April 3, 2015 | Quote

A Foreign Policy Gamble by Obama at a Moment of Truth

The framework nuclear agreement he reached with Iran on Thursday did not provide the definitive answer to whether Mr. Obama’s audacious gamble will pay off. The fist Iran has shaken at the so-called Great Satan since 1979 has not completely relaxed. But the fingers are loosening, and the agreement, while still incomplete, held out the prospect that it might yet become a handshake.

For a president whose ambitions to remake the world have been repeatedly frustrated, the possibility of a reconciliation after 36 years of hostility between Washington and Tehran now seems tantalizingly within reach, a way to be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize that even he believed was awarded prematurely. Yet the deal remains unfinished and unsigned, and critics worry that he is giving up too much while grasping for the illusion of peace.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former C.I.A. analyst who is now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said a nuclear accord with Iran was all that remained of Mr. Obama’s dream of transformation. But Mr. Obama, he said, has misjudged Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and its president, Hassan Rouhani.

“A reading of the supreme leader or of Hassan Rouhani in their own words ought to tell you that there is a near-zero chance that an accord will diminish the revolutionary, religious hostility that these two men, the revolutionary elite, have for the United States,” he said.

If Mr. Obama does turn out to be right, Mr. Gerecht added, history will reward him. “If he is wrong, however, and this diplomatic process accelerates the nuclearization of the region, throws jet fuel on the war between the Sunnis and the Shia, and puts America into a much worse strategic position in the Middle East,” he said, “then history is likely to be harsh to Mr. Obama.”


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