Obama's critics build strong cases for exit. . . .
Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accuses Team Obama of lying about the terms of the president's execrable nuclear deal, which I recently dissected (5:04) on Steve Malzberg's Newsmax show, and which in its studied ambiguity resembles the failed 1993 Oslo Accords (bet. Israel & Palestinians).
Charles Krauthammer sums up what a ghastly deal Obama/Kerry made, in light of Obama's having promised 28 times (3:06) that Iran would not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon. Of special import is CK's assessment re inspections, which are the heart of any effort to detect Iranian cheating in time to prevent breakout to a nuclear weapon:
The inspection promises are a farce. We haven’t even held the Iranians to their current obligation to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency on their previous nuclear activities. The IAEA charges Iran with stonewalling on 11 of 12 issues.
As [a] veteran nuclear expert . . . points out, that makes future verification impossible — how can you determine what’s been illegally changed or added if you have no baseline? Worse, there’s been no mention of the only verification regime with real teeth — at-will, unannounced visits to any facility, declared or undeclared....
The IAEA hasn’t been allowed to see the Parchin weaponization facility in 10 years. And the massive Fordow complex was disclosed not by the IAEA but by Iranian dissidents.
Yet even if violations are found, what then? First, they have to be certified by the IAEA. Which then reports to the United Nations, where Iran has the right to challenge the charge. Which then has to be considered, argued and adjudicated. Which then presumably goes to the Security Council where China, Russia and sundry anti-Western countries will act as Iran’s lawyers. . . .
Former diplomats Henry Kissinger & George Shultz detail the disastrous negotiation posture taken by Team Obama. And they, too, look askance as to inspections & enforcement:
In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue. The experience of Iran’s work on a heavy-water reactor during the “interim agreement” period—when suspect activity was identified but played down in the interest of a positive negotiating atmosphere—is not encouraging.
Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions.
When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? What process will be followed to resolve the matter swiftly?
The two former secretaries of state then look to the deal's implications for long-term deterrence & regional order:
Even when these issues are resolved, another set of problems emerges because the negotiating process has created its own realities. The interim agreement accepted Iranian enrichment; the new agreement makes it an integral part of the architecture. For the U.S., a decade-long restriction on Iran’s nuclear capacity is a possibly hopeful interlude. For Iran’s neighbors—who perceive their imperatives in terms of millennial rivalries—it is a dangerous prelude to an even more dangerous permanent fact of life. . . . Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.
If the Middle East is “proliferated” and becomes host to a plethora of nuclear-threshold states, several in mortal rivalry with each other, on what concept of nuclear deterrence or strategic stability will international security be based? Traditional theories of deterrence assumed a series of bilateral equations. Do we now envision an interlocking series of rivalries, with each new nuclear program counterbalancing others in the region?
Previous thinking on nuclear strategy also assumed the existence of stable state actors. Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common, the state structure is under assault, and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?
The authors note that an offer of American security umbrella carries less weight after than before the advent of a nuclear Iran. And as a result, geopolitical instability in the Mideast will increase:
For some, the greatest value in an agreement lies in the prospect of an end, or at least a moderation, of Iran’s 3½ decades of militant hostility to the West and established international institutions, and an opportunity to draw Iran into an effort to stabilize the Middle East...
But partnership in what task? Cooperation is not an exercise in good feeling; it presupposes congruent definitions of stability. There exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives. Iran’s representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order. . . .
Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony. They will increasingly look to create their own nuclear balances and, if necessary, call in other powers to sustain their integrity. Does America still hope to arrest the region’s trends toward sectarian upheaval, state collapse and the disequilibrium of power tilting toward Tehran, or do we now accept this as an irremediable aspect of the regional balance?
They conclude that an active American role is essential to containing Mideast instability.
Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina, ex-technology industry CEO, now seeking support for a run at the GOP presidential nomination, demolishes the Obama/Kerry negotiating style:
resident Obama’s perhaps gravest mistake is when he took a victory lap in the Rose Garden around this framework of a deal, because what he has signaled to the Iranians is he must have this deal at all costs. He not only was unwilling to ever walk away from the table, rule number one, if you want a good deal, walk away from the table at least once. Rule number two, never commit yourself publicly until you actually have the deal you want. And President Obama is now committed publicly. So my prediction is that unless Congress intervenes, which I desperately hope they will, what Iran is going to spend the next two months doing is making this deal, which is already very good for them, even better for them, because they now know that President Obama has committed the entire prestige of his office to getting this deal done. . . . This president is hopeless on negotiations from what I’ve observed over the past six years, and I think he really honestly believes that it is the eloquence of his presentation alone that will change minds and move hearts. And of course, he’s up against people who are prepared to take advantage of that sadly, you said it earlier, it’s an egocentric view of the world, and it’s not a realistic view of the world.
But George Will makes his case for containment--not convincing to me, but well worth reading. Will's argument is. in essence, that no rulers last forever, and that Iran's young demographics will eventually drive change:
Nothing is inevitable, but 10 years can be a long time in the life of a nation, especially when the regime is discordant with modernity: In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.
With nearly 80 million people (almost equal to Germany) and the world’s fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves, Iran is culturally ancient but demographically young. The median ages of Japan, the European Union, the United States and China are 45.5, 41.9, 37.3 and 35.1, respectively. Iran’s is 28. Fortunately, nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are flexing their conventional military muscles, a necessary precursor to a balance of power. However precarious it might be, such a balance is a start to containing Iran.
Dealing with Iran is disagreeable, but no more so than depending on Stalin’s Soviet Union as a World War II ally more important than all the other allies combined. Deterring a nuclear Iran might be even more problematic than deterring the Soviet Union was, depending on whether Iran’s theological intoxication is more than rhetorical. We are going to find out.
So battle lines are sharply drawn.
Bottom Line. For Obama to win congressional approval of a deal, he will have to give up very little in the coming round of talks. Critics might not yet be able to carry the day, but they have laid the foundation for blocking the deal if Obama & Kerry give away much more. One can but pray that the Iranians overreach, and that a rotten deal falls by the wayside.
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