Six months ago, the US sent $400 million in cash to Iran when four American hostages were released. In secret. Without telling Congress. President Obama claims it wasn't a ransom. Iran says otherwise. Ransom or not, it symbolises a worrying shift in US foreign policy.
The President says the $400 million was backdated payment for an arms deal made before the Shah was overthrown. But that seems pretty odd too. Why settle up now with the regime that forcibly overthrew him?
The cash looks all the more concerning in the context of the Iranian nuclear deal. In theory, that stops Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. In practice, not so much.
The deal lifted Western sanctions on Iran, worth billions of dollars. But the concessions in return were minimal. No destruction of centrifuges. No decommissioning of its plutonium reactor. Limited inspections.
Plus, it expires after 10 years. Not that the ayatollahs need that: Iran is already cheating according to German intelligence.
Yet none of this seems to concern the White House. Per Obama's chief foreign policy SpAd Ben Rhodes, the real achievement wasn't actually getting Iran to ditch its nuclear ambitions, but spinning the deal to the public.
The President seems to have pursued a policy of rapprochement with Iran no matter what. No matter its sponsorship of Hezbollah terrorism and Assad's genocide. No matter its avowed intention to destroy Israel. No matter its ruling regime's open and deep-seated hatred for the West, by which every American ally is a surrogate for the Great Satan.
The President tried the same approach with Putin: the Russian reset. The idea was that if America reaches out, peace follows. Events in Ukraine suggest otherwise.
As global policeman, the US hasn't always got things right – see Iraq and Vietnam. But in general it has been a positive force that kept rogue states in check.
Under Obama, it has retreated from that role. The question is: will that be a permanent shift, or a temporary holiday?
The next President will be either Obama's Secretary of State or an isolationist who seems to prefer the Kremlin to NATO. Either way, Pax Americana could be a thing of the past. Now we'll see how much we miss it.
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
Printed by Douglas Carswell of 61 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex