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President Obama's Munich [Commentary]

IranIranian Nuclear TalksIsraelJohn KerryBarack Obama

Seeking to create an analogy with the deal the United States negotiated with Iran to supposedly limit further production of its centrifuges, Secretary of State John Kerry chose to recall disarmament agreements between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

A better analogy would be the 1938 Munich Pact, which gave Hitler part of Czechoslovakia in the vain hope that war could be avoided. It is worth noting that several of the nations that were signatories in Munich — namely Germany, France and Britain — are also part of the current deal with Iran.

There is another flaw in Mr. Kerry's analysis. Deal or no deal, Iran says it will never stop enriching uranium. According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, it is Iran's "inalienable right" to develop nuclear technology. This does not bode well for Israel, Iran's sworn enemy. Just days before this deeply flawed agreement was announced, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described Israel as "the rabid dog of the region." Did Mr. Kerry and his U.S. negotiators confront this recalcitrance before signing off? I doubt it. This is not an auspicious beginning.

The New York Times reported that Hilik Bar, a member of Knesset for the Israel Labor Party, secretary general of the Labor Party and deputy speaker of the Knesset, wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry and Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official, urging them to "stand up against the dark, racist statements and incitement." Of course they did nothing of the kind, because reaching an agreement was apparently more important than confronting the reality of Iran's hatred toward Israel, especially in light of President Obama's falling approval numbers.

In exchange for Iran's promise to halt progress in its nuclear program, the United States agrees to unfreeze some of Iran's foreign assets and lift a few trade sanctions. The Washington Post quotes "officials" as saying Iran's "concessions" will "make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected." Anyone familiar with the history of the Middle East knows that subterfuge is a skill learned early.

Did the negotiators ask the Iranians if they've consulted Allah about this deal? If Iranian leaders claim to be doing the will of God, why would they tell infidel Western diplomats Iran intends to disobey Allah and not build nuclear weapons to be used against a nation — Israel — that Allah seemingly wants obliterated?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly labeled the deal "a historic mistake." It isn't enough to halt progress on Iran's nuclear program. It must be dismantled. Israeli officials say they will spend the next six months — the duration of the interim agreement — trying to persuade the Obama administration and Israel's friends (the two are not always synonymous) to negotiate a deal that will roll back Iran's progress toward building a nuclear weapon.

The Anti-Defamation League has compiled a useful list of some of the anti-Semitic statements from Iran's leaders. They are worth reading to understand the intent and motivation of the Iranian leadership. It's more than just language. It is also about a political goal. Last May 24, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and leading presidential candidate said during a campaign event in Tehran: The goal of Iran and its allies is to "uproot capitalism, Zionism and Communism and promote the discourse of pure Islam in the world."

How does any nation negotiate with that?

History can be a great teacher if the "students" pay attention. Many things in the world have changed since the disastrous Munich Pact, but human nature never does. Tyrants respect an agreement only so long as it allows them to further their objectives. Munich only delayed the onset of World War II; it did not prevent it.

This latest agreement will similarly delay the inevitable need to confront Iran with force and will likely be seen by history as the Obama administration's Munich.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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