The White House Is Trying to Buy Pre-Election Quiet by Paying Off Iran

July 3, 2023 | Elliott Abrams
About the author: Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the chairman of the Tikvah Fund.

During his long career in public office, Joe Biden has frequently professed his sympathy with, and even love for, the Jewish state. While Elliott Abrams believes these professions are sincere, there is little doubt in his mind that the informal agreement President Biden appears to be considering with Iran will greatly increase the dangers to Israel—not to mention those to America:

It is fair to say that the United States is paying Iran to stop taking American hostages and trying to kill Americans, an amazing response by a superpower to violent and unlawful actions by a vulnerable middle power. . . . The deal seems aimed at protecting the United States in part and the Biden administration in part. If Iran keeps its promises for a while, American soldiers in Syria and Iraq, and American visitors to Iran, will temporarily be safer.

It is fair to ask whether Americans, and the United States, are really safer when our response to hostage taking, murderous attacks on American service members, and nuclear blackmail is to pay more money. [However], under this apparent agreement, President Biden will be safer—from having to confront, before the 2024 U.S. election, an Iran steadily moving toward nuclear weapons. He has bought time for himself.

The agreement also makes it harder for Israel to strike at Iran’s growing nuclear program, because the administration will now argue that with [uranium] enrichment capped at 60 percent, there’s no imminent danger. Iran, meanwhile, can improve its enrichment capabilities, upgrade its centrifuges, and continue secret work on a warhead.

All of this reflects the Biden administration’s—and over many years, America’s—unwillingness to confront Iran over behavior that has for decades included killing Americans. One can think of other possible responses to the taking of hostages, ranging all the way back to “millions for defense but not one cent for tribute” in 1797. This time, it looks like up to $20 billion for tribute.

Read more on National Review: