Short-term agreement between Iran and six western powers on nukes
November 24, 2013 6:11 AM   Subscribe

In a six-month agreement, Iran will cap uranium enrichment at the 5% level, reduce its stockpile of already enriched uranium, and allow for more robust international inspections. In return, it will receive no new nuclear sanctions and "sanction relief" in the amount of $7 billion.

"At the end of six months, we may see another half step and six more months of negotiations — ad infinitum," said Gary Samore, a senior aide on nonproliferation issues on the National Security Council in Mr. Obama’s first term.
posted by pjenks (208 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.

I guess if you're going to bypass Congress to wage war then you should also bypass Congress to try and make peace.
posted by chavenet at 6:20 AM on November 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


bypass Congress ... peace

Danger Danger: This could trigger The Million Cronies March
posted by sammyo at 6:28 AM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]




Heh, well, yes, an Israel wanting anything less than war all the time (preferably fought by someone else) would be more shocking than Iran takjnf cautious steps into non-dickdom, so hoping for both would be a bit much.
posted by Artw at 6:42 AM on November 24, 2013 [36 favorites]


Benjamin Netanyahu: This is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake. Lifting the pressure, this "first step", might be the last step.

Benjamin Netanyahu: You want to see nukes? I'll show you effin' nukes.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:46 AM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


This could trigger The Million Cronies March

Invest in walkers now!
posted by srboisvert at 6:46 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


So say they're able to conceal an effectively unlimited amount of 5%-enriched uranium... how long does it take to reprocess that up to weapons-grade? And is that accomplished using the same centrifuges and other equipment used to refine the 5% stuff in the first place? Is this the situation Netanyahu has been complaining about, where Iran is left within "sprinting distance" of constructing weapons?

And are there any technological improvements on the horizon for the process of enriching uranium? I've always wondered if some nanotechnological approach will be possible eventually.

I've never really been so hot on the idea that we'll be able to perpetually keep Iran from developing nukes but it would be nice to know what kind of a lead time they'll need when the point comes that they really want them.
posted by XMLicious at 6:48 AM on November 24, 2013


AP: Agreement follows a series of secret high-level, face-to-face talks between the US and Iran over the past year.
posted by pjenks at 6:50 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, Iran's nuclear program has already damaged non-proliferation efforts. Because Iran seems/seemed likely to get nukes, Saudi Arabia was prompted to seek them as well.

BBC: Saudi nuclear weapons 'on order' from Pakistan'
posted by Jacob Knitig at 7:03 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


GOP sour on Iran deal. Well that's a shocker. Whodaguessed?
posted by octothorpe at 7:10 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


cautious steps into non-dickdom perfectly executed ploy to buy time and concessions
posted by Behemoth at 7:17 AM on November 24, 2013


“Amazing what [White House] will do to distract attention from O-care,” Cornyn tweeted Saturday night.

Christ, what an asshole.

You know what would *really* distract from Obamacare? Tehran with a nuclear capability.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:21 AM on November 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


I would like to see them execute this plot to the point of becoming a non-pariah state with good relations with the rest of the world.
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on November 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


“Amazing what [White House] will do to distract attention from O-care,” Cornyn tweeted Saturday night.

The party of personal self-parody.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:24 AM on November 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


cautious steps into non-dickdom perfectly executed ploy to buy time and concessions Just give it a chance, huh? The GOP will be back before you know it, and the GOP and Netanfuckinyahu can right all the wrongs then.
posted by de at 7:26 AM on November 24, 2013


Unfortunately, Iran's nuclear program has already damaged non-proliferation efforts. Because Iran seems/seemed likely to get nukes, Saudi Arabia was prompted to seek them as well.

I suspect that non-proliferation efforts were already damaged by Israel's nukes, including motivating Iran in the first place - "unfortunately".
posted by VikingSword at 7:29 AM on November 24, 2013 [30 favorites]


There has never been a diplomatic option for the GOP/Netanyahu faction. All their manuevering has been towards marching us to war. These men who waterboarded and murdered their enemies are not just going to sit back and let us have peace. I'm extremely worried about what these men will do.
posted by humanfont at 7:33 AM on November 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


I suspect that non-proliferation efforts were already damaged by Israel's nukes, including motivating Iran in the first place - "unfortunately".

Yep, that too.
posted by Jacob Knitig at 7:34 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


So this is what is reported to be the end result of the secret negotiations? A 6 month freeze? $7 billion now, 14 next year, 28 in 2015 and you get to develop weapons as you see fit once they remove the puppet figure. Makes you wonder what other secret meetings are taking place? North Korea must be next on the bucket list of Washington dictating terms to. Send in Dennis Rodman Cuba? Well I guess Jay-Z has that covered.
posted by brent at 7:38 AM on November 24, 2013


Wasn't the previous meeting in Geneva the first time an American official had met with an Iranian official in an official public capacity since the hostage crisis? I guess they were talking on the d/l.

Diplomacy is a weird game, y'all.
posted by dismas at 7:42 AM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


brent: "A 6 month freeze? $7 billion now, 14 next year, 28 in 2015 and you get to develop weapons as you see fit once they remove the puppet figure. "

I know you're just trolling, but, it's actually $7 billion now, then we verify that they've frozen their program so we can continue to negotiate. The alternative would be negotiating while they're actively developing their capability.

What's your alternative, smart guy?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:45 AM on November 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


North Korea's a fundamentally different barrel on nutso gibberish, I doubt anyone but China will see any progress there and China doesn't seem too keen to take responsibility.

America would have to take first steps on Cuba and that simply isn't happening. Thanks Florida!
posted by Artw at 7:46 AM on November 24, 2013


So say they're able to conceal an effectively unlimited amount of 5%-enriched uranium...

Why would we "say" that? The deal includes enhanced inspection and monitoring. I know the "Bomb bomb Iran" nuts like to claim that its easy as pie to hide nuclear materials from inspectors, but let's remember that they're mostly the same nuts who assured us that Iraq was "obviously" hiding nuclear materials from UN inspectors.
posted by yoink at 7:47 AM on November 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


yeah brent, wtf are you on about? did you actually read the links? And what does Jay-Z have to do with this?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:48 AM on November 24, 2013


White House fact sheet on the deal, showing key details about the deal, including the vast majority of the sanctions which remain in place:
  • Sanctions affecting crude oil sales will continue to impose pressure on Iran's government. Working with our international partners, we have cut Iran's oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd. That's a loss of more than $80 billion since the beginning of 2012 that Iran will never be able to recoup. Under this first step, the EU crude oil ban will remain in effect and Iran will be held to approximately 1 million bpd in sales, resulting in continuing lost sales worth an additional $4 billion per month, every month, going forward.
  • Sanctions affecting petroleum product exports to Iran, which result in billions of dollars of lost revenue, will remain in effect.
  • The vast majority of Iran's approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings remain inaccessible or restricted by our sanctions.
  • Other significant parts of our sanctions regime remain intact, including:
    • Sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and approximately two dozen other major Iranian banks and financial actors;
    • Secondary sanctions, pursuant to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) as amended and other laws, on banks that do business with U.S.-designated individuals and entities;
    • Sanctions on those who provide a broad range of other financial services to Iran, such as many types of insurance; and,
    • Restricted access to the U.S. financial system.
  • All sanctions on over 600 individuals and entities targeted for supporting Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile program remain in effect.

  • Sanctions on several sectors of Iran's economy, including shipping and shipbuilding, remain in effect.

  • Sanctions on long-term investment in and provision of technical services to Iran's energy sector remain in effect.

  • Sanctions on Iran's military program remain in effect.

  • Broad U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran remain in effect, depriving Iran of access to virtually all dealings with the world's biggest economy.

  • All UN Security Council sanctions remain in effect.

  • All of our targeted sanctions related to Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing role in the Syrian conflict, and its abysmal human rights record, among other concerns, remain in effect.

But, you know, DENNISRODMANJAYZJEREMIAHWRIGHTACORNBENGHAZI, so I guess Obama's Neville Chamberlain now.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:52 AM on November 24, 2013 [25 favorites]


I know the "Bomb bomb Iran" nuts like to claim that its easy as pie to hide nuclear materials from inspectors, but let's remember that they're mostly the same nuts who assured us that Iraq was "obviously" hiding nuclear materials from UN inspectors.

The world knows how to deal with the likes of Hans Brix.
posted by delfin at 7:52 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Iran has every right to enrich all the uranium they want. Weapons are not their only application. Medical isotopes and power generation also use them. The US enriches uranium; why shouldn't Iran?

Here in Canada, due to "non-proliferation" treaties, we can't enrich uranium. We mine a lot of uranium, we use a lot of enriched uranium (for entirely non-weapons uses), but we can't do the enriching here. Instead, we have to send our uranium to the States to be enriched, then have it shipped back. Then after we use the enriched uranium, we have to ship it back to the States so they can use it a little more. That's three cross-border shipments of of radioactive material. Gee, I'm sure we're all a lot safer for it.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:59 AM on November 24, 2013 [21 favorites]


So say they're able to conceal an effectively unlimited amount of 5%-enriched uranium... how long does it take to reprocess that up to weapons-grade?

Even assuming that the premise were true, refinement to powerplant purity means taking the uranium from 0.7% concentration of U235 to 5%, or about a seven-fold increase in concentration. Moving from that to weapons-grade means increasing the concentration to about 90% U235, another 18-fold step in concentration, so you should expect it not to be quick.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:01 AM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


“Amazing what [White House] will do to distract attention from O-care,” Cornyn tweeted Saturday night.

[insert Beavis-and-Butthead chuckle] "O-care"

If only the Affordable Care Act had more provisions for reproductive health.
[/derail]

posted by eviemath at 8:10 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Israel said to be working with Saudi Arabia on Iran strike plan (11/17)
Should a deal be reached at talks set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday, according to the diplomatic source, a military option would be back on the table. Saudi tactical support, in lieu of backup from the Pentagon, would be vital for a long-range mission targeting Iran’s nuclear program.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:10 AM on November 24, 2013


Iran has every right to enrich all the uranium they want.

sure, and we have every right to impose sanctions.
posted by jpe at 8:18 AM on November 24, 2013


sure, and we have every right to impose sanctions.

You certainly have every ability to impose sanctions, what with your huge stockpile of nuclear weapons to use as an "or else," but that's not really the same thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:20 AM on November 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Are you suggesting the US would attack with nuclear weapons a country breaking sanctions on Iran?!
posted by topynate at 8:23 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


@sys rq - is there some other standard of *right* in international military/political exchanges besides "might"?
posted by DGStieber at 8:25 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


srboisvert: "This could trigger The Million Cronies March

Invest in walkers now!
"

Koch brothers already did that. We had George WALKER Bush and Scott WALKER.
posted by symbioid at 8:25 AM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sys Rq: "Here in Canada, due to "non-proliferation" treaties, we can't enrich uranium. We mine a lot of uranium, we use a lot of enriched uranium (for entirely non-weapons uses), but we can't do the enriching here. "

Well isn't that rich.

Seriously though - I wonder if Iran is going to start taking the page out of N. Korea's playbook. A little nuclear blackmail to keep some extra funds rolling. It's still cheaper than a full on war, nobody has to die, and they get to keep their population and technology in general, growing. Obviously, Iran is a very different entity than North Korea, and doesn't have nearly the same issues regarding being a modern state (even if not a secular state).
posted by symbioid at 8:29 AM on November 24, 2013


"Benjamin Netanyahu: This is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake. Lifting the pressure, this "first step", might be the last step."

It must be awfully scary and frightening for a small-minded individual who is only politically relevant based on the perpetuation of unfounded fears to have others dismantle those fears, in the service of peace.
posted by markkraft at 8:34 AM on November 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


the ability and right to impose sanctions has nothing at all to do with military power. the ability to trade or to suspend trading with any other countries is a basic attribute of sovereignty.
posted by jpe at 8:35 AM on November 24, 2013


See also:
"I cannot stand him. He's a liar."
"You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day."

posted by markkraft at 8:36 AM on November 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


Arguing about 0.7% vs 5% vs 20% is totally missing the big point here.

Dismantling centrifuge cascades and opening up for inspections the sites where the centrifuges are built is huge. That, along with not commissioning the Arak reactor, are all major steps in limiting enrichment capability, which is much more important than the details of the current stockpile.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:38 AM on November 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


We could just sell everyone we like nuclear weapons, but design a way to retain the codes that detonate them. In the event they need them against an aggressor or as retaliation against a similar threat, we could say that they bypassed the codes, or just take credit for releasing the codes. And, assuming they can bypass the codes, we can argue this point and pretend they can't and have some deniability about arming anyone. This way everyone can pretend they are untouchable, but they still need to be nice, as we define nice.
posted by Brian B. at 8:49 AM on November 24, 2013


"Dismantling centrifuge cascades and opening up for inspections the sites where the centrifuges are built is huge."

It is a big thing, though it's pretty amazing how monitored Iran's enrichment program was throughout the entirety of this matter. The IAEA had extensive monitoring of Iranian enrichment going on, even during the most intractable days of this diplomatic impasse.

Ironically, the Stuxnet virus might actually have played a major role in reaching an agreement, in that it likely would've reported back to its originators just where and to what degree all of the enrichment activities were going on. Stuxnet could've provided the kind of hard evidence needed to show that Iran wasn't doing a complete end-run around inspectors, trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
posted by markkraft at 8:50 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


For those wondering how Iran got a nuclear program in the first place: Atoms for Peace
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


the ability and right to impose sanctions has nothing at all to do with military power. the ability to trade or to suspend trading with any other countries is a basic attribute of sovereignty.

The imposition of one nation's will on another is the opposite of sovereignty.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


There many nations involved Sys Rq. Many nations backed sanctions and were involved in the negotiation.
posted by dry white toast at 8:59 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


the ability to trade or to suspend trading with any other countries is a basic attribute of sovereignty.

I see that as Canada's enriched-uranium solution, too.
posted by de at 9:01 AM on November 24, 2013


If you really think one country refusing to engage in trade with another country is a violation of that latter country's sovereignty, then I'm afraid you just have a vastly different idea of the international system that has no relation to reality.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:04 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There many nations involved Sys Rq. Many nations backed sanctions and were involved in the negotiation.

Ah. So it's got nothing at all to do with sovereignty.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:09 AM on November 24, 2013


Why would we "say" that?

It's what's referred to as a hypothetical. If the government of my own country, the U.S., were to promise the world - indeed, even a double-dog pinkie swear like this - that there's no way at all they could accumulate or otherwise acquire large quantities of 5% enriched uranium that they're allowed to have, I wouldn't believe them for second and I would still want to at least understand what they could hypothetically do with it if they had it.

Like I said, I don't even really believe in trying to compulsively prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But I still want to understand the significance of the details of this agreement and why anyone would say that it's of substantial importance in achieving the stated objectives.
posted by XMLicious at 9:14 AM on November 24, 2013


The agreement seems to be very good news all round, and for Israel in particular.
posted by Segundus at 9:16 AM on November 24, 2013


I can't help but notice that a lot of people who think this is a bad idea also thought the Iraq War was a good idea. So, that's informative.
posted by mhoye at 9:21 AM on November 24, 2013 [26 favorites]


The agreement seems to be very good news all round, and for Israel in particular.

"Is this agreement actually good for Israel" always has the same answer as "Does Netanyahu hate it."
posted by delfin at 9:24 AM on November 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


GOP sour on Iran deal. Well that's a shocker. Whodaguessed?

John Kerry said virtually the same thing after the announcement: "Gee, you mean the members of the other party are criticizing the president? I can't imagine that."
posted by the_bone at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]




So... once more, the behind-the-scenes work between Kerry and Lavrov is paying major dividends, proving that the US and Russia have a lot of common interests, even though they both have a common interest in not letting their close working relationship run afoul of their own people's general distrust of each other.

I actually feel pretty okay about the US and Russia sitting down and deciding how to put the genies of the last century back in their respective bottles... and frankly, they're doing a pretty productive job of it.

In the midst of all these negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, there were also talks between Syrian peace envoys and Iran... something that Kerry and Lavrov are also working on.

Right now, it appears peace talks over Syria are going to happen around mid December, though there are signs that Assad is trying to gain more of a military advantage prior to negotiations. Obviously, Russia's take on Syria is more pro-Assad than the US', but the question, really, is whether Assad will have to go, and, if so, how.
posted by markkraft at 9:27 AM on November 24, 2013 [13 favorites]




Once AGAIN, the events foretold by Revelations are being prevented from occurring by peacemongers. I weep for America.
posted by Renoroc at 10:02 AM on November 24, 2013 [27 favorites]


"For Obama, Iran Talks Are Also About Testing the Limits of American Jewish Power, by Lee Smith"

Wow. This article isn't biased. Nosiree! I love how he says "During a Senate briefing last week, Sec. of State John Kerry effectively called the Israelis liars", citing Republican Sen. Mark Kirk advising him him to “disbelieve everything that the Israelis had just told [us].”

Nevermind the fact that Sen. Kirk's quote comes from a closed-door intelligence briefing on Iran that he called "fairly anti-Israeli. I was supposed to disbelieve everything the Israelis had just told me, and I think the Israelis probably have a pretty good intelligence service," according to Kirk's earlier statements.

Of course, Kerry did not tell Kirk that the Israelis were liars at all. Rather, he had intelligence experts present what they knew of the situation, while summarizing the White House's efforts and goals for the negotiations. Kirk's problem was that the information presented by the US' intelligence services had entirely different findings than that of Israel.

IOW, Sen. Kirk felt that an actual intelligence briefing from US intelligence services was "anti-Israeli" because the intelligence presented from the world's largest, most all knowing, all-consuming intelligence service basically disagreed with the intel selectively given to him from a foreign nation with a biased position on the matter.

Gee... I wonder what it would take to make an American less loyal to his own country than to someone else's...?
posted by markkraft at 10:05 AM on November 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


My son's in the Army. My reaction to this is Hell Yes! We should lift sanctions briefly, on a humanitarian basis, just to thank Iran for coming to the table.

I'm annoyed that the Obama administration screwed up the ACA rollout, and that he groveled about it (it's not like he stood in front of a big Mission Accomplished banner), and really annoyed that my team can't work the news as well as the other guys do, tanking Obama's ratings and potentially harming chances for the next non-GOP presidential candidate. but for crying out loud, Obama has been hard-working and effective, especially in light of one of the most obstructionist Congresses of all time (I suck at history - feel free to correct). Halliburton/KBR, Northrop Grumman, CACI, and the rest of the gang must be pissed. They'll try harder to buy the next elections.
posted by theora55 at 10:23 AM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I still don't get the downside of a nuclear armed Iran. It's a stable nation, it's warmongering rhetoric is just bluster.

A nuclear Iran might well curb the sense of entitlement Israel has about bombing neighboring countries. Mutually assured destruction might well get the region to calm down a bit.

Plus, it would weaken America, which to me is a good thing. The less effective our imperialist maneuvering gets, the more support for isolationism grows, and that too, is a good thing.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2013


Israel doesn't want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Iran probably does not want Israel to have nuclear weapons.

There is an obvious alternative to this latest agreement. If critics were bothered by the substance of the agreement rather than its signatories, they would be discussing that alternative. They are not.
posted by compartment at 10:58 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile Chuck Schumer is tied in knots. So predictable.
posted by spitbull at 10:59 AM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isolationism is not a good thing. I guess I can understand and sort of agree with other sentiment of a less powerful US, at least when it comes to military related concerns, but the counter to that is not just giving nukes to any 'stable' country and sitting back and watch the peace roll over the globe.
Fundamentally, the more of something there is, and the longer it exists the more likely it is to be used, even if it is in the hands of 'stable' adults. Only we are not talking about handguns which have sorrowful but realitivly limited consequences, but weapons that kill whole cities and have long-term posinious results.
I totally get why nations want nukes, it's the same argument as indivduals wanting a gun, doesn't mean I think it's a great/good/OK idea, especially for nations
posted by edgeways at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


See also:
"I cannot stand him. He's a liar."
"You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day."


Last night i watched a PBS documentary about the WWII africa campaigns and the relations between Churchill and FDR were not much different. It took 6 months of negotiation to even partially agree on a strategy against common enemies in the middle of a world war and even then they were still constantly stabbing each other the back when they felt they could.

Allies are just enemies whose interests just seem temporarily aligned.
posted by srboisvert at 11:18 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"[...] I was supposed to disbelieve everything the Israelis had just told me, and I think the Israelis probably have a pretty good intelligence service," according to Kirk's earlier statements.

That's actually kind of hilarious that a senator is willing to believe a foreign intelligence agency. I mean, it would be hilarious, if it wasn't grossly incompetent and dangerous. Like, if we were playing Family Feud, and the question was "Which organization is most likely to lie and mislead me", I'm definitely going with "Intelligence Agencies of Foreign Countries".
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:02 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Followed by your own intelligence agency as an extremely close second.

Isolationism is not a good thing.

And just so we are clear....not going to war and bombing other countries does not equal isolationism. I have spoken to a whole lot of my liberal friends (who wanted to go to war with Syria because that is what Obama and Kerry initially wanted us to do once that red line was crossed) who accused me of being an isolationist because I didn't want war. I hope we are seeing a rebirth of good old fashioned hard core diplomacy as a viable alternative to war. That seemed to fall out of fashion with the rise of the neocons and their liberal interventionist supporters (see Iraq). Hopefully Iran will be the type section of how to avoid war. But it won't surprise me one bit if Israel cobbles together a plan with some of Iran's other enemies to start a war anyway. And then what will be do if that happens? I still have a bad feeling about this.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:06 PM on November 24, 2013


If the Iranians are as smart as I think they are, they will abide by this agreement, and not develop nukes. Why? Because breaking the agreement would trigger real upset with Obama and his party in the short-term, hurting chances for a Dem victory in 2014/2016 and ushering in more hawkish GOP policies; more sanctions; etc. etc.

Also, don't think for a minute that Israel would be "on its own" if it attacked Iran. Don't think for a minute that the Pentagon and our State department are not kept informed at all times about what is happening so that we can crank up the PR machine to "show appropriate displeasure" with any Israeli move that runs counter to our stated policies. Last, this might hurt the Dems in 2016 if *anything* goes wrong with the deal.

The Iranian people slowly getting fed up with the regime. Iranians are - ironically - more similar to Americans than any of their Muslim neighbors; they are educated and ambitious, but stuck with the like of powerful religious nutcases. I sure hope this works, because another war in that region is the last thing we need.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:12 PM on November 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


this is just a preliminary agreement, in six months the US is going to have to choose between leaving Syria to the Assads and relaxing sanctions further and the collapse of the preliminary agreement. Because... Iran is not going to let Syria fall to Salafi rebels funded by Saudi Arabia and it's not going to agree to permanently suspend it's nuclear program without a clear path out of the sanctions regime.

and in six months, the US will be approaching the beginning of presidential elections season and will be in the heat of congressional elections. Unless Obama is actually a secret muslim, a secret Shia muslim, I would bet that this agreement is the closest to peace we are going to get.

the problem with all of this is that an Iran let out of the box is an existential threat to Saudi Arabia. Unless the US is really prepared to turn it's back on it's alliance with the Saud family there is no constituency in normal US politics for peace with Iran. the issue with Iran isn't Israel, it's Saudi Arabia.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:18 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another BBC piece: Analysis: Iran deal limited but important
Iran is to a large extent freezing any further progress in its nuclear activities but many of its centrifuge cascades have not been operational; it has actually been limiting its enrichment work for whatever reason for some time; and the Arak facility is still some way from being operational.

So Iran is not giving up a lot, nor is it gaining a lot.

The major powers have got agreement from Tehran for much more intrusive verification and inspection - this could be vital if any comprehensive deal is to stick.
posted by XMLicious at 1:46 PM on November 24, 2013


The cost of separating 235U depends on the concentration you start with, as well as the amount you're willing to leave in the waste. The work it takes is measured in "Separation Work Units", the cost of which depends on the efficiency of your process. You can read about uranium separation here, and there's a handy calculator here.

I ran some calculations, supposing that the waste level (the amount of 235U we are willing to leave in the waste) in the first stage was .2%, and the waste level for each higher stage is equal to the input level for the stage before.

Producing 5% 235U enriched uranium from .711% natural uranium = 8.851kgSWU
Producing 20% 235U enriched uranium from 5% enriched uranium = 5.942kgSWU
Producing 90% 235U enriched uranium from 20% enriched uranium = 9.411kgSWU

So according to this naive calculation, the first and last stages take roughly the same amount of SWUs, and the second stage only takes around 2/3 as much. But, if you re-run the calculation assuming that they're "sprinting" and accepting a higher level of waste in the last stage (15%, but it doesn't get thrown away, it just needs to be refined again) then the last stage only takes 6.28kgSWU. You can bring that down a bit more by accepting even higher levels of waste, but you get diminishing returns. Also, there are undoubtedly efficiencies available by running the separation in series rather than distinct stages, but I have no idea how that would work.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:39 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously though - I wonder if Iran is going to start taking the page out of N. Korea's playbook.

They are really, really not comparable in almost any way - despite Bush's clumsy 'axid of evil'. Radically different countries with hugely different power structures, diplomatic relationships, demographic and geographical differences, etc.

What works for North Korea would not work for Iran, and vice versa, for a host of different reasons.
posted by smoke at 2:40 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


this is just a preliminary agreement, in six months the US is going to have to choose between leaving Syria to the Assads and relaxing sanctions further and the collapse of the preliminary agreement.

We left Syria already so this won't be a problem.
posted by humanfont at 5:44 PM on November 24, 2013


I've been wondering.

Given that:

1. Iran claims it wants to enrich uranium to run a reactor, not to build nuclear weapons.
2. Thorium can run a nuclear power plant, but can't be turned into nuclear bombs.
3. We're giving Iran $7 billion in aid to keep them from enriching uranium to build nukes.

Why not give Iran some assistance in developing a thorium reactor?

Canada has what's called a CANDU reactor that can run on Thorium. It cost between 5 and 6 billion dollars.

The $7 billion could have gone to something like that. Or future efforts could. I don't know why Thorium isn't even on the table.
posted by Jacob Knitig at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2013


Oh yeah, and:

4. Thorium is far more abundant than uranium.

(correction: turns out Canada's CANDU reactor was much more expensive than I said. Still worth exploring, I think.)
posted by Jacob Knitig at 6:56 PM on November 24, 2013


this is just a preliminary agreement, in six months the US is going to have to choose between leaving Syria to the Assads and relaxing sanctions further and the collapse of the preliminary agreement.

Well, if turns out that the US can deal with the Iranians, leaving Iranian allies in place in Syria sort of looks like a more attractive deal than the alternative anyway; you would at least hope that Foggy Bottom and Langley have learned their lesson about propping up Salafist insurgencies by now. I agree with humanfont that the decision to leave well enough alone with the Assads has already been made, anyway.

I wish Netanyahu would just shut up. Even a flawed peace deal wouldn't do half as much to build Iran up as a regional power as his psychotic BFFs in the Weekly Standard set did when they accidentally kicked Iraq into to the Iranian sphere of influence with their idiotic war.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:27 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone seriously believes that Iran's principal goal is to produce nuclear power/medical isotopes/non-weaponised material. Iran is a member of the IAEA and the whole idea of membership in that organisation is that you get assistance with all of the above, as long as you agree to refrain from weapon development. The principal reason people are concerned about Iran's program is that the bulk of it has been run as part of their military program. This, incidentally, was explicitly given as their reason for prohibiting IAEA inspection of presumed nuclear sites.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on November 24, 2013


Why not give Iran some assistance in developing a thorium reactor?

Because you have to sell the agreement to a large segment of the American population and its political leaders many of whom are not nearly as smart as you. There are also those who will oppose any agreement to win an election and others who want no agreement because they want to go to war. Meanwhile to the Iranians some unproven technology that might never exist offered in the form of some ambiguous research partnership or promise of future technology transfer should the technology ever mature is pretty worthless. They would be giving up an actual function nuclear power program for some easily revoked promise. If thorium research is part of the agreement it would be offered by the Chinese, quietly and because the Iranians asked for it.
posted by humanfont at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2013


I asked a question about thorium reactors once in a forum where someone was able to offer the following reason why thorium is not actively developed, despite thorium being a more plentiful fuel:
There are numerous different reasons. Thorium proponents often gloss over a lot of the difficulties of the system, leading to a false sense of how easy it would be to make such reactors. One of the biggest problems is that a Thorium reactor is actually a U-233 reactor, which is bred from the Thorium, and U-233 is not so easy to work with. It emits a huge amount of gamma radiation, which is highly penetrating and dangerous for human life.

To work with U-235 or Plutonium you only need a glove box, but to work with U-233 you cannot have humans physically close to the material, you need waldos and closed circuit cameras and so forth. This naturally increases the cost of working with the fuel. But wait, it gets worse. As I said, gamma radiation is highly penetrating and heavily ionizing, which means that it damages delicate materials quite easily. Especially seals, made out of rubber or silicone or what-have-you, and electronics. This makes fuel cycle handling hugely challenging and also makes reactor construction rather challenging as well.

Now, likely we could overcome these problems but they are nevertheless huge problems.

One of the big reasons why Uranium/Plutonium reactors have caught on is because you can use 1950s technology to build reactors and process fuel. That's not the case with Thorium/U-233. (from here)
I'm not saying that's the last word on thorium reactors, but it's not as easy as proponents make it sound, and doesn't really sidestep the issue of producing something that could be turned into a nuclear bomb.
posted by fatbird at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Region will lose sleep over Iran deal -Saudi adviser
People in the Middle East will lose sleep over a nuclear deal between global powers and Iran, a Saudi foreign policy adviser said on Sunday, signalling the deep unease Sunni Muslim Gulf states have over Western rapprochement with their Shi'ite foe.
[...]
In the hours before Sunday's deal was sealed, Gulf Arab leaders, including Saudi King Abdullah and the rulers of Qatar and Kuwait, met late on Saturday night to discuss "issues of interest to the three nations".
The part I found most interesting was at the end of the article:
Askar said that if the deal did not succeed in preventing Iran from building a bomb, Saudi Arabia and other countries would probably seek one too.

"I think Saudi Arabia will go ahead if Iran goes ahead [and gets a nuclear weapon]. I think Egypt, maybe Turkey, Saudi Arabia, maybe the Emirates, would go ahead and acquire the same technology. This will open the door widely to weaponisation."
There are reports from other sources that Saudi Arabia has actually purchased nuclear weapons from Pakistan, although they may not yet have been physically delivered. Those reports are funny, in a sad way, when you consider them in the light of the majority viewpoint in this thread: Israel has allegedly had nuclear weapons for forty years, and none of these countries have acquired nuclear weapons. Iran has started to develop a nuclear weapons program and behold! the Gulf nations are terrified.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:34 PM on November 24, 2013


I wish Netanyahu would just shut up.

Kerry and Lavrov appear to have all bases covered; there'd be a contingency plan in the event Netanyahu does something aggressive between now and 2016. I love that Kerry and Lavrov are wining and dining their way around the fine cities of Europe, choosing to travel in the same car. Mandating. Kerry speaks a few European languages. Just brilliant.

And I wouldn't mind betting the end game is to march WMD right on out of Israel before the next US election, anyway. Can't wait. Let Netanyahu rant and rave. He's trumped.
posted by de at 8:35 PM on November 24, 2013


Jacob Knitig: "We're giving Iran $7 billion in aid to keep them from enriching uranium to build nukes."

The US isn't giving Iran $7B in aid, it's not costing the US anything. What they are doing is agreeing to lift a relatively small part of Iran's economic sanctions that has essentially isolated Iran from the global community. In simple terms, all this agreement is saying is "Hey, you can sell $7B of oil to the world over the next six months".
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:02 PM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Israel Increasingly Courting China as an Ally
This push comes at a time when Chinese-Israeli relations are ripe for renewal. Even before the two nations established formal diplomatic ties in 1992, Israel was giving China access to its most lucrative industry: weapons. Israel soon became China’s second-largest arms supplier, but relations collapsed in 2000 when the United States forced Israel to cancel a billion dollar sale to China of its Phalcon early warning aircraft systems. A few years later, Israel agreed to American demands to cease selling arms to China.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2013


Oh, and here's a report on the Saudi nukes: Saudi nuclear weapons 'on order' from Pakistan

Seriously, the Middle East is going to hell in a hand-basket, and I blame it all on Bush Senior. The US Ambassador to Iraq arguably gave Saddam a green light to attack Kuwait, and when the USA subsequently attacked Iraq it didn't remove Saddam from power, but left him dangling. This looks to me as though they were deliberately playing countries off against each other so they could benefit from the resulting chaos. Then the USA tortured Iraq for years before finally going in, removing Saddam, and firing madly in all directions.

Simultaneously and subsequently the USA decided that a bunch of hairy goatherders in Afghanistan were their mortal enemies and that Pakistan was the USA's BFF. It started randomly bombing huts in the former while turning the latter into a banana republic (or whatever the Eurasian equivalent is). Except in this case the dominant industry wasn't bananas, it was mercenaries. The amount spent on these exercises was literally incalculable, so the USA is physically and morally weakened while its enemies are emboldened. And these are often people who were either friendly or mostly-oblivious to the USA before!

Well, we now have a simmering revolution in Egypt and a hot one in Syria (with no prospect for an end to either); the ground has been laid for a truly massive religious war between Sunni and Shiite forces across the Middle East; the USA's most serious allies in the region (Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia) feel seriously betrayed; and at least two Gulf nations are going nuclear.

Mission accomplished.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:57 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea, hopefully a syrian resolution can come from an iranian rapprochement; it's one of the reasons i voted for obama! (the other being supreme court nominations ;)

i guess the other angles i'm wondering about are israel's nukes and nuclear latency (the ability to 'fast track' nuclear weapon capabilities -- build a bomb when you need one -- like it's been talked about wrt japan, s.korea & taiwan); also btw, re: stuxnet

oh and...
-President Obama Makes a Statement on Iran
-The Liberal Reagan

the Middle East is going to hell in a hand-basket

_so far_ the cold war ended well and even the 'other' I/P conflict (sharing a border and not separated by oceans) has not resulted in a nuclear exchange; what do you think this says about humanity?
posted by kliuless at 10:20 PM on November 24, 2013


I guess I have to take it all back. President Obama is a genius. Read this article to see the magnitude of his accomplishment:
Israeli officials knew they were being kept in the dark as the U.S. conducted secret talks with Iran, and the knowledge that the White House was “going behind Israel’s back” was one of the key sources of tension between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, according to a senior Israeli minister and other Israeli officials.

“We did not know from the beginning, but we knew, we had intelligence that these meetings were happening,” said the Israeli minister, who spoke to BuzzFeed by phone from his Jerusalem office. He said that a “friend in the Gulf” shared intelligence with Israel that the meetings were taking place, and urged Israel to find out more. “I would like to say we knew the content of the talks, but we didn’t. What we knew was that the U.S. was choosing not to tell us about them and that was very worrying.”

That “friend,” one foreign ministry official said, was Saudi Arabia
President Obama has not only got Israel and Saudi Arabia talking (which is a pretty big effing deal in itself) but they now consider each other to be friends. Nine dimensional chess, indeed. Next: Obama blows up a hospital, thereby curing cancer.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


If Israel wants a war, why the hell don't they just go ahead and start a war. On the other hand if they want peace they should attempt some negotiations with at least somebody besides Jewish settlers.
posted by JJ86 at 4:31 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think what markkraft is getting at is more like "preferring the self-serving analysis and policy of another country that's openly trying to influence you, in contrast to your own country's analysis and policy." And his link indicates that it's not loyalty to Israel, it's loyalty to the big donor.
posted by fatbird at 7:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


zarq: "Being "pro-Israel" means you're not a loyal American, now?"

That's a ridiculously uncharitable interpretation of markkraft's comment.

Do you think the pro-Israel lobby is paying all of those politicians six and seven figures to not lobby for Israel's interests?

It possible for Israel's interests to diverge from America's interests to the point that the legislators would have a significant reason to vote against America's interests?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2013


If Israel wants a war, why the hell don't they just go ahead and start a war. On the other hand if they want peace they should attempt some negotiations with at least somebody besides Jewish settlers.

Because they can't win a general war in the middle east vs the 9-15 countries that hate their guts, at least not without American support, or using their poorly hidden nuclear stockpile. Which is why Bibi wants to manipulate the US into aggression again, the more countries the US invades, the less Israel has to worry about.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:55 AM on November 25, 2013


Mod note: Comment removed, either try not to actively make the thread worse or go for a walk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2013


tonycpsu: " Do you think the pro-Israel lobby is paying all of those politicians six and seven figures to not lobby for Israel's interests?"

Lobbying for a particular interest or accepting lobbyist money does not make a group "UnAmerican." Which is what he is (hyperbolically) accusing the politicians on that list of.

Lobbyist money *may* present a conflict of interest. Which is not the same thing as engaging in treason.
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2013


zarq: " Lobbying for a particular interest or accepting lobbyist money does not make a group "UnAmerican." Which is what he is (hyperbolically) accusing the politicians on that list of. "

If you'd like to make your case against the point that was actually made, then please do, but anyone with a working search feature in their browser can see that all you've done so far is argue against your own straw man.

The actual statement markkraft made was about the possibility that money from foreign interests might make those who receive the money less loyal, not "UnAmerican" or "treason" (words that only you have brought into the conversation.)

Come on, you can do better than this.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:12 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


tonycpsu: " It possible for Israel's interests to diverge from America's interests to the point that the legislators would have a significant reason to vote against America's interests?"

Of course. But it seems apparent that there are a significant number of American politicians who believe that we have a vested interest in protecting Israel.

It's easy to accuse politicians who support Israel of being disloyal. It's easy to blame the lobby. Harder to ask deeper questions regarding what those politicians believe regarding Israel and why. There are complicated reasons why this country has historically protected Israel, and quite a few of them are not centered around the lobby.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on November 25, 2013


tonycpsu: " Come on, you can do better than this."

I stand by my interpretation of his comment. In this case, "less loyal" means going against America's interests.
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


zarq: "I stand by my interpretation of his comment. "

Then we're done here. I refuse to do this with someone who's clearly not arguing in good faith.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:15 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aufedersein
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2013


There are complicated reasons why this country has historically protected Israel, and quite a few of them are not centered around the lobby.

This is my area of expertise. I have advanced theories as to why the cultural landscape of postwar America was primed for the Israel lobby to become entrenched and exert influence on US Foreign Policy. The bottom line, from my own work and the work of other scholars, is that the cultural landscape of the US enabled the israel lobby to become as powerful as it is today. And you simply cannot explain US foreign policy toward israel without reference the lobby--it is the single most determinate factor and explains the vast majority of state behavior in that arena.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:22 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


tonycpsu, markkraft has a tendency to frame news related to Israel in the worst possible terms. Which is of course his right, but it's a pattern of bias that many of us who follow these threads have noticed and commented on in MeTa. He has a history on this site of making hyperbolic accusations about Israel or Israelis, often without including appropriate context.

I'm really not interested in debating semantics with you over whether an accusation of disloyalty (or lack of loyalty, or less loyalty) is also an accusation of treason. His intent seems obvious to me and that is what I am responding to. If it doesn't to you, that's fine. But yes, I'm both arguing in good faith and responding to what I actually think of his comment.
posted by zarq at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2013


Israel Increasingly Courting China as an Ally

Heh. Can't really see China putting up with Israel's shit in the same way.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "And you simply cannot explain US foreign policy toward israel without reference the lobby

I am not saying it should be dismissed completely. I am saying that the situation is complicated and that needs to be acknowledged.

US foreign policy towards Israel is also tied up in a number of other factors, including the religious beliefs of the Christian evangelicals (and the politicians that represent them) in this country who feel that the survival of Israel as a Jewish state is important to prophecy. It is tied up in American attitudes towards Muslims and Arabs, which have never been particularly positive. It is tied up in American attitudes towards terrorism. It is to some extent also tied up in a sense of guilt regarding the isolationism of America during the Holocaust, which has been perpetuated in part by a long-term campaign led by Jews and continued by both Jews and non-Jews to make sure that awareness of the genocide is not forgotten.

In addition, Israel was for many years considered the only democracy in the region. Which mattered politically when America was aggressively promoting and outsourcing democracy and viewing anything else with deep mistrust. Of course, Kuwait, Morocco, Lebanon and Turkey are now also democracies, so this reasoning has faded over time.

-it is the single most determinate factor and explains the vast majority of state behavior in that arena."

Perhaps. That doesn't mean the others should be wholly ignored as if they don't exist. And focusing solely on the lobby creates an overly simplified and inaccurate view of the situation.
posted by zarq at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2013


Heh. Can't really see China putting up with Israel's shit in the same way.

China certainly puts up with a lot of shit from North Korea
posted by edgeways at 10:02 AM on November 25, 2013


ok its complicated and that needs to be acknowledged and there are of course other factors.

Now that is overwith, we can go back to saying that the lobby is the most important factor in US-Israeli relations.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:07 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have trouble seriously evaluating the objections to this agreement because the main spokesman in the press for those opposed has been Prime Minister Netanyahu. He has been so hostile to the Obama Administration (to the point of clumsily trying to influence the U.S. election) and so uninterested in anything other than an attack on Iran that I find myself skimming over his specific objections. Hearing that Netanyahu criticized the deal is like hearing that the House Republicans disagreed with the White House. It says nothing about the merits.
posted by Area Man at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah it is definitely weird when the leadership of Iran comes across as more stable then the leader of Israel.
posted by edgeways at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2013


If Israel wants a war, why the hell don't they just go ahead and start a war.

This is something I'm by no means an expert in, but from some reading of their aircraft inventory and their range vs. what is required for reasonably-sized air strikes, my suspicion is they don't actually have the capability to do much at the long range required to strike Iran. This is particularly the case as most of the countries along the route are certain to deny them overflight. They've in the past resorted to deception when overflying Saudi Arabia for small operations, but I'm sure that's much harder at scale. By the numbers, Israel has ~450 F-15/F-16's total and ~10 tankers. Compared to the first gulf war, where something like 2000 sorties were flown in the very first day.

This is all my unknowledgable estimating though, so I'm sure someone else knows more about this.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:54 AM on November 25, 2013


This is particularly the case as most of the countries along the route are certain to deny them overflight. They've in the past resorted to deception when overflying Saudi Arabia for small operations, but I'm sure that's much harder at scale.

The NYT reported a while ago that the Saudis and the Israelis have been in talks in which the Saudis would turn a blind eye to Israeli overflight for a preemptive strike on Iran. Both nations deny it (but they would, wouldn't they?). My guess is that the strongest thing holding both Iran and the Saudis back at this point is not wanting to so completely poke the US in the eye. Of course they know that there'd be a pretty large US contingency that would cheer them on, but while the Republicans in Congress would probably be deliriously happy at Obama's discomfiture, there'd be genuine damage done to US-Israel relations which would persist beyond 2016. That's not to say that Israel won't go down this road eventually, of course.
posted by yoink at 11:01 AM on November 25, 2013


I am (almost certainly) in the minority of people who thinks that Netanyahu has played this perfectly.

I am not the first to draw attention the 'good-cop bad-cop' dynamic between the US and Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue, but I would go as far to say that personally I have never thought Israel wanted to strike (or have the US strike) Iran at all. Even a US-led strike couldn't prevent Iran from getting the bomb, only delay it by years (maybe a decade).

Both Israel and the US have been involved in a long shadow-war with Iran, and either heavy sanctions on Iran or a nuclear-deal is a win-win for both the US and Israel.

Without the deal Iran was being smothered by being cut off from oil markets and other financial instruments - something the USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia certainly wanted. And with a deal Iran's nuclear program is curtailed, something that has the potential to bring about a new chapter in American-Iranian relations, especially when coupled with an opening of the regime or even a new regime would be welcome to both Israel and SA.

All the saber rattling did what it was designed to do: force everyone to the table. I am pretty certain even though Israel may not publicly love certain aspects of this deal, it is only happening at all because of the consistency and volume of the Israeli klaxons.

-------

tonycpsu: " Come on, you can do better than this."

I stand by my interpretation of his comment. In this case, "less loyal" means going against America's interests.
posted by zarq


I am going to have to agree with Zarq on this one. The hairsplitting markkraft and tonycpsu seem to be doing by saying "I didn't claim pro-Israel US citizens are disloyal, only less loyal than 'true, regular' US citizens" is pretty disgusting, and seems all to often to get a pass here on MeFi.
posted by rosswald at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


my suspicion is they don't actually have the capability to do much at the long range required to strike Iran

...and at the end of that long range they have to tangle with the IRIAF, who have a fair number of solid planes and where at least the leadership is likely to have active combat experience against the Iraqis. And with what looks like an air defense network I wouldn't want to fuck with without sending in a whole crapton of stealthed ground-attack or other wild-weasel-equivalent strikes first.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:58 AM on November 25, 2013


saying "I didn't claim pro-Israel US citizens are disloyal, only less loyal than 'true, regular' US citizens" is pretty disgusting

This isn't what they're claiming. They're observing that the congressperson in question is both pro-X and has X as their largest donor, which raises the obvious question about whether they're simply paid lobbyists rather than representatives. When Disney showers congresspeople with money and those reps turn around and vote to extend the copyright on Mickey Mouse by another 20 years; when a reprentative like Chris Dodd leaves office after many years of trying to pass the MPAA's legislation, only to head up the MPAA immediately on re-entering the private sector--we have no problem connecting the money to the actions and questioning their loyalty then. Why is it suddenly bigotry when the wallet belongs to another country rather than a Fortune 100 or an industry lobbying effort?
posted by fatbird at 1:06 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe I am ignorant, but I tend not to hear people talk about congresspeople swayed by the NRA or RIAA or whatever as having their loyalty or patriotism questioned, just their ethics.
posted by rosswald at 1:41 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you act as the paid agent of a foreign government, then it's exactly your loyalty or patriotism that gets questioned. That's pretty much what loyalty to one's country is, at least for someone who's whole job just is to be part of the running of their country, and not another.

I understand that there's a difficult history in the U.S. of how "loyalty" has been used as a partisan weapon, and how people suffered from McCarthyite purges. "Loyalty" and "patriotism" are not meaningless because of that.
posted by fatbird at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you act as the paid agent of a foreign government

This language is, to me, inflammatory. Whatever - I don't think we are going to solve this here.
posted by rosswald at 1:56 PM on November 25, 2013


It was not my intent to be inflammatory, and I apologize for being so.
posted by fatbird at 1:58 PM on November 25, 2013


I just don't think I have ever heard of congressperson who received money from a Mexican lobbying group, or an Indonesian group as an 'agent of a foreign government' etc.
posted by rosswald at 2:02 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


rosswald: " I am going to have to agree with Zarq on this one. The hairsplitting markkraft and tonycpsu seem to be doing by saying "I didn't claim pro-Israel US citizens are disloyal, only less loyal than 'true, regular' US citizens" is pretty disgusting, and seems all to often to get a pass here on MeFi."

This is a shameful attempt to put words in my mouth. For one thing, markkraft has his ideas, and I have mine. I rose to defend what I saw as an unjust interpretation of markkraft's comments, not to weigh in one way or another on the substance of those comments. And, if you'll notice, zarq was compelled to admit that he was basing his response not on what markkraft actually said in this thread, but his interpretation of what he really meant in this thread, based on their previous interactions.

Now, maybe if I knew the history behind all of this I'd have responded differently, but trying to argue with what you think someone really thinks instead of what they're saying is a recipe for a bad discussion. I understand that people are sometimes coy in their responses, but if you're objecting based on what you think someone's actually saying, it's best to be explicit about where you think they're actually coming from and that you're reading between the lines of what they're now saying.

On preview, in addition to echoing what fatbird said, I think it's important to emphasize that we're not talking about a regular U.S. citizen here, we're talking about a Senator who's making important calls with respect to what intelligence to believe, what message we send to our allies (including Israel) and the number of voices we're speaking with as these negotiations are going on (that number should be an integer between 0 and 2, non-inclusive.)

AIPAC isn't sending checks to random U.S. citizens to get them to change their mind about our policy in the Middle East, they're sending them to Mark Kirk, Chuck Schumer, and the rest of the people on that list. When the dollar amounts are as high as they are, it's entirely appropriate to ask the question of what those dollars are buying. markkraft supplied one possible answer -- that of Mark Kirk's deference toward Israel's intelligence assessment and hostility toward our own -- and I think that's worthy of further discussion.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:02 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't think I have ever heard of congressperson who received money from a Mexican lobbying group, or an Indonesian group as an 'agent of a foreign government' etc.

I wouldn't hesitate to describe such a congressperson that way, if they were both taking money from them and pursuing their agenda in preference to the American agenda. I wouldn't hesitate to call them disloyal, either. If you're a member of the U.S. government and you're siding with a foreign country to the detriment of the U.S. because they're your biggest donor, then it doesn't matter what country we're talking about. I think there's a basic problem with anyone in office taking donations from a foreign government.

The only reason we don't call Chris Dodd or Sony Bono "disloyal" is because corporate entities aren't things to which you can feel the sort of national allegiance that the term "patriotism" describes.
posted by fatbird at 2:10 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am the first to criticize the American lobbying system and the role of money in politics, but that is the system. We all know there is lobbying for Israel, gun rights, and issues that affect the elderly, but lobbying also happens for food-coloring, obscure water rights conflicts, and all sorts of mundane issues that 99.9% of people don't care about.

Markkraft said: "Gee... I wonder what it would take to make an American less loyal to his own country than to someone else's...?" and linked to a list of congresspeople who get AIPAC money.

Criticize these congresspeople and the hold money has on their vote all you want - but bringing loyalty into it is, to me, abhorrent. Can a loyal, patriotic American not hold the views that Mark Kirk does?
posted by rosswald at 2:11 PM on November 25, 2013


and pursuing their agenda in preference to the American agenda

What is the American agenda? Who gets to define the American agenda? Isn't the whole point of lobbying to influence the conversation on what the American agenda is?
posted by rosswald at 2:12 PM on November 25, 2013


It's not a question of the views themselves, it's a question of whether those views are bought and paid for. It's corruption at the level of national allegiance.

that is the system

"Hate the game, not the player", has never been a strong argument.

What is the American agenda?

It's a fair point that agendas or best courses of action aren't always obvious. But I'd feel a lot less cynical about a claim that X's agenda should also be the American agenda, were X's spokesman not stuffing his pockets with X's cash while arguing as an insider. Perhaps you believe that Sonny Bono sincerely felt that Mickey Mouse needed another 20 years outside the public domain, but I don't.

I'm not saying Israel is doing something wrong by lobbying on its own behalf, but I think there's an obvious conflict of interest for their lobbyist to be an actual member of the U.S. government, and that has nothing to do with Israel rather than Mexico or Indonesia. And that conflict exists within the realm of patriotism and loyalty and exactly the sort of allegiances that we shouldn't have to question.
posted by fatbird at 2:21 PM on November 25, 2013


rosswald: "I just don't think I have ever heard of congressperson who received money from a Mexican lobbying group, or an Indonesian group as an 'agent of a foreign government' etc."

Come on -- are you really going to make me point out how ridiculous this comparison is?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:22 PM on November 25, 2013


What does accusing people with whom you disagree of being disloyal americans add to the argument? I just don't see the upside. You can't ever know what people really believe in their heart of hearts, and the idea that an individual could believe that the U.S. interest aligns with the position of the Israeli government is perfectly plausible. Plenty of people who aren't paid believe that. So, all I can see is that you've made a nasty accusation that can't be disproven, but that may allow one to avoid engaging with the merits of the matter. And the accusation has the unfortunate effect of fitting with some nasty strains of rhetoric which historically done real damage to the U.S.
posted by Area Man at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think people generally say that taking money from Disney makes you disloyal, even though the principle is pretty much the same. Furthermore, Israel is hardly the only country to employ lobbyists. If there's big money coming from any non-US lobby it wouldn't be Israel: it would be the oil-producing states of the Middle East, whose trade and security are massively affected by their relations with the USA and who have money coming out the wazoo.

If I can give an analogy, consider the controversy about whether Barack Obama was a "natural-born citizen of the United States". Many people argued that this was a merely technical and factual concern. At one point I thought the same, but I came to see it as part of an historical pattern in which African-Americans were not thought to be real Americans. That didn't makes the technical issue go away, of course (the birth certificate and so forth did that) but I no longer presumed that the people raising it were doing so in good faith.

Jews have been accused of dual loyalties for literally thousands of years; it's basically the standard anti-Semitic trope. Accusations of this sort are especially harmful because they resonate with other unexamined prejudices: it doesn't mean that they can't or shouldn't be made, but people of good faith ought to exercise an unusual degree of care. In this instance, tonycpsu says
AIPAC isn't sending checks to random U.S. citizens to get them to change their mind about our policy in the Middle East, they're sending them to Mark Kirk, Chuck Schumer, and the rest of the people on that list.
Well, does AIPAC send any money to any US citizens? The same site Markkraft linked to says it doesn't, and can't, not being a "political action committee". I have no idea why it separates out "pro-Israel" lobbying when it doesn't do that for any other country, but apparently the "pro-Israel" expenditure for all candidates over all election cycles is around $113 million, compared to a total of around $1,736 million for all "ideology/single issue" expenditure over that period. And why are we even scrutinising this money, when by definition it comes from US-based individuals?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:01 PM on November 25, 2013


rosswald: "I just don't think I have ever heard of congressperson who received money from a Mexican lobbying group, or an Indonesian group as an 'agent of a foreign government' etc."

Come on -- are you really going to make me point out how ridiculous this comparison is?
posted by tonycpsu


I would love to hear how a congressperson can take money from a Mexican or pro-Mexican PAC to, say, to pass laws to strengthen rights and protections for Mexican illegal immigrants in the US and have that not also fall under Markkraft's (yours?) 'undermining-of-loyalty' claim (just imagine the shouts of 'disloyalty' from your average Republican/TeaPartier). Somehow I think the difference is what Markkraft's personal political opinion is, which again is what makes Markkraft's statement so disgusting - he is using claims of 'disloyalty' to attack a position he doesn't like using the fig-leaf of political lobbying to justify it.

So the question, at its heart, is: do 'you' believe someone can hold the beliefs of Mark Kirk (or Schumer or whoever) and still be a loyal American. I think the answers would be telling.
posted by rosswald at 3:19 PM on November 25, 2013


I just don't think I have ever heard of congressperson who received money from a Mexican lobbying group, or an Indonesian group as an 'agent of a foreign government' etc.

A better or more realistic comparison might be to Peter King and other MCs who strongly support(ed) the IRA and/or Sinn Fein; I'll leave it to someone else's research skills to note whether they get tarred as disloyal at metafilter.

Similarly, I can't recall seeing strongly Catholic MCs derided as disloyal because of their "allegiance" to the Vatican but am not going to look for anything that would be that depressing to find.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:21 PM on November 25, 2013


Area Man: "What does accusing people with whom you disagree of being disloyal americans add to the argument?"

People who aren't accepting six and seven figure contributions can hold whatever views they want, but once you become a person worth sending six and seven figure checks to, it's clear that you're no longer just someone with views, you're now someone with enough influence to turn those views into policy changes.

Or, to answer rosswald's question more directly: Mark Kirk can hold whatever views he wants, and if he doesn't want his loyalty questioned, he should stop cashing the fucking checks. Money can buy loyalty to other countries just as it can buy loyalty to industries.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:31 PM on November 25, 2013


You've avoided the question, not answered it.
posted by Area Man at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2013


Jews have been accused of dual loyalties for literally thousands of years; it's basically the standard anti-Semitic trope.

Mark Kirk isn't Jewish. Most of the truly rabid pro-Israel people in Congress, the Senate in particular, aren't Jewish. In fact, almost half of the people markkraft linked to as receiving pro-Israel money aren't Jewish. The usual suspects on the right (Cruz, Cornyn, etc) aren't Jewish. And to be quite honest, if Iran guaranteed Chuck Schumer that he could be on primetime TV and/or the front page of major newspapers every day for the rest of his term, he'd be behind this deal so fast your head would spin.

Speaking as a Jew, this isn't a Jewish thing. Most American Jews aren't particularly happy with Israel's assholery over the last decade or so. The loudest voices, maybe, but even that's not a sure thing these days. Mainly it's the usual dimwits who inherited a magazine or plum thinktank position from their parents--your Jonah Goldbergs and Bill Kristols, for starters--that go on and on about how Israel is being sold out. This is about some people being lobbied hard, a lot of people who are required to reflexively oppose the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Negro no matter what he does, and very little about people who feel that Israel is actively harmed by honest-to-god diplomacy as opposed to glassing the former Persian empire.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:07 PM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Money can buy loyalty to other countries just as it can buy loyalty to industries.
posted by tonycpsu


Right, but I just feel that because of the whole 'treason' angle that accusing someone of disloyalty is pretty loaded when it comes to dealing with foreign interests.

I understand you are only trying to imply these politicians are corrupt (or at least morally deficient) due to money from lobbyists but, not even touching the anti-semitic tropes argument Joe brings up (which imo is completely valid, and I mean "come on"), when you start mentioning 'disloyalty' and Israel OR China OR India OR Mexico OR Kenya OR Saudi Arabia you should understand how it can make people uncomfortable.
posted by rosswald at 4:18 PM on November 25, 2013


It isn't as though American Intel has proven particularly reliable vs. say Israel with regard to informing policy makers. I don't think it is intrinsically disloyal for a member of congress to suggest that the information they are receiving from Israeli briefings conflicts with that of the administration. They've disclosed the source of the information to the public. At least when it comes from Israel you know what the policy bias is.
posted by humanfont at 4:29 PM on November 25, 2013


rosswald: " Right, but I just feel that because of the whole 'treason' angle that accusing someone of disloyalty is pretty loaded when it comes to dealing with foreign interests."

And, again, we're back to the fact that the first person to use the word treason was zarq, and the only others who've used it were myself quoting zarq, and you, apparently thinking you were quoting someone other than zarq.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:29 PM on November 25, 2013


Huh? My point has to do with the fact that there is a crime called treason, and therefore accusing someone of being disloyal ("less loyal") is particularly fraught and problematic language to use because this particularly odious crime is generally thought to be perpetrated by someone who is, 'less than loyal.'
posted by rosswald at 4:36 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


humanfont: "It isn't as though American Intel has proven particularly reliable vs. say Israel with regard to informing policy makers. I don't think it is intrinsically disloyal for a member of congress to suggest that the information they are receiving from Israeli briefings conflicts with that of the administration. They've disclosed the source of the information to the public. At least when it comes from Israel you know what the policy bias is."

This is a valid point, and much more in the neighborhood of where I was hoping the conversation would go.

Yes, Israel does know more about what's going on in their neighborhood, so we should absolutely be using Israeli intelligence in our own assessments. However, they should be our assessments and not Israel's, and certainly not Israel's by way of Mark Kirk or any other legislator.

It isn't as much an issue of where the intelligence came from -- though that's certainly important -- it's about who's responsible for interpreting, analyzing, and acting on that intelligence, and that is squarely in the purview of the executive branch, under the direction of the President and the Secretary of State, not the legislature, under the direction of Mark Kirk.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:42 PM on November 25, 2013


rosswald: "Huh? My point has to do with the fact that there is a crime called treason, and therefore accusing someone of being disloyal ("less loyal") is particularly fraught and problematic language to use because this particularly odious crime is generally thought to be perpetrated by someone who is, 'less than loyal.'"

OK, well, I can't tell what was in markkraft's head when he wrote that comment, but to me, it's fine to question the loyalty of someone who's getting seven figures from a single interest group, and if you have a word you'd prefer I used to describe that, I'm happy to use it.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:44 PM on November 25, 2013


Which is why I too agree with humanfront in that it is not unreasonable that Israeli intelligence is better than American intelligence or vice-versa. Personally I believe American version, I just don't think because someone believes the opposite, as Mark Kirk does, that it makes one less loyal.
posted by rosswald at 4:54 PM on November 25, 2013


And, for the last time, it's not believing the opposite that potentially makes him less loyal, it's being paid large sums of money while believing the opposite. Take away the money, and I have no basis on which to question his loyalty.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:57 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So every American politician is deeply disloyal to a whole host of different masters. Enjoy your revolution. Good night.
posted by rosswald at 5:04 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


rosswald: "So every American politician is deeply disloyal to a whole host of different masters."

Great, so we agree! Bartender, another round!
posted by tonycpsu at 5:05 PM on November 25, 2013


I believe this is the first time I have laughed and sighed simultaneously.
posted by rosswald at 5:07 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


it is not unreasonable that Israeli intelligence is better than American intelligence

I agree, it's not unreasonable, but there's a hidden premise here, that the Israelis are sharing that intelligence directly with Kirk et al. without spin or manipulation. Whatever Kirk believes and whatever AIPAC is pushing, the Israeli gov't is yet another entity whose goals aren't necessarily aligned with either the U.S. or Bill Kristol.
posted by fatbird at 5:20 PM on November 25, 2013


Is being paid money by lobbyists affecting those being lobbied? If not effective, why would this practice continue? This is not a question about right or wrong, just about utility.

Regardless of that, it was felt necessary to declare 'conflict of interest' when publishing f.ex. a medical study. Such declarations don't mean the people in question aren't 100% loyal to the truth. You can be paid by X, but not be (at least consciously) influenced by that fact. If that is so - and I do believe that to be so - why then declare a potential conflict of interest at all? Because there is the historical record about how money has influenced the outcomes (see first question). Therefore it is only fair that one point out that such a person has received consideration, monetary or otherwise.

Question: why is it not fair to point out that *fact* when it comes to politicians? Why can't you point out that politician X who voted in such and such a way, received money from such and such a lobby. This does not mean that politician X was influenced by that money, it simply states a demonstrable fact. If it's good enough for scientific papers, why would it be objectionable here - as long as it is a truthful statement of fact? State a fact, and leave it at that - people can draw their own conclusions.

If the objection is that stating such facts somehow prejudices views, then the simple remedy is not to accept such lobbying. It is not for nothing, that f.ex. judges go to great lengths not to do anything that might "give an appearance of impropriety" - and recuse themselves from cases where such appearances may be present - regardless of the undoubted fact that those judges are of unquestionable integrity. The mere appearance of impropriety is enough of a blow against the image of justice that great pains are taken to avoid them - again, with zero implication that such judges would act in an unethical manner.

Are the rules for politicians different? And should they be different?

Why question Kirk's patriotism or loyalty? No need to. Absent proof to the contrary, we presume that he has the highest integrity. But neither is it wrong to hear out his views and also point out the fact of receiving payments - as you would in other walks of life. If Kirk doesn't like that, he can not accept such payments, or recuse himself from situations where his vote might be theoretically influenced. That removes the appearance of impropriety, meanwhile we leave questions of his innermost loyalty to the psychics and mind readers - just the facts, madam.
posted by VikingSword at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


It isn't as much an issue of where the intelligence came from -- though that's certainly important -- it's about who's responsible for interpreting, analyzing, and acting on that intelligence, and that is squarely in the purview of the executive branch, under the direction of the President and the Secretary of State, not the legislature, under the direction of Mark Kirk.

So Senators should just shut up and accept whatever bullshit the executive branch deigns to send over. Like when they let Dick Cheney have final say over all intelligence related to Iraq and then authorized a war to destroy weapons of mass destruction which never existed?

That is an absurd proposition. He's an elected official in a co-equal branch of government. He has a right to seek council from many people, countries and organizations as he seeks to exercise his office. If he thinks the Israeli intelligence is stronger than the stuff he's getting from Langley; he's not disloyal in deciding that it's worth listening to. This isn't disloyal, you've no demonstrated one bit that he's put the interests of Israel above those of the United States or that he's not seeking to act in what he sees as America's national interests.
posted by humanfont at 6:22 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


humanfont: " So Senators should just shut up and accept whatever bullshit the executive branch deigns to send over. Like when they let Dick Cheney have final say over all intelligence related to Iraq and then authorized a war to destroy weapons of mass destruction which never existed? "

A legislator can and should ask questions, hold hearings, and get input from whatever sources he/she wants. What they shouldn't be doing is using the media to run their own foreign policy shop from the legislative branch to undermine the position advanced by actual diplomats doing actual diplomacy.

Advise and consent? Yes. This shit? No.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:54 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


VikingSword wrote: Why can't you point out that politician X who voted in such and such a way, received money from such and such a lobby.

Obviously you can point it out, there are websites that itemise it. But why is the focus on what Jews are doing with their money (I presume that most money spent on this comes from Jews) and not what anybody else is doing? For instance, a US-Cuban PAC has apparently spent the most money in the category "Foreign and Defense Policy" over the past ten years. Does anyone care about this? Should they? I'm not, but I think the general lack of interest speaks to a double standard.

Zombieflanders wrote: Mark Kirk isn't Jewish. Most of the truly rabid pro-Israel people in Congress, the Senate in particular, aren't Jewish.

The money we're talking about comes from individuals in the USA. When Markkraft asks "Gee... I wonder what it would take to make an American less loyal to his own country than to someone else's...?" the answer is obviously "Jewish money. Jewish money makes these Americans less loyal to their own country than to Israel, which is these donors' real country."
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:04 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


But why is the focus on what Jews are doing with their money

Where? Not by me. I don't care which lobby and who, thus I said 'X' in my argument. I don't think one lobby in particular should have greater scrutiny.

a US-Cuban PAC has apparently spent the most money in the category "Foreign and Defense Policy" over the past ten years. Does anyone care about this? Should they? I'm not, but I think the general lack of interest speaks to a double standard.

Really? "general lack of interest"? I thought the fact that there is massive lobbying distorting (or influencing, or whatever terminology you want to use) our Cuban policy, is a big deal, and a long-standing complaint about U.S. policy vs Cuba and the Castro regime voiced by the Left for decades now. I'm afraid that's a bad example.

In any case, it's not about "Jews" or "Cubans", it's about a specific lobby. No PAC represents "Jews" any more than "Cubans". There may be PACs which see it as their mandate to promote a given country's interests (as they see it, in close cooperation with the country - or not), but even in that case, it cannot - and should not - be generalized to an entire ethnic group which may have (or not) ties to a country or region.

I rather find it surprising to see anybody conflating "Jews" with "Israel", let alone "American Jews" and "Israel". As happens, the views of American Jews wrt. Israel span the spectrum, just as for any other group of people, so trying to get milage out of this is pretty unreasonable.
posted by VikingSword at 7:26 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me, at least, it's really about the fact that money coming from lobbying groups that fall into the "Pro-Israel" category has historically been hawkish money. The emergence of the more moderate J-Street organization is a very recent phenomenon, and not anywhere near the scale of AIPAC.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:32 PM on November 25, 2013


And, yeah, obviously, the Cuba issue is just as contentious on the left, for many of the same reasons.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:35 PM on November 25, 2013


Tonycpsu wrote: To me, at least, it's really about the fact that money coming from lobbying groups that fall into the "Pro-Israel" category has historically been hawkish money.

I actually looked into this for you, which took me minutes. J Street has been the largest or second-largest donor every year since it was founded. AIPAC, as I've pointed out a few times, isn't a PAC and doesn't make political donations.

The largest donor in 2012 was the S Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, which may be to the left of J Street. These two groups spent as much as much between them as all the other top 20 donors; all of it went to the Democrats. I then went and checked every year back to 1990. Democrats received more than Republicans every single year, from a low of 3:2 all the way up to a ratio of 4:1.

But you know what? This doesn't make a difference. US citizens are allowed to hold whatever political opinions they want. These donors are individuals exercising their rights and they don't need to pass the Tonycpsu ideological purity test.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:15 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


A legislator can and should ask questions, hold hearings, and get input from whatever sources he/she wants. What they shouldn't be doing is using the media to run their own foreign policy shop from the legislative branch to undermine the position advanced by actual diplomats doing actual diplomacy.

He thinks that the agreement is a bad one. He thinks the Senate should oppose the deal. He is entirely within his rights as a US Senator to invite his like minded allies to a conference call to discuss a strategy for stopping something he opposes. He is entirely within his rights as a US Senator to state his opinions about a international agreement before the media. I don't personally agree with the Senator, but I absolutely support his right to make his case against the agreement.
posted by humanfont at 8:19 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "AIPAC, as I've pointed out a few times, isn't a PAC and doesn't make political donations. "

Right:
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been accused of using front organizations as a means of circumventing limits on campaign spending[17] These front organizations have names unrelated to AIPAC. Delaware Valley Good Government Association (Philadelphia), San Franciscans for Good Government (California), Beaver PAC (Wisconsin), Cactus PAC (Arizona), and Icepac (New York) are examples of former AIPAC front groups.[18]

"According to a computer-aided analysis of 1986 Federal Election Reports, despite AIPAC’s claims of non-involvement in political spending, no fewer than 51 pro-Israel PACs—most of which draw money from Jewish donors and operate under obscure-sounding names—are operated by AIPAC officials or people who hold seats on AIPAC’s two major policymaking bodies. The study shows that 80 pro-Israel PACs spent more than $6.9 million during the 1986 campaigns, making them the nation’s biggest-giving narrow-issue interest group." [19]
Joe in Australia: " But you know what? This doesn't make a difference. US citizens are allowed to hold whatever political opinions they want. These donors are individuals exercising their rights and they don't need to pass the Tonycpsu ideological purity test."

Nobody needs to pass my purity test, but the origin of this derail was about whether campaign contributions can give rise to conflicts of interest, and just as some legislators are in the pocket of big oil or big pharma, many are in the pocket of "big bomb Iran."
posted by tonycpsu at 8:40 PM on November 25, 2013


but the origin of this derail was about whether campaign contributions can give rise to conflicts of interest,

No, the origin of this derail was Markkraft questioning the loyalty of a congressperson who holds a position he/she disagrees while also simultaneously taking money from pro Israeli PACs.

Your points about the general problem of dual-loyalty due to lobbying in American politics is a derail at best and trolling at worst, and attempt to cover-up the obviously problematic language of calling lawmakers who accept money from groups supporting foreign interests "less loyal" by obtusely trying to talk about the meta issue of lobbying in America while ignoring the topic of this thread and what Markkraft said.
posted by rosswald at 5:56 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but you don't get to tell me what I'm thinking when I post, and I'm tired of your backhanded attempts to try to tell me what I really mean.

I'm not being obtuse when I say that I see nothing "obviously problematic" with the not-exactly-Earth-shattering revelation that policymakers in important positions in our government accepting dollars based on a particular issue can create a conflict of interest, whether it's our foreign policy stance vis-a-vis Israel or the regulation of the financial sector. The dollars come from people trying to buy influence, and go to lawmakers happy to sell that influence. Just because it's to buy influence in foreign policy doesn't, to me, change the nature of the problem.

In extreme cases (which I am not alleging) someone's influence could, in theory, be bought to the extent that they're no longer acting primarily in America's interests, but even then, I wouldn't use (and have not used here) the word "treason", which I would reserve for active, hostile attempts to undermine America and overthrow its government.

I don't know how much more clear I could be about this, so if you continue to think I'm saying something else, you can reach me on MeMail, or we can just agree to disagree about the contents of my brain.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:54 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]




I'm not worried about Iran possessing nuclear weapons, but I'm quite worried about Saudi Arabia possessing nuclear weapons.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:15 AM on November 26, 2013


Ten Most Radioactive Places on Earth Mapped Out

The ‘Ndrangheta are allegedly responsible for two of those. Oh, goody. Has anyone pointed a geiger counter at Lake Ontario lately?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:40 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


This series of events illustrates much of what is wrong with any discussion of Israel in the American political pundit class. It starts with a tweet from former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski congratulating the Obama administration for brokering the Iran deal, and ends with a prominent neoconservative pundit deciding that he can excommunicate a more moderate Zionist group like J Street from the "Jewish tent" simply for not being as militant and uncompromising.

Now, Brzezinski's tweet was admittedly a provocative one, but if anyone wants to argue that Benjamin Netanyahu isn't trying to dictate U.S. policy in the Middle East, I'd love to hear that argument. He's the Prime Minster of Israel -- why wouldn't he use every bit of political leverage he has to further his country's goals? And, importantly, Brzezinski didn't accuse Netanyahu of actually dictating our policy, only of making efforts to do so.

In Jonah Goldberg's world, and in the minds of many in the neocon/Dominionist Christian/AIPAC alliance, it's not enough to be explicitly Zionist (as J Street is), you also have to also be a hard-liner against any efforts at negotiation. It's all bombs, all the time, and if you don't agree, well, you don't belong in the tent.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2013


Yeah, pretty sure America, the World and this thread would be better off for ignoring Israel more.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on November 26, 2013


Uh, that's Jeffrey Goldberg, not Jonah. My bad.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2013


I'm not worried about Iran possessing nuclear weapons, but I'm quite worried about Saudi Arabia possessing nuclear weapons.
posted by jeffburdges


Well that is the thing isn't it - it would be a package deal. The failure to prevent a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan has resulted in what is now widely considered one of the most dangerous situations on Earth.

Part of the benefit of this nuclear deal is it not only accomplishes some of Israel's/USA's/W. Europe's goal of explicitly keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands, but it also prevents an arm race between Iran and the Gulf States and also disincentives other regimes (Sudan and S. Sudan etc. etc.) from pursuing the same strategy.
posted by rosswald at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was reading this NYT article on the 'U.S. and Saudis in Growing Rift' over the Iranian-nuclear and Syria issues, and found it generally interesting, but this line in particular terrified me:

“To the Saudis, the Iranian nuclear program and the Syria war are parts of a single conflict,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton. “One well-placed Saudi told me, ‘If we don’t do this in Syria, we’ll be fighting them next inside the kingdom.
posted by rosswald at 12:45 PM on November 26, 2013


To the Saudis, the Iranian nuclear program and the Syria war are parts of a single conflict,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton. “One well-placed Saudi told me, ‘If we don’t do this in Syria, we’ll be fighting them next inside the kingdom.

This terrifies me too, but possibly for a different reason. The reason being, that it displays either monumental cluelessness of the "well-placed Saudi" or propaganda that's disturbingly out of touch with any kind of reality, making one wonder what kind of nasty stuff the Saudis are cooking up.

Fighting Iran inside Saudi Arabia is the fear? Based on what exactly? It can't be that Iran is going to send in troops, because except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country in centuries. There is absolutely no reason to fear monger based on the idea that Iranian troops will march into Saudi Arabia.

So presumably it is that some kind of proxy war will take place by Iranian backed forces - what would those be exactly? The only significant proxy military power the Iranians have relative control over are the Hezbollah, which is regionally active in its native Lebanon, with the one foray into Syria, a foray which was in direct response to massive Sunni forces backed by... Saudi Arabia among others. That's it. There is zero chance that Hezbollah would attack Saudi Arabia. They are in Syria, because the Syrian government allowed them entry (in cooperation with Iran). That's it. The Shia population of Saudi Arabia is about 8%, and that is hardly comparable to the Sunni/Shia splits in Iraq or Syria, so a civil war with Iran backing the Shias is hardly possible. What is the "well-placed Saudi" babbling about when he asserts that they fear "fighting them next inside the kingdom"? It's bullshit, is what it is.

And bringing in Syria here is a good illustration of that bullshit - the Sunni forces backed by Saudi Arabia are the real rebels here against the status quo of an established government. It's not the Iranians or their proxy Hezbollah who started this. So "if we don't do this in Syria" is a neat piece of propaganda. The most vicious and dangerous forces that foment violent conflicts everywhere are Sunni extremists frequently backed by Saudi Arabia as we have seen in Iraq - it it they who ignited the Sunni/Shia conflict in Iraq with disastrous effect. Who is the trouble-maker here? Look at the extremist Sunni forces such as Al-Quada who are active in Iraq, Syria, and a ton of places in Africa including Libya. There is little example of Shias whether alone or backed by Iran doing anything similar the world over. Unlike the Saudis who sowed the wind and are reaping the whirlwind from Afghanistan to Kenya.

I read that quote and am terrified at the complete inversion of reality this displays - not exactly comforting in our nominal allies, the Saudis.
posted by VikingSword at 2:49 PM on November 26, 2013


Bahrain has a majority Shia population, ditto Iraq, VikingSword, presumably Saudi Arabia has Shia regions, possibly including separatists groups. And recall that Bahrain's Sunni leadership invited the Saudi Arabian army to suppress the Arab Spring protests in Bahrain.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:55 PM on November 26, 2013


Of course, but how is that an attack on Saudi Arabia? Shias in Iraq or Bahrain are not going to march into Saudi Arabia - so what does it mean "if we don’t do this in Syria, we’ll be fighting them next inside the kingdom"? The Shias in SA are about 8% of the population - hardly a big enough contingent to threaten the Sunnis there, it's like 92/8 Sunni/Shia. In Iraq the split is 60/40 Shia/Sunni - that is enough for a nasty civil war. Iran and Bahrain are a special case because there were territorial claims on Bahrain by Iran. Meanwhile the Shias were already in Iraq and Bahrain for centuries, and not placed there by Iran - if the Saudis are unhappy that those places are not 100% Sunni, how is that the fault of Iran? Let us not forget that it was the Sunnis who started the Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq. Again, there is zero reason to suppose that Iran is going to be in a position to take the fight "inside the kingdom" of SA, so that is an utter fiction and propaganda. And historically, the aggressors in the region have been overwhelmingly Sunnis backed by SA.
posted by VikingSword at 3:11 PM on November 26, 2013


This terrifies me too, but possibly for a different reason. The reason being, that it displays either monumental cluelessness of the "well-placed Saudi" or propaganda - posted by VikingSword

I actually agree with you for the most part - though I would like to give the NYT the benefit of the doubt and say that I think it speaks more to "frame-of-mind" than it does the real possibility of Iran attacking SA. Things would have to deteriorate seriously for that ever happen, and it doesn't seem immediately likely.

What scares me is that I think it is this line of thinking within the Saudi leadership that, to some degree, explains Saudi Arabia's involvement in Syria, and as jeff points out, Bahrain.

There was that massive bombing of the Iranian Consulate (Embassy?) in Lebanon recently which I think shocked most people. Again, I think there are a lot of other forces counter-balancing the possibility of a overt war, but I can see the Saudi's considering - and fearing - the worst.
posted by rosswald at 4:13 PM on November 26, 2013


Imagine if Bahrain's government fell to a revolution by its Shia majority, who then grew cozy with Iran. Iran and Bahrain might aid Shia separatists someplace, aid Shia activists who agitate for democracy, undermine the Saudi government, cost Saud money in trade negotiations, etc. Remember, the House of Saud has zero legitimacy according to modern political philosophy. Almost anything is a long term threat.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:21 PM on November 26, 2013


Vikingsword wrote: It can't be that Iran is going to send in troops, because except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country in centuries.

Iran has troops in Syria right now. And it not only sponsors Hezbollah, but established them and trained them. And it ships weapons to them, as well as to the Syrian resistance.

Saudi Arabia is probably more afraid of a persistent radicalisation of Saudi Shiites and some sort of guerrilla campaign. You know, what happened in Lebanon and Iraq. If you look at a map of Saudi Arabia you can see that the Shiite population is concentrated in two sensitive places: around the major oil wells, and on its border with Yemen. I don't have much sympathy for the House of Saud, but I can understand why they're worried.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:00 PM on November 26, 2013


Vikingsword wrote: It can't be that Iran is going to send in troops, because except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country in centuries.

Joe in Australia wrote: "Iran has troops in Syria right now."

1) The link is to a google search, which indicates there is footage of Iranian military advisors present in Syria, and the implication that possibly Revolutionary Guards may be there too.

2) They are there at the express invitation of the lawful government of Syria. That does not contradict "Iran has not deployed troops against any country in centuries." SA sent in their actual troops (not advisors) into Bahrain at the behest of their government. International law does not regard such actions as aggression against the country. Iran could send their entire military force into Syria under those circumstances and it would still not qualify as an aggressive military action. It remains true, that Iran has not deployed their military against any country in centuries.

And it not only sponsors Hezbollah, but established them and trained them.


The origin of Hezbollah is somewhat murky, so although Iran was involved quite early, "establishment" might be a slight stretch. Undoubtedly the Iranians were and are key supporters from the beginning, though. That is pretty much unquestionable. In the unintended consequences department, it might be worth pointing out that 'Israel's 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon bolstered the fortunes of Hizbullah by "providing a politic-military environment that legitimated the group and gave a rationale for its guerrilla warfare.'

Iran ships weapons to the Syrians and ordered the Hezbollah to Syria - yes... at the request of the Syrian government.

Saudi Arabia is probably more afraid of a persistent radicalisation of Saudi Shiites and some sort of guerrilla campaign. You know, what happened in Lebanon and Iraq.

"You know, what happened in Lebanon and Iraq" - trouble is, yes, I do know - Iraq was essentially without a government at that point, as was Lebanon in the midst of a civil war with no functioning central government. Both in the aftermath of a violent attack by an outside aggressor state - Israel in 1982 and the U.S.A. in 2003 respectively. That is not the situation in SA, and I doubt that when the "well-placed Saudi" talked about "fighting them inside the kingdom" he was envisioning a lack of any central government as a result of a violent attack by an outside aggressor state in SA at the time of such a fight. A somewhat 'apples and electronic cigarettes' comparison. Odds of a Iraq/Lebanon scenario in Saudi Arabia is roughly equal to Texas seceding from the U.S.A., dreamers notwithstanding.

"What happened in Lebanon and Iraq" - was possible at all in the first place because there were large enough forces on both sides to make that possible, without any one side having an overwhelming advantage. For Lebanon, the Shias were 41% of the population, for Iraq Shias are estimated between 60%-67%. For Saudi Arabia, the Shia population is approx. 8% of the population - not exactly the kind of dynamic that would lead the Shias to dream of an effective rebellion against an entrenched fully functioning security state like SA. Comparing that to the Shias that are at roughly half of the population in a lawless state Iraq/Lebanon, well, is not exactly plausible (at least on this earth).
posted by VikingSword at 10:26 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It remains true, that Iran has not deployed their military against any country in centuries - posted by VikingSword

Funny you actually use this line as earlier you protested about 'propaganda.'

Iran and state terrorism. Not that every claim in the page is 100% proven as the Wiki page itself notes, and some actions were performed by 3rd party actors such as Hezbollah etc., but since I don't have time today to dig up my own sourcing (even with our short day today, wooh!) the Wikipedia page is a good start in debunking your... claim.
posted by rosswald at 6:04 AM on November 27, 2013




Iranian expats on NPR
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on November 27, 2013


VikingSword: "It can't be that Iran is going to send in troops, because except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country in centuries."

rosswald: Funny you actually use this line as earlier you protested about 'propaganda.'

Iran and state terrorism. Not that every claim in the page is 100% proven as the Wiki page itself notes, and some actions were performed by 3rd party actors such as Hezbollah etc., but since I don't have time today to dig up my own sourcing (even with our short day today, wooh!) the Wikipedia page is a good start in debunking your... claim.


Why is it that you cannot be bothered to pay even the least attention? Nowhere have I claimed that Iran does not "support terrorism" (however defined). I did the opposite - see the discussion about Hezbollah and the odds of Iran fomenting Shia unrest in the ME.

My statement about Iran never having sent their military troops against another country (except in the Iran/Iraq war) was in the context of the fear expressed by the "well-placed Saudi" of fighting the Iranians in the kingdom of SA. In outlining the possible interpretations of that statement, I mentioned two possibilities of fighting the Iranians: their actual military troops and their various ('terrorist', if you will) proxies (such as Hezbollah).

The statement remains true: there is no recent history of Iran sending their military troops against another country - even in the case of the Iran/Iraq war, this was a defensive reaction, and therefore cannot be classified as an aggressive military strike against another country by Iran. That remains true, and your idiotic link that refers to Iranian support of terrorism has bollocks to do with it. Pay attention.

The other possibility of interpreting that statement, is that Iran would use their terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah - which they have done extensively - although the history of Hezbollah use of fighters abroad is mostly limited to Syria, where they went in with the blessing of the Syrian government, and therefore are not an aggressive attack against Syria by international law.

But regardless of the undoubted fact that Iran has supported terrorism, they have not sent in their military troops against another country - that claim remains true. You have done nothing to disprove it. When we support terrorism the world over, or support military regimes that oppress their own people we don't conflate that with sending actual U.S. military troops - unless we have actually sent U.S. military troops. The same standards apply here.

I respectfully submitted arguments, and in response you get snarky and talk about my "funny" claims and "propaganda" and "debunking" my "claims", all the while you can't be arsed to even do the minimum of engaging the actual clear statements and arguments. This sloppiness and disregard of basic etiquette leaves me with no faith in any worth of whatever random statements you may come up with.
posted by VikingSword at 11:41 AM on November 27, 2013


But regardless of the undoubted fact that Iran has supported terrorism, they have not sent in their military troops against another country - that claim remains true. You have done nothing to disprove it. When we support terrorism the world over, or support military regimes that oppress their own people we don't conflate that with sending actual U.S. military troops - unless we have actually sent U.S. military troops. The same standards apply here.

So I'm not really following this thread but the above prompts me to mention that this was on the BBC the other night, purportedly assembled from footage recovered and released by rebels after a battle. It appears to depict a military base in Syria with an ongoing operation manned by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel.
posted by XMLicious at 11:57 AM on November 27, 2013


XMLicious - I recommend you read the thread, as that point was addressed.
posted by VikingSword at 12:05 PM on November 27, 2013


Well, perhaps I am not as smart as you, and certainly not as angry - but according to this Wikipedia page the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a part of the Iranian military.

So even after your moving of the goal posts in your most recent comment (VikingSword: "in the case of the Iran/Iraq war, this was a defensive reaction, and therefore cannot be classified as an aggressive military strike") that doesn't preclude IRG's recent actions in Kenya and India (and again, the IRG is part of the Iranian military - so yes, they did in fact deploy their military against another country).

If you were paying attention you would have seen that in my previous link you so ferociously dismissed.

And that is not counting the AMIA bombing, Mykonos killings, and the claimed-but-not-proven involvement of the IRG (again, the Iranian military) in the Shi'ite Iraqi attacks on US military personnel.

VikingSword: This sloppiness and disregard of basic etiquette

Uh-huh.
posted by rosswald at 12:06 PM on November 27, 2013


Er, as VikingSword pointed out, those were troops requested by the Syrian government. That's not sending your troops against another country. Yes, I happen to think the Syrian government are shitheads, but they are the internationally accepted legitimate government, the one that has a seat at the UN and mans the Syrian embassies around the world.
posted by tavella at 12:29 PM on November 27, 2013


You're actually classifying a military base in Syria where the signs are in Persian and which is staffed by members of the Iranian military, with troops actually dying in combat and so firmly established that they're sending someone to make a documentary about it, as "supporting military regimes that oppress their own people without sending actual military troops"? This isn't some vague implication that Revolutionary Guard personnel are acting as advisors to Assad's forces, it's footage of them physically there and driving around in armed patrols and was followed by the publicly-announced death of at least one of the the individuals depicted. What you said earlier could get by as some kind of splitting hairs, but claiming it's a conflation to call this sending troops is crossing the line into absurdity.

In the early sixties you could have sent a film crew to document MACV operations in Vietnam and gotten similar footage, and there are U.S. military casualties designated as a result of hostile action from well before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The U.S. was there at the behest of the South Vietnamese government and preceding governments - surely you wouldn't say that the U.S. didn't deploy troops to Vietnam?

Sure, the depravity of the U.S. on the global stage is much more voluminous and long-standing than that of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but neither we nor they should get a pass for military intervention in other countries on convoluted technicalities.
posted by XMLicious at 1:00 PM on November 27, 2013


So even after your moving of the goal posts in your most recent comment (VikingSword: "in the case of the Iran/Iraq war, this was a defensive reaction, and therefore cannot be classified as an aggressive military strike")

Nope. No goal posts were moved. Original statement:

"except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country"

I stand by that statement. The point I was making in the statement you quote, is that I was actually being generous in even counting the Iran/Iraq war as "sending troops against another country" because that was not an aggressive but defensive action so by international law, this was not an aggressive use of military against another country. In other words, I'm bending backwards in trying to count every possible case in favor of the opposing argument.

that doesn't preclude IRG's recent actions in Kenya and India (and again, the IRG is part of the Iranian military - so yes, they did in fact deploy their military against another country).

There are specific definitions of what deploying troops in a war of aggression means (as would be if Iran attacked SA militarily):

"A war of aggression, sometimes also war of conquest, is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense, usually for territorial gain and subjugation. The phrase is distinctly modern and diametrically opposed to the prior legal international standard of "might makes right", under the medieval and pre-historic beliefs of right of conquest. Since the Korean War of the early 1950s, waging such a war of aggression is a crime under the customary international law. Possibly the first trial for waging aggressive war is that of Conradin von Hohenstaufen in 1268.[1]
Wars without international legality (e.g. not out of self-defense nor sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council) can be considered wars of aggression; however, this alone usually does not constitute the definition of a war of aggression; certain wars may be unlawful but not aggressive (a war to settle a boundary dispute where the initiator has a reasonable claim, and limited aims, is one example)."

Terror operations are a distinct category - sending two individuals who might or might not be members of the military - is undoubtedly a crime, but does not qualify as sending troops in a war of aggression against another country. Iran is not conducting military operations against countries such as India or Kenya, they are conducting terror operations against targets other than the country. From your link wrt. Kenya: "The two Iranians allegedly admitted to plotting to attack United States, Israeli, Saudi, or British targets in Kenya". In India, from your link: "targeted an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, India". In your very link, those are characterized by both India and Kenya as "terrorist activities" - "In July 2012, The Times of India reported that New Delhi police have concluded that terrorists belonging to a branch of Iran’s military, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,"[emph. mine VS], and "two Iranians, Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi, believed to members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force,[33] were arrested and suspected of being involved in terrorism.".

If the Iranians were in fact using members of their military in those operations, that would be state terrorism (and even though no specific proof exists that they were IRG, I accept them as such, again, in the interest of giving every advantage to the opposing argument). State terrorism is not what we are discussing here - meanwhile your entire link is titled "Iran and state terrorism". Clue much?

Iran has not sent troops against another country - including India and Kenya. Iran has certainly supported terrorism as well as engaged in state terrorism (where the targets were U.S. or Israeli interests, not India or Kenya as such). That is a crime. But it is distinct from:

except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country

which remains true. Iran has engaged in state terrorism and supporting terrorism - absolutely - and I have made that point myself. Nobody seriously denies that Iran has done that repeatedly - Iran (like Syria) is a vicious repressive nasty regime, and acts accordingly. But that is not the same kind of behavior as f.ex. another nasty dictator - Saddam Hussein - who used his military to engage in wars of aggression against his neighbors. It is not the same thing. Charge them with the crimes they are responsible for.

It is one thing to be wrong - anyone can be wrong. It is quite another to respond snarkily as you have done to respectful arguments and be wrong. I don't even mind the snark - if you are right. But wrong and snarky to a non-snarky respectful argument is disqualifying - now the gloves are off. My diagnosis stands: your arguments are sloppy and snarky and unlikely to have any actual worth. That will continue to be so - as demonstrated by your latest hopeless post.
posted by VikingSword at 1:02 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, you guys have found a derail stupider than the Israel one.
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2013


The first time 'war of aggression' gets used is in your most recent post just now - so you can add that qualification now but it didn't exist in the comment I was responding to.

And yes, 'state terrorism.' We agree. But if a military commits an act of terrorism that would make it a military action, no? If a military sends some of its personnel on an officially sanctioned mission to commit an act of terrorism that would be considered deployment, no?

And even the Haskel dude with the quote that sparked all this doubtfully thinks that any conflict between SA and Iran would involve trenches, Messerschmidts, and M1A Abrams. At least I don't. Again, I don't even think it is that likely, but my opinion is that any direct conflict between the two countries would involve more covert-actions by the military as it would involve battalion-on-battalion combat.
posted by rosswald at 1:19 PM on November 27, 2013


You're actually classifying a military base in Syria where the signs are in Persian and which is staffed by members of the Iranian military, with troops actually dying in combat and so firmly established that they're sending someone to make a documentary about it, as "supporting military regimes that oppress their own people without sending actual military troops"?

No. Claim:

"except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country"

Point is that they were there at the express invitation of the legitimate government of the country and therefore:

"International law does not regard such actions as aggression against the country. Iran could send their entire military force into Syria under those circumstances and it would still not qualify as an aggressive military action. It remains true, that Iran has not deployed their military against any country"

The key point is not that no Iranian troops have ever been outside of the borders of Iran - it is that they have never been used against another country in a war of aggression. Syria changes nothing here from that point of view, by international law.

The U.S. was there at the behest of the South Vietnamese government and preceding governments - surely you wouldn't say that the U.S. didn't deploy troops to Vietnam?

The U.S. did not deploy troops against South Vietnam. That is true. Were they fighting another country - like North Vietnam - that was not a defensive operation by the U.S. against North Vietnam? If yes, then they deployed troops against North Vietnam. A big reason for the Gulf of Tonkin incident was to manufacture a claim that North Vietnam attacked the U.S., and therefore we had the right to attack.

Are the Iranians in Syria to attack another country, like the U.S. was in South Vietnam to attack North Vietnam? No, they are not, and they are not manufacturing Gulf of Tonkin incidents to attack Saudi Arabia militarily - though clearly both are backing forces that fight each other, SA backing Sunni rebels and Iran backing Hezbollah. But Iran is not fighting SA troops, or conducting strategic bombing of SA. Iranian troops are in Syria on the invitation of the Syrian government, fighting against SA backed rebels (and other rebels, including Syrian democrats).
posted by VikingSword at 1:21 PM on November 27, 2013


Point is that they were there at the express invitation of the legitimate government

If my memory serves, what is the legitimate government of Syria is itself a point of contention.
posted by rosswald at 1:25 PM on November 27, 2013


The first time 'war of aggression' gets used is in your most recent post just now

It was there to add context, but it is not necessary for the argument. And state terrorism, including using their military is not sending troops against another country. You are not understanding the distinction between state terrorism and war of aggression, which is why I expanded on it for your benefit. If you did understand it, you would see that this is the part where your point fails "against another country" - Iran did not send their troops against the countries of India or Kenya. They sent troops against U.S. and Israeli targets in India and Kenya - but that is not the same thing. Pay attention:

"except for the Iran/Iraq war, Iran has not deployed troops against any country"

In order to analyze a statement, you need to pay attention to it, and not drop random parts of it from consideration, because it conflicts with your preconceived thesis. Sloppy.

If a military sends some of its personnel on an officially sanctioned mission to commit an act of terrorism that would be considered deployment, no?

against another country. Deployment, yes. Iran deployed troops in Syria too. But you're missing "against another country".

If my memory serves, what is the legitimate government of Syria is itself a point of contention.

Memory does not serve. By international law, the Syrian regime is the recognized government of Syria. An invitation from that government is considered an invitation by the legitimate government of Syria from a legal point of view. How "legitimate" it is in some other sense can of course be disputed - how legitimate is the SA government? Or Iranian? Or U.S.? There's always some party or parties that will see that as a point of contention, but the point is that for legal purposes, the Syrian government's invitation to Iran to deploy its troops is fully legitimate under its mandate.
posted by VikingSword at 1:38 PM on November 27, 2013


Building and staffing a military base in another country to engage organized foreign military forces as part of a territorial conflict where there's a front that's moving back and forth is not "just state terrorism" any more than the Korean War was "just a police action".

Go ahead and dicker about "sending troops" versus "deploying troops to" versus "deploying troops against" and how Iran has not sent troops against the Assad government and the U.S. did not deploy troops against one particular part of Vietnam, but it's ridiculous, especially from someone who was railing against bullshit so earnestly a few comments up.
posted by XMLicious at 2:03 PM on November 27, 2013


The SNC/FSA/Rebels also have some recognition as the government of Syria for whatever it is worth.

If you did understand it, you would see that this is the part where your point fails "against another country" - Iran did not send their troops against the countries of India or Kenya. They sent troops against U.S. and Israeli targets in India and Kenya - but that is not the same thing.

And Iraq, allegedly. If this is the crux of your argument, then we just have to agree to disagree. To me it seems you are make a distinction so slight, so subjective to be almost meaningless. Probably just my sloppy thinking.
posted by rosswald at 2:06 PM on November 27, 2013


XMLicious - no need for that tone. I was respectfully submitting an argument about a complex situation. I'm sorry complex situations don't lend themselves to simplistic descriptions, but the best course of action is to carefully examine the merits of the case. There is no need to fly off the handle. Wars have erupted over small differences in interpretation, so I don't think it's wrong to be careful about meaning. And the situation in the ME is certainly complex.

Building and staffing a military base in another country to engage organized foreign military forces

When the U.S. builds military bases in an allied country, they are not engaged in a war against that country - I hope we can agree on that. Syria is allied with Iran. The same obtains.

as part of a territorial conflict where there's a front that's moving back and forth

Just to clarify, for the sake of precision: there is not real "territorial conflict" in the sense of dispute over land and borders - there is a fight to control the country by the government and the rebels, but within the same borders of the country (again, merely for clarity).

is not "just state terrorism"

Agreed - and nowhere did I claim that Iran is engaged in state terrorism against Syria - that would be absurd.

any more than the Korean War was "just a police action".

The Korea War has no points of comparison that would be illuminating in this case, I'm afraid - completely different conflicts. And agreed, it was not a 'police action' (nor is it a 'police action' by Iran in Syria). But again - the U.S. was fighting a country - North Korea. Iran is not fighting any country. They are not there to repel another country militarily. They are there at the express invitation of the Syrian government, engaged in suppressing the population as well as outside backed rebel forces. I hope you don't think this is equivalent to sending troops into a war of aggression against another country - because it is not, and it seems bizarre to complain about making a distinction so enormous.

"Go ahead and dicker about "sending troops"[...] "but it's ridiculous".

No it isn't. The law, including international law about wars of aggression, has definitions for a reason. The reason is not to be nettlesome and ridiculous, but to draw important distinctions which have enormous practical consequences.

Iran engages in a lot of unsavory and criminal activities. Hold them accountable for that which they did - which, by dog is plenty already, plenty, plenty. But don't wantonly spray accusations which merely undermine whatever argument you're trying to make. In this case, I am pointing out that Iran throughout its modern history has not engaged in wars of aggression as defined by international law - as f.ex. Saddam Hussein has. There's already plenty of wrong to charge them with, without destroying the credibility of ones case with false charges.

rosswald wrote: "The SNC/FSA/Rebels also have some recognition as the government of Syria for whatever it is worth."

It's worth nothing as far international law is concerned. The Syrian government is recognized by all major powers including the U.S., and there has been no U.N. declaration of recognition of any other authority over Syria. Now, anybody can declare a "provisory government" and have it recognized by some parties - particularly useful when you are trying to resolve a civil war - but from a legal point of view, the Assad government has the mandate to invite any military force it wishes - and that is the point here.

And Iraq, allegedly.

Huh? This connects to your argument how? Iran sent troops to Iraq? When? During the Iran/Iraq war? Sure, and I pointed that out from the very first post about this - though again, it was not a war of aggression by Iran. It was a defensive action.

To me it seems you are make a distinction so slight, so subjective to be almost meaningless.

It is neither slight, nor subjective. To have a war declared an aggressive war versus defensive war is a very big deal indeed. And it is not subjective, but outlined in great detail in international law. You don't say "well Germany attacked France, true, but France fought back, so both engaged in war! Samesies! Send both to the principal!". That is an enormous distinction. Iran was invaded by Iraq and fought for their lives, ultimately repelling the invader. I cannot imagine a bigger distinction in a case of war, and that distinction is abundantly recognized.

Iran has never in its recent history engaged in an aggressive war against another country. That is a big deal, and it is not subjective, but a historical fact, backed up by international law.

Probably just my sloppy thinking.

What is the point of this? Unnecessary - either your argument stands up to scrutiny or it doesn't. In this case, it doesn't - whether you want to engage in snark is up to you and your choice.
posted by VikingSword at 2:54 PM on November 27, 2013


Stating that Iran has sent troops into Syria is not "wantonly spraying accusations" or "making false charges". Iran sending out its troops to engage military forces in Syria would definitely be relevant to Saudi speculation about fighting them domestically - the described concern on the part of the Saudis isn't about what the legal designation would be after the fighting started.

Scolding and rhetorically attempting to paint other people as "flying off the handle" doesn't actually make you seem more dispassionate and Spock-logical here. Trying to retcon your previous criticism of the Saudis' alleged fears and "babbling" into some point about technical wording in international law is still Goldbergian, empty polemicizing.
posted by XMLicious at 3:53 PM on November 27, 2013


Stating that Iran has sent troops into Syria is not "wantonly spraying accusations" or "making false charges". Iran sending out its troops to engage military forces in Syria would definitely be relevant to Saudi speculation about fighting them domestically - the described concern on the part of the Saudis isn't about what the legal designation would be after the fighting started.

The legal distinctions matter for the simple reason that they don't exist in the abstract to be argued over but describe different scenarios.

Iran "sent troops" into Syria at Syria's express invitation. If Saudi Arabia doesn't want Iranian troops in Saudi Arabia, they should not invite them in. Problem solved.

"legal designation would be after the fighting started."

If Saudi Arabia doesn't want fighting to start, then they should not start fighting - the only time Iran poured troops into another country without that country's express invitation was when Iraq attacked Iran in an aggressive war. Saudi Arabia can easily avoid Iranian troops pouring in, by not pouring in their own troops into Iran first, because that's the only precedent. Problem solved.

That's why it is important to state the facts at they are. Because "Iran has sent troops into Syria" can only support "will therefore invade Saudi Arabia" if you omit "at Syria's invitation". That's why I insist on not omitting that fact if it is to be used in support of "babbling propaganda". These distinctions matter.

Trying to retcon your previous criticism of the Saudis' alleged fears and "babbling" into some point about technical wording in international law is still Goldbergian, empty polemicizing.

Excuse me? My point still stands and is perfectly valid. Under what circumstances does the "well-placed Saudi" see fighting Iranians "inside the kingdom"? He cannot mean Iranian military troops, because as the record shows - and that was the whole point of this lengthy discussion: Iran has no history of sending their troops against another country in an aggressive war. And no, citing Syria is not relevant, because the Iranians were invited by the legal government of Syria, and presumably the legal government of Saudi Arabia would not do the same. That only leaves the option of Iranians fighting against the Saudi Arabian government by fomenting unrest among the Shias and/or sending in proxies such as Hezbollah, which I examined in turn, finding it implausible too. I have maintained that position from the beginning and have no need to retcon anything - as can be seen by anybody who followed the thread. If you think that is wrong and I shifted my position, quote me otherwise. Or you know, don't make claims you can't support.
posted by VikingSword at 4:14 PM on November 27, 2013


If you believe that you've made a Euclidean syllogistic proof that Saudi Arabia cannot have any valid concerns about their heavily-armed regional rival—who will only ever engage in state terrorism and deploy troops by invitation—taking actions some time in the next several decades that would result in the Saudis facing Iranian military forces domestically, even after a withdrawal of U.S. support as seems to be the context of that article, and have fooled this Princeton professor into broadcasting mendacious propaganda to that effect via the New York Times, whilst you simultaneously and subtly schooled the rest of us in the thread on proper international legal terminology, by all means pat yourself of the back and revel in the glory. Have a good Thanksgiving.
posted by XMLicious at 6:04 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Iran rejects US’s ‘one-sided’ version of nuclear deal
Tehran spokeswoman calls White House fact sheet ‘not true’

More details from FARS news agency, including what Iran says is the text of the agreement: Iran Strongly Rejects Text of Geneva Agreement Released by White House

US now indicates Iran interim deal wasn’t quite finalized
‘Technical details’ have yet to be worked out, State Department says, meaning six-month countdown to permanent deal hasn’t started and Iran isn’t bound by any new terms
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:11 PM on November 27, 2013


It is not my job or desire to school anybody about anything, and I'm baffled that reporting simple facts about which there is general agreement, is seen by anybody as such. The fact that Iran has not engaged in a war of aggression against another country in the past few decades is not something that's generally disputed, because there is nothing particularly abstruse about the international law in this respect. It's a matter of historical record.

Anyone or any country can have any kind of concern about anybody, the question is whether such concerns are reasonable. Was U.S. concern that Saddam might cause a mushroom cloud over Manhattan reasonable? It certainly was a concern however, and the esteemed NYTimes certainly was a willing mouthpiece for propaganda that fooled an awful lot of prominent people. Which is why it is important to attempt to see if a concern is valid before beating the drums of war. The particular fears expressed by the quoted "well-placed Saudi" don't seem to be based on any kind of reality as is reflected by the facts on the ground, and that is the view I expressed. I am sad that the objections many people had about U.S. concerns vs Saddam were not similarly engaged. Same critical approach is called for justifications offered by the "well-placed Saudi" in claiming the necessity of fighting Iranians everywhere, because otherwise "we'll have to fight them inside the kingdom". If I am mistaken, then by all means, anyone is welcome to dispute it, by showing where the reasoning or facts are wrong - that has not happened, at least so far, so I'm sticking with my view for now, but I'm always open to counterarguments. There certainly are a lot of forces extremely anxious to get to war with Iran and have been agitating for a military engagement for years now. In view of our prior experiences, in places like Iraq, among others, is it wrong to ask that the concerns expressed by the pro-war parties at least make some kind of sense supported by any kind of evidence whatsoever, or do we commence immediate wild shooting in every direction, reason and evidence be damned?

I refrain from offering speculation about the "next several decades", because there are few criteria for judging which scenario is more likely. The situation may very well change - Iran might start behaving in a completely unprecedented manner. That will call for an assessment based on new facts. But until that happens, I suppose we should stick with the evidence we actually have.

And with that, you have a good Thanksgiving too.
posted by VikingSword at 7:12 PM on November 27, 2013


VikingSword, why do you think that the Saudis have been so scared of Iran for so long? You seem to think that their concerns are imaginary, but surely they're in a better position to judge their own country's security.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:16 PM on November 27, 2013


I always like comparing news stories from different sources. Compare CNN's take on the Iran earthquake to FARS': CNN goes out of its way to point out that the epicentre was relatively near the Bushehr reactor, getting a statement from the US Geological Survey to this effect; FARS avoids mentioning it but trips up when mentioning that the governor-general of Bushehr province is in direct contact with Iran's leaders regarding the earthquake. Why? Well, obviously Bushehr province is significant in ways that Hormozgan province isn't.

CNN: At least 8 dead, dozens hurt, in quake in southern Iran
An earthquake shook southern Iran Thursday evening near a nuclear power plant, killing at least eight people and injuring 59 more, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. [...] The U.S. Geological Survey said the 5.6-magnitude quake was centered about 39 miles (63 km) northeast of the Persian Gulf city of Bushehr, where the nuclear plant is located, and 7 miles (14 km) northeast of Borazjan.
FARS: Quake Kills 8, Injures 59 in Southern Iran
An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale jolted the town of Borazjan in Hormozgan province, Southern Iran, on Thursday, killing 8 and injuring dozens more as officials said the death toll may even rise. [...] Meantime, Bushehr governor-general told the Iranian state-run TV that President Hassan Rouhani, First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri and Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli and his deputies are in direct contact with him to be informed of the latest conditions.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:27 PM on November 28, 2013


You seem to think that their concerns are imaginary, but surely they're in a better position to judge their own country's security.

This is the trouble - look how many assumptions are packed into this one sentence. Depending on which one addresses, one gets different answers.

I don't know if their concerns are imaginary - all I know is that this one statement by the "well-placed Saudi" is a completely unsupported by any evidence in the real world, and is in fact contradicted. Does that statement by the anonymous Saudi represent their true concerns, or is it a propaganda bit designed for consumption by outsiders?

And are they "surely" in a better position to judge their own country's security? Again - theoretically, yes, they have more access to more information. But so what? Does that mean they assess it correctly, or are the structural impediments so disastrous, that an outsider with less information (therefore theoretically in a worse position) can have a more accurate assessment?

My faith in how well SA assesses the security needs of their country is on par with my faith in how well they assess any needs of their country: practically nonexistent. Saudi Arabia is a hellhole. I find it very amusing that people can speak at length about the horror that one of the "axis of evil" - Iran is, but don't realize that whatever bad can be said about Iran (and I agree, there is plenty of bad - I would agree with pretty much the harshest of critics... Iran is a hellhole), can be said in spades about Saudi Arabia - if anything Saudi Arabia is worse... tell, me vs Iran who is worse in: political representation? gender relations? sexual minorities? religious freedom? societal freedom? judicial fairness?

Most states in the Middle East are not exactly paragons of effective governance and statecraft - they are somewhere toward the bottom of the scale. There is no exception for their ability to manage their security - it's not as if in that one area, they have shown exceptional craft... it's as dismal there as in every other area.

And the proof is in the pudding. The list of miscalculations and wrong-headed security policies is practically endless. What makes anyone think that Saudi Arabia is anywhere near reality when it comes to:

judge their own country's security

So let's look at their record when it comes to that. Their record is abysmal. Look at the disaster that has been wrought by their export and relentless support of extremist Wahhabist ideology. All over the world, they've been exporting Jihadists and supporting extremists and fomenting unrest and promoting Wahhabist madrasses. And the result has been extensive blowback - even to them, when they got unwelcome re-imports from Yemen. How many have gotten away from them? Have we already forgotten the composition of the people involved in 9-11?

Forgive me, if I have exactly ZERO faith in the skillful and objective assessments coming out of Saudi Arabia, and the very quality of their "judgment" is about as good as their judgment when it comes to the rest of their policies in running their own country. Saudi Arabia has exactly one great skill - the great geological fortune of sitting on huge reserves of oil.

VikingSword, why do you think that the Saudis have been so scared of Iran for so long?

You are asking for speculation. That's quite an unproductive road to go down. Because it's fraught with any number of stated and unstated assumptions (such as "surely" they are in a better position to judge their own security needs... which I reject as insane, based on the evidence of their actions - so "surely" *NOT*).

To begin with are they scared of Iran? Already there, I see the need to support that bit of speculative assumption. Instead of speculating about distant countries with opaque governance, how about something we feel much more familiar with? Just plug in the info:

Why do you think that the United States has been scared of Iraq for so long? Why is it necessary to "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here, inside the U.S./kingdom" (sound familiar?)? Why is it necessary to fight them at all (Iraq/Iran)? Why is it necessary to go to war? Why are we scared of a mushroom cloud over Manhattan caused by Saddam? Why are they so scared of a mushroom cloud over Riyadh, caused by Ayatollah X?

Well, we saw how that turned out - despite extensive callouts by critics and skeptics (and yes, I was among them) screaming about the blatant unreality and propaganda BS in the "case against Iraq", which demanded a war. Which is why I'll invert the question:

Surely the United States is in a better position to judge their own country's security, than all those mean skeptics and critics?

Well was the U.S. in a better position to judge? The answer was - as here: never mind the theoretical position, pay attention to how good is the case and where is the evidence!

The parallels are astounding. We have another Dick al-Cheney anonymously making a case for armed conflict through mouthpieces in the NYTimes. Replete with "fight there so we don't fight here".

And so, rather than ask for speculation about "fears", and "judgment" and "position", and "surely", I think it is far more productive to examine the case offered, where we can examine facts, evidence, maps, troop numbers, transportation, access, ability to project power and leave the speculation about states of mind, the 'inherent nature' of this nation or that, the great judgments of this or that and other propaganda nonsense. Ask for the hard evidence - and like the disgraceful Colin Power did in front of the U.N., we'll soon see there is none (I did enjoy Netanyahu's cartoon bomb drawings in front of the U.N. though - if it doesn't exist, you can always draw it! Very convincing!).

And case is a rotting, steaming, flies-buzzing heap of BS - whether by Dick Cheney, or Mohamick al Cheney.

There are parties that have been in a frenzy beating the drums of war against Iran for a long time now. Hopping from leg to leg, bladder full to the bursting "we can't wait, can't wait one more second, we must go, go, go, go!!!".

Let them make their case. We are under no obligation to accept it uncritically. This particular anonymous case holds about as much water as a bucket with no bottom.

Every party calling for war or armed conflict with Iran has their own motives. We can only speculate about those. What we can examine in the cold light of facts and evidence is the case laid out for such action.
posted by VikingSword at 4:03 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Lobbying for a particular interest or accepting lobbyist money does not make a group "UnAmerican." Which is what he is (hyperbolically) accusing the politicians on that list of."

Without, of course, saying the word "UnAmerican", which you quoted. (Why did you quote it, btw? Where did that come from?)

Since you are trying to put words in my mouth, well.. let me make myself clear enough that you should understand it to the point of not having to pretend that I said or inferred something which I did not.

The U.S. spends tens of Billions of dollars a year on gathering foreign intelligence, in ways so all-consuming that it seems most of the general public has a problem with it. Based on that intelligence -- which, incidentally, includes Israeli intelligence sources too -- it makes decisions, and crafts policy. If the Israelis want to influence US intelligence, they are more than free to contribute any intel they want -- which they do, through our intelligence transfer agreements with them -- and that intel is judged on its merits.

This intelligence is the work of thousands of American professionals and experts, some of whom risk their lives in order to gather it. It it designed to be gathered and used in a non-partisan way, free of biases, so that our politicians base their actions on the verifiable truth of the matter.

Now, it's altogether reasonable for an elected politician to provide oversight, in order to make sure that this intelligence be the best and most unbiased possible. Oversight does not mean actually trying to shape the intelligence provided, however.

The people doing that work are professionals, and, as a general rule, know their subject quite well... much moreso than a politician would. Indeed, U.S. intelligence warned about the attacks on 9/11 before they happened, and downgraded the relative threat from Iraq, for those who chose to listen. However, when belief systems, politics, or ideologies interfere with the process of making decisions based on these facts, BAD THINGS HAPPEN. (i.e. Bush Administration) People get killed. Sometimes, it's US citizens or overseas agents doing their job. Sometimes, it's US soldiers. Sometimes, it's tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

So, when I say "I wonder what it would take to make an American less loyal to his own country than to someone else's...?", I mean precisely that. What he did wasn't criminal, but it does short circuit an intelligence gathering system designed to protect not just the American people, but all of the world, too... including the people of Israel.

(The idea that Israel benefits from foreign leaders disregarding the best intelligence available to them is a bit ludicrous. Obviously, in the long term, it does not. In any event, this is not about Israel, per se.)

I don't care much whether that loyalty is to money, an ideology, a belief system, or another country. What I care about is that they are choosing to ignore the best guidance that our country can provide them, effectively closing their eyes and taking their hands off the wheel while driving your kid's school bus. It's so profoundly irresponsible, as to be the kind of behavior that should basically disqualify you for holding the job itself.

In fairness, I harshly criticized President Bush for repeatedly citing an "Iranian nuclear weapons program" that his country's own National Intelligence Estimate said did not exist. Likewise, I have been very critical of Democrats doing the same thing. I've also been critical of individuals like Dennis Kucinich -- and nations such as Russia AND Iran -- for spreading propaganda and conspiracy theories.

I don't see why I should view Sen. Kirk's actions any differently than anyone else's, just because they are pro-lobbyist. In truth, it isn't pro-Israel. Only making decisions based on observable, objective reality does that.
posted by markkraft at 9:20 PM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Iran deal
Well begun, not nearly done

posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on November 29, 2013


The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal

...it has a butt-trumpet.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


fwiw...
The Iranian nuclear deal: Unlocking the Middle East - "America has rewarded a wicked regime at the expense of its allies... This newspaper sees it differently—in terms of both the risks and the rewards... If the regime makes a dash for a bomb, the world can find out soon enough to take action... If Iran cheats or cynically sabotages further talks, it will embarrass Russia and China, which have staked their credibility on the agreement; they might back more sanctions."
Iran is a country 77m-strong with a rich imperial history: it is also the most important Shia Muslim power. If it changes its outlook, the whole of the Middle East will change with it. Imagine that Iran one day concluded that spreading mayhem ultimately tends to create trouble at home and began to view its neighbours in terms of opportunities rather than threats. That would do more for the security of Israel and Saudi Arabia than any number of weapons agreements.

The immediate test, and opportunity, will be Syria. Without Iran, Mr Assad would have been ousted long ago. Now Iran is losing men and money there. It also shares, with America, a fear of the Sunni extremism flourishing in rebel-held areas. The West needs to accept that Iran must be at the table in the peace talks due in Geneva. If anybody can bully Mr Assad to offer concessions, it is Mr Rohani. And if Syria becomes even mildly more tranquil, it would calm its neighbours.

In Lebanon, suppose that Iran ceases using Hizbullah, its proxy, as a constant threat to the country’s stability and to Israel. Or that Iran started to use its influence over the Shia population in Iraq to broker peace, rather than to sow discord. Even if Iran merely started to be less mischievous in Iraq (or for that matter in Bahrain, Palestine and Yemen), the Middle East would become a more stable place. All this would take time—after 34 years America and Iran have a lot of catching up to do. But it is worth remembering that they were once allies.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are at once troubled by the prospect of a redeemed Iran and also convinced that the whole idea is a dangerous illusion. Yet the real fantasy is to imagine that more sanctions or harsher negotiations could have produced a deal that was much better than this one. The alternative was not for Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, but for America to abandon diplomacy—and prepare for an assault.

Bombing would probably set Iran back by only a few years; but it would certainly remake the Middle East in a very different way. Nobody knows whether the gamble with Iran will pay off. But it is already clear that the risks are low, the prize is potentially vast—and the alternative is dire.
posted by kliuless at 12:12 AM on December 1, 2013


markkraft said:

If the Israelis want to influence US intelligence, they are more than free to contribute any intel they want -- which they do, through our intelligence transfer agreements with them -- and that intel is judged on its merits.


I think the argument revolves not around the intelligence itself, but the conclusions based on the intelligence.


Now, it's altogether reasonable for an elected politician to provide oversight, in order to make sure that this intelligence be the best and most unbiased possible. Oversight does not mean actually trying to shape the intelligence provided, however.
...

What he did wasn't criminal, but it does short circuit an intelligence gathering system designed to protect not just the American people
...

The idea that Israel benefits from foreign leaders disregarding the best intelligence available to them is a bit ludicrous


The foundation of your argument would seem to be that the American assessment is the correct one, and the Israeli view is incorrect, and the only reason someone would believe the Israeli viewpoint would be due to lobbyist money.

However I see no citations, no evidence to support that. You seem to be starting from the un-proven point-of-view of Kirk having no 'honest' motives for believing what he does, and so skip to right to the "disregarding the best intelligence" (and therefore, as you say, being "less loyal").

Congresspeople question the assessments of the Federal Reserve, the EPA, the Bureau of Labor, the military, etc. etc. all the time. That is not "short circuit[ing]" anything.


Only making decisions based on observable, objective reality does that.

Put another way, your whole argument would appear to me to 'begging-the-question.' You just take for granted that the Israeli view has no substance, no possible merit and use that to build your argument on a mirage.

As I said upthread, I actually agree that the American position is probably closer to correct, but Kirk's views seems like it could have a basis in reality so to me evaluating this political viewpoint through the lens of 'loyalty' has no useful purpose in a civil discussion.
posted by rosswald at 7:06 AM on December 2, 2013


Iran poses almost no existential threat to Saudi Arabia, VikingSword and Joe in Australia, just a small risk that a future Ayatollah might want Mecca under Shia control. Iranian backed groups in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia pose some threat to members of the Saudi royal family however. And increasing Shia influence poses a significant risk of preventing rich Saudis from engaging in business deals that exploit Shia populations in Bahrain or elsewhere. Any Saudi "national interests" are about more money and power for those who already have it, just like everywhere else.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]




Foreign Policy: Fear And Loathing In The Kingdom, John Hannah
Pundits and policymakers are missing the big worry about the Obama administration's Iranian nuclear deal: its greatest impact is not ensuring that Iran doesn't get the bomb, but that the Saudis will.

Indeed, the risk of arms race in the Middle East -- on a nuclear hair trigger -- just went up rather dramatically. And it increasingly looks like the coming Sunni-Shiite war will be nuclearized.
The American Conservative: A Cheney Vet Takes Aim for the Next War
Perhaps here one should recall a salient part of Hannah’s biography: he is one of several low profile but highly placed Bush and Cheney aides who worked to set the stage for the Iraq invasion. Hannah was instrumental in channeling (“stovepiping” is the term of art) false information from an anti-Saddam Iraqi exile group into the White House, circumventing regular US intelligence vetting. He wrote the original draft of Colin Powell’s famous pre-invasion U.N. speech, in which Powell made a false but tragically effective presentation about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. So we aren’t speaking here of a random neocon bloviating about Neville Chamberlin; Hannah is a man with an actual track record in making wars happen, one who understands that facts, or “false facts,” can acquire a life of their own within a complex government bureaucracy if you know how to insert them and get them repeated in the right places.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


You might think that a record like this would be detrimental to one’s career. Not really. In Washington, a neoconservative hawk never has to say he’s sorry.
Sadly true.
posted by homunculus at 3:37 PM on December 3, 2013




Two important thumbs down for the Iran interim deal
Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz, two of the most widely known secretaries of state (the architect of détente and the architect of non-détente) take to the Wall Street Journal to, in essence, deplore the interim deal. They describe the problem:

The interim nuclear deal with Iran has been described as the first step toward the elimination of Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon. That hope resides, if at all, in the prospects of the next round of negotiations envisaged to produce a final outcome within six months. Standing by itself, the interim agreement leaves Iran, hopefully only temporarily, in the position of a nuclear threshold power—a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so. A final agreement leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East...
[...]
Not surprisingly, the Iranian negotiator, upon his return to Tehran, described the agreement as giving Iran its long-claimed right to enrich and, in effect, eliminating the American threat of using force as a last resort.
I'd like to hear more from Obama's critics about what the alternative strategy should be. It seems that the red line strategy was leading to an inevitable military strike on Iran by the U.S. But isn't there a high probability that would lead to an all out war with Iran? If not, the U.S. would probably have to strike again in a few years, and on, and on. It seems the neo-cons were hoping Iran would not retaliate and sanctions and strikes would eventually force some sort of revolution in Iran, but that seems unlikely.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:18 AM on December 5, 2013






Not like Kissinger and Shultz would want anything other than direct war with Iran anyways.

I'm guessing Rubin got to write her own headline there?
posted by edgeways at 9:06 AM on December 6, 2013


Iran hardliners attack Zarif over nuclear comments
Mr Zarif said at Tehran University that “western powers are not scared of a few of our tanks and missiles. They are afraid of people. Do you think the US, which can destroy all our military systems with one bomb, is scared of our military system?”

A few hours later he corrected his comments, saying that he did not intend to undermine Iran’s military capability but wanted to underline that what had deterred the US from a military invasion was the Iranian public’s support for the nuclear programme.
[...]
The hardliners’ anger comes after an editorial in Aseman, a leading reformist weekly, elevated Mr Zarif to the status of hero, comparing him to Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister who was ousted during a US-engineered attempted coup in 1953.

In response, students at Tehran University welcomed Mr Zarif as “Mossadegh’s alter-ego”.

“In these two periods [under Mossadegh and now], the public has expected their problems to be resolved by politicians – in particular diplomats and lawyers – rather than military men,” the editorial said. “For once in our history, let’s raise our hats to a living hero inside the country, not only to an exiled dead one [Mossadegh].”
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:39 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]




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