Why, logically, would Iran believe Obama’s claim that “all options were on the table”? On the contrary, Iran has remained the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — brazenly threatening America’s allies in the Middle East, and in 2011 even allegedly planning a major terrorist attack in Washington against the Saudi ambassador — without facing military or even diplomatic retribution from the United States.
The Iranians have taken note of how the White House helped overthrow Libya’s Moammar Kadafi after he gave up his nuclear program but shied away from North Korea when it tested more weapons. Iran can see how Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, by ceding part of his chemical arsenal, went from being America’s problem to America’s solution, and then to barrel-bombing his countrymen with impunity. Iranian rulers understood they could count on obtaining their nuclear program’s objectives of regime survival and regional supremacy without dismantling a centrifuge.
Obama’s argument not only fails logic’s test but also history’s. Anti-Semitism, the president further explained to Goldberg in May, “doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat [or] being strategic about how you stay in power.” Except, in one infamous example, it did. The Nazis pursued insane ends. Even during the last days of World War II, as the Allied armies liberated Europe, they diverted precious military resources to massacring Jews.