on Yemen. Instead, the administration announces that it has no intention of doing anything. Meanwhile, it exerts pressure on Saudi Arabiato halt its air war over Yemen and agree to negotiate a political settlement involving Iran.

● Russia: After a five-year suspension, Russia announces the sale of advanced surface-to-air missiles to Iran, which will render its nuclear facilities nearly invulnerable to attack. Obama’s reaction? Criticism, threats, sanctions? No. A pat on the backfor Vladimir Putin: “I’m, frankly, surprised that [the embargo] held this long.”

●Iran: Last week, Obama preemptively caved on the long-standing U.S. condition that there be no immediate sanctions relief in any Iranian nuclear deal. He casually dismissed this red line, declaring that what is really important is whether sanctions can be reimposed if Iran cheats. And it doesn’t stop there. The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama is offering Tehran a $30 billion to $50 billion signing bonus (drawn from frozen Iranian assets) — around 10 percent of Iranian GDP.

● Syria: After insisting for years that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria “step aside,” the U.S. has adopted a hands-off policy toward a regime described by our own secretary of state as an Iranian puppet.

● Iraq: Iran’s Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, director of Shiite militias that killed hundreds of Americans during the Iraq War and were ultimately defeated by the 2007-2008 U.S. surge, operates freely throughout Iraq flaunting his country’s dominance. In March, he was directing the same Iraqi militias, this time against the Islamic State — with the help of U.S. air cover.

This is the new Middle East. Its strategic reality is clear to everyone: Iran rising, assisted, astonishingly, by the United States.

Obama’s initial Middle East strategy was simply withdrawal. He would enter history as the ultimate peace president, ushering in a new era in which “the tide of war is receding.” The subsequent vacuum having been filled, unfortunately and predictably, by various enemies, adversaries and irredeemables, Obama lighted upon a new idea: We don’t just withdraw, we hand the baton. To Iran.

Obama may not even be aware that he is recapitulating the Nixon doctrine, but with a fatal twist. Nixon’s main focus was to get the Vietnamese to take over that war from us. But the doctrine evolved and was generalized to deputize various smaller powers to police their regions on our behalf. In the Persian Gulf, our principal proxy was Iran.

The only problem with Obama’s version of the Nixon doctrine is that Iran today is not the Westernized, secular, pro-American regional power it was under the shah. It is radical, clerical, rabidly anti-imperialist, deeply anti-Western. The regime’s ultimate — and openly declared — strategic purpose is to drive the American infidel from the region and either subordinate or annihilate America’s Middle Eastern allies.

Which has those allies in an understandable panic. Can an American president really believe that appeasing Iran — territorially, economically, militarily and by conferring nuclear legitimacy — will moderate its behavior and ideology, adherence to which despite all odds is now yielding undreamed of success?

Iran went into the nuclear negotiations heavily sanctioned, isolated internationally, hemorrhaging financially — and this was even before the collapse of oil prices. The premise of these talks was that the mullahs would have six months to give up their nuclear program or they would be additionally squeezed with even more devastating sanctions.

After 17 months of serial American concessions, the  Iranian economy is growing again, its forces and proxies are on the march through the Arab Middle East and it is on the verge of having its nuclear defiance rewarded and legitimized.

The Saudis are resisting being broken to Iranian dominance. They have resumed their war in Yemen. They are resisting being forced into Yemen negotiations with Iran, a country that is, in the words of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., “part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Obama appears undeterred. He’s determined to make his Iran-first inverted Nixon doctrine a reality. Our friends in the region, who for decades have relied on us to protect them from Iran, look on astonished.


The gravest aspect of the emerging Iran deal is less its substance and more the professed rationale it is based on.

Today, the United States... has reached a historic understanding with Iran... I am convinced that... it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. This has been a long time coming.
– Barack Obama, April 2, 2015 

... here is the paper which bears his [Adolf Hitler’s] name upon it as well as mine... We regard the agreement signed last night... as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again... I believe it is peace for our time. 
– Neville Chamberlain, September 30, 1938 

As more and more details emerge, one thing is chillingly clear. Only the dogmatic, the delusional or the disingenuous could deny the deadly dangers that pursuit of Barack Obama’s Iran initiative will almost certainly usher in.

Improbable rationale 

One need not be an obdurate Obamaphobe, or a radical right-wing Republican, to arrive at this daunting conclusion.

Even The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, considered by many as Obama’s “court journalist,” seems to be aware of the improbable “rationale” (for want of a better word), purportedly underlying the administration’s approach to the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

This, according to Goldberg, involves the idea that: “reaching an agreement with a terror-sponsoring regime that is known to cheat on nuclear matters (and... calls for the annihilation of Israel, a country the majority of Americans support) will make the world a safer place.”

And if this was not implausible enough, Goldberg concedes: “That’s a difficult thing to do, especially when one way to actually reach a deal, American negotiators believe, is to ‘preserve the dignity’ of the Iranian side.”

It is hard to know whether Goldberg is aware of how appallingly absurd the position he laid out really is.
For what he is in fact saying is this: We are being asked to believe that if we allow a bloodthirsty regime (he admits “Iran is ruled by very bad men”), known to regularly renege on its commitments, and actively propagating violence abroad, to acquire the capacity to develop the most destructive weapon on the planet, it will somehow become... less threatening to world. Really? Moreover, the preferred method of approach to these “very bad men” is to be very nice to them, lest their “dignity” be offended.

A sine qua non, not an optional accessory 

It might be possible to conceive a more patently preposterous prescription than this, one that is more unequivocally self-contradictory and self-defeating. That, however, would be extremely difficult.

After all, for the Iranian regime, weaponized nuclear capability is not an optional accessory, nice if you can have it, but not absolutely essential. To the contrary, it is an indispensable imperative that derives from the nature of the regime; a sine qua non for fulfilling its divinely designated destiny and ordained purpose of hegemonic dominance.

Accordingly, it is not a capability that it can forgo. It will continue to strive to attain it whether by stealth, subterfuge or saber rattling. For Iran, sanction relief cannot be an inducement to abandon its pursuit, but rather a means for facilitating it.

Indeed, Iranian resolve and resourcefulness have gone a long way toward imposing international resignation – even recognition – as to the inevitability of Iran attaining its nuclear goal.

Thus, as I pointed out last week, in a January 29 appearance before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, Nobel Peace laureate Henry Kissinger was at pains to detail this international capitulation. He lamented: “Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six UN resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability.

From preventing proliferation to managing it...

Accordingly, he warned: “... The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.”

Kissinger, the architect of some of the US’s most dramatic strategic diplomatic initiatives, reiterated this sea change in international attitudes, in a recent article, co-authored with another former secretary of state, George Shultz.

In “The Iran Deal and Its Consequences,” they write: “For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests – and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it.”

Echoing Kissinger’s previous caveat, they observe: “Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability...”

The result of this ongoing erosion of international resolve and continuous retreat from previous demands has been dramatic and disturbing. As Kissinger and Shultz point out: “Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of UN resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today.”

Indecision on the part of the international community, headed by the US, has precipitated a perilous predicament. According to Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, earlier this week, Obama’s energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, who is taking part in the US-led Lausanne talks with Iran, acknowledged that Tehran was merely two-three weeks away from producing “enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.” Lake cites intelligence sources acknowledging that Iran’s ability has been known for some time but was only declassified at the beginning of this month – ironically on April Fool’s Day.

Iran 2015, Germany 1938 

This continual back-pedaling by the democratic powers in the face of a determined tyranny, bent on expansion and extending its span of control, cannot but lead to comparison with another era.

In an impassioned open-letter to Barack Obama, published Tuesday on the Iranian dissident website, Mahmood Moradkhani, nephew of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote: “... this regime has done great damage to Iranians and to the international community. We can find a historical example of this kind of deception prior to the Second World War. Hitler manipulated and deceived German people and European countries and the hesitation in addressing the problem with Hitler led to a great disaster.”

A graphic account of the calamitous chain of ceaseless concessions that such “hesitation in addressing the problem” entailed was provided by Winston Churchill in his epic The Gathering Storm: “Look back and see what we had successively accepted or thrown away: a Germany disarmed by solemn treaty; a Germany rearmed in violation of a solemn treaty; air superiority or even air parity cast away; the Rhineland forcibly occupied and the Siegfried Line built or building; the Berlin- Rome Axis established; Austria devoured and digested by the Reich; Czechoslovakia deserted and ruined by the Munich Pact, its fortress line in German hands, its mighty arsenal of Skoda henceforward making munitions for the German armies... the services of 35 Czech divisions against the still unripened German Army cast away... all gone with the wind.”

And so Iran, determined and undeterred by rhetoric, however stern, went from a paltry 100 centrifuges to a formidable 20,000.

The Chamberlain of the 21st century 

The striking parallel between the political process regarding tyrannical Germany in the previous century, and tyrannical Iran in the current one, has been repeatedly referred to by longtime Obama supporter Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz.

Dershowitz, who twice voted for Obama, observes that despite meritorious measures in the domestic socioeconomic field, Chamberlain would be remembered for “his failure to confront Hitler.”

He cautions: “That is Chamberlain’s enduring legacy... So too will Iran’s construction of nuclear weapons... become President Barack Obama’s enduring legacy. Regardless... of whether he restores jobs and helps the economy recover, Mr. Obama will be remembered for allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”

In his assessment: “History will not treat kindly any leader who allows so much power to be accumulated by the world’s first suicide nation – a nation whose leaders have not only expressed but... demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice millions of their own people to an apocalyptic mission of destruction.”

Indeed, since early 2012 Dershowitz, has warned that “President Barack Obama is in danger of going down in history as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century... the person who... didn’t recognize the greatest evil of the century, as Chamberlain did not.”

21st century Chamberlain (con’t.) 

Three years later, with the onset of the emerging deal, he reiterated: “This is a very bad deal, a bad deal for the United States, a bad deal for the international community.”

He bemoans: “All it stops them from doing, or requires them to go underground to do, is their centrifuges... it allows them to remain a threshold nuclear power... it has a sunset prevision. After a few years... they can go on and do whatever they please.”

Dershowitz expresses his concern “that whether it’s this year or next year or 10 years from now, Barack Obama is going to go down in history as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century, if Iran ever does develop nuclear weapons.”

Ominously, he forecasts: “We will point to this point in history and say, this was the turning point. This was the point where the president could’ve recognized the greatest threat to the world in the 21st century and, like Chamberlain in the 20th century, he failed to do it. That will be his legacy...”

This question of the “deal’s” ramifications in the post-Obama era is clearly of major significance and exposes yet another grave lacuna in the administration’s approach.

The ‘Not-on-my-watch’ canard 

Obama, in an endeavor to assure concerned critics regarding the prospective agreement, has declared repeatedly: “I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch.”

While that may well be true, it is hardly the point.

For there is a considerable body of authoritative opinion, buttressed by persuasive reasoning, that holds that even if the current deal would preclude Iran from weaponizing its nuclear capability “on Obama’s watch,” it will make it virtually inevitable that this will occur on somebody else’s watch, quite possibly even that of his immediate successor.

As Pulitzer-prize winner Bret Stephens, a former editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post, wrote this week, “the administration’s Mideast abdications are creating a set of irreversible realities for which there are no ready US answers.”

Stephens envisions a forbidding future: “...the president is marching us past the point of no return on a nuclear Iran and thence a nuclear Middle East... When that happens, how many Americans will be eager to have their president intervene in somebody else’s nuclear duel?” Accordingly, he warns: “Obama is bequeathing not just a more dangerous Middle East but... one the next president will want to touch only with a barge pole.”

So much for “not-on my watch”...

The ‘What’s-the-alternative’ canard 

Obama has tried to rebuff critics with a taunting challenge: “What is your alternative – implying that to reject his initiative is to precipitate war.

Look closely at the following quotation: “What is the alternative to this bleak and barren policy of the inevitability of war? In my view it is that we should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and goodwill. I cannot believe that such a program would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with dictators.”

If you didn’t know that it was Neville Chamberlain on Nazi Germany, you might well have believed it was Barack Obama on Islamist Iran.

Indeed, Obama has frequently assured skeptics that Iran will be held to its obligations, and if it violates them, the US will know and respond. But how? With war? Against an Iran with enhanced capabilities, due to sanction relief? In their previously cited article Kissinger and Shultz remark: “The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran.” They diagnose behavior typical of the Chamberlain prescription: “While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West [eager to avert war] has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal.”

Thus Iran, secure in the knowledge that it is immune from coercive military response, can continue, covertly or otherwise, in its relentless quest for offensive nuclear capabilities.

One does not need to be a learned expert in strategic affairs to know that this will not end well.

Indeed, as the current US naval build up in Yemen shows, America may soon be forced into a military confrontation with Tehran.

So what would be strategically preferable? That such confrontation take place with a nuclearized Iran? Or a non-nuclear one? 

Martin Sherman ( is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (

Monday, April 20, 2015

Israel Alone

Previous quarrels between Washington and Jerusalem were about differing Mideast perceptions. Now the issue is how the U.S. perceives itself.


Recent conversations with senior Israeli officials are shot through with a sense of incredulity. They can’t understand what’s become of U.S. foreign policy.

They don’t know how to square Barack Obama’s promises with his policies. They fail to grasp how a president who pledged to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is pushing an accord with Tehran that guarantees their proliferation. They are astonished by the nonchalance with which the administration acquiesces in Iran’s regional power plays, or in al Qaeda’s gains in Yemen, or in the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical weapons, or in the battlefield successes of ISIS, or in Russia’s decision to sell advanced missiles to Tehran. They wonder why the president has so much solicitude for Ali Khamenei’s political needs, and so little for Benjamin Netanyahu’s.

In a word, the Israelis haven’t yet figured out that what America is isn’t what America was. They need to start thinking about what comes next.

The most tempting approach is to wait Mr. Obama out and hope for better days with his successor. Israel and the U.S. have gone through bad patches before—under Ford in the 1970s, Reagan in the early ’80s, Bush in the early ’90s, Clinton in the late ’90s. The partnership always survived the officeholders.

So why should it be different this time? Seventy percent of Americans see Israel in a favorable light, according to a February Gallup poll. The presidential candidates from both parties all profess unswerving friendship with the Jewish state, and the Republican candidates actually believe it. Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is broadly unpopular and likely to become more so as the fiascoes continue to roll in.

Yet it’s different this time. For two reasons, mainly.

First, the administration’s Mideast abdications are creating a set of irreversible realities for which there are no ready U.S. answers. Maybe there were things an American president could have done to help rescue Libya in 2011, Syria in 2013, and Yemen last year. That was before it was too late. But what exactly can any president do about the chaos unfolding now?

Shakespeare wrote that there was a tide in the affairs of men “which taken at the flood, leads men on to fortune.” Barack Obama always missed the flood.

Now the president is marching us past the point of no return on a nuclear Iran and thence a nuclear Middle East. When that happens, how many Americans will be eager to have their president intervene in somebody else’s nuclear duel? Americans may love Israel, but partly that’s because not a single U.S. soldier has ever died fighting on its behalf.

In other words, Mr. Obama is bequeathing not just a more dangerous Middle East but also one the next president will want to touch only with a barge pole. That leaves Israel alone to deal as best as it can with a broadening array of threats: thousands more missiles for Hezbollah, paid for by sanctions relief for Tehran; ISIS on the Golan Heights; an Iran safe, thanks to Russian missiles, from any conceivable Israeli strike.

The second reason follows from the first. Previous quarrels between Washington and Jerusalem were mainly about differing Mideast perceptions. Now the main issue is how the U.S. perceives itself.

Beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, every U.S. president took the view that strength abroad and strength at home were mutually reinforcing; that global security made us more prosperous, and that prosperity made us more secure.

Then along came Mr. Obama with his mantra of “nation building at home” and his notion that an activist foreign policy is a threat to the social democracy he seeks to build. Under his administration, domestic and foreign policy have been treated as a zero-sum game: If you want more of the former, do less of the latter. The result is a world of disorder, and an Israel that, for the first time in its history, must seek its security with an America that, say what it will, has nobody’s back but its own.

How does it do this? By recalling what it was able to do for the first 19 years of its existence, another period when the U.S. was an ambivalent and often suspicious friend and Israel was more upstart state than start-up nation.

That was an Israel that was prepared to take strategic gambles because it knew it couldn’t afford to wait on events. It did not consider “international legitimacy” to be a prerequisite for action because it also knew how little such legitimacy was worth. It understood the value of territory and terrain, not least because it had so little of it. It built its deterrent power by constantly taking the military initiative, not constructing defensive wonder-weapons such as Iron Dome. It didn’t mind acting as a foreign policy freelancer, and sometimes even a rogue, as circumstances demanded. “Plucky little Israel” earned the world’s respect and didn’t care, much less beg, for its moral approval.

Perhaps the next American president will rescue Israel from having to learn again what it once knew. Israelis would be wise not to count on it.

In 2008  I wrote  

Facing Iran, Alone

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Barack Obama, President of Iran? Freudian slip?

The above  was taken from Israel's Channel 2 broadcast Saturday night . It says  Barack Obama, President of Iran.

The Times of Israel is now reporting on the mistake as well
Network labels Obama ‘president of Iran’

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Israel analysts shocked by Obama’s comments on sanctions, S-300 supply

‘This is the new America. We had better get used to it,’ says TV commentator after president leaves door open to Iran’s sanctions demand, defends Putin’s missile sale


Israeli analysts expressed shock and amazement Friday night at US President Barack Obama’s stated openness to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions, and his defense of Russia’s agreement to supply a sophisticated air defense system to Iran.

There was no immediate official Israeli response to the president’s comments, which were made after the start of Shabbat in Israel, when politicians generally do not work.

 “Jaws dropped” around the studio, said the Channel 10 News diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit, as news broke of Obama’s declared empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to supply Tehran with the S-300 missile defense system.

“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”
The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben David, chipped in, “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him [for this long]? That’s what is astonishing.”

Responded Caspit, “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”

Channel 10 also quoted unnamed senior Israeli diplomatic officials saying the prospect of Israel derailing the deal taking shape in US-led talks with Iran on its nuclear program was now zero. “The Iran issue is finished,” the officials were quoted saying.

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 17, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/J. David Ake)

 In Washington earlier on Friday, Obama said he was surprised that Russia’s suspension of missile sales to Iran had “held this long.”

Obama noted that Putin had previously suspended the sale “at our request. I am frankly surprised that it held this long, given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has furiously protested the planned supply of the advanced systems, and phoned Putin this week to try to persuade him to reconsider, but was rebuffed. Israel fears the S-300s would complicate any military intervention as a last resort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. It also fears Iran could supply the missile defense systems to Syria or Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s air supremacy over Syria and Lebanon.

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display at an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)

Obama on Friday also left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the US has said the framework agreement reached in Lausanne earlier this month calls for the penalties to be removed over time.

Asked whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision.

“How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” Obama said. He said part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of five other nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that they would not sign a deal unless all sanctions are lifted right after an agreement is signed. Obama initially portrayed their comments as a reflection of internal political pressure, while pointing out that the framework agreement provides for sanctions to be phased out only once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations.


This is completely insane. Obama’s foreign policy has run amok. Congress should impeach President Obama on Iran now! 

The time for half measures is over.   The Congressional oversight bill on Iran deal that the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the other day and which will be passed by the Senate is too little too late.  Obama’s foreign policy has become a clear and present to the US and the rest the world and should be stopped by Congress by impeaching the President.   

Enabling Iran's Nuclear Program while Vowing to Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bibi- Vindicated, validated, not yet victorious

It would be mean-spirited and small-minded not to credit the recent assertive and muscular attitude of US lawmakers toward the administration, to the impact of Netanyahu’s address to Congress.

I trust the Obama administration to get a good deal. – Isaac “Buji” Herzog to Jeffrey Goldberg, Saban Forum, December 2014 

For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests – and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability...
Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, “The Iran Deal and Its Consequences,” The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2015

As more and more emerges as to what we know – and what we don’t know – about the deal being brewed by the Obama administration with Tehran’s theocracy on its nuclear program, the more mindlessly moronic the pre-election platitudes of the former (and probably, the future) head of Israel’s opposition appear to be.

Merited mistrust
This disturbing disconnect with reality is starkly reflected in the dramatic developments – grossly under-reported by the Israeli media – in the last few days in the US Congress. For, in striking contrast to Herzog’s credulous naiveté, it seems that a solid majority of US legislators harbor grave doubts as to Obama’s ability to get a good deal.

This sense of distrust was not confined to Republican lawmakers, as underscored by the unanimous bipartisan vote on Tuesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a bill to give Congress a voice on the planned nuclear agreement with Iran, something that the White House had hitherto vigorously opposed.

Under the headline “Obama yields...” the normally staunchly Obama-philic New York Times dubbed the vote a “rare unanimous agreement.”

Bluntly, it observed: “An unusual alliance of Republican opponents of the nuclear deal and some of Mr. Obama’s strongest Democratic supporters demanded a congressional role as international negotiators work to turn this month’s nuclear framework into a final deal by June 30... Republicans — and many Democrats — said the president simply got overrun.”

A CNN report echoed this view: “After months of the White House fighting to keep lawmakers out of the Iran nuclear negotiations, today Congress forc[ed] its way in. Republicans and Democrats united behind a... bill giving lawmakers oversight over any final agreement.”

More on mistrust 
The Washington Post, not known for its anti-Obama positions, succinctly conveyed the unease felt by growing numbers in the president’s party. Following Tuesday’s vote it wrote: “One key Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Christopher A. Coons (Del.), said the administration’s effort to keep the negotiations away from Capitol Hill ‘goes against, in a gut sense, the view that many in Congress have, that our constitutional framework imagines congressional relevance to the conduct of foreign policy.’” Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, who served as a bridge between the White House, deemed legislative oversight “a congressional prerogative,” adding, “We are the ones who imposed sanctions; we’re the ones who are going to take [them] off.” He told the Times: “We have to be involved here... Only Congress can change or permanently modify the sanctions regime.”

In a video report, the Times’ Emily Hager notes that “... all sides recognize that only congress can permanently remove Iran’s sanctions,” and expresses the gnawing doubts raised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his address last month to Congress as to the “sunset clause” included in the emerging agreement: “Americans are concerned... once the deal has expired in 10 years, will Iran run a peaceful civil nuclear program or begin building bombs?”

‘Trust is the last thing we should do…’ 
Former Obama adviser on the Persian Gulf region Dennis Ross is unequivocal on this. In response to the question Hager posed, he responded: “... their track record suggests that the last thing we should be doing is trusting them.”

With considerable understatement, Ross cautioned: “They are very active in terms of trying to change the balance of power in the region,” and somewhat more trenchantly, asked, “What happens when they are not under sanctions and they are continuing to act this way and they have more resources to do that?” What indeed? But more on that later.

Getting back to the political arm-wrestling between the White House and Congress, there appears to be consensus among authoritative pundits that the administration had its hand forced by a rising tide of sentiment against both the reported substance of the deal and the high-handed manner in which it was trying to railroad it through, despite numerous concerns. This view was not confined to compulsive, kneejerk Obama detractors.

Thus under the heading “In setback, Obama concedes Congress role on Iran deal,” Reuters political correspondent Patricia Zengerle wrote: “Washington... has for months voiced concern that Congress could fatally undermine a deal before a June 30 deadline for a final pact. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker, who wrote the bill, said the White House had agreed to go along with the bill only after it was clear there was strong Democratic support.”

Fear of veto-proof opposition 
Reuters cited a buoyant Corker as saying: “That change occurred only when they saw how many senators were going to vote for this,” adding “Bipartisan support for the bill had grown in recent weeks to near the 67 votes needed to override any presidential veto.”

CNN’s Ted Barrett remarked that “faced with what looks increasingly like a vetoproof majority in the Senate, today the White House said the bill, [which it had previously vigorously opposed] appeared to... merit the president’s signature.”

His CNN colleague Athena Jones, when asked to gauge the feasibility of such a veto, appraised: “Well, it certainly looks as though they are moving to the point where they have those 67 votes.” She added: “Some of the Democrats who supported this bill are just saying that Congress has a right and an obligation to weigh in on a deal as important as this.”

In similar vein, Politico, considered to have a distinct liberal bias, reported: “After months of lobbying against the bill, the administration acknowledged it couldn’t stop it... The administration’s about-face came after it was clear that a veto-proof majority, including many Democrats, will support the legislation.”

Long, arduous road ahead
Of course the fight is still far from over.

The road to defanging a nuclear-bent Iran is still long and arduous. As a Wall Street Journal editorial, “Obama’s One-Man Nuclear Deal,” noted this week, the significance of Tuesday’s vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is more declarative than operative, more symbolic than substantive.

It still leaves Obama with considerable ability to out-maneuver and circumvent congressional intervention and allow him to push through some accord with Tehran, however fatally flawed.

It is not, however, a mere gesture devoid of any value. Far from it.

First, it shows that bipartisan measures can be taken despite “Obama’s furious resistance”; second, it shows that veto-proof majorities are distinctly plausible on the Iranian issue; and third, as the editorial put it, “the Iranians [are]... on notice that the United States isn’t run by a single supreme leader.”

The practical significance of these issues should not be belittled, especially given the rising tide of sentiment against the emerging pact, particularly among Democrats, even if troubling doubts and growing skepticism have yet to become full-blooded opposition.

Nurturing these doubts and cultivating that skepticism should be one of the prime objectives of Israeli foreign policy, in general, and of its public diplomacy, in particular.

Symbiosis between symbolism, shifting sentiment & substance

In politics, there is a definite and discernible symbiosis between symbolism, sentiment and substantive political action.

The opponents of the deal must harness this chain of symbolism and sentiment- shift to impact substantive policy, by underlining how incompetent and counterproductive the current endeavor has been.

They must use this to generate resistance to its continuation in its current mode, and introduce a paradigm shift into its conduct.

It would be difficult to find a more telling illustration of how the Iranians have outfoxed their American interlocutors than that provided by the Kissinger and Shultz article cited above. The two former secretaries of state lament: “Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of UN resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head.

Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. Under the proposed agreement, for 10 years Iran will never be further than one year from a nuclear weapon and, after a decade, will be significantly closer.”

In a January 29 appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kissinger bemoaned how the US-led international effort has been stymied by Iranian resolve and resourcefulness: “Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six UN resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option. They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability through an agreement that sets a hypothetical limit of one year on an assumed breakout. The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.”

Restoring strategic clarity
There are numerous reasons why the proposed deal with Iran would be unworkable and lead either to serious kinetic US entanglements, involving an Iran with greatly enhanced capabilities, both economic and military, or to ignominious US surrender.

For example, Kissinger and Shultz make a compelling case for why ongoing inspections and enforcement over a period of a decade, “enforcing compliance, week after week,” will be untenable. They warn: “In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance – or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue.”

It was coercive measures – biting sanctions – and not persuasive negotiating skills that brought Iran to the table. But sanctions alone will not bring Iran to forgo its nuclear ambitions. That will be achieved only by a credible threat of military action – which Obama has effectively taken of the table by informing the world that the current proposal must be embraced, since the alternative is war.

On this Kissinger and Shultz remark: “The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal.”

They warn: Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region.

Indeed it will.

Vindicated, validated, not yet victorious
The events in Washington in the past few weeks have done much to vindicate and validate Benyamin Netanyahu’s approach to the Iranian issue. For it would be mean-spirited and small-minded not to credit the recent more assertive and muscular attitude of US lawmakers toward the administration, in large measure, to the impact of his rousing March 3 address to Congress – despite massive pressures to call it off.

Further, these developments show how uninformed/misinformed his detractors were when they berated him for resisting these pressures – scornfully but speciously alleging that the Congress cannot affect US foreign policy, since this is the exclusive prerogative of the president, which it clearly is not.

One can only wonder, with a keen sense of regret, how much more effective his address would have been if, at least on the Iranian issue, his domestic rivals had put country above party and personal ambition, and rallied behind his valiant effort – thus preventing the administration from exploiting political rifts in Israel to blunt his appeal.

Netanyahu deserves considerable praise for his resolve on the Iran issue. (Oh that he would demonstrate similar resolve on the Palestinian front.) But although his actions have largely been vindicated and his approach validated, he is yet to be victorious in preventing the disastrous deal being hatched in Lausanne.

To achieve such victory he must, without delay, mount an aggressive, adequately funded campaign to sway concerned but still hesitant US lawmakers that in their hands lies the most fateful decision for humanity since the 1930s, when the world paid a horrendous price in a doomed attempt to appease tyranny.

Martin Sherman ( is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.