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Barack Obama’s Yalta

U.S. President Barack Obama waits to deliver remarks following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit on May 14, 2015 at Camp David, Maryland.

U.S. President Barack Obama waits to deliver remarks following the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. summit on May 14, 2015 at Camp David, Maryland.

In February of 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Yalta and ceded geopolitical control of Eastern Europe to Joseph Stalin. At the conference, Winston Churchill could do nothing. In return for the Soviet dictator’s promise of allowing Poland to hold elections to set its postwar political course (and a vague assurance of democratic elections in the other countries occupied by Red Army troops at the close of World War II), the allies let him keep possession of the eastern part of Poland. This was, in effect, ratification of Stalin’s 1939-1941 territorial gains as the ally of Adolf Hitler.

Churchill had consistently attempted to block Stalin’s expansionism, but with the American President distancing himself from Britain, Stalin had little trouble setting himself up for a postwar empire taking in not only Eastern but parts of Central Europe.

Today, with the “framework of understanding” between the United States and Iran on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Barack Obama has devised his own Yalta.

There are two reasons why Iran has sought a nuclear weapons capability. The first and most prominent is to achieve geopolitical dominance in the Middle East. The second, if it comes to that, is the ability to destroy Israel. In return for a promise by Iran not to develop nuclear weapons just yet, Barack Obama has indicated that he will lift economic sanctions. This will, however, provide the economic basis for Iranian dominance in the region.

Iran was supposed to have agreed to transfer a large stock of its enriched uranium to Russia to be turned into fuel rods, which can only be used for peaceful energy-generation. No more. Russia’s latest notion is to supply Iran with missile defenses in exchange for crude oil. In Geneva, it was reported, Secretary of State Kerry spent more effort persuading France and Britain to concede to Iran, while Iran’s friend (China) and patron (Russia) added their weight to the negotiations. Meanwhile, even during the talks, Iran engaged in war games simulating attacks against American carriers, and the Ayatollah Khamenei led chants calling for “death to America.” The Iranians termed their negotiations with Obama a “diplomatic jihad,” and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif returned to Teheran in triumph.

As Iranian Revolutionary Guards operate in tandem with the Iraqi army, and now constitute the backbone of Assad’s armed forces in Syria; as the Houthis move to take over Yemen; and as Hezbollah deepens its control in southern Lebanon, Iran’s objectives are even now being fulfilled.

The “Shi’a crescent” of which King Abdullah warned in 2004 is now a reality. Millions of Sunnis have fled Syria, mostly for Jordan. The arc of influence of Shi’ite Iran, stretching from Teheran through central Iraq and Syria and ending with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, is a scimitar pointed at Israel.

The majority-Sunni nation of Saudi Arabia has gone beyond constructing a fence in the north (against both ISIS and the growing threat from Iran) and the south (against the Shi’a-controlled government allied with Teheran). It has formed a trans-Arab alliance to battle its enemies in Yemen. The Saudis are now engaged fully in the renewed Shi’a versus Sunni civil war over Islam. They have begun trolling for nuclear weapons knowhow themselves.

Up until Barack Obama made his backdoor negotiations with the Iranians explicit, the received wisdom was that Iran must be prevented from gaining a nuclear weapon. That was President Obama’s explicit pledge. The fallback position at the time—heavily criticized—was that the West might have to contain a nuclear-armed Iran. But now, there is only a paltry Iranian offer not to build a bomb immediately, and there is no American pretense at containment.

Why does Iran need a nuclear weapon at present, when it is attaining all its geopolitical objectives without one? Instead of limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, Obama has guaranteed Iran’s, which incentivizes its enemies to follow suit. And, just as Roosevelt put space between himself and Churchill, President Obama disdains the concerns of four of our strongest allies in the region: Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The administration’s record in the Middle East with regard to Sunni Arabs is as inept as its stance toward the burgeoning Shi’a crescent. President Obama’s policy based on his embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood is in tatters. When he entered office, the Bush “surge” in Iraq had neutralized both the Al-Qaeda and the Shi’a militias, and Iraq was stable. Yet Obama gave up on maintaining a U.S. residual force in Iraq as a political counterweight to Iran, and both ISIS and Iran have filled the vacuum.

ISIS and Iran are at war with each other. The only question is which of the two mortal enemies of Israel and the West will triumph.

Because of Yalta, parts of Europe had to fall under a long communist dictatorship. The concessions to Iran will mean that the Arab peoples must endure decades more of extreme Islamism. Ultimately, the Soviet diplomatic triumph threatened our own survival.  Iran has promised the same.

We need a Truman at the helm.

Reader Discussion

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on May 15, 2015 at 10:12:47 am

If we didn't want a resurgent Iran, I can scarcely think of a stupider policy than to overthrow Iraq. We're now stuck trying to make the best of the current situation (which, in fairness, summarizes foreign policy in general).

We don't have the option of keeping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Iran is populous and educated, and will figure out how to build a bomb eventually. We only have the option of managing their progress -- and maybe easing some of the tension so that by the time they get a bomb they aren't as paranoid as they are today. Recall all the language about how the Soviet mindset would never flinch at unleashing nuclear terror on the capitalist running-dogs, etc., etc. Turns out, ideology or no, no one wants to see their kids killed. My general skepticism about "This time is different!," claims applies to foreign policy as well.

In February of 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Yalta and ceded geopolitical control of Eastern Europe to Joseph Stalin. At the conference, Winston Churchill could do nothing. In return for the Soviet dictator’s promise of allowing Poland to hold elections to set its postwar political course (and a vague assurance of democratic elections in the other countries occupied by Red Army troops at the close of World War II), the allies let him keep possession of the eastern part of Poland. This was, in effect, ratification of Stalin’s 1939-1941 territorial gains as the ally of Adolf Hitler.

Remind us: What was the alternative to Yalta? What would it have cost? And who would have paid the price?

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nobody.really
on May 15, 2015 at 11:34:44 am

Nobody:

Not quite right:

Claims that the Soviets were willing to deploy nuclear weapons were, at most, made by outliers. Most of the diplomatic and national security personnel of the time did not believe this and in fact considered the Soviets to be rational actors (albeit ideologically driven aggressive actors).

And yes, there may not have been many alternatives to Yalta IN FEBRUARY 1945; but that may be because FDR, in an effort to display and employ his much (self) vaunted powers of persuasion upon the poor Man of Steel had previously failed to listen (or more appropriately ignored) the warnings and advice of Churchill. Look to the treatment of the partisans in Eastern Europe where without fail, FDR and his cronies consistently accepted the Soviet narrative on the non-communist partisans. Weapons and support were withheld from these fighters, territorial assignments also favored the pro-Soviet fighters, recognition was denied the anti-Soviets, etc. etc., etc.

So yes, by 1945, there really was not much that the US could do short of accepting Pattons advice to strike against the Soviets before it was too late. Not a viable option.

And, oh, BTW, see any similarity between FDR and the Big O in terms of their belief in their own personality and their respective powers of persuasion.
FDR was at least willing to fight - thank God he did not believe that he could PERSUADE Hitler as well as the Man of Steel (an apt name for him considering how well he did against FDR).

Oops, almost forgot: An update: Not only is the Big O a powerful *persuader* - he is also an expert on chemical weapons, having just yesterday declared that CHLORINE is not historically considered a chemical weapon. Really, talk to the victims of Ypres who were the recipients of this beneficial cleansing chemical offered by the Germans, no doubt to assure that good hygiene was practiced in the Allied trenches. I suppose that Assad is also interested in de-lousing some of his provincial towns and earning the Obama Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

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gabe
on May 15, 2015 at 11:45:47 am

BTW, see any similarity between FDR and the Big O in terms of their belief in their own personality and their respective powers of persuasion.

I could scarcely find a more powerful motivator throughout history than the Big O. The pursuit of the Big O launched a thousand ships.

But on the off chance you're talking about Obama, I'm not following you. What basis do you have for thinking that Obama thinks any politician acts on the basis of some other politician's charisma -- as opposed to, say, mutual gain?

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nobody.really
on May 15, 2015 at 20:59:44 pm

First,from an historical prospective,FDR was advised,to a great extent,by Harry Hopkins,Harry Dexter White,Alger Hiss and hundreds of other Soviet agents that had infiltrated into the American Government,especially into the State Department. There is no doubt that FDR was persuaded to give Stalin all that he wanted thus dooming much of Eastern Europe to the yoke of Communism for decades to come. Much of the Soviet technology,industrial as well as scientific,was either stolen or handed to the Soviets by the American Government,American businessmen and or soviet spies. The history is there to see. Second,it has come out that President Clinton transferred much of America's technology to China in exchange for campaign contributions. Finally,there is no doubt that Mr.Obama has acted more like a puppet,or maybe a better word would be facilitator,to the New World Order and the drive for a One World Government. When the history of his administration is written in the future perhaps most of the truth will emerge.

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Image of libertarian jerry
libertarian jerry
on May 16, 2015 at 03:56:29 am

By his actions?

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Image of SierraFaith
SierraFaith
on May 16, 2015 at 10:21:07 am

Translation: I have different policy preferences than Obama. The only possible explanation for Obama pursuing preferences that differ from mine is that he is driven by unbridled arrogance and hubris. To acknowledge that it might be possible for reasonable minds to differ from me would require me to surrender my own arrogance and hubris, and that's clearly out of the question.

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Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on May 16, 2015 at 10:43:18 am

"The pursuit of the Big O launched a thousand ships. " - and innumerable cosmetic products!!~!

Anyway, for one - look at his famous "speaking" and apology tours, his oft stated belief that HE could reason with any party, etc. etc.

Yet, you are correct about different policy preferences - Obama's more closely reflect those of our adversaries and / or the re-reflection of those attitudes filtered through the lens of a leftist academic cult that has prevailed over the American educational system for some 70+ years.

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Image of gabe
gabe
on May 18, 2015 at 08:45:22 am

[…] Barack Obama’s Yalta […]

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Image of Sufficient Unto the Day Is the Credit Thereof - Freedom's Floodgates
Sufficient Unto the Day Is the Credit Thereof - Freedom's Floodgates
on May 31, 2015 at 21:12:59 pm

[…] Professor David Forte‘s essay, “Barack Obama’s Yalta” has been published on the Online Library of Law and Liberty website.  Professor Forte’s essay can be accessed here. […]

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Image of Professor Forte’s Essay Published on the Onilne Library of Law and Liberty Website | CM Law Faculty
Professor Forte’s Essay Published on the Onilne Library of Law and Liberty Website | CM Law Faculty

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