Posted by Curt on 14 April, 2022 at 12:01 pm. 2 comments already!



President Joe Biden is getting tough on Iran. So says Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. “The Biden administration plans to reject an Iranian demand that the United States lift its designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] as a terrorist organization as a condition for renewing the 2015 nuclear agreement—putting completion of the deal in jeopardy,” Ignatius reported last Friday. “A senior administration official told me,” he continued, “that President Biden doesn’t intend to concede on the terrorist designation, even though this may be a dealbreaker.”

Critics of Biden’s effort to revive the nuclear deal hailed Ignatius’ report as a hopeful sign, an indication that the president was beginning to reverse his appeasement of the Islamic Republic. But this interpretation is unfounded, as an examination of Ignatius’ careful language reveals. The administration, he writes, “plans to reject” Iran’s demand, and the president “doesn’t intend” to make concessions. In other words, we learn from Ignatius’ anonymous source only what might happen in the future, not what is actually happening in the present. If the president truly rejects the Iranian demand, why doesn’t he just say so on the record?
The answer is that Biden is buying time by disarming his critics. For months now, numerous informed sources told the press that the negotiations with Iran were all but completed. That was partially based on the fact that the American side was fully prepared to remove the IRGC from the terrorism list. In return, however, the administration requested a face-saving gesture from Tehran (more on that below). When Tehran refused the request, the negotiations stalled. Talks broke up for Nowruz and will probably remain halted at least through Ramadan, which runs until the beginning of May.

In the meantime, the most reliable statement of the administration’s policy came not from the anonymous source whispering to Ignatius but from Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the administration’s Capitol Hill surrogate on Iran. Asked by MSNBC last Thursday if the IRGC should be delisted, Murphy said “Yes!,” with evident exasperation, as if only an idiot could think otherwise. “The practical impact of designating [the IRGC] as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is inconsequential,” he continued. “We have dozens of other terrorist designations on the IRGC that would remain.”


On the same day, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley received the same question from the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I believe the IRGC Quds Force to be a terrorist organization and I do not support them being delisted,” Milley answered. Milley’s view was widely misinterpreted, including by Ignatius, as proof that the IRGC would remain on the terrorism list. In fact, all Milley said was that the Quds Force, one of many subcomponents of the IRGC, should be designated. His answer dovetailed with Murphy’s view.


Milley’s legerdemain was not lost on Ron Ben-Yishai, a veteran Israeli journalist. The Americans are “conning us,” Ben-Yishai wrote in a column on Saturday. “Elements in the Biden administration … are trying to kosher a creeping thing.” This colorful metaphor originates in Leviticus: “You shall not defile yourselves through any creeping creature that crawls on the ground.” Based on this injunction, Jewish dietary law forbids the consumption of insects and reptiles, not to mention many other creepy things.

While Ben-Yishai is certainly correct, the creepiest creature the administration is serving is not the delisting of the IRGC but the nuclear deal itself. If the deal goes through, the United States and the world’s other great powers will give their blessing to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In less than nine years’ time, the deal removes all meaningful limitations on the program, and it removes many other restrictions much sooner. Even during the period of formal restrictions, Iran is permitted to preserve and expand its nuclear infrastructure. Meanwhile, the deal lifts the most onerous economic sanctions the United States has imposed in response not only to Tehran’s illegal nuclear weapons program but to its support for terrorism and other malign activities. By 2031, hundreds of billions of dollars will pour into regime coffers.
Even if the IRGC remains on the terrorism list, however, its power will grow exponentially. Preserving the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation is certainly the right thing to do, but on its own it will not arrest the abject appeasement at the heart of Biden’s policy.
The Biden team recognizes acts of Iranian aggression not as national security threats but only as PR challenges.

When President Barack Obama first sold the nuclear deal to the American public, the debate was over consequences that no one could prophesy with certainty. Whereas Obama presented a rosy future in which greater stability in the Middle East would result, his critics predicted that an empowered, enriched, and thoroughly unrepentant Islamic Republic would redouble its efforts to undermine the American-led order. The critics, we now know, won the argument. The deal abetted the rise of the Russian-Iranian alliance that turned Syrian cities into rubble; it led to the proliferation of militias across the Arab world, now armed with precision guided weaponry; and it facilitated the growth of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To expect a different result this time around is nothing short of insane

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