The following is a thought experiment: an attempt to understand the Iranian deal by way of logical speculation regarding the issues and facts as perceived by the Obama administration.

I am assuming that Obama is not a Marxist/Islamist/Kenyan, consumed by post-colonial resentment and dedicated to destroying the Constitution and the United States. Nor a Black Nationalist anti-Semite, whose most important priority regarding Iran is to screw Israel. I am assuming he is a patriotic American who desires to be a historically great President.

I believe he is unsentimental regarding Israel (neither pro nor hostile) – unlike Truman, Clinton and Bush II; more like Eisenhower and Bush I. I believe he thinks that starting a 3rd Middle East war with Iran would be criminally stupid and devastatingly harmful to the United States.

Obama became President during a period of radical global transition, internal economic crisis and external weakness deriving from two failed wars. It is a period of uncertainty and reinvention of national identity; analogous to the periods that Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman inherited. Whether history judges him as a Hoover or a Truman (or something in-between) remains to be seen. I personally am agnostic on the issue. I give him good marks on some things (recovery from the economic crises and health care) and bad marks on other things, especially his pathological refusal to name the primary 21st century enemy, which is, as British PM David Cameron said, “radical Islamist extremism”. I admire his poise in overlooking vicious ad-hominem attacks (some of which derive from residual racism) and deplore his refusal to “play politics” in the Reagan/Tip O’Neil tradition (which I believe has made his job unnecessarily more difficult).