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Ruth King

Kerry On Edge As Legacy Crumbles His fatally flawed deal with Iran is about to unravel. Joseph Klein

Former Secretary of State John Kerry wasted no time condemning President Trump’s decision not to recertify, and to possibly withdraw from, the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran that Kerry negotiated on behalf of his boss Barack Obama. President Trump insisted on significant improvements to the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known. The JCPOA’s fundamental flaws that President Trump wants fixed include Iran’s ability to block unfettered international inspections, the wiggle room that Iran is exploiting to continue developing and testing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and the sunset clause on nuclear enrichment that would provide Iran a clear path to becoming a nuclear armed state after the current restrictions are lifted. Obama and Kerry had promised that these issues would be dealt with satisfactorily before agreeing to the final terms of the JCPOA. Instead they caved to Iranian pressure in order to get the deal done.

Now that President Trump is trying to clean up the mess Obama and Kerry left him, Kerry has the gall to label President Trump’s decision a “reckless abandonment of facts in favor of ego and ideology” and to accuse the Trump administration of “lying to the American people.” It was the Obama administration that recklessly abandoned the facts in pressing ahead with the deal. The Obama administration lied to the American people, abandoning its own promises to ensure that the deal contained ironclad protections. Moreover, all that President Trump has done so far is to return the JCPOA to Congress for review. Had Obama followed the Constitution and submitted the JCPOA to the Senate as a treaty in the first place, the JCPOA in its present form almost certainly would not have been approved. Congress should now have the opportunity to revisit the JCPOA to determine whether the protections that the Obama administration promised are working as advertised. Congress should also consider whether time limits on Iran’s commitments continue to make sense in light of what we are now experiencing with Iran’s nuclear technology collaborator, North Korea. It bought time to turn into a full-fledged nuclear power under our noses.

Kerry had promised that the Iranian regime would be prohibited from testing ballistic missiles. This turned out to be a lie. After the JCPOA was finalized, with no such prohibition included, Iran continued to test such missiles. The Obama administration’s response was that the missiles had become a separate issue, to be dealt with under a new United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA. The new resolution replaced clear prohibitions imposed on Iran’s ballistic missile program with a weak declaration in an annex that simply “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity such as development and test launches related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons for eight years.

Iran has tested several ballistic missiles during the last two years, including two Qadr H missiles with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” emblazoned on the sides. The commander of Iran’s Army, Major General Ataollah Salehi, had told reporters just a month before the launch of those missiles that Iran was “neither paying any attention to the resolutions against Iran, nor implementing them. This is not a breach of the JCPOA.”

Iran Plays Chess, We Play Checkers And the Kurds pay the price for our mistakes. Kenneth R. Timmerman

The Iranian-backed attack in Iraqi Kurdistan is nothing short of disastrous for the United States, for U.S. interests and U.S. allies in the region, and for American prestige.

It’s a hockey-style power play by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qassem Suleymani, and a direct challenge to President Trump, coming just hours after the President announced a new get tough policy on Iran.

A U.S. ally in Baghdad is attacking another U.S. ally in Kurdistan using U.S. weapons, including M1-A2 Abrams tanks, paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars. And they are doing so under the watchful eyes of U.S. and coalition drones and fighter jets, which continue to control the skies over Iraq.

How in the world did we get here?

Even Democrats should be ready to admit by now that the American withdrawal from the Middle East under Obama and the Iran nuclear deal have emboldened the Iranian regime, while removing much of the hard-won leverage over Iran that sanctions had won for us.

Today, if we want to get tough on Iran, we can no longer call on our European allies to shut down Iran’s access to the international financial system. We can no longer impose gargantuan fines on a French or a German bank to punish them for violating those sanctions and to deter them from doing it again.

Today, our main leverage over Iran is military. We can bomb their forces in Iraq. We can intercept their ships. Eventually, we could take out their nuclear weapons production facilities.

If that sounds an awful lot like war, it’s because it is.

As Thomas Jefferson reportedly said in relation to the Barbary Pirates, an earlier jihadi Muslim confederacy that declared war on America: sanctions are the only option between appeasement and war. Obama just removed sanctions. QED.

But the Trump administration is not without blame.

The Method to Trump’s ‘Madness’ By Victor Davis Hanson

The Democratic Party, as it did after Hubert Humphrey’s close loss in 1968, seems still to be misdiagnosing its 2016 defeat.

Democrats see too little identity politics rather than too much as their trouble, and thus are redoubling on what has been slowly shrinking the party into coastal enclaves.

Promoting Black Lives Matter and open borders, promising free tuition and tax hikes, opposing fracking and pipeline construction, pushing single-payer health care and an ever-expanding transgender agenda as well as abortion—these are not majority positions. Neither will embracing Hollywood, the media, or the NFL protests win over voters. Thinking (or hoping) that President Trump will implode, quit, be jailed, sicken, die, or be impeached is not an agenda.

Trump Compared to What?
When Trump promises to restore Christmas nomenclature, to build a border wall, or to bark back against the NFL, he bets that 51 percent of the voting public is likely on his side. Trump’s tweets may be cul de sacs. And they may diminish the traditional stature of the presidency, but they are rarely on the wrong side of public opinion.

The same holds true when in suicidal fashion he alienates those of his own party, many of them seemingly essential to his legislative agenda. Yet what is the logic of temporizing Republican senators who recently got reelected by blasting the Iran Deal, open borders, and Obamacare—apparently on the premise that their posturing votes would never really matter, given the likelihood of a liberal vetoing president? So far a Bob Corker, Jeff Flake or John McCain has not proven that he is more popular in his own state than is Donald Trump.

The issue is never just Trump’s outbursts or tweets in isolation but, rather, the comparisons between them and his targets. Again, attacking NFL players may not be presidential, but Trump’s pushback is often judged by many voters on the basis of its intent—in other words, an effort to oppose the growing trend of multimillionaire athletes refusing to stand for the National Anthem. If we have never seen a president stoop to fight with the NFL, we have also never seen the NFL kneel to self-destruct by offending millions of its fans. If the president cannot defend a national tradition of standing in honor during the National Anthem, who else could?

Pollsters, pundits, and the media have vastly underestimated how many in America loathe multimillionaire celebrities, pampered athletes, and triangulating politicians—the usual targets of Trump’s invective.

Reactive Not Preemptive
Take a sampling of Trump’s most infamous tweets and adolescent outbursts—attacks on Bob Corker’s height, referencing Rex Tillerson’s IQ, the creepy description of blood oozing from a supposedly irate Megyn Kelly, or deprecating the capture and imprisonment of John McCain—and the common denominator is not just puerility and cruelty, but also retaliation. All had first attacked Trump and sometimes quite viciously. Corker had claimed that Trump’s White House was chaos, a reality show, and in danger of prompting World War III—a virtual charge that Trump was nuts. Anonymous sources accused Tillerson of calling Trump a moron or, at least, implying it—and the secretary did not explicitly deny the charge, although he deplored the climate in which such accusations were made. Kelly hijacked her own debate question and turned it into a scripted rant about Trump’s alleged misogyny. McCain arrogantly wrote off Trump’s supporters as “crazies”—a forgotten precursor to Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” and “irredeemables.”

Review: Selflessness Under Pressure An unsung hero of the French Resistance, Suzanne Spaak risked everything to save Jewish children from deportation to Auschwitz. Diane Cole reviews ‘Suzanne’s Children’ by Anne Nelson.

‘My children are safe while others are threatened.” That anguished thought gave Belgian heiress Suzanne Spaak the determination to risk everything to protect Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Paris from deportation to, and probable death in, concentration camps. Although absolute numbers are hard to come by, author and playwright Anne Nelson estimates in her immersive chronicle, “Suzanne’s Children,” that Spaak and her Resistance colleagues may have helped save hundreds of young Jewish lives.

At first glance, Spaak’s pampered early life contains little that would suggest her later capacity for selfless courage. The beautiful daughter of a prominent Belgian financier, she had harbored idealistic tendencies as a child, but chose status when she married into a distinguished Belgian political family. Suzanne’s husband, Claude, a suavely handsome writer and art connoisseur, became the patron of acclaimed Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. His provocative works dominated the couple’s grand Parisian apartment, an address so prestigious that their downstairs neighbor was the celebrated author Colette, who gave the world “Gigi.” Suzanne and Claude hobnobbed with the French writer Jean Cocteau, who also lived in the neighborhood, and a then little-known designer named Christian Dior made the costumes for a theatrical production that Claude had organized. To complete the idyllic picture, the couple doted on their young daughter and son, whom they fondly nicknamed Pilette and Bazou. Suzanne’s pedigree and social standing seemed impeccable.

By 1939, however, the real picture had darkened considerably. Angered by her husband’s self-centeredness and caddish infidelities, yet fearing the scandal a divorce would cause, a distraught Suzanne consented to share him in an awkward ménage à trois with his mistress—a woman who had once been her best friend and who would, after Suzanne’s death, become Claude’s second wife. Suzanne was further unnerved by the increasing likelihood of a coming war with Nazi Germany. Even her budding involvement with left-wing political groups seemed futile as the Nazi machine closed in on Jewish immigrant friends trying to escape Europe. With little solace to be found from either her personal life or the world around her, she suffered a breakdown.Ms. Nelson does not tell us what suddenly spurred Spaak to action—or more likely cannot, since Claude burned her correspondence and papers after the war—but with the fall of France and the start of the Nazi occupation, Suzanne gained new purpose. “What can I do?” became her constant refrain as she became ever more active in an ever-larger number of Resistance groups, working with Jews, Catholics and Protestants as well as communists, Soviet agents and followers of Free France’s leader, Charles de Gaulle. CONTINUE AT SITE

Liberals Embrace ‘Dark Money’ Fusion GPS rolls out a novel excuse to block a House subpoena.

Remember when Democrats and the press corps complained about “dark money” and wanted to rewrite the First Amendment to ban certain campaign contributions? Well, well. Now the progressive operatives at Fusion GPS are invoking free-speech rights to block the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of the infamous Steele dossier.

Fusion GPS is the opposition research firm behind the Steele dossier claiming that Donald Trump colluded with Russians to win the 2016 election. Congress is investigating Russian influence, and former British spook Christopher Steele relied on Russian sources. The dossier is clearly of interest, perhaps even a Rosetta Stone in the probe.

Yet Fusion chief Glenn Simpson won’t cooperate, and on Monday the company’s lawyers sent a letter to the House Intelligence Committee refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents and testimony related to the dossier. The letter claims the subpoenas “violate the First Amendment rights of our clients and their clients, and would chill any American running for office . . . from conducting confidential opposition research in an election.”

Hello? Mr. Simpson must be having a good laugh at that one. Surely he knows that his many Democratic clients have spent most of the last decade moaning about “dark money” donations in politics. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders proposed rewriting the First Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling so government could regulate political speech. Fusion must also not have read the avalanche of press releases from Democrats like Chuck Schumer demanding disclosure of all political donations.

Citizens United protected the broadcast of a movie opposing Hillary Clinton—obvious political speech. But the House wants to know who paid Fusion to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump and whether any of that money or intelligence came from foreign sources. The First Amendment doesn’t protect attempts by foreign governments or agents to influence U.S. elections.

Foreign campaign contributions are banned under U.S. law, and in the 1990s Congress conducted extensive investigations into Chinese and other donations to the Clinton campaign. No one claimed the Riady family’s donations were protected political speech because they financed Bill Clinton’s re-election.

Fusion by its own admission has worked in the past on a lobby campaign for a Russian company with ties to the Kremlin. Investigators want to know if those clients or other foreign actors had anything to do with the commissioning or production of the Steele dossier.

The press corps is cheering investigations into whether the Russians worked with a Trump campaign to win the election—and we want those answers too. But it’s also important to know if other Americans worked—wittingly or not—with Russian actors to collect and distribute accusations against Mr. Trump.

Fusion can dig up all the dirt it wants on clients and leak it to its media pals. That is its business model. But the company has no constitutional right to avoid a probe into foreign influence. The House’s next move should be a vote for contempt of Congress.

Assault on the Kurds Defeat for the U.S. allies in northern Iraq is a victory for Iran. *****

A central tenet of the Trump foreign policy, a work in progress, has been that the U.S. would rebuild its relationship with America’s allies. That commitment is being put to the test in northern Iraq.

On Monday Iraq’s army, assisted by Iranian forces, launched a major assault on the Kurds in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Across the length of America’s recent history with Iraq, we have had no more reliable ally than Iraq’s Kurds and their fighting force, the Peshmerga.

So far the Trump Administration has said little about the attack on the Kurds. “We’re not taking sides, but we don’t like the fact that they’re clashing,” President Trump told reporters at the White House Monday. “We’ve had, for many years, a very good relationship with the Kurds, as you know. And we’ve also been on the side of Iraq, even though we should have never been in there in the first place. But we’re not taking sides in that battle.”

But if the U.S. allows one of its most visible allies to be defeated in the Middle East, make no mistake: Other allies in the region will notice and start to recalculate their relationship with the Trump Administration.

The Iraqi Kurds, to be sure, have contributed to their current plight. Kurdish President Masoud Barzani went forward with a needless independence referendum last month, despite pressure from the U.S. not to hold the vote. The pro-forma vote gave the Baghdad government a pretext to play the nationalist card and retake Kirkuk.

Kirkuk is a multi-ethnic city that lies just south of Iraq’s Kurdistan, an autonomous region whose borders abut Iran and Turkey. The Kirkuk region is also rich in oil. The Kurds gained control of Kirkuk in 2014 after Iraq’s army famously fled under attack from Islamic State, which seized control of Mosul in June that year.

After the Iraqi forces abandoned the region, the Peshmerga became the primary reason that Islamic State was never able to consolidate its control of northern Iraq. Arguably, the Kurds, backed by U.S. air power, saved Iraq by giving Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi time to reconstitute his nation’s army into a fighting force capable of driving Islamic State out of Iraq’s major cities, with the help of the Peshmerga.

Possibly the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” originated in the Middle East. Having taken back Mosul from Islamic State, Mr. Abadi now wants to drive the Kurds back into their northern Iraqi homeland. But the strategic details of this attack on the Kurds are important. Iraq’s offensive includes Iran. According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, Iranian-backed militias and the 9th Iraqi Armored Division moved toward Kirkuk last week to support the Iraqi army.

The Abadi government in Baghdad is under constant pressure from Shiite Iran to align itself against the interest of Iraq’s Sunni populations in the north and west. It follows that after Iraq’s progress on the battlefield against Islamic State, Iran would encourage the Iraqis to drive the Kurds out of Kirkuk.

Notice this is all happening within days of President Trump decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, based in part on the assumption that Europe will support U.S. efforts to resist Iran’s ballistic-missile program and its penetrations across the Middle East. But what will the Europeans or our allies in the Middle East conclude if we abandon one of our oldest regional allies, the Iraqi Kurds?

The U.S. no doubt has lost much of the political leverage it had before the Obama Administration pulled out of Iraq in 2011. But abandoning the Kurds to an Iraq-Iran Shiite alliance would only deepen U.S. losses.

Before Iraq and the Kurds go to war, the U.S. could insist that Iraq reaffirm the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan and also that it work out an agreement to share revenue from the region’s oil reserves. The alternative to such a modus vivendi for Prime Minister Abadi is a capable Kurdish fighting force in a state of permanent insurrection.

The U.S. owes a debt to the Kurds. Abandoning them now would damage America’s credibility, and not least Mr. Trump’s ability to enlist allies against Iran’s expansion across the Middle East. The assault on Kirkuk matters.

Austria’s Not So Scary Right Turn Voters embrace a young leader promising more competitive politics.

One day Europe will be able to hold an election without a freak-out over a feared return of the far right. That day isn’t here. So Austria’s election on Sunday, in which voters rejected a center-left governing cartel in favor of a resurgent center-right, has the Continent rushing for the smelling salts.

Sebastian Kurz of the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) placed first in the parliamentary vote, with early results pegging him at 32%. The 31-year-old has served as foreign minister in a coalition government led by the center-left Social Democrats. Mr. Kurz abandoned that centrist coalition and positioned his party further to the right, especially on immigration after the surge of Middle Eastern and African migrants into Europe.

His strategy worked, especially in pulling voters from the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), the outfit that really gives Europeans palpitations. Leader Heinz-Christian Strache has tried hard but not always credibly to shed the FPÖ’s reputation as a political haven for xenophobes and Nazi sympathizers. At the start of the year it polled at 35%, after its candidate for the ceremonial presidency won 47% last year. But on Sunday its share fell to about 20%

Mr. Kurz reversed the far-right’s march by co-opting some of its main policies. Those include tighter bars on asylum-seekers and intra-European Union migrants claiming social benefits, and a push to shut off the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean by returning most to refugee camps in North Africa. He added an economic platform of tax-rate cuts, especially on individual income to below 40% and a new focus on business-friendliness.

Some of our media friends present this as a resurgence of an ugly far-right party, and Mr. Kurz is likely to form a coalition with the FPÖ. But the FPÖ already has done a turn in a governing coalition, from 2000-2005, and it ended badly amid divisions about economic policy and leadership. The lesson was that voters care about results, and an electorate supporting a fringe party out of frustration won’t blithely follow that party into an abyss.

Sunday’s result confirms that conclusion, as voters came home to a centrist party that now aims to compete for votes rather than taking them for granted as part of an ideologically neutered left-right coalition. That should be good news for worried European politicians. Voters will give mainstream parties plenty of opportunity to reform themselves, but the parties have to listen to the voters.

Russia emerging as new player in Middle East balance of power David Goldman

Moscow’s sale of a better defense system to the Saudis than to its “ally” Iran is consistent with the pattern of its attempts to influence outcomes in the region.

Remarkably little comment attended the strangest outcome of Saudi King Salman’s four-day visit to Moscow in early October, namely Russia’s sale of its top-of-the-line S-400 air defense system to a country whose relations with Russia have been hostile until recently. It was strange because Iran, habitually characterized as Russia’s “ally” in Western media, was permitted to purchase a much older and inferior Russian system, the S-300.

Not only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also Russia’s Cold War adversary Turkey will buy the far more advanced S-400, a “game-changer,” as former Pentagon official Stephen Bryen described it in an October 13 analysis for Asia Times. The S-400 is highly effective against the sort of cruise and ballistic missiles that Iran will be able to field during the next several years.

Russia’s carefully-calibrated weapons sales to the opposing Persian Gulf powers follows a pattern established by China over the past decade. China sells missiles to Iran as well as to the KSA, but it sells more advanced missiles to the Saudis, because the Saudis are the weaker of the two adversaries, and China wants to maintain the balance of power. Russia has been called a “spoiler” in the Middle East so often that the term clings like a Homeric epithet. In recent weeks, Russian policy has shifted to classic balance-of-power politics.

“Peace can be achieved only by hegemony or by balance of power,” Henry Kissinger likes to say. Powers that cannot exercise hegemony, in other words, attempt to maintain a balance that contains the ambitions of prospective rivals. The classic example is Britain, which allied with Prussia against France through the Napoleonic Wars, and then allied with France against Germany at the turn of the last century. Britain could not aspire to be a hegemon on the European continent, so it sought to prevent either France or Germany from dominating. Russia does not have the wherewithal to replace the United States as a regional hegemon, but it does have considerable means to affect the balance of power.

On October 12, Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bodanov offered to mediate between Iran and the KSA, but talk is cheap. Installation of top-of-the-line weapons systems is not. The United States belatedly offered the Saudis its THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system, probably as a rushed response to the Russian offer. In Dr. Bryen’s analysis, the S-400 is simply a better system, and gives the Saudis an important edge in any prospective conflict with Iran.

The New York Times’s Double Standard on the NFL The paper says pro football players have speech rights it denies to its own reporters. By William McGurn

Good thing for Colin Kaepernick he isn’t a New York Times reporter.

As quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Mr. Kaepernick was backed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2016 when he chose not to stand during the national anthem. Mr. Goodell said that while he didn’t necessarily agree with Mr. Kaepernick, “players have a platform, and it’s his right to do that.” One year and many NFL game day protests later, Times executive editor Dean Baquet has just made clear to his own employees: There will be no taking of knees if it embarrasses the Times.

Which puts the Gray Lady in a pickle. When Mr. Kaepernick began protesting the national anthem, the Times ran a few opinion pieces but refrained from staking out an official position. That changed after Donald Trump weighed in. At a Friday night rally in Alabama last month, the president asked: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?’ ”

In response, the Times blitzed. A Sept. 24 editorial called “The Day the Real Patriots Took a Knee” asserted the president’s remarks about the flag and players were yet more evidence of his disregard for “the legitimate and deeply felt fears and grievances of minority Americans.”

It piled on, accusing Mr. Trump of “implying that players give up their right to free speech when they put on a uniform.” For good measure, it went on to impugn Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin for suggesting “players should keep their mouths shut in the workplace.”

We get it: Employers have no right to restrict their employees’ speech.

But one tiny question: Why do Times reporters not enjoy this same right?

Because within three weeks of blasting those who believe NFL players have no First Amendment right to use the football field to make political statements, Mr. Baquet issued a memo about social media warning Times reporters not to use their “vibrant presence” on these platforms to express their own, uh, deeply felt fears and grievances.

Mr. Baquet says “the key points” are as follows:

• “In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.

• “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.

• “These guidelines apply to everyone in every department of the newsroom, including those not involved in coverage of government and politics.”

In its NFL editorial, the Times approvingly quoted New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who defended his players’ right to “peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.”

For its own employees, the Times has now chosen a different approach.

“We consider all social media activity by our journalists to come under this policy,” the memo warned. “While you may think that your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media accounts are private zones, separate from your role at The Times, in fact everything we post or ‘like’ online is to some degree public. And everything we do in public is likely to be associated with The Times.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Trump’s Iran speech finally sets facts of sham nuclear deal straight By Claudia Rosett

President Trump has not yet pulled America out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But he just took a vital step toward doing so, in a landmark speech on Friday that in plain language dismantled the dangerous fictions on which the deal was built.

Chief among these fictions is the notion that a nuclear program in the hands of Iran’s predatory, terror-sponsoring Islamist regime could ever be “exclusively peaceful.” This was a phrase repeated endlessly by President Obama’s diplomatic team during the negotiating of the Iran nuclear deal, and it is enshrined in the final text, as if saying could make it so.

Iran has already given the lie to this fantasy, most prominently by continuing to test ballistic missiles. These are delivery vehicles that are only likely to be of use if Iran employs its “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program as cover to acquire nuclear warheads.

Citing the case of Iran’s longtime partner in missile proliferation, North Korea, Trump warned that it is folly to downplay Iran’s ambitions: “As we have seen in North Korea, the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes.”

Ensuring that Washington will now pay attention, Trump announced in his speech that he will not recertify that Iran is in compliance with the agreement. Under the Corker-Cardin law, passed in 2015 and officially dubbed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, this decertification kicks the problem to Congress, where lawmakers will have 60 days to come up with solutions.

President Trump has not yet pulled America out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But he just took a vital step toward doing so, in a landmark speech on Friday that in plain language dismantled the dangerous fictions on which the deal was built.

Chief among these fictions is the notion that a nuclear program in the hands of Iran’s predatory, terror-sponsoring Islamist regime could ever be “exclusively peaceful.” This was a phrase repeated endlessly by President Obama’s diplomatic team during the negotiating of the Iran nuclear deal, and it is enshrined in the final text, as if saying could make it so.
Iran has already given the lie to this fantasy, most prominently by continuing to test ballistic missiles. These are delivery vehicles that are only likely to be of use if Iran employs its “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program as cover to acquire nuclear warheads.

Citing the case of Iran’s longtime partner in missile proliferation, North Korea, Trump warned that it is folly to downplay Iran’s ambitions: “As we have seen in North Korea, the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes.”

Ensuring that Washington will now pay attention, Trump announced in his speech that he will not recertify that Iran is in compliance with the agreement. Under the Corker-Cardin law, passed in 2015 and officially dubbed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, this decertification kicks the problem to Congress, where lawmakers will have 60 days to come up with solutions.

It should help focus their minds that Trump stipulated: “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.” He noted that, as president, it is his prerogative to cancel America’s participation in this deal “at any time.”

Pulling America out of the deal would be the best course by far, and that is where any honest debate ought to end up. This signature foreign-policy agreement of President Obama, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is a bargain so flawed that there is realistically no way to fix it. Haggled out with Iran by six world powers — Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the U.S. under Obama (in this instance leading from in front) — the JCPOA is thick with complexities that obscure the basic tradeoffs with which Obama enticed Iran to agree to this deal.

But there’s a simple bottom line. President Obama promised that on his watch Iran would not get nuclear weapons. Obama achieved this by cutting a deal that effectively paid off Iran upfront to delay a nuclear breakout until after he left office. He did this at the cost of greatly fortifying Iran’s predatory, Islamist regime, without ending its nuclear program. That is what Trump has inherited. As he accurately summed it up: “We got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short-term and temporary delay in Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.”

The terms of this deal virtually ensure an Iranian nuclear breakout, on a scale and with a reach that will be even more dangerous when it comes. Without requiring any change in the nature of Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime, the deal dignified Tehran on the world stage, greatly eased global sanctions, allowed Iran access to more than $100 billion in frozen oil revenues, and topped that off with the related settlement from the U.S. of $1.7 billion, shipped secretly to Iran in cash.

The JCPOA also came crammed with sunset clauses, set to eliminate restrictions on everything from commercial-scale enrichment of uranium, to the design and launch of ballistic missiles “capable of carrying nuclear weapons.” It is also full of loopholes, such as the wording in which Iran is not required, but merely “called upon,” to stop developing nuclear-capable missiles.

To maneuver this unpopular deal past the American public and through the political mills of Washington, Obama’s White House skipped submitting it the Senate for ratification as a treaty — where it would almost certainly have been voted down.