In November of 2014, I predicted that President Obama and his staff would use any means necessary, including obscuring the truth, to sell the Iran nuclear deal just as they did to sell the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to Ben Rhodes and his apparent need to brag about his success, we now know that this is exactly what happened.
More has been written about the now-infamous Rhodes interview than I can possibly read or remember, but Michael Doran’s congressional testimony yesterday is probably the most insightful commentary on it.
The strategic goal of the President, Doran says, was to end the conflict with Iran in order to extricate the US from the Middle East and make Iran part of the “security architecture of the region.” To do this, he misrepresented not only what was in the deal itself, but everything around it.
Doran identified five components of the deception:
- Conjuring moderates within the Iranian government. This created a false moral equivalence between those opposed to deal in the US and Iranian hardliners, as well as a false sense of security about the concessions the US has made.
- Falsifying the chronology of negotiations, which started prior to Rouhani’s assuming office.
- Erasing US concessions.
- Hiding the regional cost, in particular with respect to Syria. Rhodes, Doran argues, tried to prevent people from connecting Obama’s Syria policy to his Iran policy (as Doran correctly identified over a year ago).
- Blaming the US’s Sunni Muslim allies as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Finally, Doran points out that even today, we still don’t know the full terms of the deal.