The best possible spin on the deal is that the Obama administration gambled on its own misbegotten ideology, believing against all evidence that massive giveaways would soften jihadist hearts. The more cynical take says that the administration simply gave away its bargaining position in a heavily politicized quest for a legacy-making agreement. The agreement’s terms were less important than its mere existence, a feather in the cap of an erstwhile “peace president.”
In the age of Trump, too many progressives are busy rewriting history. Yes, they’re right to decry the current administration’s many falsehoods, but they should spare a moment for self-reflection. The Obama administration sold a foreign-policy disaster to the American people in part through systematic, intentional deceptions. That’s a profound violation of the very “norms” and “values” the #resistance now claims to defend.
Indeed, the Trump administration would have to work hard to replicate the Obama administration’s mistakes and evasions. As it approaches the North Korean summit, it has an opportunity to show that the lure of a deal with a longtime enemy (and all the domestic and international accolades that invariably accompany empty diplomacy) need not lead to foolish compromises or silly giveaways.