The shocking revelation that Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s chief negotiator on Iran, has at least three Iranian influence operators on his staff, paired with the stunningly bad hostage deal the Biden team just made with the mullahs, leads one to question whose cause they actually want to advance.
The Biden team traded $6 billion and a handful of Iranian criminals in our jails for the release of five Americans held hostage on bogus charges. We can be thankful for the Americans’ return while also examining the ulterior motives behind this mistake.
At the simplest level, it paints a target on all Americans abroad by telling tyrants there are big prizes available if you grab a few U.S. citizens as bargaining chips. But it’s actually much worse when you look at who the Iranians got back in addition to the cash.
Two of the Iranians released in this misguided mess were working in support of the illicit nuclear program, and another provided technology to the Central Bank of Iran, a sanctioned terrorist organization. The cases against them show they were conducting information and industrial espionage and illegal financial operations to circumvent the sanctions the U.S. imposed to stop the mullahs’ nuclear programs and terrorism support. Even worse, three of these malign actors were allowed to remain in the U.S., where their crimes had been committed.
The Iranians have long been running extensive operations to both further their nuclear programs and influence public opinion on the issue. The Iran Experts Initiative began during the Obama-era nuclear deal talks and has now been exposed as part of this effort. This plan used national security officials friendly to the regime to conduct information operations to spin Iranian malfeasance and make it appear benign.
Why would the Biden administration help Iran? The answer lies in their forlorn attempts to find any kind of foreign policy success. They have only the shameful and deadly cut and run from Afghanistan, which cost 13 American lives, and the newest forever war and cash dump in Ukraine to point to.
You can add an obsession with making a nuclear deal and returning Iran to what the foreign policy establishment on the left sees as its rightful place on the world stage. There are even reports that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has granted permission for direct nuclear talks with the U.S. The enlightened souls of President Joe Biden’s foreign policy team don’t believe being the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and a brutal soul-crushing theocratic tyranny disqualifies Iran from sipping mint tea and nibbling petit fours with the diplomatic set.
The same team that sent an unmarked planeful of cash to Iran during the Obama years is back with a degraded version of the same bad idea. If we just give the Iranians enough money and love, they will show the world they are a decent kind of despotic regime. They don’t really mean it when they fund the slaughter of innocents, hang gays from cranes, or torture and kill their own citizens for the crime of not wanting to wear a hijab.
The mullahs who rule Iran are barbaric Islamists. The people of Iran deserve better and have been making efforts to replace them for decades. We just haven’t managed to ever offer meaningful help and, worse, have actually legitimized and supported their oppressors. Biden and his Obama lite crew are trying to continue that failed strategy by paying and validating the regime.
A nuclear-armed Iran is a nightmare for the Middle East and the rest of the world. Not only are they near the top of the “crazy enough to use it” list, but they will start an arms race as the other players in the region feel obligated to match them. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said outright they won’t sit on the sidelines if Iran gets the bomb: “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
The other major initiative the Biden administration is using to try to burnish their nonexistent foreign policy credentials is a deal for the Saudis to formally recognize the state of Israel. This is another major long shot, but you can’t help but wonder if they think they can somehow tie all of this together. The hubris it takes to think you can rehabilitate the Iranian theocracy while simultaneously making peace between the Jews and Arabs defies common sense.
But all signs point to this as their cunning plan. If you thought trusting the Taliban to be the security for our abandonment of Afghanistan was foolish, this shows the Biden team’s judgment has, if anything, gotten worse. The Iranian regime should never get nuclear weapons — that is simple common sense. The Biden administration cannot be trusted to negotiate any deal claiming to prevent this. It is much more likely they will end up enabling it and making all of us demonstrably less safe. No attempt at legacy-building or reelection political maneuvering is worth that risk.