By Jonathan Greenberg, Originally posted in The Hill
In his speech last week to the United Nations, President Obama declared that, “the United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict” in Syria. Yet, in order to get his disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, it now appears that President Obama was willing to allow Iran’s ally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, to go on killing his own people rather than run the risk of angering our Iranian interlocutors.
The background is complex but important:
In the third presidential debate of 2012 between the president and Mitt Romney, moderator Bob Schieffer, citing press reports of ongoing talks with Iran, had the following exchange with the president:
Mr. Schieffer: As you know, there are reports that Iran and the United States, as part of an international group, have agreed in principle to talks about Iran’s nuclear program. What is the deal – if there are such talks – what is the deal that you would accept? Mr. President?
Pres. Obama: Well, first of all, those were reports in the newspaper. They are not true. But our goal is to get Iran to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place, because they have the opportunity to re-enter the community of nations, and we would welcome that. There are people in Iran who have the same aspirations as people all around the world, for a better life. And we hope that their leadership takes the right decision. But the deal we’ll accept is, they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.
We already know that the B side of the president’s answer – “the deal we’ll accept is they end their nuclear program” – was something less than “straightforward.” But it now turns out that the president’s blanket denial of ongoing talks may also have been false.