Amidst the fallout over the remarkably blunt and candid interview President Obama’s key foreign policy expert gave to The New York Times Magazine this weekend, in which he spoke with pride of manipulating the media and referred to the foreign policy establishment as “the Blob,” there is the emerging picture of an administration that deceived us about the Iran nuclear deal, led by a president who may never have intended to prevent Tehran from having a nuclear weapon.
The in-depth article, “The Storyteller and the President,” profiles Ben Rhodes, the 38-year-old would-be novelist who, as deputy national security adviser, has emerged as President Obama’s most influential guru on world affairs, in part because he more than anyone else in the administration is said to know what the president is thinking. As Rhodes noted, “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”
Much of the Washington media corps is up in arms over Rhodes’ description of them as young reporters who “literally know nothing” and were used as an “echo chamber” to get the administration’s message out on the Iran deal, as well as other issues.
But the most startling revelation is that Obama had key talks with Iran in mid-2012, but consciously misled the American people to believe that he hadn’t given approval to negotiations until after the election of the “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani in 2013, according to David Samuels’ profile of Rhodes.
Further, according to the article, Obama had long ago decided to make a play for improved relations with Iran, in part as a way to disengage from long-term Mideast alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Israel. The Times piece, together with Jeffrey Goldberg’s compelling cover story in The Atlantic on “The Obama Doctrine,” offers a portrait of a president fed up with our Mideast allies, whom he fears could draw the U.S. further into the region’s violence.
Rhodes does not see Rouhani or foreign minister Javad Zarif as “real reformers” prepared to move Iran away from its radical ways, including its ongoing support for Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.
Samuels interviewed Leon Panetta, who, as secretary of defense, was tasked with ensuring that Israel would not launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Asked whether he believes the president is serious about responding militarily if Iran was found to be developing a nuclear weapon, Panetta responded, “probably not.”
These revelations are sure to confirm the views of opponents of the Iran deal and raise new questions about the president’s foreign policy strategy and goals.