Opinion Columns & Blogs

Charles Krauthammer: GOP is not the one helping Iran’s hard-liners

It is only because so many congressional Democrats are defecting that President Obama gave a speech this week defending the Iran nuclear deal.
It is only because so many congressional Democrats are defecting that President Obama gave a speech this week defending the Iran nuclear deal.

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows that the American public rejects the president’s Iran deal by more than a 2-1 majority. This is astonishing. The public generally gives the president deference on major treaties. Just a few weeks ago, a majority supported the deal.

What happened? People learned what’s in it.

Inspections? Everyone now knows that “anytime, anywhere” – indispensable for a clandestine program in a country twice the size of Texas with a long history of hiding and cheating – has been changed to “You’ve got 24 days and then we’re coming in for a surprise visit.”

Snapback sanctions? Everyone knows that once the international sanctions are lifted, they are never coming back.

Moreover, consider the illogic of President Obama’s argument. The theme of his American University speech Wednesday was that the only alternative to what he brought back from Vienna is war because sanctions – even the more severe sanctions that Congress has been demanding – will never deter the Iranians. But if sanctions don’t work, how can you argue that the Iranians will now be deterred from cheating by the threat of … sanctions?

And then came news of the secret side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. These concern past nuclear activity and inspections of the Parchin military facility where Iran is suspected of having tested nuclear detonation devices.

We don’t know what’s in these side deals. And we will never know, says the administration. It’s “standard practice,” you see, for such IAEA agreements to remain secret.

Well, this treaty is not standard practice. It’s the most important treaty of our time. Yet Congress is asked to ratify this “historic diplomatic breakthrough” (Obama) while being denied access to the heart of the inspection regime.

It is only because so many congressional Democrats are defecting that Obama gave the AU speech in the first place. And why he tried so mightily to turn the argument into a partisan issue – those warmongering Republicans attacking a president offering peace in our time. Obama stooped low, accusing the Republican caucus of making “common cause” with the Iranian hard-liners who shout “death to America.”

This is delusional. Does Obama really believe the death-to-America hard-liners are some kind of KKK fringe? They are the government –the entire state apparatus of the Islamic Republic from the Revolutionary Guards to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Common cause with the Iranian hard-liners? Who more than Obama? For years, they conduct a rogue nuclear weapons program in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council declarations of its illegality backed by sanctions and embargoes. Obama rewards them with a treaty that legitimates their entire nuclear program, lifts the embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, and revives an economy – described by Iran’s president as headed back to “the Stone Age” under sanctions – with an injection of up to $150 billion in unfrozen assets, permission for the unlimited selling of oil, and full access to the international financial system.

With this agreement, this repressive, intolerant, aggressive, supremely anti-American regime – the chief exporter of terror in the world – is stronger and more entrenched than it has ever been.

Common cause, indeed.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.