Obama's Deceptions on Iran and Cuba

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
By Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post:

Obama’s deceptions on Iran and Cuba

Remember Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who as caught on tape boasting how the president had taken advantage of the “stupidity” of American voters to pass his health-care law?

Well it seems, Obama is applying the “Gruber Doctrine” once again — this time to foreign policy.

The Gruber Doctrine is based on the premise that, in the words of the now infamous MIT professor, “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that the “basic exploitation of the lack of . . . understanding of the American voter” is “really, really critical” for enacting your preferred policies.

That is precisely what Obama is doing when it comes to Iran and Cuba.

With Iran, the administration is once again relying on a “lack of transparency” to ram through its nuclear deal. Even Iran’s foreign minister dismissed the administration’s talking points describing the framework agreement as “spin.” Obama is warning that the only alternative to his deal is “another war in the Middle East ,” even though he has yet to reveal the key details: Will sanctions relief be front-loaded, as Iran insists, or will sanctions come off gradually, as the Iranians meet certain performance benchmarks? Will there be any transparency into Iran’s past secret nuclear activity, information that is critical to verifying its compliance today? Will there be “snap inspections” and access to all Iranian facilities, both civilian and military? Iran says no. Obama is counting on the fact that Americans won’t be able to follow all the details about “centrifuges” and “domestic enrichment capacity.” He won’t share the details but wants us to trust him that there will be “unprecedented verification.” If you believe that, you probably still think that if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.

Obama is also counting on exploiting the “lack of understanding of the American voter” when it comes to his normalization of relations with the Castro regime in Cuba. At a news conference in Panama this weekend, Obama declared that “There is majority support of our policy in the United States” and that “the American people don’t need to be persuaded that this is in fact the right thing to do.” A new poll commissioned by my American Enterprise Institute colleague Roger Noriega for InterAmerican Security Watch finds that Americans do support Obama’s plan by a margin of 51 to 38 percent . . . until they learn some basic facts about Cuba. When Americans are told that Cuba is hosting Russian ships in its harbors, opposition to normalization jumps to 58 percent while support sinks to 30 percent. When Americans are told of Cuba’s attempts to smuggle 240 tons of weaponry to North Korea, opposition jumps to 63 percent and support drops to 26 percent. When Americans are told that Cuba is harboring a cop-killer and terrorists, opposition jumps to 63 percent, and support plummets to 23 percent. When asked whether sanctions should be maintained pending Cuba’s progress on human rights and free elections, Americans agree by a margin of 64-16. And when asked whether Cuba’s designation as a supporter of terrorism should be maintained because it harbors terrorists, respondents agreed 68 percent to 16 percent.

In other words, Noriega says, “When Americans hear basic facts about Castro’s hostility and human-rights violations, they know that the president’s unilateral concessions only emboldened a dangerous, despotic regime.”

Look for Obama to continue employing Gruberesque tactics to sell his appeasement of Cuba and Iran. No doubt the final Iran deal will be presented in a “tortured way” to “mislabel” Obama’s concessions to Tehran and make the inspections seem more intrusive than they are. The same will be true of Obama’s coming decision to lift Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror. There will be no mention from the White House of terrorists being protected and supported by the Castro regime, such as Joanne Chesimard — who murdered a New Jersey state trooper and was named in 2013 by Obama’s own FBI as one of its Most Wanted Terrorists . There will be no mention of the 70 other U.S. fugitives that Obama’s own State Department reports “The Cuban government continued to harbor” while providing “support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care” — or of the Spanish and Colombian terrorists receiving similar support from the Castro brothers.

Why would they tell Americans these things? Obama’s attitude, to paraphrase Gruber, is that “I wish . . . we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have [these agreements with rogue regimes] than not.” Obama and his foreign policy team know what is good for us. And if we’re too “stupid” to catch the deception, that’s our problem, not theirs.

It worked for Obamacare, they figure, so why not Iran and Cuba?