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Dick Morris
Dick Morris
25 Feb 2015
Jeb's Real Opponent: Bush 43

In his efforts to break free of the legacy of the Bush 43's presidency, Jeb reminds one of the Michelangelo's … Read More.

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The 3.8 percent point margin by which Obama defeated Romney in 2012 clouds the challenge the Republicans face … Read More.

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The Republican primary emerging for the 2016 presidential nomination is unusual for its extreme sensitivity … Read More.

Bibi Changes the Debate


Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu totally changed the Iran/nuclear debate in his brilliant speech to Congress. Until he spoke, objections to the emerging draft treaty with Iran centered on technical, arcane issues like the number of centrifuges the agreement would let Iran continue to operate and the level of enrichment of uranium it would be permitted to maintain. These technical arguments do not play well in public and assume a level of knowledge that most of us don't have. It was easy for defenders of the deal to sidetrack our objections by raising technical issues.

But Netanyahu changed all that by making the issue of the agreement's expiration date the key objection to the treaty. He was quite right that the expiration of a treaty banning nuclear weapons is tantamount to an invitation to proceed with their development. That's an argument we all can understand. It defies logic to invest in a 10-year or 15-year deal with as implacable and stubborn a foe as Islamist Iran. A ban must last as long as the offensive regime itself remains in power and does not modify its behavior.

Indeed, by tying the ban on nuclear weapons to Iran's international conduct in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, Netanyahu created a framework for what should be American policy toward Iran. While Obama will not accept this linkage, undoubtedly a new Republican president would.

But Bibi's speech ties Obama's hands. He now would face almost certain congressional censure and backlash if he signs a deal with any expiration date on it. Netanyahu's argument is irrefutable. No congressman can ignore it.

Politically, the most important thing to remember about the Iranian issue is that it will likely have been resolved, one way or the other, by election day of 2016.

Iran will either have the bomb — or be well on its way to obtaining it — or not. We will know the answer. It will be clear who was right and who was wrong. We won't have to guess. And the answer to that question will haunt Hillary if it turns out that her and Obama's policies were misguided.

Very rarely are political issues subject to such closure. By the time of the 2016 elections, barring a crash, we will still be debating the sustainability of the Obama economic recovery. We will continue arguing about Obamacare. Climate change will remain a subject of debate. But Iranian nuclear program won't be a matter for debate. The outcome, for better or worse, of the administration policy will be clear and an accepted feature of our political debate.

Just as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev could not go back and claim his Cuban missile adventure was wise or British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain couldn't reach back to justify his appeasement policy when German tanks rolled through Poland, Obama's and Hillary's Iran policy will be an evident failure or success by the '16 election.

Once the verdict of history is in, its implications are ruthless. There is no appeal. And, in this case, we will know the answer before we vote on a new president.

And Netanyahu has redefined the debate so that a deal with an expiration date or a sunset clause will have to be considered a failure. The logic is so clear.

If Iran actually explodes a nuclear weapon, or clearly has achieved the status of "threshold nuclear power," or has agreed to a deal with a time limit, it will be obvious that Obama's and Hillary's negotiating strategy was naive and that they were had by the Ayatollah.

This situation is fraught with peril, in particular, for Hillary's candidacy. There will be no room for speculation as to whether her policies succeeded or failed. The outcome will be obvious to us all to see.




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