Both the Castros and the Ayatollahs got what they really wanted from Obama -- regime preservation.
The priority of these regimes is to remain in power -- plain and simple.
Nuclear programs and American hostages have been tools of coercion, while Obama's campaign announcement that he would engage with these tyrants without preconditions was the opportunity.
Here's some context:
In 2009, the Iranian regime was facing a severe crisis.
That summer saw the biggest challenge ever to the Iranian regime's existence. Millions of young protesters took to the streets of Tehran, as part of a democratic uprising know as the "Green Movement." It was confronted with violence and lethal force.
Obama stood by silently, which only confirmed the Mullah's opportunity.
In September, Iran's regime admitted that it was secretly developing a nuclear program. This would then result in the negotiations that Obama had already foretold.
Meanwhile, the "Green Movement" and any remaining domestic challenges to the regime were systematically eliminated.
And the ongoing repression, hangings, imprisonments, etc., would become an afterthought (at best). Even Iran's support for terrorism and conflict outside its borders -- in Syria and Yemen -- are now second fiddle.
Does Iran's regime really want a nuclear program? Sure. In the same manner that Castro's regime wanted one decades ago.
Why? Because the threat of nuclear weapons is the ultimate guarantor of power for rogue regimes.
But so is a deal to prevent them, which Castro also proved at the time.
Pursuant to the Kennedy-Khrushchev pact, Soviet nuclear warheads were removed from Cuba in exchange for guarantees that the U.S. would not support any military opposition to Castro's regime (from its territory or anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere). This allowed Castro to ruthlessly eliminate any domestic challenges to its dictatorship -- and to begin support for terrorist groups internationally.
The pact -- along with an ongoing threat of nuclear power reactors in the southern Cuban town on Juragua (first announced in 1976) -- lasted through the Soviet Union's demise in 1991. At that point, such threats were no longer financially and logistically viable.
But Castro would find another way to seize upon the opportunity to coerce Obama -- by taking an American hostage.
In 2009, Cuba's regime was also facing a severe crisis.
Even with Venezuelan oil subsidies, Castro's regime was in a financial down-spiral, as over half of the 400 foreign companies doing business with Castro's monopolies had left the island. Desperate for hard currency, Castro arrested dozens of foreign businessmen and confiscated their businesses. It even froze $1 billion in the Cuban bank accounts of foreigners suppliers.
By the end of the year, the Castro regime had taken its hostage, American development worker Alan Gross. In exchange, it wanted the release of Cuban spies imprisoned in the U.S. and other concessions.
Meanwhile, it would dramatically increase repression (with political arrests quadrupling by the time of the Obama-Castro deal); banish the overwhelming majority of the political prisoners of the Black Spring crackdown; and eliminate democracy leaders, including Sakharov Prize recipient Oswaldo Paya and Laura Pollan, leader of The Ladies in White.
Then, on December 17th, 2014, Castro got the concessions he wanted -- plus a new deal that would preserve his regime.
But don't take our word for it.
As Obama himself stated in the deal announcement: "It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse."
Mission accomplished (again).