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Biden Must Learn from the Mistakes made with Iran in 2015

Neglecting our responsibility of leading the “Free World” doesn’t make the world a better place. The current unfolding situation in the Middle East will once again validate Albert Einstein’s assessment, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of people who are evil, but because of people who do nothing about it.”

President Joe Biden’s decision to abandon Afghanistan has resulted in the Taliban’s immediate resurgence in controlling the country and re-introduction of Sharia Law. Immediately to the west of Afghanistan is Iran, a leading exporter of terrorism, at least until al-Qaeda and ISIS-K get settled into their Afghan sanctuary.

Other than work the narrow window for extracting Westerners and refugees, there is nothing left for the world to do about Biden’s Afghanistan decision other than prepare to suffer the long-term consequences.

Biden has pledged not to end there. Already he is talking about re-commencing negotiations with Iran. Already subordinate to Iran are the governments of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Hezbollah, controlled by Iran, is using Lebanon as a platform to attack Israel. Supported with Iranian funding and equipment, Hamas is doing the same from Gaza.

Feeling ever more emboldened, Ebrahim Raisi, Ali Khamenei’s preferred candidate to replace Hassan Rouhani, and the man primarily responsible for the execution of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, was recently sworn in as president.

Khamenei had his own reasons for handpicking Ebrahim Raisi to inherit his reign. Addressing his followers in 2019, Khamenei said: “There won’t be a war [with America] and we won’t negotiate either.” These remarks revealed the regime’s mindset that it genuinely believes it has turned the Middle East into a quagmire for the United States, and it can dictate its terms.

In contrast, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Iranian elections were not going to be a factor in the talks. Moreover, when Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was asked about the Iran nuclear deal during her Senate confirmation hearing, she said: “2021 is not 2015…The facts on the ground have changed, the geopolitics of the region have changed, and the way forward must similarly change.”

Sherman’s negotiations track record is nothing to brag about. She headed the negotiations with Iran back in 2015. Despite the sealed agreement, Iran continued to advance its research and development programs. Prior to the Iran deal, under the Clinton administration, Sherman was the policy coordinator for North Korea. Sherman’s claim to fame was negotiating with the Kim Jong-Il government to ensure North Korea did not achieve nuclear weapons capability. Time proves those negotiations to be a total disaster. But in fairness to Sherman, any agreement fell through largely due to the Bush administration.

Sherman’s statements are correct. 2021 is not 2015, and facts on the ground have changed. Iran is a lot closer to having nuclear weapons than it did during the 2015 negotiations. If not for U.S. and Israeli actions since the 2015 agreement, Iran would have been even further advanced.

Biden has stated that this is his call for more diplomacy and transatlantic cooperation. His declaration for a stronger Iran nuclear deal is an unintentional admission that the original one was flawed.

Going forward, President Biden needs to realize the Middle East philosophy of, “When in position of weakness, how can I negotiate. When in position of power, why should I.”

Current sanctions against Iran may be Biden’s last chance to block Tehran’s determination to acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran wants sanctions relief, Biden must be unyielding in forcing Iran to renounce its illicit ballistic missile program, dangerous regional ambitions, and exportation of global terrorism.

During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden famously said: “We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” Already, the Afghanistan debacle is not a good example. Neither will any other good examples come from the Middle East if the Biden administration continues to fumble in dealing with Tehran.

The Bush administration never admitted that it destroyed the balance of power in the Middle East and what fragile stability did exist by invading Iraq. The Biden administration is not admitting it totally missed the mark in allowing terrorists to return to their base of operations in Afghanistan. The appeasement of Iran will immediately further weaken the region for Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. The consequences of two terrorist nations side-by-side will be felt by the world.

Perhaps Einstein’s assessment should be updated to, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of people who are evil, but because of national leaders who made bad decisions.”