The ultimate legacy of President Obama’s foreign policy will be the empowering of Iran, argues one of the country’s top foreign policy writers.
“It is quite possible that, by the time Obama leaves office, no other country on Earth will have gained quite so much as Iran,” writes David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy magazine. Rothkopf is CEO and Editor of the FP Group, which publishes Foreign Policy.
Rothkopf notes that virtually everything America has done in the Middle East in Obama’s tenure has been to Iran’s benefit. The most obvious example is Obama’s ongoing effort to negotiate a diplomatic deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
The only clear advantage to cutting a deal with Iran, Rothkopf notes, is that it could lead to a suspension of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. But, “[there’s] no guarantee that Tehran could not reverse course in the future, break its terms, or do as it has done for the past 30 years — namely, stir up mayhem in the region without the benefit of nuclear weapons,” Rothkopf notes.
Meanwhile, the benefits to Iran of amity with the United States are legion. It would gain a multitude of economic benefits as sanctions recede, would have a stronger place at the table in international negotiations, and it would infuriate the country’s enemies, such as Saudi Arabia.
By helping Iran, Rothkopf says, Obama won’t just be helping a long-time enemy, but also potentially undermining every other alliance the U.S. has in the Middle East.
“[A deal] will be seen by Sunni allies in the Gulf as a betrayal. Some are already preparing to deal with what they see as the inevitable rapprochement,” he writes. “But happy they are not. Millennium-long antagonisms endure for a reason.”
Iran isn’t merely being helped by Obama’s negotiations with them, but also by the broader turmoil that has prevailed in the last several years, Rothkopf says. The Iraqi government, locked in battle with ISIS, is increasingly dependent on help from Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard, while ISIS’s presence in Syria has caused the West to tone down its opposition to Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad. Even as far away as Yemen, Islamist unrest has allowed a small Shiite minority to drive the president from the capital and seize control of much of the country.
“When you look up Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the history books, far more attention will almost certainly be devoted to his outreach to Iran [than to his] now poignantly unsuccessful efforts to declare an end to America’s war on terror,” Rothkopf concludes.