- - Monday, March 30, 2015

Many a lost traveler in the desert has spied an oasis in the sand and sun only to discover that it was only a mirage. In similar desperation, President Obama sees a good deal with Iran on the horizon, where he would put an end to the strife in the Middle East and finally earn the Nobel Peace Prize his admirers in Sweden gave him in a similar fit of euphoria as he took his first oath of office.

Signing of a preliminary “framework” agreement between Iran and “the P5 plus 1 nations” — the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, “the plus 1” — appears to be imminent. The Western powers caved on the major sticking points of negotiation, including enabling Iran to continue running its enrichment centrifuges in an underground facility at Fordo that it had tried to keep secret. Sadly, it may not matter. Sooner or later, the Islamic regime will acquire the nuclear weapons it has long sought, and that President Obama once said he would never allow. Under the agreement Iran would suspend its nuclear program for 10 years, and then, presumably, finish building its bomb.

This is the stuff of Western wishes and dreams. Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last week that Iran is withholding information and access required to verify compliance with United Nations terms for the removal of economic sanctions currently in place. Trusting that the mullahs will have a Damascus road conversion, like Paul of Tarsus, and reverse course to allow the nuclear inspections that were halted nine years ago takes an enormous leap of faith.

The mullahs, who control 78 million Iranians, have not wavered from their stated goal of erecting a new caliphate across the Middle East, with the nuclear option as their not-so-secret weapon of enforcement. From their point of view, why should they? Even as his agents sat across the negotiating table from their American counterparts, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei joined a Tehran rally with an enthusiastic chant of “Death to America.” We’re not supposed to notice.

While its negotiators haggle in Switzerland, Iran is building its caliphate, backing fellow Shiites in Yemen and Syria. Alarmed by the chaos, Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia launches air attacks on the capital of Sana’a to dislodge its religious enemies. Iranian troops are carrying out operations in Iraq and Syria to prevent the overthrow of their Shiite-dependent clients. Apparently eager to sweeten the nuclear deal, Mr. Obama has assigned U.S. air cover for the Iranians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a much-abused ally of the United States, faces a clear threat from a nuclear Iran and wants “a better deal.” Such a better deal would not pave Iran’s path to the bomb, as the current pact would, but would lift sanctions only when the regime ceases exporting Islamic terrorism around the world. Mr. Obama’s response to such common-sense advice is to release details of Israel’s own nuclear program that the United States and Israel have kept unacknowledged, in the interests of preventing a Middle East arms race, for decades.

The search for a consistent U.S. Middle East policy, such as backing friend against foe, is fruitless until there’s a regime change in Washington. The president, though not much of a poet, follows the sentiment of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” The peace the president sees as guaranteed by his nuclear pact with Iran shimmers only on his private horizon. He worries about his “legacy,” as indeed he should, because it is likely to be a legacy cheered only in Tehran.

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