When President Obama sold the disastrous Iran nuclear deal to the American people he famously described it in these terms. We could support the deal and opt for peace, or we could oppose the deal and choose war. It was a simple binary choice, and only a madman would decide to begin a war, which could easily be avoided. That the choice was on its face a false one and that the most logical course of action was simply to keep in place the sanctions, which had brought Iran to its knees, did not matter.
The Iran deal became reality. The Iranians were released from sanctions, regained access to billions of dollars frozen in accounts around the world and were once again free to shop for arms wherever they chose. The results are clear to see. We are closer to war with the Islamic Republic of Iran than ever before.
We talk often about how appeasement ultimately leads to war. It does, but we perhaps tend to skip a necessary analytical step in reaching such a conclusion. It is not appeasement, per se, which leads to war. It is that ultimately there comes a day when that appeasement must stop and when the aggressor, emboldened by past concessions, pushes one step too far. It is not appeasement that causes conflict. It is the ultimate necessity for it to end.
The Iranians interpreted the Obama Administration’s actions in agreeing to the nuclear deal, in releasing $150 billion dollars in funds and in paying ransom for hostages, as any reasonable person would anticipate. They saw these actions as signs of weakness, and they moved aggressively to take advantage of them.