What the Syrian chemical weapon debacle says about Iran deal
Published on September 11, 2015
If you are going to buy a used car you probably check out the track record of the dealership before you sign any papers. Ditto for buying a home and your real estate agent. In fact, you probably don't hire a guy to put a new deck on your existing residence without finding out how he did on the job he just finished for your neighbor. That's common sense. Before you believe someone's promises you want to know what their reputation is.
So, maybe, just maybe, before we buy off on this Administration's grandiose claims about what the Iran nuclear deal is going to deliver, we ought to take just a couple of minutes and reflect on how Barack Obama and John Kerry did the last time they entered into negotiations with a militant anti-American Middle Eastern regime.
Let's talk about Syria and chemical weapons.
A couple of years ago, this Administration entered into an agreement, brokered with Russian assistance, whereby the Assad regime was going to turn over its existing stockpile of chemical weapons for destruction outside Syria. All of the same assurances that we are hearing now in regard to the Iran deal were made. We were taking nothing on faith. Verification was the key. We would hold Assad's feet to the fire.
The Syrians complied. Sort of. Some quantity of chemical weapons was turned over, and, of course, the Administration crowed. On July 20, 2014 John Kerry appeared on all five major Sunday news shows and sang the praises of the Obama Administration on foreign policy in general and in negotiating the Syrian chemical weapons deal in particular. Per Kerry, repeatedly, " "We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out."
Supporters of the Administration echoed the sentiment. Senator McCaskill told Fox News, "we're getting the chemical weapons out of Syria," and Senator Casey said in reference to Syrian chemical weapons "we should commend the administration for the result that they got." In late February of this year, in fact, Secretary Kerry was still claiming that "we got, as you know, last year all the chemical weapons out of Syria."
It was, unfortunately, not true. As even John Kerry has by now been forced to admit, the Syrians played us for fools. They never disarmed, and they continue to use chemical weapons on their own people to this day.
First, the Syrians made sure that chlorine was never listed as one of the chemical weapons they agreed to give up. Chlorine is widely available and easy to manufacture. It is also a highly effective chemical weapon. The Syrians never stopped using it, dumping it in large "barrel bombs" from regime aircraft on defenseless civilians and heavily populated residential areas.
Second, the Syrians practiced widespread deception. They hid large quantities of deadly nerve agents and entire chemical weapons labs. They controlled where international inspectors went. They orchestrated elaborate "dog and pony" shows in which they presented chemical weapons facilities as being dedicated to agricultural research.
They lied. We believed their lies. It is two years later. Even John Kerry has been forced to admit that the Syrians sold us a bill of goods. He is, of course, "deeply disturbed". The Administration is once again reaching out to our good friends the Russians for help, ignoring for the moment at least the ominous reports that Putin has stepped up support for Assad and that he is building a large new Russian military base in Syria.
The result will be exactly the same in Iran.
I have spent a great deal of my adult life in the Middle East. It is a harsh place where sentiment, wishful thinking and delusions about the nature of the nations and groups with which you are dealing will get you killed. The Assad regime in Damascus is a vicious, brutal machine focused on only one thing, self-preservation. This is a regime, which will shell, rocket, machine-gun and gas its own people without mercy in order to stay in power. This Administration, acting on the belief that it was dealing with Syrian officials negotiating in good faith and seeking peaceful coexistence, never had a chance. It was in over its head from the moment talks began.
If anything the Iranians are worse than the Syrians. The theocracy that controls Tehran is just as brutal. It is motivated, however, not simply by self-preservation but by an aggressive, radical Islamic mindset focused on the export of revolution and a confrontation with the United States and the West. Deception and deceit are simply weapons to be used in this struggle. Lying to the Great Satan is not a sin. It is a duty.
To deal with this hard, violent regime we have trotted out the same gullible crew of so-called negotiators that were taken to the cleaners by the Syrians. They have, in turn, trotted out for our consideration the same fantastic claims of having negotiated an airtight agreement and saved the world. This will all end the same way; with embarrassed admissions that we were wrong, that we were lied to and that the enemy has stolen a march on us. The damage will be much, much worse. Instead of a regime armed with limited quantities of chemical weapons we will be talking about a radical Islamic state with nuclear weapons.
There is an old saying. "Fool me once. Shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me."
We have been fooled once. If we allow ourselves to be fooled twice, the shame will be ours.