After Afghanistan, how can anyone trust Biden on an Iran nuke deal?

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If there’s one thing we should’ve learned about Joe Biden by now it’s that once a bad idea gets into his head, there’s no persuading him to drop it or listen to contrary views.

Biden’s stubborn streak and tendency to fix upon a concept without questioning it fully goes a long way toward explaining why he was so optimistic about the Taliban and undeterred by intelligence reports from completing his mad rush out of Afghanistan without first ensuring all Americans, Afghan allies and the treasure trove of US military equipment weren’t left behind.

So: Can anyone now trust his promises on an Iran nuke deal?

Biden was elected supposedly to give us a White House more competent, empathic and truthful than that of his predecessor, yet Afghanistan proved we got the opposite, as even his erstwhile cheering section in the liberal mainstream media has begun to admit.

Perhaps his advisers are right to think the public will soon forget about Afghanistan, but the president’s flawed judgment may be leading him to make an even bigger blunder with Iran.

Biden took office determined to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal that President Donald Trump nixed in 2018. The question now is whether he is still so dead-set on reviving this dangerously weak pact, which has become even more worthless than when it was struck.

Trump was right to try to force Iran’s leaders to fix the flaws in the deal former President Barack Obama reached with them. Since then, the Iranians have done so much cheating and so exploited its loose provisions that it’s hard to see how even a new agreement will keep them from crossing the nuclear threshold. That’s true even if one ignores the sunset provisions due to expire at the end of the decade, which will give them a legal path to a nuclear weapon.

President Joe Biden has made restoring the Iran nuclear deal a major goal of his administration’s foreign policy.
AFP via Getty Images

But rather than quickly agree to reenter the 2015 arrangement, as Biden wanted, the Iranians have played hardball in talks in Vienna. As they did with Obama, they sense Biden’s weakness and desire for a deal at any price. Biden’s unconditional cut-and-run in Afghanistan and the damage it did to America’s standing in the world have only emboldened them further. Now Tehran must be absolutely certain it can get Washington to drop all sanctions — which will further enrich and empower an already-dangerous regime — without having to end its nuclear dreams or support for terrorism.

A sensible president would have the courage to walk away from what is already a failed effort to appease Iran. He’d learn to question his own judgment after Afghanistan. He’d redouble economic sanctions and look to allies like Israel and the moderate Arab nations to form a united front and force Tehran to back down.

But that’s not Joe Biden’s way.

As with his foolish reliance on the Taliban to keep their word, Biden is again prepared to bet the West’s security — and that of Israel and the Arab states — that Iran can be relied upon to abide by Obama’s discredited deal or even agree to strengthen it.

And remember, his record of wanting to appease Tehran predates even that of Obama. Now he’s fully committed to a narrative by which diplomacy can magically bring Iran into the community of nations. As with his commitment to bug out of Afghanistan come what may, Biden is likely again doubling down on a foolish concept stuck inside his head long after it stopped making sense.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will be in Washington this week trying to knock some sense into him and to persuade him to listen to America’s allies on this issue. But Bennett no doubt has drawn some sober conclusions from Afghanistan and can’t possibly be counting on the administration to have Israel’s back.

Everything we know about Joe Biden tells us he’s too pigheaded to reverse course on Iran even when all the evidence dictates he must. And as bad as letting Afghanistan fall quickly to the Taliban is, if Biden follows his instincts and agrees to a new nuke deal with Iran, the consequences for the Middle East and American security may be far worse.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org

Twitter: @jonathans_tobin

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