By Sal Bommarito
The two lead international stories today are the execution of American Peter Kassig and the increasingly tenuous negotiations with Iran relating to its nuclear program.
The beheading of Kassig was another unnecessary and extraordinarily cruel act on the part of ISIS. It involves only one man, yet the significance of the misdeed is great. First off, Kassig was on a mission of mercy, a humanitarian effort to help those who are being negatively impacted by the turmoil in the Middle East. Why would any group target and behead a person whose intentions are so honorable?
Second, the act is an insult to the U.S. and every one of its citizens. Taking the life of an innocent American should not occur without serious retribution. The whole episode ought to be a call to arms; a deadly response is totally justifiable. To make matters worse, ISIS barbarians openly defy the president and are not frightened by the military might of America. Why, because of the meek response of our leaders to the tragedies that are affiliated with the ISIS confrontation.
By broadcasting his battle plans and refusing to consider tactics that would enable the U.S. to actually destroy the enemy, the president has made his country look like a paper tiger, too frightened to take appropriate action. The logical response to the beheadings and other acts of criminality should be deadly force and targeted strikes on ISIS leadership with U.S. soldiers that are expert in these types of matters.
The negotiations with Iran were bound to experience serious bumps. Iran’s clerics who rule the country have great incentive to eliminate economic sanctions imposed on them by the U.S. However, they know Obama is acting with other intentions. And so, the Iranian decision makers sense an opportunity to obtain much more from a nuclear deal with America.
What are the other intentions of Obama? The president is struggling with the ground force situation. A deal with Iran could include an agreement for it to engage ISIS. By Iran doing so, it might ameliorate the need for the U.S. to send troops to confront ISIS. If the U.S. cannot ally with Iran and cannot muster sufficient and capable ground support from Iraq and Syria, American soldiers will likely be needed to finish off ISIS.
The Iranians know the president is approaching the end of his tenure, and looking back, his achievements are not impressive. A nuclear deal with Iran, even a less than optimal one, could be seen as a great accomplishment that bolsters the president’s legacy.
A new deal could decrease the threat of Israel to Iran. Many think the Israelis will attack Iran if it determines that a nuclear weapon is imminent. But, on the heels of a deal with Iran, it would seem less likely.
On the other side of the coin, the president has the power of economic sanctions and lower oil prices in his favor. Iran is going to experience greater economic strife if it cannot sell its oil, especially if oil prices remain low.
Getting a deal done that can be approved by Congress will be increasingly difficult. As time passes and relations deteriorate between the president and Congress over domestic issues, chances of a new Iran deal will become more remote.
The ISIS war is creating derivative concerns every day. The struggle is at a critical point and any missteps could have long-lasting strategic implications. The president dearly needs some positive developments in the near future.