On Tuesday, the headlines screamed a landmark deal has been reached on an Iran nuclear program. Everyone is confident that this deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The world is praising the arduous Iran nuclear talks as a historic agreement. The only thing this deal is going to be remembered for is supporting the anecdote, this period of American weakness in future history books.
Stu: Here to give us the latest on why the Iranian deal is not the happy rainbow sunshine agreement the media wants you to believe is our own Buck Sexton. Buck, welcome to the program.
Buck: Good to see you, Stu.
Stu: Am I wrong in this? You’re not exactly, I would say, the guy who’s going to shine some happy rainbows on a situation like this, but is there anything positive to take from this agreement?
Buck: I’d like to think that I’m always about happy rainbows, Stu, but no, there’s nothing really positive to say about the agreement from the perspective of what this will do to the Iranian nuclear program. Look, from the Obama administration’s perspective, it’s great because there’s no way that they will be—first of all, he’s not going to be held accountable. He’s not running for election again, and by the time the pitfalls of the deal—it’s very intricate.
I read through the text of it today. It deals with all kinds of things, banking sanctions and trade, and it even specifies that Iran can export pistachios, rugs, and caviar to the US if certain stipulations are met, so there’s a tremendous amount of specificity, which obviously means there’s a lot of room for kind of maneuvering and quibbling and well, what does this subsection really mean? Then you get the place of well, what does a violation really look like? What’s enough of a violation for there to be the snapback sanctions supposedly coming back into place?
By the time we figure all that out, Stu, the Obama administration will be done, and it will be some other president in office. The claim will be of course that well, it’s just because of what that new president, whoever it is or whoever she is, is going to be doing about this situation, not that President Obama signed this in the first place. From a legacy perspective, it’s a huge win. From a we don’t want to see a thermonuclear Middle East that’s pointing missiles at each other, it’s a really bad deal.
Stu: Well, first of all, I’m very excited for some Iranian pistachio ice cream which is on the way very soon. That’s going to be pretty exciting. At least that’s one upside of this deal. I think from that perspective, you have a situation where the United States has a standing in the world where we’re supposed to be, I guess at least at the very least good actors, positive actors in calming things down. I know we get criticized for this all the time, but here’s a situation where it seems like legacy-wise, these peace agreements live completely separate from the reality they create. Like Jimmy Carter is praised for a historic peace deal, but we haven’t seen peace since that peace deal.
Arafat gets Nobel Peace Prizes. These things aren’t realistic, and so you can see the motivation of why Obama would chase after this and make what looks like a terrible deal.
Buck: No, I think that this was all set up to be exactly this, this moment in time when the administration, by the way, can really rewrite the history in a sense or at least sort of change the way historians will view and will talk about the Obama administration’s foreign policy which has been—we all hear terms like a legacy of failure, but it’s really stark with the Obama administration how bad it’s been, whether it’s the Russian reset or the pivot to Asia, red lines in Syria with chemical weapons, preventing genocide, by the way, in Syria.
President Obama stood at the Holocaust Museum in 2012 and was saying never again and had this whole range of policy options we would deploy to make sure that exactly what is happening now in Syria and Iraq, specifically in the Christian communities there as well as other religious minorities, would not happen again. It is happening. The president is too busy with other things.
So, when you talk about peace, we’re not right now recognizing that Iran has been at war really with the US for a number of years, and the Iranian regime hasn’t changed one bit. They haven’t changed their willingness to engage in support to terrorism. In fact, we’re pulling off the conventional restraints over a period of either five or eight years, depending on what part of the deal. It’s five for sort of conventional munitions, eight for ballistic missile technology.
That was originally, Stu, never even in the picture. The idea that now we’re going to say not only are we going to allow you and sort of bless your nuclear program, but on top of that, yeah, the Russian arms bazaar, go for it, see what you can pick up there. Whatever China will sell you, that’s also yours to keep. This is a disaster.
Buck: The only thing that you could sort of tell yourself makes this a little better, Stu, or tell oneself that this is better is that a president in the future will have the option of taking action. Okay, well, they’ll have the option of taking action against a very rich, completely re-armed, nuclear-capable Iranian country with 70 million people in it. I mean, that’s not an easy option.
Stu: You’re totally right. This is what, I think, it destroys the entire argument that this is a good deal is what you just brought up, which is the way they’re describing it in the media is every single step we can watch them, and if they break one of these clauses, we can bring the sanctions back, which okay, let’s say a different president might try that or whatever. First of all, when the punishment is the status quo, the situation they already had, I don’t what the negative is for them because there’s no punishment. It’s not worse than they used to have it, it’s just the same as they used to have it. But beyond that—
Buck: This is exactly right.
Stu: Beyond that, though, you’re going to have a situation where they’re going to be a wealthier nation if we were to try to do this. Plus you have other countries that have to be on board with us. If those countries, like Russia, who’s getting all the money from the conventional weapons, decides hey, we don’t want to be part of the new sanctions again, the whole thing falls apart.
Buck: Yeah, snapback sanctions are a fantasy, and every objective observer, including observers of sort of foreign policy, foreign policy analysts that tend to be sort of Democrat in their leadings and pro-Obama are like look, snapback sanctions are just not going to happen. Once you open up the markets to China, Russia, and other countries, European countries. Look at what happened with oil for food in the UN and Saddam. That’s the other part of this, Stu. We’ve sort of been to this dance before. We know how this all turns out. There were supposed to be immediate, on-the-spot inspections in Iraq, and we were supposed to prevent them from doing all this. The reality is that at what point does the agreement kick into a real punishment for certain violations?
The Iranians are going to claim at every turn—look at how much it took just to get to this point of the negotiations, right? The Iranians will say well, that’s not a real violation, or we’ll deal with that, or we’ll get back to you in 30 days or whatever it may be, and at no point are we going to be willing to say well, now we’re going to walk away from this deal entirely unless they just brazenly go for nukes, and at that point it will be too late.
So, the idea that, and you got on this in the beginning, Stu, that we’re going to punish them with sanctions, well, we were punishing them with sanctions, and President Obama said well, let’s stop doing that and talk a little bit. And now we think that we’re going to get them to change their behavior with the threat of sanctions when they didn’t change their behavior in the first place because of the initial sanctions.
We have rested no concession from Iran. The entire program continues on more or less as is. They mothball some things, they send away some spent fuel. They keep the whole infrastructure, even the illegal nuclear facility they had, even the heavy water facility. They keep everything. What is the hard concession they make?
Stu: Yeah, I think it’s what, in eight years they’re able to potentially acquire advanced nuclear technologies that observers believe they could turn into a bomb in weeks, and that’s only eight years away. Again, that’s eight years of us supposedly catching them. You know, Buck, that as soon as they do something wrong, which they will, and they will violate this agreement and they will probably get caught, what we will say is look, yeah, we could bring sanctions back, but that would blow up this historic deal, so we can’t do it.
Buck: Of course, so it puts us in constraints automatically. By the way, the former head of the IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, said that if at this point in time—this was a few months ago, but if at that point in time the Iranians didn’t have an illegal nuclear program meant specifically for military purpose, it will be the first time in 20 years, okay? So, we’re assuming also on top of all this that without pre-inspections, by the way, which we have not had that somehow we’ll be able to do a full accounting of everything. I mean, we’ve walked away from so much of what was initially held by the Obama administration, by the Obama administration, to be sacrosanct here.
They would have to come clean on the whole previous program, what they were doing up to this point, all the military uses and that we weren’t going to keep conventional sanctions or put those on the table as well for all of this. There’s so much that we’ve essentially caved on. When you look at what you really get in this agreement, it’s just really an agreement to continue to talk and get in this back-and-forth with the Iranians.
Ultimately all this boils down to, do you believe the Iranians are going to change their behavior, that the inherent nature of the regime is going to be something different in five or ten years? I think the answer is no. And do you think that at some point they’re going to go nuclear, and they want nuclear weapons? I think the answer is yes. I think everything else is kind of just getting into the details of the agreement without really looking at what’s at stake.
Stu: Yeah, and of course you could just see what kind of agreement it was for us by the people celebrating it, Assad and Iran and Russia. It’s plain as day. Buck, you know this stuff better than anybody, and you really do boil down into the nooks and crannies of this. I was kind of interested to see today the world reaction to it, which was overwhelmingly positive. Now, of course, the world looks at this as saying good, America got screwed essentially. That’s probably the way they’re looking at it.
I was listening to the BBC this morning, and they had, first of all, a guest on who was claiming the only reason there will be any opposition to this at all is because of the high finance of the Jews in the American media, which I thought was a tad anti-Semitic, especially if they ranted on for about ten minutes. But then they had a guy on from the Likud party, who said look, we are keeping all options on the table here.
The woman on the BBC screamed at him and said what do you mean you’re keeping all options on the table? Why is it that you are not interested in peace, a supposed journalist? To which he responded look, we are in a situation where we need to be able to defend ourselves if we feel threatened, and she screamed at him and said you are not under threat from Iran, period.
Buck: Rouhani, who’s the moderate, apparently, in Iran, that’s how they describe him—it’s sort of like saying the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate in comparison to Al Qaeda, but Rouhani, who’s a relative moderate here, was tweeting out today that it’s good that the world—this is sort of a paraphrase, but it’s good that the world didn’t believe the lies of the Zionist entity, which is of course aggressive on many levels, including the fact that they refuse to acknowledge that there is this country called Israel that is a United Nations member, and the rest of the international community accepts as such, at least a lot of it accepts as such. Not all countries do, obviously, but the Iranians continue to have this sort of bellicose rhetoric.
What we’ve done though is really boxed the Israelis in. We had the Iranians boxed in. Let’s just make that very clear. Their currency was in freefall. Their economy was being strangled. There was opposition to this sclerotic evil regime on the streets of Tehran from the beginning of the Obama administration, by the way. So, there was already a sort of jumpstart.
He didn’t touch that. He didn’t want to get involved. This was back in 2009, 2010. He didn’t want to do anything about that, but now what we’ve seen is President Obama has pulled the constraints off of Iran to get this deal. He went into this saying anything to get a deal is what we’re going to do, which is never how you want to negotiate. The Israelis are now the ones who are constrained because if they do, and I think when they say all options are on the table, they are serious about it. If they do something against the regime, if they go after nuclear sites in Iran, they will be in flagrant violation of this huge, wonderful agreement that’s going to create peace throughout the Middle East, and the Iranians don’t want any bad blood. They don’t want anything like that at all.
The Israelis will have to deal with the fallout from that, and that will include the entire Muslim world. It will conclude all the Europeans. It will include a whole bunch of countries, and it’s because of this deal. The Israelis would literally have to think that Iran is about to go nuclear, has gone nuclear, and they must strike now or else they are in peril for the survival of their state. Otherwise, they won’t strike.
Stu: Israel having to deal with the fallout is a very good way of putting that, Buck, because that is kind of what we’re actually looking at here in this particular situation.
Buck: A double entendre, unfortunately, yeah.
Stu: Let’s go back to the domestic side of this for a second. There is of course this hope. I know Iran has a supreme leader. They can do whatever they want. There is this hope that Congress could theoretically act and stop this, but to me, looking at it on its face, I mean, they might block the bill, but they’re not going to be able to override this veto. Is that how you’re reading this?
Buck: Yeah, I think that this is going to go through. I think the president would veto it without the number of votes needed to override. They’re not going to get to that number. Look, what’s the most important thing to Democrats in the House and the Senate at this point? Really the legacy of the Obama administration but really the legacy of the Democratic Party, and they’re trying to sort of show themselves as we’re the party that doesn’t go to war. We’re the party that gets deals done and figures it out through diplomacy, and so they won’t undercut the administration. Despite the fact that there has been a lot of bipartisan criticism of this, I can’t see the Democrats coming along with Republicans in large enough numbers to override a presidential veto on this.
I think we’re probably stuck with it, and yet again, here we are Republicans have the House and the Senate, and it feels like nothing has changed since the last election. I’m still waiting for them to do something, to put something even in front of President Obama, even if he were to veto it, we say well, at least they’re moving the ball down the field and they’re getting the conversation going in this country.
On this issue, yeah, there are some voices that I think have done a pretty good job of outlining why this Obama deal—I mean, the president was hell-bent on getting this done. There was nothing that was going to prevent this. You cannot go into a negotiation that way. They gave away the store. I mean, Stu, this was an exercise that I did before today with another friend who’s an expert on national security. I said find me the painful concession. What is the thing that the Iranians had to say, “Okay, I guess we’ll do that”? Get access to $100 billion in frozen funds? Stop spinning some of the centrifuges they’re allowed to keep?
This is preposterous on its face, but again, for domestic political reasons, it’s going to be celebrated as a huge victory. This shows us that President Obama is the international relations genius that the left in this country has been holding him up to be despite all of the problems of the past. This will wipe all of that away. Hope and change, there you go.
Stu: There you go. Buck Sexton, great insight, man. It’s an amazing day. It’s an amazing day. Thanks for coming on.
Buck: Stu, it’s amazing, all right. Thanks.
Stu: I was actually seeing the BBC was mentioning what they thought that big concession was, which was that they will disclose what they have done in the past as far as what they’ve done with nuclear weapons development. Wow, we get a tall tale about what they used to do with nuclear weapons. What a win, Obama! What a win!