It struck me that Obama has broken one of Washington’s favorite nonsense taboos: that only someone who is fervently against doing something in foreign policy can actually go ahead and do it. This stems from the old saw that said, “Only Nixon Could Go to China.” That is: because President Richard Nixon was such a hardline anti-Commie, he could actually break the prohibition against having relations with what was arguably, at the time, the most repellent of Marxist regimes, then headed by arch-Stalinist Mao Tse Tung.
If you think Iran possesses a damnable record of evil, recall that at the time the Vietnam War, incorrectly fought in the name of stopping Chinese-style communist expansion, was ending with a US defeat. Dominoes were supposed to fall all over the region and US credibility as a bastion of liberty was smashed. China was supporting Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, murderous Maoists who were soon to take over Cambodia. Ongoing was the Cultural Revolution, during which Mao unleashed mob violence against his opponents, real and imagined, killing millions.
It was argued, and soon became a cliché, that only someone like Nixon, a hawk and long time supporter of breakaway, anti-Communist Taiwan, could deal with the Chinese and open diplomatic relations.
Well, Obama crushed the idea that you must be hardline anti-something to make a bold move in the other direction. That goes not only with the Iran deal, but his opening to Cuba. Despite all the complaints from opponents and some supporters on both moves, Obama just went ahead anyhow, raising suspicions that, unlike Nixon with China, he never really had much of an aversion to making deals with old enemies, or even offending old pals, like Israel.
His tactical genius was negotiating the Iran agreement in tandem with other nuclear powers. That made the deal a virtual fait accompli, no matter what domestic opponents think or want. As Obama spinners constantly remind critics, sanctions against will not hold if the US pulls out of the deal, so this is the best anyone can expect. As for Cuba, Obama simply recognized that opposition to relations with Havana had long dried up, even among Cuban-Americans (are you listening, Marco Rubio?).
And he did it all without the lubrication of Panda Diplomacy, that Chinese tradition of sending cuddly bears to former enemies aimed at placing a veil of cuteness over China and its rulers. Who can ever forget First Lady Pat Nixon welcoming Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing to the National Zoo?
The coming confrontation over Iran.
Here are the odds of Congress killing the Iran deal, according to bettors.
Krauthammer says Obama like Nixon, in a different way.