by Lev Tsitrin
As is well known, there is no better way to tell a lie than by telling the truth — incomplete truth, that is. Needless to say, politicians are masters of this art. What we don’t expect though, is the press playing the same game. After all, isn’t the press supposed to let us see the real state of affairs, so we could judge politicians for what they are, not for what politicians want us to believe they are?
Well, if the politician in question is Obama, and the press is the New York Times, then this is too much to expect. Consider the long report on the perilous situation posed by Iran’s nuclear program, “Trump’s Shadow Looms Over Fading Iran Nuclear Talks.” The gist is this: in 2015, Obama negotiated a deal that, the New York Times tells us, “limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions that have crushed the country’s economy.” Then came Trump, and in 2018 withdrew the US from that wonderful deal that supposedly made the world safe. Then Iran started to violate the limits on enrichment activity that the deal imposed on Iran. Then came Biden and tried to get US back into the Obama’s deal. Then, Iran made its own demands on the US: make it impossible for the next administration to pull US out of the deal as Trump did, and proactively lift the sanctions (including those on Iran’s revolutionary guards, removing their designation as a terrorist organization). Because Biden can’t do the former due to constitutional constraints, and won’t do the latter without revolutionary guards guaranteeing that they won’t engage in terrorism, negotiations stalled. But centrifuges are spinning, getting Iran closer to the bomb. Whose fault it is? Trump’s.
That’s the New York Times‘ logic — and it sounds pretty convincing until one realizes that, while telling the truth about Obama’s Iran deal, the New York Times‘ fails to tell the whole truth about it — by forgetting to insert, into its description of the “deal,” one word — “temporarily.” If it wanted to be upfront and honest, the New York Times should have stated that the deal “temporarily limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions that have crushed the country’s economy by giving legitimacy to Iran’s unlimited enrichment after 2030.” That’s what the deal was really about: in exchange for fleeting 15 years of time — so the remaining years of Obama’s administration, and that of its successor (expected to be Hillary’s) were cloudless — the deal granted legitimacy to Iran’s nuclear project. Ayatollahs gave up the intangible — a mere fleeting 15 years of time — in exchange for something very tangible and very valuable: international legitimacy for their nukes.
So here, New York Times: Obama’s JCPOA acquiesced to Iran’s bomb, rather than prevented it. Trump deserves praise, not blame, for pulling the US out of it.
Yes, the situation is tense: 2030 arrived in 2022. But there is a difference, too: in 2022, Iran is enriching illegally; in 2030, it would be doing the same, but legally. In 2022, the international community is required to counter Iran. In 2030, it would only shrug the shoulders to say, “we already did all we could, via JCPOA.”
In 2015, when Iran was hemmed in by UN sanctions, Obama could have told the ayatollahs: “you have a choice to make: cut your losses by dismantling your nuclear program, and rejoin the comity of nations. Else, we will dismantle your nuclear program for you, and you will still stay a pariah. Either way, you won’t get the nukes. Choose wisely.” But Obama decide to remove the latter, military option from the table, telling the ayatollahs instead, “we know your are eager and able to make the bomb. Please let me serve out my presidency in peace. Just wait for 15 years, and do it then.”
So what is Trump’s fault, the New York Times? That he refused to irresponsibly kick the nuclear can down the road on Louis XV’s principle “after us, let it flood” — Après nous, le déluge” — the slogan adopted by Obama as his own?
Once New York Times‘ prevarication is cleared out, it is Trump who comes out is the real statesman in the Iran nukes’ ongoing saga. Obama is just a panicky little rat, running for a hole called “JCPOA.”
So don’t try to mislead us, New York Times, by your partisan gimmickry. You have it the other way around. Obama is not a savior, but a villain. Trump is not a villain, but — if there is a hope at all of getting rid of Iran’s nuclear threat — a savior.