So, What Has the President Done for Us Lately?

Compare and contrast: Under George W. Bush, we suffered the worst terrorist attack in history on American soil (thousands murdered on 9/11), we became embroiled in a pointless war in Iraq where 4,000 more Americans were killed, and North Korea acquired nuclear weapons.

Under President Barack Obama, there have been no terrorist attacks anywhere near the magnitude of 9/11, we killed Osama bin Laden, we rid Syria of chemical weapons without firing a shot, and last week not only did Iran release five American hostages (as well as the sailors who strayed into Iranian waters), but we also implemented the Iran deal, which prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

During the few hours when the fate of the sailors who strayed into Iranian waters was uncertain, many Republicans could not resist the opportunity to exploit their plight for partisan gain. Typical was Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth), who attacked President Barack Obama for not acknowledging "the ten U.S. sailors who were being held in Iranian custody" in his State of the Union speech. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) demanded that the Iran deal itself be held hostage to the return of the sailors.

We now know that while President Obama was delivering his speech, his administration was (successfully) negotiating not only for the peaceful release of the sailors, but for the release of other American hostages. Talking about it would only have endangered those negotiations.

Republicans also attacked President Obama for not sanctioning Iran for its ballistic missile tests. But the administration had its eye on the ball, and once the Iran deal was implemented, the administration announced the sanctions that it said all along that it had every intention of imposing.

Have you seen statements from these Republicans thanking President Obama for securing the release of the sailors, thanking him for securing the release of the hostages, thanking him for implementing a deal under which all of Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon are now blocked (literally, with cement, in the case of the Arak reactor), or thanking him for imposing sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests? Neither have I.

The Iran deal was not intended to address hostage taking, ballistic missile testing, or Iran's support for terrorism. Its sole objective was to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that is the sole criterion on which it should be judged. But we learned last week that what the administration told us all along was true: The Iran deal does not remove any tools previously available to us to address these other issues, and in some cases (such as the lines of communication that led to the quick release of the sailors), the Iran deal provides ancillary benefits.

Daniel Drezner has a lesson for our Republican friends: In thinking about foreign policy, it's best to count to 10 slowly before speaking. And yet there is a foreign threat that President Obama has failed to deter.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro reiterated U.S. support for Israel. Referring to the murder of Dafna Meir, a mother of six, Shapiro said that "the United States condemns unequivocally these barbaric acts of terrorism, as we believe all others should do."

Shapiro noted that thanks to the Iran deal, "two-thirds of Iran's 19,000 centrifuges, including the disconnection of every single nuclear enrichment centrifuge at the Fordow facility, have been removed. Iran reduced its vast stockpile of up to five percent enriched uranium from over 12,000 kilograms, enough for numerous nuclear bombs, down to under 300 kilograms, far less than the amount needed for even one nuclear bomb -- a reduction of 98 percent. Iran also removed the core of the Arak reactor and filled it with cement. Iran has been forced to redesign that facility to ensure it cannot be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium."

Shapiro reiterated U.S. opposition to settlements -- a consistent U.S. policy under Democratic and Republican presidents -- but stressed that "we have been relentless and crystal clear in condemning terrorism and incitement; and we have been equally relentless in exercising our role in international fora -- including the Security Council - -to ensure that Israel's legitimacy and its right to defend its citizens are not impinged." 

Auschwitz or Sinai? Gershom Gorenberg writes that tragedy shouldn't be the defining feature of modern Judaism. Remember that the next time someone describes labeling "products from settlements as nearly the same as requiring Jews to wear yellow stars." Exploring similar themes, Avidan Halivni urges us to choose Sinai, not Auschwitz.

Surprised that Donald Trump sought Sarah Palin's endorsementMark Kirk sought her endorsement six years ago.

Not from Saturday Night Live. This is real: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) explains that he purchased a gun to defend his family from ISIS. When people tell you Trump and Cruz are unacceptable, don't let them forget that Rubio is not much different.

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