Surrender in Geneva

I am not much interested in whether “the Supreme Leader” can be trusted. Prudent persons already know the answer to that. A more relevant question is whether the U.S. can be trusted. Israel and the Sunni monarchies who comprise America’s least worst friends in the Arab world were kept in the dark about not only the contents of the first direct U.S.–Iranian talks in a third of a century but even an acknowledgment that they were taking place. The only tip-off into the parameters of the emerging deal is said to have come from British briefings to their former Gulf protectorates and the French getting chatty with Israel. A couple of days ago, Nawaf Obaid, an adviser to Prince Mohammed, the Saudi ambassador in London, was unusually candid about the Americans: “We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”

“How it was done”: Some years ago, I heard that great scholar of Islam, Bernard Lewis, caution that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. The Obama administration seems to have raised the thought to the level of doctrine. What has hitherto been unclear is whether this was through design or incompetence. Certainly, John Kerry has been unerringly wrong on every foreign-policy issue for four decades, so sheer bungling stupidity cannot be ruled out.

But look at it this way: It’s been clear for some time that the United States was not going to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities. That leaves only one other nation even minded to keep the option on the table: Israel. Hence the strange new romance between the Zionist Entity and the Saudi and Gulf cabinet ministers calling every night to urge them to get cracking: In the post-American world, you find your friends where you can, even if they’re Jews. But Obama and Kerry have not only taken a U.S. bombing raid off the table, they’ve ensured that any such raid by Israel will now come at a much steeper price: It’s one thing to bomb a global pariah, quite another to bomb a semi-rehabilitated member of the international community in defiance of an agreement signed by the Big Five world powers. Indeed, a disinterested observer might easily conclude that the point of the plan seems to be to box in Israel rather than Iran.