Following the Aug. 27 face-to-face meeting at the White House between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the subject of a nuclear deal with Iran, two things immediately became apparent – Biden has learned nothing from his Afghanistan fiasco and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under President Barack Obama and Biden, is most prophetic.
In the meeting, Biden told Bennett, "We're putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us. But if diplomacy fails, we're ready to turn to other options." At a subsequent press conference, press secretary Jen Psaki, appropriately, would not explain what those "other options" were, so as to leave Tehran's mullahs wondering. But asked if there was a date certain by which to turn to those options if diplomatic efforts failed, she refused to say.
This is the exact opposite problem Biden created in Afghanistan. In planning a U.S. withdrawal, Biden should not have provided a date certain, giving the enemy a heads up on our drawdown, but he did. However, in pursuing negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program, the mullahs have become experts in playing us like a fiddle, extracting what they want while baiting us to hang on to the hope of reaching a meaningful agreement. They pursued such a course during negotiations with the Obama administration, which worked to their benefit as they were receiving monthly payments just to sit at the negotiating table. And, after a deal was negotiated, as an extra kicker, Obama sent funds with no limitations on how they could be spent, leaving top U.S. negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledging they could be spent in support of terrorism – a violation of U.S. law. Furthermore, while the agreement was supposed to be verifiable, the Iranians failed to allow certain verifications or interviews of its scientists to be conducted.
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The bottom line on the above is that, while Biden was foolish to provide a date certain on the Afghanistan withdrawal, he was even more foolish, based on Iran's negotiating history, not to pressure the mullahs by hinting at a time frame by which other options would be pursued. Of course, at this point, based on a seven-month track record, any threatened bite by Biden would undoubtedly be perceived as toothless by the mullahs.
Bennett, as if wanting to put a feckless Biden promise on public record, said he was "happy to hear your clear words that Iran will never be able to acquire a nuclear weapon." The prime minister obviously knows he cannot take that promise to the bank. Israel will have to consider taking action on its own to stop Tehran's nuclear program while Biden twiddles his thumbs in the Oval Office.
Despite Gates and Biden having served together under Obama, the former secretary of defense did not hold back in his criticism of the former vice president in his memoirs. Gates made the observation that Biden has "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." Those memoirs were written before the 2020 presidential election. If only voters had heeded Gates' warning – one that becomes more profound with each passing day of Biden's presidency.
It is ironic that when nuclear talks between Iran and the U.S. continue, both countries can claim terrorist-related titles for themselves. Iran has long held the title of the world's leading exporter of terrorism. However, for the U.S., a new title Biden has earned for America – based on the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal that left billions of dollars in military equipment in the hands of the Taliban – is that of the world's largest supplier of military equipment to a terrorist group. Also, courtesy of Biden, the Taliban can now boast something it never had before – its own air force! Why all this military equipment was not destroyed by departing U.S. forces remains an unsolved mystery.
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A famous line, although often misquoted, from the 1942 movie "Casablanca," has actor Humphrey Bogart telling a piano player in his nightclub to, "Play it again, Sam." As Biden botches up one foreign policy initiative after another, trying to play the role of president, we can hear our enemies chanting, "Play it again, Joe." They know every time Biden attempts to play the role of the president, they will benefit from his incompetence.
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