On Iran, the Biden Administration Is Committed To Repeating the Mistakes of the Obama Administration

This week, Antony Blinken’s Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, is leading a U.S. team on a diplomatic swing through the Middle East. The purpose of the trip is to meet with partners and allies in order to, according to the Department of State, “coordinate our approaches on a broad range of concerns with Iran, including . . . the upcoming seventh round of talks on a mutual return to full compliance with the JCPOA.” The Biden Administration has been obsessed with returning to the JCPOA since it took office, in defiance of the American people and with little regard for our allies in the region. In fact, they worked on its behalf even when out of power, as we saw with now-climate czar John Kerry’s collusion with Iranian leadership during the Trump Administration’s tenure (something the ACLJ is currently engaged in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit regarding). Now, it seems the Biden Administration is going to begin in earnest to make good on their troubling and reckless promises. The problem with the Biden Administration’s current plans is that the world has changed significantly since the JCPOA was signed in 2015. The Trump Administration rightly withdrew from that broken deal, effectively killing it, as it provided a clear pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. In place of that agreement, our diplomatic strategy in the Middle East instead built out a regional coalition of partners and allies to counter Iran and its malign activity rather than fuel its terror and mayhem with pallets of American cash. We kept Iran under maximum pressure while fostering new relationships among those who partnered with us. The result of this strategy was extraordinary: We were able to crush ISIS, isolate Iran, and achieve a level of stability in the region which had not been seen before. This stability allowed our partners the space they needed to build on their relationships, which culminated in the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, the historic peace agreements between Arab nations and Israel. In short, the Trump Administration proved that the pathway to stability in the Middle East did not include providing Iran a pathway to a nuclear weapon. We favored a campaign of maximum pressure on the Ayatollah’s regime, not appeasement, and the result of our strategy was peace, not war. These results were contrary to what Obama Administration officials – many of whom, such as Robert Malley and John Kerry, now serve in the Biden Administration – had held and clearly still hold as their guiding principle: that appeasing Iran and hoping for regime change was the only way to avoid war and suffering in the Middle East. This is, at its core, a strategy of weakness and a false set of choices. It encourages Iranian provocation and terror while alienating our closest allies. Recent events at our embassy in Yemen prove this to be the case: Iran-backed Houthi rebels recently stormed our embassy and took U.S.-employed security personnel hostage. At the same time, Iran is believed to have resumed making advanced equipment for its nuclear program at an unmonitored installation. That this all happened in the days before the U.S. Envoy for Iran embarks on a diplomatic trip throughout the region in order to convince our partners that the U.S. should return to compliance with the JCPOA should not be seen as a coincidence. The Iranian regime believes that the Biden Administration will respond positively to its provocations because this Administration is weak. Such weakness has been a feature of the Biden Administration. Less than a year into its tenure, we are already seeing the stability that the Trump Administration fostered begin to crumble. The Biden Administration turned our withdrawal plan in Afghanistan into an embarrassing and tragic debacle that resulted in 13 U.S. service members losing their lives. They have encouraged rather than restrained Iranian mayhem to the detriment of our allies and partners. They have dragged their feet on supporting Israel unequivocally in the face of Palestinian terror. Now, Biden officials are meeting with our partners to ensure them that their best hope for stability and peace is for the United States to reenter a flawed, broken agreement that provides Iran a pathway to a nuclear weapon. This is nonsense. The best hope for stability and peace in the region, and the best way to constrain the malign Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, is the maximum pressure campaign of the Trump Administration, coupled with efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically. This was the strategy of the Trump Administration, and the result was historic peace. I fear what the Biden Administration’s strategy will yield.