While everyone else is weighing in on the merits of the Iran nuclear deal, I can name one person who probably hates it: Atena Farghadani.
Farghadani is a 28-year-old Iranian artist and activist who was sentenced last month to 12 years and nine months in an Iranian prison because she “insulted” members of Parliament with her art. Her “crime” was being a dissident who protested injustice.
Farghadani is not alone. There are thousands like her languishing in Iranian prisons because they had the nerve to oppose an evil and oppressive regime.
How oppressive? According to Human Rights Watch, “In 2014 Iran had the second highest number of executions in the world after China, and executed the largest number of juvenile offenders. The country remains one of the biggest jailers in the world of journalists, bloggers, and social media activists.”
As Secretary of State John Kerry was negotiating with Iran, his own State Department lambasted the regime in its annual report: “Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2014, including support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanese Hizballah, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.”
Add it up, and you’ve got 30 years of continuous evil from the world’s biggest sponsor of terror.
As they were wooing the West, the representatives of this evil regime were sleeping in luxurious hotels in Vienna while Farghadani was sleeping in her prison cell. Farghadani and other victims like her had no seat at the negotiating table, and they will have no say while we all get to decide whether the deal is good or bad.
I can’t imagine, however, that they’d be too happy with a deal that provides their jailers with $150 billion in sanctions relief.
Nor am I.
Simply put, my problem with this deal is that it empowers an evil regime. In return for what? At best, a 10- or 15-year delay in building a nuclear bomb.
Many critics are saying that Iranians will build the bomb much sooner because they’re expert cheaters and our inspections won’t be tough enough. That may be true, but what’s really worrisome is that Iran doesn’t have to cheat to get its bomb and continue its path of destruction and domination.
After all, when you’ve been around for 5,000 years, what’s another 10 or 15 years, especially when you’re getting paid $150 billion to wait out these years?
We often forget that Iran has been trying to build a nuclear bomb for 28 years. Did you ever wonder why it’s been taking so long? Well, one reason is that we’ve made it very difficult.
As Herb Keinon notes in JPost, “Computer viruses were sent to infect the Iranian computers, some Iranian nuclear scientists and engineers were assassinated or disappeared, and straw companies were set up around the world selling faulty material to the mullahs, so that when they spun their centrifuges, the centrifuges would blow up.”
That’s what you’re supposed to do with evil— fight it, disrupt it, undermine it and starve it.
You’re not supposed to empower it.
If you must negotiate with evil, you look it in the eye and say things like: “Dismantle your nuclear infrastructure or we will do it for you.” Of course, that’s not what we did. We were bluffing, and the mullahs knew it. That’s why we made so many critical concessions, and that’s why we will release billions in sanctions relief over the next few months and years.
How much damage can Iran do with another $150 billion? Put it this way: Iran has been wreaking havoc across the region on an annual military budget, according to Foreign Policy, of about $14 billion. You do the math.
It’d be nice to think that Iran will spend those new billions on clinics, schools and museums, and on reforming its brutal legal system. But who are we kidding? For starters, just imagine the nightmare scenario of Iran taking over Syria and being at Israel’s doorstep. This new deal empowers them to do just that.
How did we get so ripped off? Maybe it’s partly that in free societies, we’re conditioned to be idealistic– to see things not as they are, but as they could be. President Barack Obama dreams of an Iran that will act more responsibly once it is accepted into the family of nations. He’s banking that a long wait to build the bomb may moderate the regime.
Where I see evil, Obama sees potential.
But I’m a dreamer, too, and I also see things as they could be. I see an Iran that is forced to dismantle its nuclear fangs and is made weaker, not stronger. I see an America that honors and empowers dissidents rather than empowering merchants of evil.
I see an America that invites a liberated Atena Farghadani to the White House, and not the oppressors who jailed her.
David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.