Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Art of the Bad Deal

May 3, 2015

When negotiating the terms of an agreement, people aim to achieve the best deal possible for the side they represent. The goal is to reach a good deal, if not better. A person who is able to do this successfully is praised as a good negotiator and may even write a book on the subject. In President Obama's case, a book can be written on the art of a bad deal. Obama's skill to negotiate a bad deal in the area of foreign policy is well-illustrated by the framework agreement and current negotiations with Iran on a deal involving its nuclear program.

The Iran debacle is not the only example of Obama's ability to negotiate a bad deal. Although he does not represent Israel in its negotiations with the Palestinians with respect to the so-called peace process and two-state solution, he has the ability to strongly influence the process. And despite his frequent claims and assurances to be acting in a manner that is in Israel's best interests, his true words and actions will cause any deal that the Israelis enter into with the Palestinians to be a bad deal for Israel.

How is Obama so successful at negotiating a bad deal? He is a master manipulator and does not really negotiate in the best interests of the side he represents or claims to be helping. This is crucial, as he is masterful at convincing people (at least some people) otherwise. He is not afraid to lie to achieve the outcome he desires. He does not hesitate to make stuff up as he goes along as suits his radical liberal ideology. If he did act in good faith and in the best interests of the side he claimed to represent, we would not have such a poor framework agreement, and he would not be so determined to enter into a final bad deal, with Iran. Of course, Obama still has the opportunity to prove me wrong on the final agreement, but after having made one concession after another to Iran, I am confident that he will try to force us into a bad deal. 

Let's examine in detail how Obama excels at the art of a bad deal. As far as the nuclear deal with Iran is concerned, many people share my belief that Iran will emerge as the winner, and the United States and the other P5+1 countries, as well as the rest of the free world, as the loser. In fact, many of these people believe that Iran is making us look like a bunch of fools in the process. 

Thus far, Obama has allowed Iran, which entered the negotiations from a position of weakness, to dictate the most important terms of the deal. Iran was crippled by stringent economic sanctions and was desperate to negotiate for a deal. That should have given us the upper hand. Instead, to reward Iran just for coming to the negotiating table, Obama eased sanctions, immediately forfeiting our leverage. He has allowed negotiations to drag on slowly and has consented to their delay instead of insisting that they be closed out earlier. There is no reason it should have taken this long just to reach the point where we are at now. He has capitulated on one issue after another. And, at the end of the term of the agreement, Iran will be able to legitimately obtain the bomb. With all of Obama's concessions, Iran will be in a strong position to do so. Obama also refuses to condition the agreement on Iran ceasing its regional aggression and terrorist activities. In fact, he has allowed Iran to do as it pleases as he hides behind the excuse of the need for an agreement. He looks past Iran's history of deceit and explicit threats to the United States and makes excuses for the regime. Taking this as a whole, it should be clear that Iran, desperate for relief from economic sanctions, entered the negotiations from a position of weakness, but appears to be on the verge of emerging from the deal better financed, with tacit approval of its being able to continue its belligerence in the region and sponsorship of terrorism, and on a clear path to the bomb. The United States and other P5+1 countries, which entered the negotiations with leverage and from a position of strength, appear to be on the brink of memorializing the unthinkable. 

Obama also has turned against our Middle Eastern allies, chief among them Israel, in his quest for the deal with Iran. Statements like he has Israel's back (which continue to be made) and he will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons have proven to be patently false. Certain of his concessions refute his prior assurances. Obama recently criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exaggerating Iran's breakout time to the bomb, but now, when it suits his needs and without any explanation, Obama says that Iran is even closer to the bomb than Mr. Netanyahu predicted. Obama also has very likely ignited a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Yet, he tells us that this is the best deal that we could hope to get at this point in time. 

Obama's deal-making with Iran can be compared to his role in threatening Israel regarding its peace process with the Palestinians. Despite previously making strong assertions as to Israel's rights and freedom to negotiate with the Palestinians, particularly when he was looking to secure the Jewish vote and to allay the fears of various Jewish organizations, his true colors now seem to be coming out. One would expect that Israel, like the P5+1 countries, would be negotiating from a position of strength on its conflict with the Palestinians. Israel has Biblical history, modern history and current events on its side. But leverage and positions of strength are easily flip-flopped when Obama is involved. 

For starters, pressuring Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, murderers and terrorists among them, just to get the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table is both dangerous and wrong. The argument that this benefits Israel because it could help to finally resolve the conflict is illustrative of the problem. This warped logic presumes that Israel alone will benefit from peace because the Palestinians will be free to keep on killing innocent Jews until then. Why else would it be incumbent upon Israel to take one-sided action in a two-state solution? 

Obama also has been vocal in calling for a return to 1967 borders and preventing Israel from expanding territories for Jews even in areas that Israel is supposed to retain after a final agreement. Obama is calling for a divided Jerusalem, part of which would serve as the Palestinians' capital, despite previous assurances to the contrary. In short, he has been the Palestinians' best negotiator, making demands on Israel that even they had not been making. 

Obama's demands are one-sided; he does not ask the Palestinians to make any concessions. He does not call for the Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, a key point for Israel. The Palestinians want to establish an independent Palestinian state devoid of any Jews, yet insist on allowing millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return not to the new Palestinian state, but to Israel. Instead of dismissing this fantasy outright, Obama has allowed the Palestinians to refuse to accept that Israel would be a Jewish state in a two-state solution. Obama morally equates Palestinian terrorism with Israel's right to defend itself, which could not have been made any more apparent than in Israel's defensive war with Hamas last summer. He refuses to acknowledge the existential threat to Israel that would result if it surrendered more land for elusive peace as radical Islamic terrorists are already on Israel's narrow borders. He ignores the fact that Israel tried this experiment with the Palestinians by unilaterally and unconditionally withdrawing from Gaza and it failed miserably. Instead of peace, Israel receives thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at its citizens from the Palestinians. He does not want Jews to live in Arab sections of East Jerusalem, but fails to acknowledge the rights of Arabs to live anywhere in Israel. 

Obama's statements about dividing Jerusalem to ensure rights and access to all religions is absurd, even by his standards. In the entire Middle East, freedom to worship at religious sites is nowhere greater than in Israel. Incredibly, Jews do not even have governing rights to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, in Jerusalem, the holiest city in Judaism, in Israel, the one and only Jewish country. That Muslims (and in practice the Palestinians) exclusively control this site is an affront to Jews. Obama should focus on the abuse Jews have to endure when they pray at the Kotel (The Western Wall) from Muslims. He should concern himself with the harassment of Jews by Muslims when they go to the Temple Mount and the fact that Jews are not even allowed to pray there. Just moving their lips is deemed offensive to Muslims. Obama also is silent on the abuse Christians have to endure from Muslims, inside and outside of Israel. How does Obama reconcile this? He cannot. 

As if Obama's pressure on Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians does not paint a bleak enough picture for Israel, we also need to tie in the deal that Obama is promoting with Iran to allow it to obtain nuclear weapons over time. Iran will benefit from economic sanctions relief, a good part of which may come right after the deal is signed. This would help finance Iran's continued aggression in the region and terrorist activities, including through its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, which are on Israel's borders. There are reports of Iran sending Hezbollah and Hamas increasing supplies of sophisticated missiles. And this is with a struggling Iranian economy. With the lifting of economic sanctions and set on a path to legitimately pursue nuclear weapons over time, Iran will be free and emboldened to pursue its goal of annihilating Israel and wiping it off the map. 

Obama's pattern of behavior on the Iranian deal and his pressure on Israel to force it into a two-state solution without a peace partner fit perfectly into Obama's broader pro-Muslim ideology. I fear, taking Obama at his word with his recent threats, that he will ratchet up the pressure on Israel. Looking at these two situations from the perspective of fairness, or good and evil, or right and wrong, one would know how good deals would play out. Given where we are now, we are headed for very bad deals, deals that threaten the United States, Israel and the rest of the free world. There is a master manipulator at the helm who excels at the art of the bad deal. 

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