American Shame and the Iran Nuclear Deal
I grew up in 1970s and ‘80s America. It was a time inspired by soaring declarations of America as a guarantor of liberty and guardian of freedom — best captured in JFK’s unforgettable inaugural address: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Kennedy’s declaration was not only followed by Reagan’s declaration of the Soviet Union as an evil empire, but even led Jimmy Carter to withdraw from the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The theme of America as a guarantor of liberty was echoed by George H.W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq to liberate Kuwait and by his son’s to unseat a dictator from power.
We can debate the pros and cons of these presidential actions. But what cannot be disputed was the image of America as the great citadel of liberty.
Then came President Obama and the Iran nuclear deal.
In my opinion, few things have shamed America more.
The Iran agreement betrayed America’s core values by emboldening a regime that was guilty of the full trifecta of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, a brutal oppressor of its own people, and aiding and abetting genocide in Syria — all while promising a genocide of Israeli Jews.
It’s now clear just how disastrous the nuclear deal was. Iran has not moderated its behavior in the slightest and has in fact become much more belligerent. It is an active collaborator with the deployment of poison gas against children in Douma and Aleppo. It is fomenting unrest and civil war in Yemen and Lebanon, and destabilizing the entire Middle East.
In short, President Obama’s deal provoked the opposite to what he promised. Iran has gone more rogue not less.
It gives me no comfort to attack the government of a country where my ancestors lived for generations. My father is from Isfahan, and Iranian culture, food, and music is central to his life to this day. I would have never believed that a nation that harbored a Jewish community for millennia would foster a regime that is arguably the most antisemitic since Nazi Germany.
The Khamenei regime is a blight on Persian history and on decency itself. It’s sickening to see a government comprised of vile men who feel no shame for threatening a nation that had a Holocaust just 70 years ago with another one today. Is this really what Iran has come to?
But while we often focus on what the Khamenei regime says about Iran, we don’t focus enough on what Obama’s deal says about America.
Since when does America make deals with governments that regularly threaten to annihilate a persecuted ethnic minority? Since when does America pay billions to regimes that slaughter their own people and bully their neighbors?
I lost many friends over the Iran nuclear agreement, and was surprised by senators and congressman who I respected supporting the deal. Seeing Iran’s murderous behavior, especially in Syria — where so many innocent Muslims have been slaughtered and gassed to death — I wonder how those lawmakers feel today.
Now President Trump has the chance to kill the Iran deal once and for all. It would be a historic event should he choose to do so.
Obama was a moral man with an amoral foreign policy. He turned a blind eye to repeated threats of genocide against Israel and even sent plane loads of cash to the mullahs, knowing full well that some of that untraceable money would be used to murder innocents. Obama also chose to do nothing in Syria.
President Trump, by contrast, is accused by all his critics of having an amoral personal life. I wonder if those same critics acknowledge moral results that have come from his foreign policy.
Trump has twice attacked Assad for gassing Arab children. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has worked to reverse decades of anti-Israel and antisemitic behavior at the UN. The Trump administration has taken a harder line on Palestinian terror and violence.
Now it falls to President Trump to continue with a moral foreign policy by killing the Iran nuclear agreement. The deal was a farce to begin with. Iran never needed a nuclear program for domestic energy or scientific purposes.
That President Obama and John Kerry — whose legacies have been marred by Syria and Iran — could not see this clearly speaks to how badly their administration needed a single great foreign policy success and what they would do to achieve it.
The Iran nuclear agreement is immoral and dangerous. It rewards a genocidal regime with billions of dollars, much of which will go to further foment Middle East mayhem. Its sunset provisions allow an ideological and expansionist regime to build nuclear weapons in about a decade. And ultimately the deal legitimizes a vile regime that stones women to death, hangs homosexuals, shoots its citizens in the streets, and exports terror.
It’s time to end the Iran nuclear deal.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” has just published his newest book, Lust for Love: Rekindling Passion and Intimacy in Your Relationship, co-authored with Pamela Anderson and published by Hachette.