Monday, August 10, 2015

After Losing – What’s Next?

      This title is intended to be provocative – to make the reader think, “Losing where? In Iraq? Syria? Afghanistan?  Africa? The Ukraine? The South China Sea? Against cybercrime? Against drug cartels? Economic competitors? Transnational criminals?”
     Wow. What a depressing list. I mention losing and you can name any of a dozen places and be right. But in this particular case, I am referring to our loss in the negotiations with Iran over their program to develop nuclear weapons. At the time of this writing, the matter is not finally decided. The President might win a supporting vote for the treaty in Congress, and he might not. The treaty might go into effect and it might not. It doesn’t matter. 
        As David Brooks point out in his insightful opinion piece titled “3 U.S. Defeats,” according to US officials, the US embarked upon negotiations with eight objectives. He lists them as:
1 Prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power;
2 Force Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure;
3 Eliminate its ability to enrich uranium;
4 Close a specific enrichment facility (Fordor);
5 Force an Iranian accounting of past nuclear activities;
6 Close the Iranian ballistic missile program;
7 Establish “anywhere, anytime 24/7” inspections of any remaining facilities;
8 Retain sanctions until Iran closes its bomb-making capabilities.
      Brooks points to a report by the Foreign Policy Initiative which explains these objectives in detail and concludes that in the final agreement as negotiated, none of these objectives are achieved.
      None. That is zero clear wins, and lots of clear losses on important issues.
       The President now tells us that our outcomes are reduced to two:
·         Accept the agreement as is (complete with secret side deals allowing Iran to evade all of the constraints); or
·         War.
And that war will be the fault of anyone who objects to his deal which leaves Iran holding all the chips and us holding all the IOUs. So rollover and shake for the Iranian lunatics, and groin shots for any domestic critics.  That there’s brilliant, folks. I don’t care who you are. (Apologies to Larry the Cable Guy)
      Now, there is an alternative explanation for this mess. The entire negotiation makes more sense if you believe that Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama were never really haggling over any of the eight points at all.  The pieces all fit together nicely if you believe they accepted from the start the idea that a nuclear armed Iran is inevitable, and this whole stage show was about convincing the “responsible parties” in Tehran that they could get more in the future by acting as a cooperating member of the world community than as a rogue state spurning global norms.
      That would explain a lot. It would be absolutely consistent with progressive philosophy toward the Arab Spring that supported the “inevitable” ouster of leaders we had worked with, to be replaced by “democracy” and “moderates” we could to nurture and influence. (The score on that one is zero wins as well.)  It would explain our side’s desperation to reach any negotiated solution much better than speculation about President Obama’s desire for a legacy. It would also mean one more loss for Obama, Kerry, and those still convinced that the sophisticated cosmopolitan elite can simply brush aside the rubes clinging to their god and their guns. (A pretty good description of the Iranian Mullahs, actually.)
      So now what?  Prepare for war.
      I don’t say this lightly. A nuclear exchange with an Iranian sponsored terrorist force would be a world changing event. There are things we can do to get ready. We need to do them now. I will address them in a future blog.
      The President says that if the treaty IS NOT approved, the alternative is war. His critics predict the same dire consequence if the treaty IS approved.  Somebody is wrong. The danger is that somebody may well be right.