The New York Times continues to misrepresent the Iran deal as a signed document with the potential to motivate moderate Iranians to reform their totalitarian regime. However, it is more than obvious that the P5+1 did not actually sign a deal with Iran, and that this unsigned agreement cannot bring about change in that country.
Instead, the deal has emboldened those who hold the reins of power in Iran. On January 28, the Times’ editorial board lamented that “Next month’s elections in Iran do not bode well for Iranians eager for more political and social freedoms or for the promising new relationship with the West symbolized by the recent deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program.”
“Even before any ballots are cast,” they argue, “the death-to-America hard-liners who bitterly opposed the deal are stacking the deck against moderates led by President Hassan Rouhani, who signed the agreement and is more open than others in the power structure to further engagement with Western nations as well as expanding rights and freedoms for Iranian citizens.”
The inaccuracies contained within these few lines are too many to count. Iran is not interested in engaging with Western nations, other than for business purposes, nor is it interested in expanding the rights of its citizens. Also, even Iranians abroad do not support President Rouhani. When Rouhani recently came to France, thousands of Iranians and others took to the streets to demonstrate against him and his “façade of moderation,” according to CNS News.
As we have reported, the nuclear agreement has not actually been signed. In a letter from the State Department, Julia Frifield stated that “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document.” Rather, the Iranian “deal” is just a set of political obligations which Iran can interpret in whatever way it wants.
How exactly can the mainstream media keep perpetuating this falsehood about a signed deal in their news reports? It is because members of the mainstream media have championed, and will continue to champion, this deal at any cost as long as it is considered part of President Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Such reporters will likely attribute any visible sign of a supposedly reformed Iran to Obama’s diplomacy rather than to internal forces. Reductions in freedom will undoubtedly be attributed to hard-liner resistance.
“So much for the nuclear deal’s promise of empowering Iranian reformers,” commented The Wall Street Journal on January 26. The recent “purge of candidates betrayed an especially hard-line approach,” it writes.
However, if President Rouhani is a force for moderation, as the Times’ editorial board contends, then why has he overseen more than 2,000 executions during his tenure? Iran performs more executions than any nation except for China. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the human rights abuses that are rampant in Iran, particularly towards women and children. This Gatestone article describes those conditions under the “moderate” Rouhani regime.
“Executions, however, skyrocketed under both [former President Mohammad] Khatami and now Rouhani relative to the capital punishment rates under their respective predecessors,” argues the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin in an opinion piece posted by Newsweek titled, “There Are No Iranian Moderates.” “…Americans continue to wallow under the delusion that factions are hooks upon which to hang American policy,” he argues.
The truth is that there are no Iranian moderates in power, and those reformers that the West might champion wield little to no power.
Rubin sees Rouhani’s struggles as a façade, a ruse to “project an image of moderation to relieve pressure.” He argues that Rouhani was elected for the sole purpose of overcoming Iran’s financial woes.
Now that Implementation Day has come and gone, President Rouhani is free to court French and Italian businesses, which recently signed deals valued in the tens of billions.
“It seems quite evident that the nuclear agreement has given the regime added motivation to crack down on Iranian civil society, become more belligerent in the region, and keep Western influence at bay,” argues Italy’s former foreign minister, Giulio Maria Terzi. While Terzi calls a moderate Iran a “fantasy,” he still calls for Western business deals that require Iran to engage in reform.
But even The New York Times editorial board casts Rouhani as “a creature of Iran’s establishment, not a revolutionary” who “has tapped into widespread popular support for ending the country’s long isolation.” It seems unclear what element, exactly, in Iran wanted to continue that isolation.
While the media and the Obama administration continue to hold to a non-existent agreement which does little to hold the regime accountable, Iran has become emboldened both in business and militarily. Not only did the Iranians film American sailors at gunpoint, on January 12 the Iranians flew an unarmed drone over the USS Harry Truman while this carrier was sailing in international waters. The United States did not shoot down the drone. Instead, President Obama allowed Iran to claim another propaganda victory, with Iranian naval commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari claiming that it was an act of Iranian “bravery” to surveil U.S. forces.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei further humiliated the Obama administration when he awarded medals to the five commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) who had seized two American Navy vessels and held 10 American sailors at gunpoint, claiming they had trespassed into Iranian waters. Khamenei told his commanders, while awarding them medals, that the capture of these sailors “was in fact an act of God, who brought the Americans into our waters so they would be arrested with their hands on their heads through your timely measure.” Whether they had trespassed or not, the Iranian action was illegal, and the Americans should never have allowed them on board the vessels, according to Retired Admiral James “Ace” Lyons.
Iran is very pleased, having just acknowledged receiving more than $100 billion of formerly frozen overseas assets through sanctions relief, contradicting the recent comments of Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry has acknowledged that some of that money would be going to the IRGC, labeled by his own State Department as a terrorist organization, but he claimed that they weren’t getting $100 billion, and he didn’t know where that figure came from. He assured us it was more like $55 billion that they would be receiving. He said $100 billion was a “fictional number.”
But don’t look for the media to hold Kerry accountable. They, like the Obama administration, are still determined to convince us what a great deal this is, and how it has saved us from Iran developing nuclear weapons. Liberal news organizations are expecting this disastrous, unsigned agreement with Iran to prompt concrete changes in that nation. But President Obama’s legacy will likely be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, with Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, empowered and enabled to expand its destructive impact.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.