Can’t you just see Obama and Jarrett, kicking back after a few glasses of Bordeaux at Restaurant Helen, rhapsodizing over the president’s unique perspective on the global south, quoting lines from Argo, visualizing the day he makes the first presidential visit to Tehran since Carter? For six years the White House has been careful not to provide the Iranians with any reason to reject negotiations, to prevent his fantasy from becoming real. To the contrary: It has been solicitous of Iran and Syria, in a demonstration of its willingness to address their grievances.

That is why Democrats called Bashar al-Assad a reformer, why Obama remained silent during the 2009 protests over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rigged election, why the State Department doesn’t include human rights or ballistic missiles in the scope of its negotiations with Iran. It is why Obama has resisted overthrowing Assad even after he crossed the red line of chemical weapons use, why he refers to the “Islamic republic of Iran,” bestowing legitimacy on the revolutionary regime, and why administration officials reject congressional proposals to reinstate sanctions should the negotiations with Iran fail.

These decisions are not made in light of the national security interests of the United States. They are made to keep alive President Obama’s dream of peace with Iran. And the purpose of these decisions isn’t to mollify American politicians. It’s to satisfy Iranian ones.