Sturm: The Iran deal: Normalizing a mortal threat |

Sturm: The Iran deal: Normalizing a mortal threat

As capitulations to Iran’s theocracy dragged on, numbing Americans to the civilization-imperiling consequences of the planet’s most lethal terrorist state possessing nuclear weapons capability, a political sideshow emerged.

Two blunt iconoclasts, billionaire Donald Trump and self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, are encouraging Americans to Think Again about policies that undercut our interests, drawing surprisingly large crowds, breathless media attention and lofty poll numbers.

Causing the collective eyes of the political class to roll, Trump and Sanders resonate with a pablum-fed electorate starving for authentic debate, policies aligned with citizens’ concerns and leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say.

Witness the deceptions being used to normalize the mortal threat posed by Tuesday’s nuclear deal with Iran’s genocidal Ayatollahs. They’ve sponsored a slow-motion jihad against America ever since revolutionaries seized our embassy and hostages in 1979, asserting their constitution’s commitment to “universal holy government and the downfall of all others.”

Do politicians mean what they’ve consistently said about dismantling the nuclear program of the “Death to America”-dedicated Iranian theocracy? Will they claim the accord prevents an Iranian bomb when it merely delays it? Are they intentionally confusing us about what verifiable means, insisting the accord’s Iranian-approved “access where necessary, when necessary” meets the original “go anywhere-anytime” inspection standard?

It’s deja vu considering Britain’s Neville Chamberlain hailed the Munich Agreement with Hitler for delivering “peace with honor,” and President Bill Clinton called the North Korea nuclear deal — which relied on verification — “The first step on the road to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

Will lawmakers reject the concession-laden deal criticized by five former Obama administration national security advisors for falling “short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good agreement’”? Their assessment supports Henry Kissinger and George Shultz’s conclusion: “Negotiations … to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability.”

Regarding bi-partisan dissension, Yale University foreign policy scholar Walter Russell Mead commented: “This is not what diplomatic success usually looks like. In fact, it’s hard to think of another moment in American diplomatic history in which so many warning lights from so many places have flashed so brightly.”

That’s because the agreement grants the Supreme Leader’s core demands: preserving Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure, allowing near-zero breakout time to a bomb if it cheats, a decade if it doesn’t, gradual sanctions relief unlocking an estimated $150 billion, limiting intrusive inspections, and jettisoning the U.N. weapons embargo and international legal regime branding Iran a rogue state — without requiring Iran to renounce terrorism or release American prisoners.

Are lawmakers listening to voters, of whom 76 percent rated terrorism their top priority in a January Pew poll while 52 percent now believe America is more dangerous than before 9/11, according to Rasmussen’s July survey?

Senators were right to vote 99-0 in 2010 for painstakingly conceived coercive sanctions — relaxed when Iran negotiations began — to force the self-described deceivers to dismantle their nuclear program, as six U.N. resolutions ordered. Are senators now willing to bet American lives on rebooting sanctions if Iran continues its murderous ways?

Declaring an Iranian bomb “would be a game-changer,” presidential candidate Barack Obama reiterated pledges to prevent it. “The deal we’ll accept is: they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.” He also promised to “take no options off the table … including all elements of American power: A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to … ensure the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort.”

The truth is, every president since Carter has failed to deploy these powers to oppose Iranian hostility, allowing committed revolutionaries and skilled diplomats to out-flank and out-negotiate the mightiest nation on Earth.

Iran doesn’t control all terrorists, but it’s the head of an Islamic supremacist snake seeking to subjugate humanity and destroy freedom. Responsible for killing and maiming thousands of Americans, and posing threats we’ve neither anticipated nor mitigated, their unanswered aggression has stimulated more aggression.

We’ve failed to retaliate after successive attacks, conflated our “national interest” with democracy promotion, “nation-building” and detente with avowed enemies, and enunciated “redlines” we haven’t backed up. With U.S. credibility diluted, we’re harmless as an enemy, treacherous as a friend and weaker guardians of American security.

The Iranian nuclear deal reflects our self-crippling foreign policy. But as Winston Churchill noted, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” Having led efforts to extinguish Nazi, Imperial Japan and Soviet threats, America can do the same against aggressors with far less economic and military strength.

Think Again — The Berlin Wall turned to rubble 29 months after President Reagan told Soviet leader Gorbachev, “If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity … tear down this wall!” The same can be said of Iran’s nuclear installations. Then they can rejoin the civilized world.

Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. She welcomes comments at

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