Second, we are seeing dramatic evidence of the incentive structure that is now in place. The deal must be preserved, according to the president, because the stark choice is “diplomacy or some form of war.” But does Obama not think that the Iranians can also tune in to C-SPAN? He has granted them a tremendous advantage. They know that his argument will always be: How can we blow up the Iran deal over this or that violation if the only alternative to maintaining this agreement is war? Nearly any concession, any humiliation, is presumably better than that. And the Iranians seem content to cause Obama considerable humiliation, presumably reflecting their own internal, political dynamic. If you can’t destroy the Great Satan, make it look pathetic.
Third, I am willing to grant that Obama’s partisan attack is also a sincere expression of his policy views. Obama administration foreign policy in the Middle East has always been, at least in part, a reaction against the George W. Bush years. Bush had policies that involved coercion if certain conditions were not met. Obama authentically believes this approach was mistaken. While occasionally making vague statements that “everything is on the table,” Obama has effectively removed the threat of force from U.S. nonproliferation policy in the Middle East. He has argued, again and again, that Americans are tired of conflict, tired of war and that he personally shares this sentiment.