AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman
On Friday, Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in Chautauqua, New York by a Hezbollah activist inspired to carry-out the fatwa issued by Iran’s long-dead leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The incident should clarify a number of things.
First, Hezbollah has never been a respectable political party, and most certainly is not one now. Second, an Iranian government which could not even bring itself to condemn the attempted assassination, instead suggesting the author and his supporters only had themselves to blame, clearly does not value the prospect of any nuclear deal with the U.S. and Europe enough to even mouth meaningless words of conciliation. And third, despite this further addition to the overwhelming evidence that Iran is not serious about the process, the Biden administration is determined to push such a deal through, even if it means dropping the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, allowing its agents to carry out actions such as the attack on Rushdie out in the open, rather than in the shadows.
The European diplomats, who have been acting as go-betweens in talks between American and Iranian diplomats in Vienna, released a “final draft” of proposals for a revamped Iran nuclear deal last week. The draft, produced in “close consultation with U.S. officials,” would nominally maintain sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp imposed by the Trump Administration in 2019—something the Biden team always insisted was a red line—but in practice, the new plan cripples their effectiveness. According to Politico, “Under the proposed text, Europeans and other non-Americans could conduct business with Iranian entities engaged in ‘transactions’ with the IRGC without fear of triggering U.S. sanctions, as is currently the case, provided their primary business partner was not on a U.S. sanctions registry.”
One diplomat told Politico that “the wording also suggests that IRGC entities could seek to evade U.S. sanctions simply by conducting their business via surrogates and shell companies that create a degree of separation, rendering the U.S. restrictions toothless for non-American enterprises and individuals.”
The IRGC is increasingly a state-within-a-state in Iran, engaging in terrorism both domestically and internationally. Internationally, the IRGC has been active as far afield as Latin America, where it has provided support for the Venezuelan dictatorship of Nicholas Maduro in exchange for assistance in running a global heroin trading network. The force was responsible for the bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983 which killed more than 200 Americans, and its agents killed more than 600 Americans in Iraq. It has masterminded plots to kill former National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. As recently as a month ago, the Biden administration acknowledged this, suggesting they would rather abandon any deal than agree to lift sanctions, which makes the decision to back away look all the more weak in light of the Rushdie attack.
A quick examination of the IRGC’s domestic role illustrates both why European governments are so eager to do businesses with IRGC, and why any deal that does not break the IRGC’s power is not worth the paper it is written on. The IRGC has infiltrated the Iranian political and legal system, leading even the former head of the judiciary to denounce their disregard for the rule of law. They have taken control of tens of billions of dollars’ worth of economic assets, including firms which dominate the export and the energy sector. Most significantly, access to Iran’s energy sector is in the hands of the IRGC, and an energy starved Europe sees in the IRGC-controlled Iranian oil fields an alternative to having to deal with Russia or compromise with the Green lobby to keep nuclear plants open.
Yet that is precisely why Biden’s Iran deal cannot work. One of the many problems with the original Obama deal was that the methods of verifying Iran’s compliance with the deal were vague and insufficient. This created a situation where the burden of proof fell on the United States under Donald Trump to demonstrate Iran was not in compliance, not on Iran to prove that it was. Underlying this was the simple fact that the Iran “deal” was of more value to Europe than it was to Iran. Every time U.N. inspectors flagged Iranian non-compliance, Iran would threaten to suspend the deal unless the challenges were dropped. European diplomats, terrified of losing their precious deal, would then rush to pressure the inspectors to sign statements verifying Iran’s compliance.
If Europe wanted the deal more than Iran needed it in 2017, Europe needs it more now. If Europe is pursuing it not because European diplomats believe that it is the most effective means of curtailing Iran’s nuclear program but because they believe access to Iranian oil will save them from difficult domestic political choices, then they will never support enforcement of the deal against Iranian violations in a way that jeopardizes the access to Iranian oil they gain from the agreement. If the Biden administration is foolish enough to sign this deal, they will discover that the Europeans will refuse to enforce even its limited provisions.
The pressure to drop sanctions on the IRGC is not the only sign of how Europe will approach enforcement of the deal. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Iran is already being held in contempt by the International Atomic Energy Agency for failing to disclose nuclear sites. The draft text of the proposal lays out that Iran must “answer the agency’s questions ‘with a view to clarifying them’” in order for the deal to take effect – placing significant pressure on the IAEA from all involved parties to say that Iran has complied with the inquiry.
But if history is any guide, the IAEA will attempt to verify Iran’s compliance only for its inspectors to be denied access to sites, face physical threats, and blatant obstruction. When they discover violations, which Iran will barely bother to disguise, Iran will arrest European businessmen on trumped up charges and threaten to suspend operations on joint-energy ventures until Brussels prevails upon the Biden administration to verify Iranian compliance and bully the IAEA into submission. Regional actors such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel will lose any modicum of faith in the value of such an agreement and resort to their own defense, causing an escalation of their proxy conflict with Iran.
The deal being discussed now by the Biden administration will fail to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. It will decrease Western leverage on Iran. It will increase, rather than decrease regional tensions. It is a bad idea. That Biden has allowed the process to reach this point is an indictment of his entire regional policy. It an insult to Salman Rushdie and the hundreds of thousands of victims of Iran’s regime.
While exploratory negotiations can be of value with almost anyone, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s outreach to North Korea, the premise of conducting negotiations on the nuclear issue alone with Iran is misguided, especially when Iran refuses direct talks with the United States. If such a process were justified, it must be conducted from a position of strength, not one in which the United States and Europe give every indication they are desperate enough for an agreement that they will ignore crimes in broad daylight. Finally, allowing Europe to use Biden’s desperation for a foreign policy win to gain access to Iranian oil will see Europe replace over-reliance on Russian energy with over-reliance on Iranian energy – handing Tehran, rather than Moscow, the corresponding leverage over Brussels.
Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.
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One other member of AMAC has expressed not having access to the articles they send us in our emails. I too use Duck Duck Go as this other member stated, instead of Google’s web browser. After my emails to the administrator expressing my disgust and being quite direct without using any profanity, it appears I’ve been blocked from their articles all together.
When I try to access an article, all that comes up is ‘invalid request’ notices in the upper left hand corner of my screen. This has been going on for over a month now. The only way I’m able to access these is through their amac.us web site. I’m going to try to contact someone with AMAC by phone at some point to try to get this straightened out. I am still a member and I don’t blame the whole of AMAC’S administration for this. I think they have a sore head at the helm of their moderating dept.
Now, my thoughts on Daniel’s well written article is that as we become weaker and despised in the eyes of other nations it won’t be long before God let’s which ever nation that has the nuclear capability to wipe us off the map, do so, thus justifying the Lord’s vengeance against this Apostate nation! Only the Lord knows why it hasn’t happened yet.
Holy Lord God, help us! Your will be done.
Biden is too senile, too stupid and too out of touch with reality to know how to deal with Iran. Israel told him a couple of months ago that the only way to deal with Iran is through a position of brute strength.
Maybe someone should tell obama and Susan Rice, their the ones pulling the strings for the Biden administration!
A weak,useless “president” is what Biden. The world laughs at this boob…
The first news about it showed a woman speaking from a lectern that had on the front (paraphrase) Preventing Gun Violence, Protecting Our Citizens. Right!
So, now we see the reason behind shutting down the USA oil independence
Biden is a disgrace.
The Biden’s are the darlings of Delunaware politics. Crooked and deceitful to the bone.
Biden is just doing obama’s bidding. Obama is very friendly to Iran.
Like Gates said, “Biden has been wrong on every foreign policy issue in the last 40 years!”
This is what happens when you let an election get stolen and do NOTHING.
That is the root of all of this, and our economic problems. The stolen election that was never investigated, only denied. So far it looks like they can get away with anything and the only modicum of hope is something Trump did.
What is interesting is that we aren’t really hearing a lot about this in the MSM. If the attack would have happened with a firearm it would be 24 hour news, 7 days a week. Of course, this article points out what most of us already know, that Iran can’t be trusted. The Biden administrations dealing with them shows that there is something more simmering below the surface.
The attack on Rushdie, by a radicalized Isalmist, won’t cause the Biden administration to miss a beat as they race to get back into the deeply flawed Iranian Nuclear Deal on whatever terms the Iranians demand from us. The Iranians see a desparate, weak Democrat administration just like Obama’s was, peopled by the same personnel from the Obama administration.
The Iranians know the Democrats are desparate for anything that can be spun as a foreign policy win ahead of the U.S. midterms, so the Iranians will extract every single concession and plane load of cash they can get from us. In the end, the Iranians will ignore whatever is signed and continue to build nuclear weapons that can be targeted against Israel, Europe and the United States. Another Democrat President repeating the same blunders that Bill Clinton did with North Korea, Barack Obama did with Iran and now Dementia Joe is repeating with Iran. This is what we get for a portion of the American public making horrible decisions on who they elect. In the end once the Iranians have several nuclear bombs, the Iranians will then use the threat of nuclear war to extract all sorts of concessions from all the western powers on the planet that their ICBMs can reach.
Your second paragraph says it all.
My question is WHY do they want to give Iran this when they scream “Death to America” all the time??? I don’t get that. WHY are they so dead set on anything in this area at all???
There are a multitude of reasons why Democrats in general are so obsessed with Iran. Basically, it all goes back to the days of Jimmy Carter, when the Democrats essentially sat back and allowed the Ayatollha Khomenini to return to Iran, stoke the Iranian revolution, topple the Shah’s government, destabilze the Middle East and then take American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran for 444 days until Reagan became POTUS. That time was bascically a complete and massive repudiation of the Carter presidency, Democrat foreign policy in general, and an exposure for all the world so see of what Democrat appeasement policies and deep cuts in U.S. military defense spending could do to undermine America’s ability to act decisively on the world stage.
The Democrats have long, long memories and they don’t accept defeat well even under the best of circumstances. This was, up until Biden became POTUS, the single biggest screw-up of foreign policy the Democrats have made in the last 70 years. So basically ever since that time, the Democrat Party has made it its mission to try and reverse the correct perception the world has of Democrat Presidents by bending over backwards to try and prove, via tried and true standard Democrat appeasement policies, that a Democrat President can negotiate a major deal with Islamic Iran to achieve some lasting peace.
I could provide a lot more detail on the subject, but that would be wasted here as most people don’t like reading lengthy analysis of complex subjects. Just suffice it to say that it doesn’t matter how many times Iranian leadership screams “Death to America” or promises to wipe us off the map at the first opportunity they have with their new nukes. Democrats don’t care about any of that. They care about trying to erase the memory of a Democrat President and Party that massively screwed up royally in the foreign policy arena, when it comes to Iran.
I was going to expound on carter and the 444 days but you did it better. The fact that you’re routinely censored is disturbing to me. As far as im concerned you have the best overall grasp of political reality to be found among the many authors featured here. Too many grant the dems good intentions and try to explain away their actions as bumbling mistakes.
Give those DemocRats a shor of your “Id”!!!!
Too bad you have decided not to go into great detail as I really appreciate your knowledge and thoughts! Very educational, Paul!
I have been turned off in posting my thoughts as a result of AMAC’s “Thought Police” too! Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger, Paul!
Well I answered you question quite well, but the AMAC moderator decided to censor my comment yet again. The censorship on this site is becoming something of a running joke and not in a good way.
I do not understand their censoring machine! I have had inoquos posts that have been sensored. Many have to do with mentioning people on the list of CFR members. Others have nothing that would provoke censorship.
There must be a ‘party line’ here that involves the old fiction that we all want to get the same results but differ as to the means. Whats confusing is when thoughtful, well reasoned posts are censored but many others calling for violence are not.
NUKE IRAN AND AFGHANISTAN UNTIL THEY GLOW IN THE DARK!
America has been slowly but surely emasculated for the past 70 years
Example: Rachel Levine.