President Obama sat down last week for a new, far-ranging foreign policy interview with Vox, in which he addressed his Iran policy several times. Strikingly, he confirmed what Walter Russell Mead wrote in his most recent essay on the subject, namely that the President believes a deal with Iran would not only forestall a nuclear Tehran but also restructure the entire regional order in the Middle East:
And if we can make progress in restoring a functioning, multi-sectarian Iraqi government, and we’re able to get a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, then we have the basis, I think, for a movement towards greater stability.
The critics of the President’s Iran policy get this. That is to say, whether you read Mead, the recent Washington Post editorial on the subject, or writings by figures such as Henry Kissinger who disagree with the President, they all wrestle seriously with the vision the President has for a new, Iranian-dominated Middle East that would work in America’s favor.The same cannot be said of the President, who in several extended exchanges on Iran dodged the pointed concerns critics have raised regarding the likelihood that Iran would take such a deal, the odds of it turning pro-American, and the overall efficacy of our efforts to forestall the mullahs from gaining nukes. Instead, the President described the ongoing negotiations as an affair in which “nobody denies that Iran right now really is abiding by the terms of our agreement, so we’re not losing ground”, and suggested that regional unrest from Syria to Yemen is the work of unrelated “forces of disorder.”This is unfortunate. Skepticism about the effectiveness of the President’s approach to Iran can now be found on the left and in the center, as well as on the right, and seems to grow by the day. So long as the President does not address their concerns, this is likely to continue—and so he runs the risk of presenting a deal that has no public support. In the interim, for those who wish to understand President Obama’s thoughts on foreign policy better, we recommend you read the whole thing.