From Hudson Institute Weekend Reads <[email protected]>
Subject Biden's Iran Deal Reflects a Doctrine of American Unexceptionalism
Date May 14, 2022 11:00 AM
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An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps soldier stands next to Iranian Kheibar Shekan ballistic missiles in downtown Tehran during a rally on April 29, 2022. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Biden administration’s zealous efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and transform the Islamic Republic from pariah to partner are neither containing nor deterring Iran’s leaders—quite the opposite, writes Hudson Senior Fellow Michael Doran [[link removed]]. In Bari Weiss' Common Sense [[link removed]] Substack, Michael argues that a nuclear deal with Iran would usher in a post-American global order and an emboldened Iran-Russia-China axis. See below for key excerpts.

Read the Essay [[link removed]]

Key Insights

1. Iran-Sponsored Terrorism Continues Unabated

Over the past six months, Iran has launched multiple ballistic missile and drone attacks on American allies like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia through its Houthi proxy in Yemen. It conducted a direct attack, this time through a proxy in Iraq, on American forces in al-Tanf, Syria. It hatched a plot to kidnap the Iranian-American journalist, Masih Alinejad, from her home in Brooklyn. And it has actively pursued plans to assassinate [[link removed]] former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Iran envoy Brian Hook, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton. In the context of the nuclear negotiations, the Biden team asked Tehran, politely, to put an end to these assassination plots. Tehran said no.

Even the most cursory examination [[link removed]] of the deal reveals that it resolves nothing. On the contrary, it permits Tehran to keep everything it needs to build a nuclear bomb, even including, for example, the secure bunker dug deep under a mountain near Fordow. Designed to shield Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities from attack, Fordow’s sole purpose is military in nature. We know this with certainty thanks to the nuclear archive [[link removed]] that the Israelis captured in a Tehran warehouse in 2018. What’s more, the deal permits Tehran to make advances in its weapons program—by, for example, developing advanced centrifuges—even while its nuclear activities are still formally under international restrictions.

The upshot is this: By 2031, under the terms of this supposedly excellent deal, Iran will have a major, unfettered nuclear weapons program.

2. Syria's Civil War Reflects the Brutality of an Emboldened Iran

The foreign policy strategists in the White House believe that, as Iran integrates into the world economy and becomes a more trusted participant in the security architecture of the Middle East, the resulting economic and political interdependencies will fundamentally reshape the worldview of leaders in Tehran...The primary job of the United States is not to discipline rogue actors with unilateral applications of American power; it’s to build the global system that will discipline them automatically.

We do not have to look further than the hellscape of Syria to see what this theoretical approach produces in the real world. In October 2015, Moscow and Tehran intervened together in the Syrian civil war. When Russian jets began bombing civilians, critics of Obama’s passivity called on him to take military countermeasures. Rejecting those calls, Obama said, “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire, and it won’t work.” Together with the Iranians, Moscow systematically reduced most of Syria’s major cities to rubble and saved the Assad regime without ever paying a serious price.

3. Facing America's Cold Shoulder, Allies Look to China

Thanks to the Biden team’s steadfast intention to empower Iran, America’s Gulf allies have become security orphans. They increasingly look for help from China, the great power with the most influence over Tehran. The list of hard power arenas in which China is now a major player is long and growing longer by the day: It manufactures military drones in partnership with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE; it builds ballistic missiles together with the Saudis, whom it is also helping to master nuclear technology; and it is selling jets to the UAE, where last year it was secretly building [[link removed]] a military site at Khalifa Port near Abu Dhabi.

Under pressure from the Americans, the Emiratis shut down the facility in the spring of 2021, but it won’t be long before Abu Dhabi and Riyadh refuse to comply with any such demands from the United States. Deference to Washington rests on the understanding that the United States will provide security—hard power deterrence. Instead, the Biden administration is offering its allies doublespeak based on utopian theories about how giving Tehran a hug and hundreds of billions of dollars will persuade it to play nice.

Quotes may be edited for clarity and length.

Read the Essay [[link removed]] Go Deeper

Why Russia and China Build Up Iran [[link removed]]

Washington engages with Beijing and Moscow as if they share core U.S. interests with respect to Iran, when instead they are working with Tehran to undermine the American-led global order, write Senior Fellows Michael Doran [[link removed]] and Bryan Clark [[link removed]] in The Wall Street Journal. Among the members of the global alliance dedicated to destroying the American-led order, Iran is the most vulnerable. The job of the U.S. is to defang it.

Read [[link removed]]

Reassessing America’s Middle East Policy [[link removed]]

The recent pause in negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal offers an opportunity to reassess America’s strategy in the Middle East. Hudson Senior Fellow Michael Doran [[link removed]] was joined by Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yaakov Amidror and Senior Fellows Jonathan Schachter [[link removed]] and Peter Rough [[link removed]] for a reexamination of America's policies regarding our allies and adversaries.

Watch [[link removed]]

Counterbalance | Ep. 39: How the U.S. & Saudi Arabia Could Reshape the Middle East [[link removed]]

Hosts Marshall Kosloff [[link removed]] and Michael Doran [[link removed]] are joined by Visiting Fellow Mohammed Khalid Alyahya [[link removed]] to evaluate how the U.S. strategy has evolved (or devolved) in the Middle East. Alyahya explains why U.S. engagement and cooperation with partners like Saudi Arabia and Israel are crucial to establishing order in the divisive region.

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