Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
In July 1940, after the debacle of Dunkirk and the fall of France, an anonymously published book called The Guilty Men criticized by name 18 politicians for the policy of appeasement that had led to the war. Someday someone will no doubt write a similar exposé of the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. But there will be more than 18 culprits whose hands will be stained with the blood this capitulation will lead to.
Start with the 42 Senators who for now are saving Obama from having to veto the bill intended to slow down an agreement that is a disaster for our security and interests. There are only two explanations for these cowardly votes. Either the Senators endorse the delusional argument that giving away the store to Iran is the only option for stopping the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, or they made a despicable political calculation that their careers depended on staying in the good graces of the party’s hierarchy and its leader. In the end it doesn’t matter if they are naïve idealists, like Neville Chamberlain, or selfish careerists. The dangers are the same.
And let’s not forget the scores of House Democrats guilty of the same sins. Patrick Murphy, a Congressman from Florida who plans to run for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat, made a statement that encapsulates the muddled thinking of the deal’s champions:
“I believe deeply in the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. This debate has proven to me that America and Israel are fortunate to have so many passionate, diverse voices who all want the same things: a nuclear-free Iran, a secure Israel, and peace in our time. In the interest of all three, I will be supporting this deal and voting against a Resolution of Disapproval in September.”
How dense does one have to be to echo Chamberlain’s infamous phrase spoken after the Prime Minister had returned from Munich on September 30, 1938? And how blind does one have to be to actually believe that a regime that has been at war with this country for 36 years––that has murdered our citizens and soldiers, kept imprisoned four Americans on specious charges, fomented terror throughout the world, repeatedly emphasized its genocidal intentions for Israel, and currently is leveraging the rise of ISIS in order to make itself the region’s primary hegemon––will keep its word? How stupid does one have to be to believe that this parchment barrier, this covenant without a sword, this tissue of vain hope, magical thinking, and presidential legacy-hunting will keep the mullahs from acquiring nuclear weapons and make “Israel secure”?
Even more astonishing, the honchos in Iran go out of their way to tell us the deal hasn’t changed their fanatical hatred for Israel or us. Even as Obama was strong-arming Democrats to get in line, Khamenei tweeted, “God willing, there will be nothing of the Zionist regime by the next 25 years,” and until then there will be “no moment of serenity for Zionists.” And don’t forget his earlier tweet showing Obama with a gun to his head, recalling Hitler’s threat to kick Chamberlain in the stomach and throw him down the Reich Chancellery stairs if he ever visited Berlin again. As for the deal, General Ahmad Reza Purdastan, the commander of Iran’s ground forces, announced, “We will by no means allow inspection of military centers and sites,” and Khamenei warned, “Sanctions against Tehran must be lifted completely rather than suspended. If the framework of sanctions is to be maintained, then why did we negotiate?” And if Iran will not honor the deal, why did we negotiate?
Does Murphy and the other guilty men of Congress think these thugs are just kidding? Or are they like the British guilty men, who dismissed Hitler’s warning a mere 9 days after Munich: “It would be a good thing if in Great Britain people would gradually drop certain airs which they have inherited from the Versailles epoch. We cannot tolerate any longer the tutelage of governesses. Inquiries of British politicians concerning the fate of Germans within the frontiers of the Reich, or of others belonging to the Reich, are not in place.” The British ignored the obvious threat that Hitler would do something about the millions of ethnic Germans “belonging to the Reich” but stranded in Eastern Europe by the Versailles settlement, and they didn’t wake up until the following March when the German tanks rolled into Prague and Czechoslovakia was no more.
So too our guilty men ignore the Iranian adventurism in Iraq, where the mullahs are incorporating their Shi’a brethren into the new Persian Empire, and brush off as mere rhetoric the threats from Iran’s leadership, especially Khamenei, who recently said of his people’s chants of “Death to America,” “We ask Almighty God to accept these prayers by the people of Iran.”
The guiltiest guilty men, of course, are Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and former SOS Hillary Clinton, who has bragged about her back-channel negotiations with Iran through the sultan of Oman, thus starting the sorry process of appeasement. But Obama is the chief offender. He came into office determined to put into practice the left-wing critique of America as a global villain that needed to back off its nefarious interference in the affairs of other countries. Like a middle-school counselor, he believed that the national psychological trauma and wounded self-esteem caused by America’s neo-imperialist crimes needed to he healed by apologies and flattering “outreach” so our victims would stop “acting out.”
And like Neville Chamberlain, Obama grossly over-estimated the force of his personality and powers of persuasion, thinking that all he had to do was just show up and talk nice, and hard, ruthless men would forget their passionate beliefs and interests and transform into global good citizens. Someday his recent comments on the deal––like his claim that it is “the strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated” and “cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb”––will sound as deluded as Chamberlain’s assurances to his Cabinet that “Hitler was speaking the truth” during negotiations, that he “had established some degree of personal influence over Herr Hitler,” and that the Führer “would not deliberately deceive a man whom he respected and with whom he had been in negotiation, and he was sure that Herr Hitler now felt some respect for him.”
Worse yet, Obama has endorsed the old dubious belief that diplomatic engagement not backed by force is the way to resolve conflicts even with inveterate enemies, when in fact diplomacy is too often a way to camouflage, with the misdirection of diplomatic “engagement,” an unwillingness to act and risk a political price. And he has been true to his words, rushing to pull our military forces from a region that now is descending into a Hobbesian world of violence and disorder, leaving it to predator nations like Iran and Russia, and “money doesn’t stink” European shopkeeper nations like France and Germany, all hurrying in to pursue geopolitical clout or corporate profits.
But others, including those who should know better, have enabled this failure. Republican Senator Bob Corker co-authored farcical legislation that turned the Constitution’s treaty-making provisions on their head, transforming the 67 votes required to ratify a treaty into an impossible 67 votes to override the veto Obama swore to use if the bill rejecting the “agreement” should pass. But the 42 Senate Democrats have saved Obama from this embarrassment by making sure there won’t even be a vote. Meanwhile, nobody so far has given a good reason why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shouldn’t emulate Harry Reid and exercise the “nuclear option,” which requires just a simple majority to pass the bill. Reid did it to jam through judicial nominees, yet the squeamish McConnell won’t do the same thing on an issue of much greater import for our national security and interests.
Finally, the people will bear some responsibility as well. A recent Pew poll reports that 30% of Americans don’t even know what the deal is all about. The lack of outrage over the national humiliation that Obama’s foreign policy has inflicted on the country––from the blunders that got four Americans killed in Benghazi to the current capitulation to our most persistent and virulent global enemy––bespeaks a critical mass of people whose short-term pleasures and interests trump the nation’s long-term security.
That makes for a lot of “guilty men.”