The Illusions of Hope

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“Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it.” 

So said Patrick Henry in his speech to the Virginia Convention on June 28, 1776. 

Last weekend, Americans the world over celebrated the Fourth of July amid breathtaking displays of fireworks and the uplifting chords of martial music.

However, very few Americans have internalized the lessons of America’s struggle for freedom, and the values upon which the United States was founded. Instead, today, amid perhaps the greatest effort to confront America since Nazism and Communism in the last century, many Americans, guided by the example of their commander-in-chief, are indulging in the illusions of hope and in a policy of willful blindness against the great totalitarian struggle facing our generation.

Within the next few days, the United States, taking the lead over the other P5+1 nations (Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany), may conclude a deal with the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism; a nation responsible for terrorism that has killed more American citizens than any other nation (aside from the rogue operation of Sept. 11, 2001, which was not state-sponsored); a nation that made the IEDs that killed and wounded thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan; a nation responsible for the bombing of the United States Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 U.S. marines; a nation that every Nov. 4 burns the American flag amid shouts of “Death to America,” commemorating the taking over of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 for 444 days.

Iran, where the government is a theocracy and actually controlled by the hard-line Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will either accept a deal and get the billions of dollars in sanctions relief and continue to work on its deadly nuclear program, or not accept a deal and devastatingly humiliate President Barack Obama and the United States. 

On June 23, Khamenei met with Iranian cognoscenti and outlined his red lines. They are available for all the world to see on his Twitter feed:

1. No long-term restrictions: “Despite U.S. insistence, we do not accept 10, 12 years [of] long-term restrictions, and the negotiators are already informed about acceptable time frame.”

2. Research and development to continue during the period of restrictions: “They ask us to do nothing for 12 years, but it is an extremely excessive and unfair demand and wrong request.”

3. Immediate removal “of all economic, financial and banking sanctions, either by UNSC [the U.N. Security Council], U.S. Congress or U.S. administration … on the same day a deal is signed. Other sanctions can be removed gradually, according to a reasonable timetable.”

4. Not stipulating implementation of Iran’s commitments for the lifting of sanctions: “Lifting of sanctions must not be tailored to Iran’s commitments; they cannot ask us to fully implement our commitments and [say that] when the IAEA verifies it, sanctions will be removed. We would never accept it. Removal of sanctions must correspond with steps Iran takes in implementing its commitments.”

5. No acceptance of IAEA verification: “We do not agree with IAEA verification as precondition for the other side to implement its commitments. Because the IAEA has proven for several times that neither does it work independently, nor is fair, and thus we are pessimistic about it. They claim that ‘the IAEA must confirm.’ What a nonsense statement is it? This confirmation means inspecting every single inch of the country.”

6. No inspections of unconventional or military weapons sites or questioning of individuals: “I never accept unconditional inspections nor interrogations of individuals. I have already asserted that no inspections of military sites can ever be done.”

7. No long-term time frames: “That they constantly repeat 15 years or 25 years is not accepted. The period is fixed with an end.”

All of these points directly fly in the face of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that was signed by the P5+1 in Geneva, at least according to the statement issued on April 2, 2015 by the U.S. State Department

Specifically, and most glaringly: 

1. The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordo and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.

2. Iran will receive sanctions relief if it verifiably abides by its commitments.

3. U.S. and EU nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments these sanctions will snap back into place.

4. The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.

We all understand and appreciate that America is now a war-weary nation, but willfully blinding ourselves to the reality of a bad deal does not prevent war. As Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said, “The alternative to a bad deal is not war; the alternative to a bad deal is a good deal.”

Moreover, history has taught us that a bad deal actually is the one greatest single factor that generates war. It reinforces the appetite of the enemy. One has to look no further than the Treaty of Versailles, which neither pacified nor weakened Germany, and led to its avarice and the tremendous human devastation of World War II.

It is most urgent following this Fourth of July weekend, as the U.S. negotiates with a totalitarian, theocratic regime that aspires to achieve world hegemony, that we heed Patrick Henry’s advice — let us not “shut our eyes against a painful truth.”

Originally published at:

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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