A former Clinton administration official is slamming the Obama administration for looking the other way on Iranian human rights abuses and ballistic missile developments all for the sake of protecting the president’s nuclear deal and, by extension, his legacy.
Lawrence J. Haas served as communications director for Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton years. He is now a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and is author of the new book, “Harry and Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership that Created the Free World.”
Haas also recently authored a scathing column for U.S. News and World Report on what he sees as Obama turning a blind eye to Iran’s brutality against its own people. He says the reason is obvious: It’s all about preserving the Iran nuclear deal.
“It was so important to the administration, starting with the president to get this deal that they don’t want to level any sanctions,” Haas told WND and Radio America. “They don’t want Iran in essence to disavow the deal and disavow what they consider to be one of the president’s major legacies.”
As a result, Haas said Iran, already emboldened by stronger relations with the world’s most powerful nations and raking in $100-150 billion in sanctions relief, feels it can repress its people with no fears of reprisal. In his column, he cites a harsh prison sentence for a human-rights activist and the hanging of 13 people in a single day, including one in front of children. Perhaps most galling is 99 lashes for boys and girls who held a graduation party that included some dancing and at which some of the girls removed their headscarves.
“They are letting Iran do essentially whatever they want on human rights, on ballistic missiles, on terror sponsorship, on regional mischief and mayhem,” Haas said. “No matter what Iran does, the administration is so determined to save this nuclear deal, to prevent Iran from walking away, that they’re letting Iran get away with literally murder on a whole series of fronts.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Lawrence J. Haas:
He said this leaves the U.S. in a pathetically weak position.
“We are in the worst conceivable situation,” Haas said. “We cut this deal, which is very problematic, and we continue to look away every time Iran acts outrageously on some front. We are in a very subservient position, and that’s not where the United States should be.”
Instead of turning a blind eye and hoping Iran doesn’t back away from the deal, Haas said the U.S. must be willing to pull the plug.
“If you yourself as a negotiator are not willing to say that you yourself are going to walk away from the deal unless Iran does certain things, then you’re always going to be at their beck and call,” Haas said.
In 2015, when the Obama administration was lobbying Congress not to reject the nuclear deal, Haas said officials promised lawmakers from both parties that it would be willing to impose sanctions over human rights violations. It made the same promises over Iran’s ballistic missile program (which was ultimately left out of the agreement), terrorism sponsorship and more.
“They made promises that they would crack down on Iran if they saw problematic behavior on a series of fronts, including, most recently, human rights,” Haas said. “As we see and as I document in this piece for U.S. News, they’re completely ignoring the evidence that’s right in front of them.”
He continued, “Every time Iran does something, the administration says, ‘Well, it needs to be worse.’ It’s already horrific. It’s already outrageous. And it’s particularly outrageous that the administration is not doing anything about it.”