Obama’s Blunder, and the Cotton Letter

It was Obama’s decision from the very beginning of his administration to engage in a dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was his decision never to relent from it. Obama stood idle, from 2011 on, in front of the unravelling of the Middle Eastern states system -- the so-called Sykes-Picot system -- and thus provided for the present Iranian expansion to the Fertile Crescent and South Arabia. Obama cooperated with Putin’s Russia in 2013 to salvage Assad’s regime, an Iranian proxy, in parts of Syria, even before ISIS had emerged as a player in the area. He then endorsed tactical cooperation with Iran against ISIS.

Moreover, the Obama administration is now packaging a nuclear deal with Iran that, for all practical purposes, will guarantee its accession to nuclear power status. To quote Netanyahu again:

The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short breakout time to the bomb (…) True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

The North Korean precedent, when it comes to such matters, should be considered.

Even so, the Obama administration is readying for "a second major concession" which "creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade."

Retrospectively, it is clear that the Obama administration made a terrible blunder when it opposed House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu. Should it have gently allowed the Israeli prime minister to address the Congress, it would have notably diminished his speech’s impact. Both the U.S. legislators and the public opinion would have still entertained the view that even if the Israeli prime minister was right, the White House and the State Department knew better and should be trusted in last resort.

On the contrary, by losing their nerve and attempting to block Netanyahu at any cost, the president and his assistants aroused suspicion from all sides. All the more so when Marie Harf, the State Department’s spokesperson, warned in a press conference on March 2 that any disclosure by Netanyahu of confidential information on the American-Iranian nuclear talks would be a "betrayal" of American trust. The inescapable conclusion was that there were unpalatable details about these talks that the administration was hiding from Congress and to the nation.

Even worse and more pathetic was National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s remark on the same day, at the AIPAC Policy Conference. Running out of arguments, she insisted that "to halt Iran’s enrichment entirely" was neither "a viable negotiating position" nor "even an attainable" one. This was an admission that the administration had in fact already surrendered to the core of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The Arab allies of the United States were incensed.

Ahmed al-Faraj and Abdulrahman al-Rashed, Saudi journalists known for their close links with the royal family, wrote approvingly of Netanyahu’s speech. In a rhetoric twist, columnist Dawoud al-Shiryan wondered why "the Israelis haven't yet stopped the Iranian effort by force as they always do."

Under such circumstances, it was very difficult for the U.S. Congress not to oppose any nuclear deal with Tehran, and not to start some in-depth investigation of the foreign affairs decision-making process at the White House and the State Department. The Republican letter to the Iranian leaders is just a first step to this end.