Preventing a nuclear Iran. . .for 15 years.
July 17, 2015 10:44 PM   Subscribe

After intense negotiations, the Obama administration has started a new phase of defending the nuclear deal with Iran that could determine whether Congress will approve it after a 60-day review. Obama's deal with Iran could become his administration's foreign policy legacy. But is Iran’s nuclear capability the issue anyway?
posted by Sir Rinse (179 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm lost a bit on the details of the deal and the regional politics. But, I think focusing on the nuclear program had to be the way it went down. The US can't move forward with any more engagement without that elephant in the room at least acknowledged. There are a lot more elephants going forward if the US and Iran are truly going to learn to be something other than enemies, but this was a pretty good start. I admire President Obama and John Kerry and the leadership in Iran for working to make this happen.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:07 PM on July 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


It seems to me that Obama's single focus has been on avoiding war. The usual neocon suspects, the Saudi monarchy, the hawkish Israeli PM all want war on Iran. Tamping down the OMG WMDs in Iran rhetoric with this agreement places another obstacle in the path to war.

For all his other weaknesses, Obama has so far beat the warmongers at this game which is the reason I voted for him. With the rhetoric from the right still bellowing and the bellicose record of former Senator Clinton, Obama's legacy may well be the effectiveness of these obstacles in keeping the peace after he is out of office.
posted by three blind mice at 11:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [39 favorites]


Regarding 1940's science, an 1950's technology, Iran has been within a year or two of 'breakout' for 30+ years now. So, if NOT doing it for 30 years isn't evidence of good-faith, what is?
posted by mikelieman at 12:22 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cool! Now let's get to work on the countries that actually have a nuclear arsenal.
posted by mattoxic at 1:11 AM on July 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


It seems to me that Obama's single focus has been on avoiding war.

Avoiding the bad press that comes with war. In how many countries is the USA at war right now? For the sake of clarity, let's stipulate that a US military led or sponsored attack on forces within a country means that the USA is at war there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:16 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]




Heh:
Where's the Coverage? The 90s Called, They Want Their Nuke Deal Back
Today, after 16 months of intense and difficult negotiations with North Korea, we have completed an agreement that will make the United States, the Korean Peninsula, and the world safer. Under the agreement, North Korea has agreed to freeze its existing nuclear program and to accept international inspection of all existing facilities.

This agreement represents the first step on the road to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. It does not rely on trust. Compliance will be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

[William J Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America, October 18th, 1994]
North Korea is presently believed to possess "12–27 nuclear weapons equivalents".
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:46 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Related: Scott Ritter [former US weapons inspector in Iraq] explains why Iran shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites (LRB)
posted by ormon nekas at 3:02 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]




North Korea is presently believed to possess "12–27 nuclear weapons equivalents".

IIRC, that happened after Clinton left office, and on George W. Bush's watch, AND is one of the issues with his defrauding the Congress of the United States of their Constitutional role of oversight of the Executive Branch as detailed in Elizabeth de la Varga's book.

With that in mind, do you forsee a future Republican Executive "dropping the ball", as Bush #43 did?
posted by mikelieman at 3:05 AM on July 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


IIRC, [North Korea's acquisition of nuclear weapons] happened after Clinton left office, and on George W. Bush's watch [...]

Yes, Iran will probably not produce nuclear weapons while Barack Obama is in office.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:12 AM on July 18, 2015


Pro-Israel Aipac Creates Group to Lobby Against the Iran Deal

They're already running TV spots in Detroit during Jeppardy. I was amazed.
posted by Etrigan at 3:12 AM on July 18, 2015




You've got to ask, though, what exactly would make Benjamin Netanyahu happy, when it comes to Iran? I'm going to assume it is precisely the same thing that would make Iran happy, when it comes to Israel.
posted by Jimbob at 3:23 AM on July 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


Prediction: there will be much FUD on this deal. Yet this is really as good as any nuclear deal has ever been. It literally does not get better than this.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:28 AM on July 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Iran Worried U.S. Might Be Building 8,500th Nuclear Weapon.
That's hardly even funny..

In a year of bad news, this is the sole light in the darkness. If the Israeli government played it's cards right, Israel and Iran would be natural friends. (Iran and Morocco are the only countries in the Middle East which are still home to Jews, and unlike the Sunni kingdoms, Iran has some level of freedom of religion).
Generally, the Sunni/Shia "cold war" is an idiotic and unnecessary conflict, and it is fueled by the Saudis and other Gulf kingdoms. But it seems Israel believes they can use it to their advantage - which seems to me to be a very dangerous gamble.
posted by mumimor at 3:48 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


If the Israeli government played it's cards right, Israel and Iran would be natural friends.

Played their cards right in terms of preventing the Islamic revolution of 1979? That would've been some very impressive card playing.
posted by cell divide at 3:56 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Not touching the Jews-in-Iran-have-it-great thing - hoo boy, that is an insanely optimistic reading of the situation there. Pretty ignorant, really.

That said, I think comparisons to the North Korea deal are pretty fatuous - the deals are different in what's being offered and taken away etc; Iran has no "China", in the way that North Korea does and did, and nor does it have a South Korea; North Korea had no Hassan Rouhani. Furthermore, North Korea's dirty bombs are the least threatening part of their arsenal.

I think it's great - Iran's 20th century history has been a tragedy, and anything that helps the country move beyond it is an unmitigated good, in my opinion. It will grant Rouhani and fellow moderates more credibility, success, and I hope popularity.

I feel like Obama has finally lived up to his peace prize, and I vindictively love that this is one peace deal Netanyahu can't sabotage no matter how hard he's tried. I'd care a lot more about what Israel though if Iran's nuclear peace deal if it a) acknowledged its own nukes, and b) made moves to get rid of them.
posted by smoke at 4:58 AM on July 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


They're already running TV spots in Detroit during Jeppardy.

I saw one (also during Jeopardy) in MA. I think they're buying nationwide ads.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:22 AM on July 18, 2015


I just feel like some of the rhetoric coming from the right side of American politics crosses the line. I understand scoring points where you can, but some of this is irresponsible. Doubly so when you consider that the American voting public is probably paying far less attention to this deal than the international press is.
posted by newdaddy at 5:36 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is a monumental deal that will change the international relations of the Middle East and the world.

Containing Iran's nuclear program will defuse the hardliners in Iran. It also means that the country will open up economically and culturally to outsiders. This is huge.

The Likuds, Neocons, Saudis, fuck all of them. All they want is dead bodies. The security of the world has been increased and this is a good thing.

Obama is the anti-lame duck.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:39 AM on July 18, 2015 [35 favorites]




It will grant Rouhani and fellow moderates more credibility, success, and I hope popularity.

In what way is Rouhani a moderate?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:42 AM on July 18, 2015


Reuters - Iran leader withholds verdict on nuclear deal, vows anti-U.S. policies
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei withheld his verdict on Iran's nuclear deal on Saturday but in a fiery address vowed enduring opposition to the United States and its Middle East policies, saying Washington sought Iran's 'surrender'.

In an speech at a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", Khamenei said he wanted politicians to examine the agreement to ensure national interests were preserved, as Iran would not allow the disruption of its revolutionary principles or defensive abilities.

An arch conservative with the last word on high matters of state, Khamenei repeatedly used the phrase "whether this text is approved or not", implying the accord has yet to win definitive backing from Iran's factionalized political establishment.

"Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Even after this deal our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change," he said.
posted by rosswald at 6:04 AM on July 18, 2015


And why would you want an asshole like Khamenei to have more power? The nuclear deal defuses his power and emboldens the moderates and younger population of Iran who want more integration with the outside world.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:06 AM on July 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Saudis, neocons and Khamenei all hate this deal. What's not to love!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:07 AM on July 18, 2015 [32 favorites]


I rather liked this Vox interview explaining how the nuclear deal is as good a deal as we can get from the standpoint of non-proliferation and avoiding war with Iran, and I was amused with this bit:
When I read people saying, you know, "I can't believe we're making a deal with these morally dubious people," I understand why a regional security specialist might feel that way.

But when you work in the arms control field, they're all morally dubious people! These are people who are building nuclear weapons — there are no not-morally-dubious people involved. So when you take that out of the equation, you end up just looking at, "Do these limits slow them down, are they verifiable, are we likely to catch them if they cheat, are we likely to have enough time to do anything?"
The greater divide seems to be on the case of sanctions relief and what that means for how Iran will funnel all of this money into Hezbollah, Hamas, and just multiply the instability of the Middle East; as well as whether or not this will result in regional cooperation on the fight against ISIS. It's hard to say if this just means that the world has traded nuclear fire for more terrorism. Iran's been pretty good/inventive with running terror operations in the depth of a hardcore sanctions regime, and it's still a bit up in the air what they'd do with a recovering economy (or perhaps, optimistically, the recovering economy would mean that they wouldn't be as focused on using Hezbollah and Hamas and just use conventional trade politics to cement its regional influence?)
posted by bl1nk at 6:10 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Iran has some level of freedom of religion

The Iran?
posted by mattoxic at 6:19 AM on July 18, 2015


I think Iran having the bomb would increase regional stabilty. The main shit-stirrers, Israel and the USA, will be more constrained in their actions. The fewer countries that can be bullied and invaded at the whim of the hyperpower, the better.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:19 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Funny to see the ones that are always blabbering about " Iran’s destabilizing role in the region" are, ore often than not, always itching from some red hot middle-eastern action. If only those people had the decency of doing a Slim Pickens on the bombs they want to drop so very very much, maybe we'd see more peace.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:22 AM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Kevin Drum: I Want to Hear a Good Argument Against Obama's Deal With Iran
I don't want Iran to build a nuclear bomb. It would quite likely set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which is the last place on the planet that we want to have one. And as near as I can tell, this deal is our best chance to keep Iran nuclear free for a good long time. If any conservative can offer a better plan, I'm all ears. Either:
Describe a tougher deal that you can reasonably argue Iran would have accepted.

or

Explain why some other course of action would be better at keeping Iran nuclear free than a negotiated deal.
No name calling, no comparisons to Neville Chamberlain, no complaints that Iran hates Israel, and no blather about appeasement. Make an argument. A real argument about a course of action that would be better than the deal currently on the table. Let's hear it.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:24 AM on July 18, 2015 [41 favorites]


Also, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Saudis, neocons and Khamenei all hate this deal. What's not to love!

I can't imagine ISIS is too fond of it either.

To me, the only real benefit of this treaty is if it leads to overall greater engagement with Iran. The biggest threat to the region is sectarian violence, and that's simply not an issue you can address without Iran's active involvement.
posted by Slothrup at 6:25 AM on July 18, 2015


Really? Hezbollah which is part of the Lebanese government and is mostly a semi-governmental organization focusing on south Lebanon is a threat to the region? Hamas which controls nothing but the open air prison known as Gaza is a threat to the region?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:29 AM on July 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Binyamin Netanyahu, the Saudis, neocons and Khamenei all hate this deal. What's not to love!

I remember when lefties were against nuclear weapons.

Do any of Iran's neighbours think this deal will make the region more peaceful? Iran has by far the largest army in the region and it's openly intervening in at least four regional conflicts. I suppose all the people who actually live in the region may be wrong, but they're the ones who will have to pay the price.

As for Netanyahu, this deal has (remarkably!) driven Israel's opposition into his arms:
Israeli Opposition Leader: Iran Deal Will Bring Chaos to the Middle East

That is the guy that Obama wanted elected. And now his party has entered "simply procedural" talks on joining a unity government with Netanyahu's party, because they're so scared of a nuclear-backed Iran/Hezbollah.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:30 AM on July 18, 2015


The main shit-stirrers, Israel and the USA

I am decidedly a non-fan when it comes to Israel's handling of the occupied territories, but I don't think it's defensible to put Israel into the same category as the US or Iran when it comes to creating trouble.
posted by Slothrup at 6:31 AM on July 18, 2015


I think the deal is a great thing, and pretty well assured to actually come to pass. On the Iranian side, they need the sanctions relief. They may grumble about it, they may focus on trade with partners other than the U.S., but they're not going to say no. In the U.S., unless the Republicans can find a smoking gun in 60 days, they're not going to get enough Democrats to override a presidential veto if they call to reject.

While the next president is free to nullify the treaty, they'd be unable to bring back all the partners for sanctions, especially Russia & China. Honestly, it was only going to be so long before Russia or China got tired of sanctions anyway, so another motivation to make a deal happen now is to add their leverage to the penalty for breaking to agreement.

Finally, I think Hillary's taciturn response to the announcement is more because she's running for president, and it would look bad if she backed this and it somehow fell apart. This deal wouldn't have happened without the work her State Department carried out. There is no way she doesn't want to see this work out.

I also think it's great that on the Iranian side moderates get to claim a high profile victory that will improve quality of life for the entire country. It's probably too much to hope that a decade of normalizing relations with the West will solve every problem I have with Iran, but in a country where so much of the population is under 25, it doesn't take so long to change the minds of the electorate.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 6:42 AM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


The headline I haven't seen yet: "Obama refuses to let Netanyahu run U.S. foreign policy. GOP furious."
posted by tommyD at 6:42 AM on July 18, 2015 [44 favorites]


but I don't think it's defensible to put Israel into the same category as the US or Iran when it comes to creating trouble.

Campaigning politician and incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu went to Congress to beat the war drum and the US warmongers clapped at the same rhythm. That's pretty much the definition of shit-stirring.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:47 AM on July 18, 2015 [35 favorites]


That is the guy that Obama wanted elected. And now his party has entered "simply procedural" talks on joining a unity government with Netanyahu's party, because they're so scared of a nuclear-backed Iran/Hezbollah.

You don't even have to read between the lines to see what Herzog's actual goal is:
Herzog announced Wednesday that he would go to the US to lobby for a compensation package to ensure Israel’s military edge in the region, in the wake of Tuesday’s Iran nuclear deal.
He just needed the appropriate amount of puffery on his part, but he knows that it'll be extremely hard to get the 2/3rds of Congress to vote against it. However, getting the aid package and additional military support (the linked article from the above paragraph says “Israel gets a security umbrella and a series of steps to allow Israel to maintain its advantage in the region due to the new reality coming out of the deal”) he really wanted will be trivially easy at that point. It makes him look like the reasonable one both at home and abroad compared to an apparently off-his-rocker Netanyahu and probably gives him a bit more of that leadership shine for the inevitable next round of early elections.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:48 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Really? Hezbollah which is part of the Lebanese government and is mostly a semi-governmental organization focusing on south Lebanon is a threat to the region? Hamas which controls nothing but the open air prison known as Gaza is a threat to the region?
posted by MisantropicPainforest


Ever hear of Syria? The Sinai?
posted by rosswald at 7:00 AM on July 18, 2015


"I remember when lefties were against nuclear weapons."

You do realize that this is a deal that makes nukes less likely, right?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:07 AM on July 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


I'm inclined to like this deal, but first I need to identify a government in that region that is morally sound and worthy of support.

Or one not in that region that is morally sound and worthy of support.
posted by delfin at 7:11 AM on July 18, 2015


While I agree that this very well may be the only deal possible under the circumstances, I have reservations about the following things that, individually, would be less worrisome but as a group I find fairly alarming:

1. Immediate removal of sanctions. The lack of a compliance-confirmation process in advance of the lifting of sanctions would be mildly troubling without...

2. No "drop-in" auditing or compliance reviews. This deal apparently includes a 24-day advance notice of international visits to facilities. 24 days is a long time to anyone sufficiently motivated to hide something. Which, again, wouldn't be bad on its own, even with number 1 without...

3. Continued Uranium enrichment.

I think this combination of concessions amount to a huge risk. I don't know if it was possible to get better terms, and wouldn't advocate walking away in light of them, but I think I'm more worried than most in this thread.
posted by chimaera at 7:21 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


24 days is a long time to anyone sufficiently motivated to hide something.

Is it, though? If they're doing covert nuclear work, then we'll be able to detect it. You can't just hide radiation like that. It leaves a trace. At least, that's what I hear, and as far as I know it's true.
posted by dis_integration at 7:25 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


In an speech at a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", Khamenei said he wanted politicians to examine the agreement to ensure national interests were preserved, as Iran would not allow the disruption of its revolutionary principles or defensive abilities.

An arch conservative with the last word on high matters of state, Khamenei repeatedly used the phrase "whether this text is approved or not", implying the accord has yet to win definitive backing from Iran's factionalized political establishment.

"Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Even after this deal our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change," he said.


John McCain, as the Republican presidential candidate, sang "Bomb Bomb Iran" to great cheers from his supporters.

There are explicit death crazed idiots with large amounts of popular support in the political establishments on both sides of this deal. That is why the deal is important.
posted by srboisvert at 7:38 AM on July 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm puzzled, Joe in Australia. The deal seems to make Iranian nukes much less likely, yet you seem to be thinking it will practically give Iran nukes overnight.

What is your preferred plan? Iran was building nukes despite the sanctions so clearly more sanctions aren't the answer. In your ideal world what would be happening to resolve the issue?
posted by sotonohito at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a war in Syria right now.

On one side is the government, which provoked this war by arresting a 13 year old boy, cutting off his penis, and killing him. (We're not sure in which order those last two things happened.)

On the other sides, a collection of militias ranging from heroic to, well, ISIS.

Iran is on the side of the dong-cutters. Iran will stay on the side of the dong cutters, and will be supplying the dong cutters with materiel and personnel, to an extent commensurate with Iran's ability, which is in turn controlled by the extent to which they are subject to sanctions.

One should keep that in mind.
posted by ocschwar at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2015


Accordingly, the purpose of these negotiations was not to pat Iran on the back, praise their newfound commitment to democracy and goodness and light, and award them a Blue Peter badge.
posted by delfin at 7:47 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


The deal seems to make Iranian nukes much less likely, yet you seem to be thinking it will practically give Iran nukes overnight.

I wouldn't say overnight. The thing is, since we all agree that Iran was already breaching the terms of the NPT and subsequent agreements - what happens if it breaches this deal? Well, our experience has been: nothing. And the most that can happen is that after a complaint and 24 days there can be an inspection, of some places, and if that turns anything up it goes to a board, which after thirty days ... tl;dr; at the end of the process I suppose sanctions may be reapplied? So we're back where we were, except Iran has 100+ billion dollars more, and has been allowed to import all sorts of weapons capabilities (e.g., ballistic missile technology) that it was formerly denied. And it's all supposed to expire in a decade anyway. So I'm puzzled at the impression some people have that it will make Iranian nukes "less likely".

In your ideal world what would be happening to resolve the issue?

Well, sanctions were crumbling anyway, and the USA seems to have lost its appetite for being the world's policeman, and Putin is eager to expand Russia's influence through arms sales. In my ideal world none of that would be true, I guess. Given that it is true, I suppose the best we could have expected is that Obama's team wouldn't have been so transparently desperate to accept any deal that Iran would offer.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:54 AM on July 18, 2015


Joe Cirincione: "The deal eliminates the three ways Iran could build a bomb [Uranium, Plutonium, and Covert facilities].... The beauty of this agreement is that Iran gets to keep its buildings and we get to take out all the furniture."
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:54 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, sanctions were crumbling anyway, and the USA seems to have lost its appetite for being the world's policeman, and Putin is eager to expand Russia's influence through arms sales. In my ideal world none of that would be true, I guess. Given that it is true, I suppose the best we could have expected is that Obama's team wouldn't have been so transparently desperate to accept any deal that Iran would offer.

This is both factually untrue and substance-free chest-thumping. What, specifically, do you think would have been better? Use your words, and at least try to use metrics and terms the non-proliferation experts and diplomats are using.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:02 AM on July 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


Where's the Coverage? The 90s Called, They Want Their Nuke Deal Back

It's not just that NK gained its nuclear weapons after Clinton was out of office; it's that Bush broke the deal Clinton had made and NK's development of nuclear weapons was in direct response to that. If the idea is to illustrate that this deal is unworkable, you've demonstrated the exact opposite: it'll work until a future president deliberately sabotages it just because it's working.
posted by fatbird at 8:08 AM on July 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


has been allowed to import all sorts of weapons capabilities (e.g., ballistic missile technology) that it was formerly denied

Maybe not.
posted by asterix at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2015


Joe, so are you arguing that the status quo is better than this deal? Given the world as it exists what would you prefer to this deal? You keep saying it is bad ok, what would be better.
posted by sotonohito at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2015


Is it, though? If they're doing covert nuclear work, then we'll be able to detect it. You can't just hide radiation like that. It leaves a trace. At least, that's what I hear, and as far as I know it's true.

If they're doing covert work that violates the treaty in a space where they're doing "legitimate" work, the detection challenge is much harder.
posted by chimaera at 8:13 AM on July 18, 2015


[Several comments deleted. We've been around this block many times, and if we're going to be able to have threads on Middle East issues we need to not jump to "you're full of shit" and the like. People can discuss other aspects of this deal beyond just what its opponents think of it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:24 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


With the advantage of having actually been in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, and talked to officials in al those countries - but with the disadvantage of not being a pundit or involved in politics, I have this hutch that Iran is mainly involved in Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza strip because these are the few places Iran can hold some power and challenge the Arab Golf states and the US in spite of being a pariah state. Iran wants influence and self-preservation, not more land, nor racial/religious conflicts that can backlash internally.
I think an Iran which is part of the global economy and which is included in negotiations about a future Syria might have a completely different attitude to Israel and to the US. And unlike many other countries in the region, they won't have too much trouble convincing their population to agree: Iran has the most US-friendly population in the Middle East - and it's my guess that they are also far easier to move when it comes to antisemitism and anti-zionism, if that is pragmatic.
posted by mumimor at 8:27 AM on July 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


Where did this idea that the deal automatically drops the sanctions with no action from Iran come from? Here's the full text of the deal via the Washington Post.

The magic words in the "Sanctions" section are that relief is: "to take effect simultaneously with the IAEA verified implementation of the agreed nuclear related measures by Iran as specified in Annex V".

My read is that Annex V requires the following from Iran for sanctions relief:

- Scrapping the existing work at the Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor and redesigning it and placing it's existing stockpile of Uranium pellets for the original reactor under IAEA control.

- Sell all excess heavy water under IAEA monitoring.

- Limit's its cenrifuges 5060 of the oldest type, limit it's enrichment to 3.67%, place all excess centrifuges under continuous monitoring.

- Completely dismantle one of their other existing enrichmant facilities.

- Sell or dilute their stockpile of enriched Uranium to the 300 kg of up to 3.67% agreed on.

- Allow the IAEA to implement all transparency measures provided for in Annex I.

- Provide the IAEA with an inventory and allow verification of all centrifuge equipment.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:28 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Any nation-state that possesses nuclear weaponry has no moral authority to prevent another nation-state from developing that same technology. Absolutely none.

So what if Iran developed a nuclear bomb? What's the big deal?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:30 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Making arguments about how terrible the Assad government is kind of a red herring wrt Iran. We back the Saudis, who are currently bombing the hell out of Yemen and creating a breeding a ground for Al-Qeuda in the Arabian Peninsula. They have also beheaded at least 85 people in 2015. We back them.

In the region, Iran is not an outlier in terms of their governance or repression. We back and trade with many deeply flawed states, the sanctions have allowed Iran to suppress internal dissent by creating an external enemy. Actually communicating with them, verfiably reducing enriched uranium and getting an inspection schedule is far better than our current plan of "yell at them and let them continue to enrich uranium"

Israel also has no one to blame but itself for any terms they got in this deal, they refused to involve themselves in any negotiation and in doing so failed to advance their own agenda during the negotiations.

I'd suggest reading Daniel Larison on the subject. He has a very sane foreign policy views that actually takes into account realistic variables.
posted by Ferreous at 8:32 AM on July 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Any nation-state that possesses nuclear weaponry has no moral authority to prevent another nation-state from developing that same technology. Absolutely none.


It's so charmingly cute to think this is abotu moral authority.

So what if Iran developed a nuclear bomb? What's the big deal?


And then Saudi Arabia and Egypt rush to develop their own. What's the big deal?

This isn't about moral authority. The NPT was written to enable the Nuclear Club to negotiate agreements so that warring non-nuclear parties can stay confident that their enmity will stay non-nuclear. If the NPT breaks down, the 80's come back with a vengeance.
posted by ocschwar at 8:32 AM on July 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Any nation-state that possesses nuclear weaponry has no moral authority to prevent another nation-state from developing that same technology. Absolutely none.

Is there some claim that this deal is based on the U.S.'s or some other country's moral authority?
posted by skewed at 8:33 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Making arguments about how terrible the Assad government is kind of a red herring wrt Iran. We back the Saudis, who are currently bombing the hell out of Yemen and creating a breeding a ground for Al-Qeuda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In the case of both Yemen and Syria, there's basically a sectarian war between Sunnis and non-Sunnis. Iran's interests in both of these places -- not to mention Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq -- can be seen as largely motivated by supporting and protecting the Shi'ites there.
posted by Slothrup at 8:40 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chuck Schumer has a pretty big role to play in the ratification process. If When the senate votes against the agreement and Obama vetoes it, the outcome may well balance on a knife-edge if Schumer succumbs to widespread Israeli lobbying and decides to whip among the dems. He is almost certainly going to be senate leader next year. It must be an enormous amount of pressure contemplating undermining a sitting democratic president in his particular/peculiar position. My money is on him voting last, not whipping and voting against the agreement if there are enough votes to sustain the veto.
posted by peacay at 8:46 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yep, we've basically been saying the to the largest Shi'ite country in the region that they can't advance any of their interests or fund other Shi'ite groups while allowing our allies to fund fundamentalist Sunnis for decades.

The outrage that Iran might want to increase it's influence in the region is so absurd.
posted by Ferreous at 8:47 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


So what if Iran developed a nuclear bomb? What's the big deal?

It encourages and legitimates other middle East nations to develop bombs, but most of all, it puts Iran on an equal playing field, militarily, with Israel (which has had nukes since the 70s) which Israel cannot allow to happen, and I'm sure would go to war, preemptively, to prevent from happening. In an already hellishly war torn region, surely you can see that adding more nukes can only make things worse?
posted by dis_integration at 8:55 AM on July 18, 2015


What I really don't understand is what the hawks think the options are. The Army is going to draw down to 32 active-duty brigades in 2015, with two more to be cut by 2017. You can't bomb away a nuclear arms facility, you have to invade. Which by my calculations will require a bare minimum of 15 brigades, maybe 10 if you're willing to risk it. So which country do they think is going to reduce Iran by force of arms?
posted by ob1quixote at 9:10 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I really don't understand is what the hawks think the options are.

Building up the most ridiculous armed forces in history.

"Here is what we have to do: America has to have the most formidable, fierce, military in the history of mankind. So when we have a threat, whether it is ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranians, whatever it is, we make it very clear that we plan to push back and destroy that threat to us. And we won’t take 10 years doing it, we hopefully won’t even take 10 months, it will be like a 10 day exercise, because the fierceness of our forces would mean that we can absolutely guarantee the outcome of this film. That’s how America needs to operate in the world of foreign affairs, and foreign policy."

-- Mike Huckabee, allegedly serious Republican Presidential candidate
posted by delfin at 9:14 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


He is almost certainly going to be senate leader next year.

As much as I want adults back in the Senate next year I'm not sure where the seats are going to come from. Assuming Wisconsin and Illinois have their black people and democrats vote because its not a midterm, those seats are freebies for the Ds. Pennsylvania is an outside shot. Rubio's seat in Florida is a tossup because there's no incumbency. But then again holding Nevada has the same problem. Like hell you'll unseat Ayotte though and she's the next most vulnerable seat after those five.

It's a tough road to 50 in the Senate for the Ds.
posted by Talez at 9:37 AM on July 18, 2015


It encourages and legitimates other middle East nations to develop bombs, but most of all, it puts Iran on an equal playing field, militarily, with Israel (which has had nukes since the 70s) which Israel cannot allow to happen, and I'm sure would go to war, preemptively, to prevent from happening. In an already hellishly war torn region, surely you can see that adding more nukes can only make things worse?

Throughout the course of the twentieth century, we had multiple opportunities for regional or global nuclear warfare. This never occurred, so with the benefit of decades of hindsight, we can take a clear look at the consequences: a rise in wealth disparity; a rise in antihumanist political rhetoric; a complete rejection of rational thought which, may I remind you, is literally the only tool we possess that has any chance to actually improve anything.

It's time to give serious consideration to the idea that not ending human civilization in a hellish atomic conflagration was a mistake that should not be repeated.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:42 AM on July 18, 2015


Its always interesting to try to read between the lines in what diplomats say when making a case for the deal. It hasn't gotten as much media coverage (mainly because Iran and Islam are popular rightist bogeymen for the media to focus on) but discussions between diplomats in the US and Russia over Syria were also a seemingly key part of the process. While I think it would be rational from Iran's perspective to have weaponry to match that of Israel, presumably nuclear-grade, the risk of proliferation of that nuclear materiel to ISIS and other regional terrorist outfits means that making a deal was crucial to both the US and Russia, whatever their differences elsewhere, as much as such deals are important to Iran to lift sanctions. Basically, the scope of this deal is much larger than Iran and Israel, and it buys time for the big players to figure out how to deal with ISIS, while minimizing the risk of their acquisition of nuclear weaponry.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:10 AM on July 18, 2015


And in any case, Obama can push this through without majority support, and certainly without the support of Israeli lobbyists in Washington, so this is basically happening. Arguing is arguing and Bibi can stew (while getting sweet US weapons deals on the side) but this deal is more or less a given outcome.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:14 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iran is on the side of the dong-cutters.

And on the other side are the head-cutters. Pick a side?
posted by JackFlash at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


And on the other side are the head-cutters. Pick a side?


There are more than two now.

And the militias that are fighting for the most humane vision of a future for Syria are the ones that are the most neglected.
posted by ocschwar at 10:50 AM on July 18, 2015


> It's time to give serious consideration to the idea that not ending human civilization in a hellish atomic conflagration was a mistake that should not be repeated.

No, it isn't -- and it never is.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:08 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Having listened to the Obama press conference last week, he was really enjoying the Q&A part of things, and I think what he liked most was that, for once, the liberal idealism and the pragmatic realpolitik -- his two warring natures -- were perfectly in sync this time. He sounded like an IR professor at times -- I thought at a couple points he was going to get out the whiteboard and do a little game theory, with two-by-two tables or extensive form with backwards induction. Basically, his answers were always along the lines of: option (a), it works, and we're better off; option (b), it doesn't work, and we're no worse off. It gave him his beloved centrist sensible mantle, while painting his opponents as the idealistic, pie-in-the-sky ideologues, lacking arguments except "don't deal with badguys (even at the cost to world peace)" or "it's never going to work because they're such badguys (so it's not worth trying)", etc. But for the first time in a long time, Obama didn't have to watch his back either. The last year has seen a number of battles that pit him against both sides -- TPP, but also many other foreign-policy matters -- so both he and the left wing are happy to all be back on the same page. Even the left gets to wear the pragmatist hat this time.
posted by chortly at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


J. Robert Oppenheimer said it many years ago: once one or two nations develop the bomb, it is but a matter of time that this Pandora's box will open and many other nations will have nukes. Next will be the Saudis, who, wary of Iran, are now negotiating with Pakistan for their very own bomb.
As some readers here know, I am mostly pro-Israel and so I would note that Bibi--a guy I truly dislike--is so worried about Iran and nukes, it is perhaps because Iran leadership has consistently said it wants and hopes to destroy Israel but Israel has never had or said that as its goal.

I support the Obama initiative. I think it is a good one. The alternative? Sanctions will not work because China and Russia have both said that if the deal is not accepted they will lift their sanctions against Iran.
posted by Postroad at 11:24 AM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


> The alternative? Sanctions will not work because China and Russia have both said that if the deal is not accepted they will lift their sanctions against Iran.

This is exactly it. Any belief that we were "weak" by not continuing to push harder sanctions on them (which is really the only opposing strategy I've heard that doesn't involve outright warfare) is making the assumption that our economic sanctions alone are enough to cripple Iran, without the cooperation of others - a theory that is not only objectively incorrect, but also ignoring that such a scenario would also not provide many of the oversight opportunities that are part of this deal.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:44 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]




North Korea is presently believed to possess "12–27 nuclear weapons equivalents".

And what was the alternative? There really wasn't one. Same with Iran. Republicans are so war hungry, it's terrifying, and it's the number one reason I bailed on the right wing. They really seriously are war mongers. They don't even try to hide it. They flaunt it. They consider it a virtue.

This is why I hope Democrats make the Middle East (diplomacy instead of bombs) a central campaign issue. Never let the public forget that voting for Republicans is the exact same thing as voting for a new war, maybe more than one.
posted by Beholder at 12:42 PM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


While I am apprehensive on some aspects of the nuclear deal, I think there is more "long game" thinking involved than we give the Obama administration credit. This deal pushes back a true nuclear Iran about 15 years. At that time, Khomeini will be 92 years old and I highly down he will live that long. I really think the whole plan is to deviate from sanctions. This may cease galvanizing most of Iran against the west and greatly increase the likelihood of a significant government change. With a country of so many young people, it is ripe for change. Maybe Republicans can give Obama some credit for trying to be "divisive" in Tehran as much as they blame him for doing this at home.
posted by Muncle at 1:08 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


North Korea is presently believed to possess "12–27 nuclear weapons equivalents".

This is actually a very good example. The Clinton Agreement prevented development of nuclear weapons for more than a decade with continuous on-site monitoring. However, that all unraveled when the Bush administration initiated its everything-opposite-of-Clinton, axis-of-evil policies, reneging on the agreement. In a short time, North Korea resumed its nuclear development and produced its first bomb tests. You have Bush to thank for that.

This is a perfect case illustrating that negotiation works while tough-guy war-mongering and saber-rattling does not.
posted by JackFlash at 1:12 PM on July 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


The agreed framework between North Korea and the United States was signed in 1994. North Korea did not test a nuke until 2003. The test was largely in response to Bush's ineptitude at foreign policy.
posted by humanfont at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


wait, so Obama negotiated with Iran without first making the Ayatollah go on TV wearing a shoe on his head?

what a pussy

#Appeaser-in-Chief
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:26 PM on July 18, 2015


Basically, his answers were always along the lines of: option (a), it works, and we're better off; option (b), it doesn't work, and we're no worse off.

That second option is false, though. As part of the deal, Iran reportedly gets $100+ billion dollars in released funds and so forth. That money will make millions of people worse off - people in Lebanon, and Syria, and Yemen, and - yes - Israel. A few years ago Obama was trying to drum up support for a war against Assad; now he's working to finance him. The USA's whole foreign policy is a mess and part of the problem is that Obama's foreign policy team thinks it's a lot smarter than it is.

I already mentioned his attempted war against Assad (200,000+ dead, millions of refugees) but there's a lot more.

Remember the "reset" with Russia? And its invasion of Crimea?
Remember the gun-running (or whatever it was) in Libya? We never did get a good explanation for that.
I suspect people here are going to blame Netanyahu for this, but remember Obama's very heavy investment in I/P peace? Which worked exactly as well as the last two zillion attempts over seventy years.
Remember the Arab Spring? How's Egypt working out now?
China's literally expanding its territory in the South China Sea, and threatening one of the USA's oldest allies. Has the US got anything to say about that?
What about the surge into out of in and out of Afghanistan? I hear that they don't just have the Taliban there now; ISIL has shown up. Was this part of the plan?
And what about Iraq?
Why was the US funneling weapons to ISIS? And Al-Qaeda?
In exactly how many foreign conflicts is the USA presently engaged? And no, "terrorism" doesn't count as a single conflict.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:04 PM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


If this agreement doesn't effectively address the problem, I suppose there is always plan B. Israel could still bomb Iran if they claimed they have an immediate threat. We might publicly denounce their actions but with "a wink and a nod", our support for them will continue. It really isn't a bad fail safe if things turn really bad, really fast should Iran to get a lot bolder in their development of a bomb. It may also be a strange opportunity for a Saudi-Israeli alliance.
posted by Muncle at 8:24 PM on July 18, 2015


Joe do you think Europe, Russia and China would be willing to keep their sanctions in place given the offer the Iranians put on the table? Do you really think that a military option is viable? You bomb their reactors and you create a global catastrophe. You might be able to destroy some centerfuges, but they will rebuild hide them better. Where does your alternative leave us?
posted by humanfont at 9:09 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


"all unraveled when the Bush administration..."

This is true but re examine the time line for North Koreas continued defiance and giving in. The IAEA was in place but it was North Korea who dismantled the monitoring equipment. Funny that the peace versus saber rattle trope is flaunted-again. Russia and China asked NK to desist, they couldn't cover Kim any longer.
Kim is to blame and he caused many deaths for his little satchel of bombs.
posted by clavdivs at 9:18 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do you really think that a military option is viable?

No. But sanctions were able to force Iran to the table, which means that they had some effect. I've been following the process consistently and it's astonishing how many times the Allied side backed down. I mean, how many deadlines passed? Eight or more? And the Iranians didn't concede even on little things, like "what did you conceal from us previously, under the NPT?"

I don't think a military option is tenable, although it may have been at one time. That was another White House misstep: once they said it was off the table, and once they boasted that they had kept Israel from attacking, the Iranians knew the US had no option other than sanctions. Iran does want the sanctions removed, but it knew it could outlast the Allies. And it did.

To the extent that the post-Iraq White House has a consistent foreign policy, it is this: no public military defeats. Billions (trillions?) have been pumped into covert wars, but US forces have consistently shied away from overt engagements. An attack on Iran's nuclear sites was never an option for the USA, because it might have failed. Similarly, an attack on Assad's forces was shelved when it became clear that Turkey wouldn't support it. That may have been the right decision, but it looked bad. In contrast, the USA has been willing to fund any number of rebel groups and jihadis, or use any number of drones, because those failures are not directly attributable to the Commander in Chief.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:58 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted. Please remember this is a conversation, not a courtroom or inquisition, and avoid making demands. (And just generally, let's all keep in mind that it's okay to discuss reasonably without the goal of forcing others to submit or capitulate to your POV – which is exceedingly unlikely to happen, as hundreds of previous threads before this have amply demonstrated.) ]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:00 AM on July 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


The beauty of the deal is if Iran does build a weapon and someone Bombs them, who is going to protest, Russia? Don't think so, China? too many other concerns.
Looking through this deal, Iran is the one who is going to have to exhibit good faith. In some ways, they have painted themselves into a box.

But this is contingent on a president who will do what is right if Iran falters.

Yeah.
posted by clavdivs at 1:43 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do any of Iran's neighbours think this deal will make the region more peaceful? Iran has by far the largest army in the region and it's openly intervening in at least four regional conflicts.
Their actual neighbours have seen what happens when you let the US determine the fate of the region in the past decade. It wasn't Iran that invaded Iraq, destabilised Syria, bombed Lybia, uses drones for illegal assassinations in Yemen or backed the Egyptian military coup.

Iran is not and never has been a threat to Israel, a country that has had the nuclear weapons capability to wipe out its neighbours for decades. Any notion that Iran, even if it had a bomb, would attack Israel is based on the idea that "those people" aren't like us and are happy to destroy their own country if it hurts Israel.

Which, you know, the Iranians have shown no sign off during the 36 years since the Revolution.

Not to mention that all the hysteria aside, there never has been credible evidence that Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons and it has always adhered to the international nuclear proliferation treaties, if not to US demanded extras.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:45 AM on July 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Incidently, things like "by far the largest army in the region" reminds me of nothing as much as the hype about the battle hardened, fourth largest in the world, Iraqi army on the eve of Gulf War I.

Iran thinks the F-5 is still a capable front line fighter.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:49 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Iran is not and never has been a threat to Israel [...]

You should probably tell the Iranians that. I don't think they will believe you, though, because they will point to their army in Lebanon amd their army in Syria and their own armies at home, and ask why you think a country forty times as big as Israel and with ten times its population is no threat to a little sliver of land abutting the Mediterranean. I mean, you do understand the import of "Death to Israel ", right? They're not chanting it for fun.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:34 AM on July 19, 2015


I've been following the process consistently and it's astonishing how many times the Allied side backed down. I mean, how many deadlines passed? Eight or more? And the Iranians didn't concede even on little things, like "what did you conceal from us previously, under the NPT?"

Given that the deadlines were mutually agreed time frames for concluding elements of the deal and not ultimatums imposed by one party, why should the Iranians have been the ones to suffer a consequence when the schedule slipped? No party to the negotiations accussed Iran of playing for time or being unresponsive to propoosals.

As to the second point. The first phase of implementation between now and December involves disclosure and inventory of those items. Until then all the assets stay frozen.
posted by humanfont at 5:43 AM on July 19, 2015


Among people who I know--international relations scholars whose job is to study nukes and war and negotiations and shit--absolutely none of the Netanyahu-Neocon-Khomenei faction's fears and talk of 'weakness' are given any creedance.

Here's why. Iran, like all other states, values its security above all else. The faction inside Iran that negotiated this deal wants to free up money--like all leaders--to enhance their domestic position. The constituents in Iran want material goods, jobs, Hollywood movies. They are overwhelmingly young. The sanctions have hurt the economy and they just want to have a good job, have a good time, travel, work, party, hang out with family, etc.

Here's a tip: anytime anyone talks about "weakness" or "backing down" in international relations, there is a 99% chance they have no clue what they are talking about. These things are tactics used in a strategic relationship to get the outcome one wants, they aren't tactics designed to show how big a leader's balls are.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:50 AM on July 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


@Joe in Australia

You still haven't explained what action you'd have preferred given the situation as it exists. You say Obama blew it. Ok, what would you have done in his place? I'd like to see your actual policy position here.

As for people chanting shit, it happens all over and isn't a good sign but mostly tends to indicate people rallying support from the ignorant. I can't see how the right wing in Iran getting people to chant Death to the USA/Israel is all that different from the right wing in the USA cheering when John McCain sang "Bomb Iran". In fact, of the two nations, the USA is a lot more likely to indulge in the chants of the right wing than Iran is. The US does, after all, have a habit of bombing the shit out of Middle Eastern nations, while Iran does not have a history of attacking either America or Israel.

So yes, right wingers in Iran say mean things. I'm not happy about that, but I fail to see it as the sort of discussion changing revelation you want us to think it is.

I also think it's pretty hypocritical of you to be invoking the NPT since it's all but openly admitted that France (an NPT signatory) gave actual atomic weapons to Israel in direct violation of the NPT. And there *still* isn't any actual evidence that Iran is in violation.

So, can you please just tell us what you wanted Obama to do? I don't really want to put words in your mouth, but it looks a bit like what you wanted was a war, I say this because a war is pretty much the only alternative I can think of to the deal since China and Russia were going to lift their sanctions regardless.
posted by sotonohito at 6:05 AM on July 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


You still haven't explained what action you'd have preferred given the situation as it exists. You say Obama blew it. Ok, what would you have done in his place? I'd like to see your actual policy position here.

I'd be interested to listen if you have something to say on that too, Joe, because your comments seem to be coming from a place of information and insight on the subject to me. But also keep in mind Joe has no obligation to offer it. It's a ridiculously complex situation and a verdict of, "US actions have been totally fucked up," doesn't necessarily require a better solution to be available. It might just be an irrevocably difficult situation.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:35 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


while Iran does not have a history of attacking either America or Israel.

The Iran and state-sponsored terrorism Wikipedia page paints a different picture. See especially the 'Hezbollah' and 'Iraq' sections.

Other examples - Iran was accused by Indian police of the 2012 bombing of Israeli officials, and recently it was reported Uruguay expelled a "senior Iranian diplomat" for planting dummy bombs to test police reactions.

It isn't all just chanting.
posted by rosswald at 6:50 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


It might just be an irrevocably difficult situation.

No. It is not that difficult. What has been frustrating for the last 10+ years is that Iranian moderates have been working for normalization and more than once, an unholy alliance between Iranian, American and Israeli conservatives and crackpots have successfully blocked that effort.

These conservatives and crackpots can only remain in power by misleading their populations - inventing threats and initiating wars or supporting acts of terror.

Irans neighbors are: Armenia, Azerbadjan, Türkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Golf States, Iraq and Turkey. One could add Russia and Kazahkstan, which also have coasts on the Caspian Sea. For many Indian Zoroastrians, Iran is an important country, even if it is not a next-door neighbor, and discreet relations have been upheld during sanctions. Apart from Saudi Arabia, I have not seen any complaints from any of these countries about the agreement.

Saudi Arabia is a vast, empty country which consistently sponsors terrorism against the US, in the US, and across the globe. Saudi Arabian nationals also sponsor the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, IS in their many iterations, and Boko Haram as well as extremists in Malaysia. Saudi Arabia promotes radical understandings of Islam in most western countries and in the former Soviet Union, including Russia. I would be surprised if there are no Saudi sponsors of Palestinian terror. Well, google it.

In Afghanistan, Iran has worked with the US to stop the growth of Taliban and other extremists and the drug trade. Iran has also given humanitarian assistance there.

Iran supports several despicable organisations and the Syrian government. However, neither Hizbollah, Hamas nor the Syrian government threaten the US or any other countries in the agreement.

By a total coincidence, there was a TV program about Iran here yesterday. It was about lifestyle and cooking, but they visited the infamous Friday prayer. Because the show wasn't about politics, they photographed the whole thing in a very different way, and I was not surprised to see that the chanting "masses" were at the most a couple of hundred men (in one of the world's largest cities). And the (government-appointed) guide said even they might have been there to gain favor with the republican guard. The hall was not at all full, in spite of the show being filmed on the cusp of a holiday, and a lot of people (for instance enlisted soldiers) seemed to be there as part of their job.
The TV host and the guide chatted all through the sermon, with no comments.

The Iranian government are not good, moral, kind, democratic or un-corrupted. They harbor crazy paranoiac theories, and they manipulate the masses the best they can - not very well. They imprison and torture people at random and I would never discuss politics there if I was traveling solo. But compared to our so-called friends in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, they might be Sweden.

For any of you imagining Saudi Arabia is a friendly country, I suggest you call your local consulate about an entry visa. They don't want visitors, because they don't want us to see what is going on. Anthony Bourdain made a show there, see it. They shouldn't have let him in. Apart from strange and unusual methods of punishment, women not being allowed to drive and slaves, the Saudis routinely demolish world heritage and did I mention sponsor terrorism?

The West made a deadly mistake in 1953, by overthrowing Mossadegh. Seriously - just about everything in global development post ww2 would have been radically different if the West had embraced the Iranians' democratic choice. Now, on both sides, this is past history, and while no one in Iran is ever allowed to forget it, a new generation is open to a new dialogue. It's not that Iran is that important. It's more like the butterfly-effect: toppling a democratically elected president at that time and place had a lot of unpredictable consequences, most of which were not even meaningful at the time. For the policy-makers then, it was a succes.

Normalizing Iran will be extremely difficult. The religious radicals have built themselves a vast, corrupt economic powerhouse, centered on the republican guard. But the best way to disempower them is to do business with the other Iranians: the majority who want peace and international recognition. The sanctions strengthen the crazies.

Excuse me for a long rant. I have strong opinions on this. Not least because I hope my grandchildren will be able to visit a democratic Israel where Jews and Arabs can live together.
posted by mumimor at 8:06 AM on July 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


Oops, sorry: Mossadegh was Prime Minister, in a monarchy, not President.
posted by mumimor at 8:17 AM on July 19, 2015


To be fair, the 2012 bombing in India is commonly seen as retaliation for Israel's assassination campaign that killed five Iranian nuclear scientists starting in 2010. And although hardliners in Iran chant "death to Israel" at rallies, the leadership of Israel repeatedly, openly mulls pre-emptive military strikes on Iran. (e.g. 1, 2, there are plenty more)

Anyway, keep in mind that the established consensus (as confirmed by Mossad cables, USA's national intelligence estimates, US Director of National Intelligence in an interview, IAEA, etc.) is that Iran is NOT attempting to develop nuclear weapons since its program shut down in 2003. And the deal makes such development less likely than it has been, given the increased inspections and stricter limits on enrichment/reduction in centrifuges the deal would put in place.

If you look at who outside of the US hates this deal the most, what it comes down to is regional rivals who don't want the sanctions on Iran to be lifted. But we've seen the impact of sanctions on the Iranian people, and it's been devastating: they've contracted the Iranian economy by 1/5 since 2010, to the point that 4/5 Iranians have had their livelihood personally hurt. Now there's a 40% poverty rate, a 20% unemployment rate, and since Iran has a for-pay medical system like the US, people are getting sick and dying from inability to pay for care.

So be clear that if you oppose the plan you really support continuing the actual, demonstrated suffering of the citizens of Iran because of a hypothetical nuclear weapons program that the deal makes it even harder for Iran to pursue, if it ever decided to which everyone agrees that it hasn't, or because you think that all the income from relieved sanctions will be funneled away from the suffering domestic population directly into Hezbollah's PayPal or something.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:18 AM on July 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


The West made a deadly mistake in 1953, by overthrowing Mossadegh. Seriously - just about everything in global development post ww2 would have been radically different if the West had embraced the Iranians' democratic choice.

Really? I don't know whether I'd call it a democratic choice but sure, let's assume that it is. I'm not sure what would have been that different. One dictator who hates the west isn't really that much different to a group of dictators that hates the west. The only real difference is theocracy vs authoritarianism.
posted by Talez at 8:21 AM on July 19, 2015


Really? I don't know whether I'd call it a democratic choice but sure, let's assume that it is. I'm not sure what would have been that different. One dictator who hates the west isn't really that much different to a group of dictators that hates the west. The only real difference is theocracy vs authoritarianism.

What??? I don't even know what to say. Do you at all know what you are talking about?
posted by mumimor at 8:23 AM on July 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Really? I don't know whether I'd call it a democratic choice but sure, let's assume that it is. I'm not sure what would have been that different. One dictator who hates the west isn't really that much different to a group of dictators that hates the west. The only real difference is theocracy vs authoritarianism.
Talez, you might want to check out the Wikipedia page for Mosaddegh. He was democratically elected, secular, and progressive. America overthrew his government at the behest of the British after they were bitter from the loss of profits following Mossadegh's nationalization of the Iranian oil industry. I don't know where you're getting the doubt about his election being democratic, suggesting he was an authoritarian dictator, or that he hated the west.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:27 AM on July 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mossadegh rigged the '51 election and he probably would have rigged a few more along with relying on populist propaganda bullshit and blaming the west to maintain his already tenuous grasp on power. He already had "emergency powers" that made him dictator in all but name by '52 and any idiot can see the whole situation was basically headed towards his continual consolidation and retainment of power.

I don't think the coup was right but both "sides" were as bad as each other. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking Mosaddeq would have been a net gain for the country. By the '60s it would have certainly been an authoritarian disaster zone. First it would have been the Shah then it would have been his political enemies.

And of course he hated the west. The UK navy was strangling his ability for the country to sell its oil and the US was basically going along with it.
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


My apologies, Talez - I don't entirely agree with your assessment but I see where you're coming from now after your longer comment. I was so thrown by your shorter comment at first that I thought you may have had Mossadegh mixed up with someone else but I see now that I was mistaken. I apologize for making an incorrect assumption about your knowledge and I didn't mean to sound condescending, even though I could certainly see how it could come across that way in hindsight.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Talez, I too see where you are coming from now. Which makes it easier to discuss today's reality.
During the immediate post-war period, several countries elected leaders similar to Mossadegh, and the US reacted similarly to most of them. Contrafactual history is a risky business - but in my view, the most important consequence of the coup was that it legitimized the -79 revolution. Lots of Iranians who did not support the islamists were part of the revolution because of the -53 coup.
But there are other factors: within the Middle East, authoritarian rulers learnt that they could do whatever they wanted, if only they kept the US (and at the time UK) on their side. Remember, we even sponsored Saddam Hussein during the Iraq/Iran war. Saudi Arabia would never have become what it is today if the US had accepted the same pluralism and self-government in the Middle East as it accepted in Western Europe. In Europe, even socialist governments were invited to Washington and treated as friends, not to mention fascist Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey.
Everywhere else, even moderate social democrats were toppled by US-sponsored coups. In Europe, we eventually got rid of the fascists and communists peacefully, and included most of Eastern Europe after -89, everywhere else, civil wars happened.
Places like Iran, Syria and Lebanon were not that different from parts of Western Europe at the time. After 70 years, it's obviously a whole different story.
posted by mumimor at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


My apologies, Talez.

No need to apologize. He is simply parroting right-wing revisionist history straight out of the National Review.
posted by JackFlash at 9:32 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The influence of the west in the coup against Mossadeg has been subject to some reassessment of late. It is certain that the US and UK sought to influence events, but the Shah and his generals had a lot more at stake. The legend around it was certainly useful to the CIA in presenting them as a top intelligence agency capable of toppling America's enemies. But they have so seldom demonstrated this kind of compotence in the decades hence, one has to wonder if they are just a rooster taking credit for the rising sun and demanding regular tribute from taxpayers for the morning.
posted by humanfont at 9:55 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The works of the late Chalmers Johnson needs more visibility.
posted by infini at 10:49 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]




The works of the late Chalmers Johnson needs more visibility.

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Among people who I know--international relations scholars whose job is to study nukes and war and negotiations and shit--absolutely none of the Netanyahu-Neocon-Khomenei faction's fears and talk of 'weakness' are given any creedance.

The word "Neocon" is a code word for "Jew". E.g., I think thirteen of the fourteen "public intellectuals" identified by Wikipedia as neoconservatives are Jews. The slur is typically associated with classic anti-Semitic claims of warmongering and dual loyalty, and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't use it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:17 PM on July 19, 2015


The word "neocon" is not a code word for Jew in the American lexicon. The charge that it is some kind of anti-Semitic dog whistle does not make you sound like a rational person.

Also it seems weird to me that you would come out with this kind of emotional and inflammatory response, instead of respectfully answering the queries other posters have put above.
posted by humanfont at 3:46 PM on July 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


No need to apologize. He is simply parroting right-wing revisionist history straight out of the National Review.

That's a new one. Call both power hungry imperialists and a power hungry nutjob assholes and apparently I might as well rock up for a job at the Heritage Foundation. Where do I hand back my socialist voter card? Can I trade it for the equivalent value gift card at Starbucks?
posted by Talez at 3:56 PM on July 19, 2015


The word "Neocon" is a code word for "Jew".

Beyond parody.

Also, should you look further on Wikipedia, you will find this:
"The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was a neoconservative[1][2][3] think tank based in Washington, D.C. that focused on United States foreign policy. It was established as a non-profit educational organization in 1997, and founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan.[4][5] The PNAC's stated goal was "to promote American global leadership".[6] The organization stated that "American leadership is good both for America and for the world," and sought to build support for "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity".[7]

Of the twenty-five people who signed the PNAC's founding statement of principles, ten went on to serve in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.[8][9][10][11] Observers such as Irwin Stelzer and Dave Grondin have suggested that the PNAC played a key role in shaping the foreign policy of the Bush Administration, particularly in building support for the Iraq War.[12][13][14][15] Academics such as Inderjeet Parmar, Phillip Hammond, and Donald E. Abelson have said PNAC's influence on the George W. Bush administration has been exaggerated.[16][17][18]

The Project for the New American Century ceased to function in 2006.[19]"
I'm going to go ahead and say that not many people confused Bush and Cheney with Jewish leaders.
posted by jaduncan at 4:00 PM on July 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


The slur is typically associated with classic anti-Semitic claims of warmongering

buddy I think in America the "slur" is typically associated with warmongering because the neocons in power in America have all been warmongers, not because someone looked up their personal religious beliefs and said "oh I know a stereotype about this one"
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:14 PM on July 19, 2015


> The word "Neocon" is a code word for "Jew".

I'm not Jewish, but I imagine that the above is a smack in the face to the many Israelis and Jews in the world who do not hold neoconservative views, or who oppose the intransigence and hawkishness of the recent Israeli governments.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:15 PM on July 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


The word "neocon" is not a code word for Jew in the American lexicon.

This is an old argument. (There are certainly some people who use it as a code word for "Jew". They're pretty much all conservatives. And anyone who claims that it is, in general usage, a code word, is full of it.)
posted by asterix at 4:17 PM on July 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


That Wikipedia article actually has a section discussing the issue. Anti-Semitic discourse historically uses codewords: "rootless cosmopolitans", "international financiers", "Zionists", "New York liberals" and so forth. There are lots of terms that are effectively dog-whistles (e.g., "urban youth") even though they aren't explicitly racist in themselves. Is it really important to hang on to them?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 PM on July 19, 2015


Is it really important to hang on to them?

Tell you what: we can stop calling them "neoconservatives" and start calling them "a shonda fur die goyim" instead.
posted by asterix at 4:29 PM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are lots of terms that are effectively dog-whistles (e.g., "urban youth") even though they aren't explicitly racist in themselves.

Yes, that's the definition of dog-whistle. But the existence of dog-whistles doesn't prove that this is one.

Congratulations on achieving your classic derail. I'm glad we at least got past 100 comments before you took over the thread.
posted by Etrigan at 4:38 PM on July 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


That Wikipedia article actually has a section discussing the issue. Anti-Semitic discourse historically uses codewords: "rootless cosmopolitans", "international financiers", "Zionists", "New York liberals" and so forth. There are lots of terms that are effectively dog-whistles (e.g., "urban youth") even though they aren't explicitly racist in themselves. Is it really important to hang on to them?

Neoconservative has a specific meaning. This is like saying that because Rosa Luxemburg was a Communist and a Jew that nobody should refer to Communist politics. And if you can't see the difference between the above terms and neoconservative, I don't really know what to say.
posted by jaduncan at 4:42 PM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well the "you're anti-semitic" argument is in full force...about a deal between Iran and the US.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:43 PM on July 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


[Comment removed, please drop this sidebar about "neocon" usage already.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:22 PM on July 19, 2015


Congratulations on achieving your classic derail. I'm glad we at least got past 100 comments before you took over the thread.

Much of this thread has been engaged in debating a single neocon position from fairly early on, alas. Not that it isn't a discussion worth having, but it's a shame for all these smart people to be arguing with what is (relative to the community) a fringe position rather than discussing more interesting (to the community) issues. Speaking just for myself, I don't really need yet another source of carefully reasoned arguments defending the center/left against rightwing/neocon ideology.
posted by chortly at 6:11 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can we drop thr neocon label in the interests of making this a less inflamatory discussion. Instead of labeling each other as anti-semites or neocons or whatever, maybe we could talk about our viewpoints and discuss ideas.

Israel,Saudi Arabia and Turkey are important US allies. They have reasonable concerns about Iran and their national security. The status quo was obviously preferable to any agreement from their pov. The status quo wasnt going to last. So what's their option. What are they going to do?
posted by humanfont at 8:50 PM on July 19, 2015


How did Turkey slip in there? As far as I know, the Turkish government is very happy with the agreement, not least because they expect a huge surge in business.

Part of my hope for radical change in the ME, are the possibilities growing from an improving Turkish/Iranian relationship.
posted by mumimor at 12:16 AM on July 20, 2015


With the sanctions lifted an oil pipeline from Iran to Europe can finally be built.
Since Syria is absolutely destroyed, and won't recover any time soon, the old Iran-Syria-Mediterranean route isn't going to be viable for a long time.
Turkey just happens to be conveniently placed for a land pipeline to Europe, and it did its part in making sure Syria won't be a contender for such a route.
posted by xqwzts at 2:46 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


To explain attitudes toward the Iran nuclear deal, just follow the money. But surely it can't be that simple. Surely there must be more to it than that.
posted by Sir Rinse at 4:22 AM on July 20, 2015


And then, of course, there's game theory.
posted by Sir Rinse at 4:50 AM on July 20, 2015


Turkey and Iran are currently on opposite sides of the Syria fiasco, but also nervous about their respective Kurdish populations' nationalist ambitions.
posted by humanfont at 6:02 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]




He's going to have to do so in song to match the 2008 version.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:07 PM on July 20, 2015


Reuters - U.S. 'disturbed' by Iranian leader's criticism after deal
The United States said on Tuesday it was very disturbed by anti-U.S. hostility voiced by Iran's top leader after a nuclear deal, as both countries' top diplomats sought to calm opposition to the accord from political hardliners at home.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite a deal with world powers over Tehran's nuclear programme was "very troubling".

"I don't know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that's his policy," he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

"But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it's very disturbing, it's very troubling," he added.
posted by rosswald at 7:10 AM on July 21, 2015


Scott Walker suggests he will be prepared to take military action against Iran on day one.

That's lovely, but I'm not sure that his National Guard are up to it.
posted by jaduncan at 10:22 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]






... but then a little boy asked "Mummy, why doesn't that man have any clothes on?" "Shh!", his mother said, "That's the emperor and you're very naughty to say such a thing."

John Kerry rebukes fellow Democrat Robert Menendez for revealing what he says is a “classified” clause in the Iran nuclear deal stating that Iran will be the one to provide the UN atomic agency with samples from sites with suspected nuclear activity.

(via)
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:11 PM on July 23, 2015


Menendez is in deep doo doo and not because of what he says about Iran's nukes.

Indicted by feds for bribery. (unless it's an April first fool's joke)
posted by bukvich at 7:30 PM on July 23, 2015


Republicans Have Minds Made Up as Debate Begins on Iran Nuclear Deal: Notably, some important aspects of this agreement are not being made public because they are reflected in Iran’s confidential submissions to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a detail that has enraged Republicans particularly. There are also unanswered questions about how inspections would be conducted and how the overall agreement would be enforced. Many Republicans — and certainly some Democrats — have come to view the sanctions as reaching beyond a preventive tool against Iran’s nuclear program to one that would crush the nation’s regional ambitions.
posted by Sir Rinse at 11:42 PM on July 23, 2015


MIT faculty chime in. From MIT's press office some reaction from various actual experts. Tldr: Generally supportive of the deal.
posted by humanfont at 11:35 AM on July 24, 2015


Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: From now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations—the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the new Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB)—whose acronyms you’re also unlikely to recognize. Still, they represent an emerging new order in Eurasia.

Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.” And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at a twin BRICS/SCO summit in Ufa, Russia—a place you’ve undoubtedly never heard of and a meeting that got next to no attention in the United States. And yet sooner or later, these developments will ensure that the war party in Washington and assorted neocons (as well as neoliberalcons) already breathing hard over the Iran deal will sweat bullets as their narratives about how the world works crumble.

posted by infini at 12:51 PM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


According to the Wall Street Journal the Obama administration is preparing to release Jonathan Pollard, a convicted Israeli spy, as a means of reducing tensions with Israel over the deal.
posted by humanfont at 4:20 PM on July 24, 2015


The BRICS bloc has been an up-and-coming, just around the corner world power since it was just the BRIC bloc
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:31 PM on July 24, 2015




Why on earth should anyone take anything a Republican politician says about this seriously?
posted by asterix at 7:49 PM on July 24, 2015




The BRICS bloc has been an up-and-coming, just around the corner world power since it was just the BRIC bloc

In those 10 or 15 years, at least two of those lumbering overladen nations managed this:

More than a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990 with China and India playing a central role in global poverty reduction, a major UN report has said

The latest estimates show that the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day globally fell from 36 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2011. Projections indicate that the global extreme poverty rate has fallen further, to 12 per cent, as of 2015.

The poverty rate in the developing regions has plummeted, from 47 per cent in 1990 to 14 per cent in 2015, a drop of more than two thirds.

“The world’s most populous countries, China and India, played a central role in the global reduction of poverty. As a result of progress in China, the extreme poverty rate in Eastern Asia has dropped from 61 per cent in 1990 to only 4 per cent in 2015,” the report said.

“Southern Asia’s progress is almost as impressive — a decline from 52 per cent to 17 per cent for the same period — and its rate of reduction has accelerated since 2008,” it said.
It may not be shiny new weapons or yet another nation in chaos, but in its own way, its significant progress. Momentum is hard to get going when you're bogged down with billions...
posted by infini at 12:55 AM on July 25, 2015


So, just to see if I understand things here:

The Republicans and Israelis are opposed to the deal because they'd rather have a war with Iran.

Did I get that right?
posted by sotonohito at 6:57 AM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]




Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader tweeted in response to a statement made by Obama - the image he posted is... striking.
posted by rosswald at 5:26 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]




In most discussions of the nuclear deal, the word "Iraq" never comes up. That’s insane.
Again and again, pundits who championed the invasion of Iraq—people like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer—appear on television advocating the same worldview they advocated in 2002 and 2003, and get to pretend that nothing has happened over the last 15 years to throw that worldview into question. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which championed the invasion of Iraq (which is not to suggest, as some have, that AIPAC caused it), can mount a mammoth lobbying campaign against the Iran deal without being asked why, given its track record, anyone should listen to it this time. (Update, July 24: AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann emails to dispute the suggestion that AIPAC lobbied to support the invasion, despite reports to the contrary: “AIPAC never took a position on the Iraq war. To suggest otherwise is a complete falsehood.”) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in 2002 told Congress that “There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is … advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons” and that “If you take out … Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region,” can appear on Sunday show after Sunday show smugly lecturing the host about the state of Iran’s nuclear program and the Iran deal’s implications for the Middle East without having his earlier comments read back to him.
Convenient, no?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:42 AM on July 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've often thought that Slate is remarkably supportive of the US government's position on things. Here's a case in point: William Saletan wants the US government to be more secretive:

Please Stop Talking, John Kerry
Kerry has never been capable of staying on message. The more he talks, the more he reveals, and much of what he reveals isn’t helpful.
That's an extraordinary thing for a journalist to complain about! It's one thing to say that the US government is doing a fine job - as Saletan has, repeatedly - but Saletan is, or should be, a member of the Fourth Estate. He doesn't work for the US government; he works for all of us. It's kind of sad to see the gloves come off like this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:21 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Journalist" ... as in "journalist" found hiking near random sensitive hidden secret area type of "journalist"
posted by infini at 4:45 AM on July 28, 2015


Wieseltier on Iran: Laughable
Wieseltier is no doubt sure about "Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon" as he was about the Iraqi WMD program, which spurred the then-literary editor of The New Republic into supporting the Iraq invasion alongside the neoconservative hawks of the Project for a New American Century and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Wieseltier quickly came to regret his support for the war based on the false assertions about Saddam Hussein's WMDs: "I was deceived," he wrote. "Strategic thinking must have an empirical foundation." And yet there were plenty of doubts to be heard about the war rationale for anyone who didn't close their ears to them. That, however, won't stop Wieseltier from failing to heed the experts this time around, where the nuclear non-proliferation and foreign policy establishments are lined up in near consensus behind a deal.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:59 PM on July 28, 2015


Tonycpsu, you seem to be saying that Wieseltier was foolish to believe the US government's assurances about Iraq, and foolish to disbelieve their assurances about Iran. Surely a more consistent lesson would be that the US government is going to say whatever they want, and treat anyone who doubts them as a traitor.

In any event, why do you believe Iran has a nuclear program, especially one of this size?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:20 PM on July 28, 2015


And then there's this: Israelis See Spy’s Release as Peace Offering for Iran Deal.
posted by Sir Rinse at 8:46 PM on July 28, 2015


It's hard not to. I thought this response was funny.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:37 PM on July 28, 2015


Joe in Australia: you seem to be saying that Wieseltier was foolish to believe the US government's assurances about Iraq, and foolish to disbelieve their assurances about Iran

No, I believe that he was foolish to push the US toward war then, and foolish to push the US toward war now -- but this isn't about what I believe. Gharib's argument, which I find compelling but do not necessarily endorse every word of, is not that Weiseltier or anyone else should universally support or oppose any particular government, but that if you're going to make excuses about being deceived when your game of Risk goes tits-up, you ought to have a pretty good argument as to why we should listen to you the next time you're telling us where to position the game pieces.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:06 PM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


In any event, why do you believe Iran has a nuclear program, especially one of this size?

On one hand, the answer is "Sovereignity". It's THEIR nation, and what you and I think is irrelevant to their choices, but obviously part of it is to counter the clear risk caused by the capability of the Israeli Government to deliver nuclear warheads via cruise or ballistic missile from their submarine fleet anywhere in the world.
posted by mikelieman at 12:26 AM on July 29, 2015


In any event, why do you believe Iran has a nuclear program, especially one of this size?

Because they're a middle eastern Muslim nation and as such are subject to semi-random invasion and/or bombing by the US anytime a politician over here decides they want to have a convenient war to boost their approval ratings.

Having nukes is a get out of US bombings free card. See Pakistan for the success story Iran is seeking to emulate. Pakistan actively hindered US anti-Taliban efforts, harbored Osama bin Ladin, sponsored terrorism worldwide, and the US treated Pakistan as a valued ally and never even considered bombing the place. Why? Because Pakistan has nukes.

The only other route to getting out of random US invasion and/or bombing is to be a US client state. Saudi Arabia springs to mind. It sponsors ISIS, is the source of most terrorism that targeted the US, but as a US client nation it too is exempt from US invasion or bombing. That option is simply not open to Iran.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if I were Iranian even if I despised the government I'd be in favor of Iran getting a nuke simply out of a desire for Iran to be immune to US invasion and/or bombing.

And yet, Iran has chosen to trade away its atomic ambitions in exchange for sanctions being lifted. Something I note every opponent of the deal seems to be ignoring. Iran is giving up its ambition to have a nuke, and the opponents of the deal are acting like that's a bad thing. Wow.

The warmongers in Israel, the USA, and elsewhere are of course quite upset because they were really hoping for another war that could further bankrupt the USA to their political (and sometimes, Halliburton springs to mind, economic) gain. But everyone who isn't devoted to wars for their own sake are rather pleased.

I can certainly understand why Netanyahu is not at all happy. He benefits significantly from having Iran as a convenient "ZOMG them evil Muslims are going to destroy Israel if you don't vote for me" scapegoat. Similarly many US politicains, especially on the Republican side but some Democrats as well, make a lot of political gains by saying "ZOMG them evil Muslims are going to destroy America if you don't vote for me". Having the threat from Iran recede is a significant political loss for their positions. Bombing the shit out of random brown people has always been a big political winner in the USA going back to the nation's founding and the genocide against the native Americans.

But for those of us who aren't right wing zealots who really like war and killing, or at least need it for our political benefit, I can't see a downside to Iran becoming less of a threat and more integrated into the world.
posted by sotonohito at 5:45 AM on July 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


It’s sad, and even ugly, but libertarians must face the truth – and this writer is pledged to tell his readers the truth, no matter how bitter. Rand Paul has crossed a very bright line: he has gone from being a wavering and occasionally eloquent spokesman for the cause of liberty and peace to being a full blown renegade from the movement that brought him to where he is today. To be clear: he is an enemy of peace, and therefore of libertarianism.

Rand Paul: Fraud, Failure, Liar
This time, he’s crossed the Rubicon
Justin Raimondo, July 29, 2015

posted by bukvich at 5:51 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leon Wieseltier: The Iran Deal and the Rut of History

I think it's a good and thoughtful essay, and one that deserves a better response than "you shouldn't have believed the US and UK governments about Iraq".
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:23 AM on July 30, 2015


Joe, you did read the entire Gharib piece and not just my pull-quote, right? If so, that's an utterly disingenuous paraphrase of his argument, which raises many other objections to Wieseltier's argument beyond his support for the Iraq freedom agenda.

It also turns out that Ali Gharib isn't the only person on the Internet to have found Wieseltier's piece to be something other than "good and thoughtful":

Iran hawks' refusal to discuss alternatives is incredibly telling
In the first sentence of this paragraph, Wieseltier acknowledges that people reading his criticisms of the deal might be interested in knowing about alternatives.

In the second sentence of this paragraph, he acknowledges that proponents of the deal have really been leaning on this point argumentatively.

In the third sentence of this paragraph, he suggests that it's somehow inappropriate for proponents of a course of action to ask detractors what alternative course of action they would prefer.

He then proceeds to completely depart from the subject of alternatives. Then in the final two sentences of the paragraph, he concedes the entire ballgame to proponents of the deal. The deal, he says:
  1. "will ... have mitigated" America's problems with Iran, and
  2. will provide "relief from the crisis"
Mitigating problems and providing relief from crises are the kind of thing that constructive policymakers tend to want to do. A mitigated problem is better than an unmitigated problem, and relief is better than the absence of relief. Of course, in life one might hope for something better than that. And Wieseltier himself makes it clear that he is hoping for a deal in which Iran dismantles 100 percent of its nuclear infrastructure and is barred until the end of time from engaging in any nuclear research activities.

But the question for hawks is: What are the proposed means of achieving this?
SCORCHING HOT Iran Take of the Day
To the extent that there is content here, it is transparently wrong. A deal that makes it less likely that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, the status is not still quo. Oh, and the status will also not be quo for the Iranian citizens who are suffering due to the sanctions regime, citizens who do not feature in Wieseltier’s calculus at all. But, remember, his war-is-the-answer-to-any-question foreign policy views are rooted deeply in liberal humanitarianism!
posted by tonycpsu at 7:25 AM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think it's a good and thoughtful essay, and one that deserves a better response than "you shouldn't have believed the US and UK governments about Iraq".

Apart from that strawman attack on Wieseltier's critics--and let's not forget that Netanyahu's lobbying makes him just as complicit in selling us a pack of lies and/or naivete on Iraq--I see a lot less thought and a lot more emotion in that piece. First of all, he repeatedly hammers on the theme of that dastardly supervillain Obama despite the fact that international response and discussion is a major part of the agreement, while conveniently leaving out anyone who came before him as being at all culpable for problems with Iran or the Middle East. This allows him to have the gall to describe US support of Iraq in their war with Iran as a "moral correction" and an "an admirable kind of hypocrisy" rather than the extremely immoral and devious horrorshow (thanks Ronnie, Pappy, and Dubya!) that was one of the major factors in the decades of instability in an area that stretches from Tunisia to Pakistan, not the least of which is the two wars with Iraq that both empowered Iran's government and created and popularized ISIS. And for some reason, he insists that anyone who isn't a vociferous critic of the agreement is a "friend" of Iran, insinuating that they support Iran's government and therefore (one presumes) possibly anti-Semitic and anti-American.

In the end it comes off as largely substance-free, and more importantly, falls into the same trap as all the other criticisms of the plan of not offering any better alternatives. Actually, it's worse than that, as tonycpsu's link notes that he basically pooh-poohs the idea of alternatives altogether. Which is why, even though I'm not the biggest fan of his fellow Atlantic columnist James Fallows, I feel his measured response to Wieseltier is much closer to a "good and thoughtful" essay than the original (emphasis in original):
I argued that opponents had not then (and have not now) met President Obama’s challenge to propose a better real-world alternative to the negotiated terms. Better means one that would make it less attractive for Iran to pursue a bomb, over a longer period of time. Real world means not the standard “Obama should have been tougher” carping but a specific demand that the other countries on “our” side, notably including Russia and China, would have joined in insisting on, and that the Iranians would have accepted.

“What’s your better idea?” is a challenge any honest opponent must accept. If this deal fails—which means, if the U.S. Congress rejects an agreement that the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran have accepted—then something else will happen, and all known “somethings” involve faster Iranian progress toward a bomb.

On historical judgment, I said that for two reasons the supporters of the deal should get the benefit of the doubt. The short-term reason is that nearly everyone who in 2015 is alarmist about Iran was in 2002 alarmist about Iraq. You can find exceptions, but only a few. That doesn’t prove that today’s alarmists are wrong, but in any other realm it would count. The longer-term reason is that the history of controversial diplomatic agreements through the past century shows that those recommending “risks for peace” have more often proven right than their opponents. (Don’t believe me? Go back and consider the past examples.)
posted by zombieflanders at 7:51 AM on July 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


let's not forget that Netanyahu's lobbying makes him just as complicit in selling us a pack of lies and/or naivete on Iraq

That would be "not very". You had the US government promoting a war using every channel at its disposal, and your criticism is aimed at ... an author who believed them, and a politician who was then not even in Government. Yes, I suppose they are at faulty for believing the assurances of the US government. What's the excuse of the people who believe the US government now?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:52 PM on August 2, 2015


Leon Wieseltier was on the Advisory Board for the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a group that was formed in 2002 and used heavily to help sell the idea of the invasion of Iraq. His track record has a journalist/observer of US policy in the Middle East is poor. Which is understandable because he is a retired literary editor for the New Republic, not a historian, policy specialist, diplomat or weapons inspector.

The idea that his essay is notable or worthy of consideration seems based entirely on the fact that he shares your worldview and writes well. Perhaps we should put more weight in the views of diplomats, weapons inspectors and nuclear scientists and ignore talking heads who previously lead us into catastrophe.

Joe, I understand that you have strong feelings on this matter, the billions of dollars of my fellow Amercans tax dollars that go to support the security of the state of Israel, along with our willful blindness to the State of Israel's own nuclear warheads, vetoes of UN resolutions to protect Israel demonstrate a pretty strong commitment and it is absurd to suggest otherwise.

Finally Joe in Australia, Australia isn't on the line for these guarantees. It isn't your kids who will be doing the majority of the bombing, fighting and dying in Iran. Austrialia only reluctantly agreed to join sanctions on Iran's nuclear program in 2008. Australia has diplomatic relations with Iran and your foreign minister visited in January to line up deals in advance of the pending agreement. Your sanctimonious lectures of what the U.S. and Obama should do seem pretty hollow when looking at the policies of your own government.
posted by humanfont at 9:00 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Leon Wieseltier was on the Advisory Board for the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a group that was formed in 2002 and used heavily to help sell the idea of the invasion of Iraq.

One of about thirty people on a body formed subsequent to the US government's decision to go to war in Iraq. GW Bush addressed the UN on 12th September 2002; the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq was formed two months later, presumably as part of a government PR drive in support of the President. I think these officially-unofficial pro-government bodies are an embarrassment, but Bush wasn't the first (or last) President to form them.

Finally Joe in Australia, Australia isn't on the line for these guarantees. It isn't your kids who will be doing the majority of the bombing, fighting and dying in Iran.

Australia has a substantial (relative to our size) presence in Iraq right now, but that's not really important. Why do you believe that continued sanctions will lead to war, and why do you think the US would be involved? I mean, Iran is involved in at least three wars already; there's definitely going to be more of them; but why do you think the choices are "drop sanctions" or "invade Iran"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:34 PM on August 2, 2015


Even with sanctions in place Austrailia sold AUS$330 million dollars to Iran last year. Which is not insubstantial for a country of your size.

If the US continues the sanctions and walks out of the deal the following consequences will occur. The interim agreement ends. Iran can turn its idle centerfuges back to full capacity, they can also build more centerfuges. The dilution of enriched uranium stockpiles under the interim agreement ends. They contimue to operate their heavy water reactor and can start making plutonium.

This gives them the ability to make fuel for a bomb in under 12 months even with sanctions. Sanctions are only an effective stick if the carrot of a potential deal is there. So you go from the deal we have on the table to Iran letting Iran get enough fuel for a few bombs.

Furthermore if even Australia is struggling to hold sanctions in place; what are the odds the BRICs stay the course?
posted by humanfont at 11:12 PM on August 2, 2015


One of about thirty people on a body formed subsequent to the US government's decision to go to war in Iraq.

How does the timeline of when the group was formed in any way undermine the notion that Wieseltier has a credibility problem with respect to foreign policy analysis in the region? If anything, his participation in such a nakedly cynical political charade proves the point that we shouldn't be listening to him when he's giving lectures about the perils of being wrong about a Middle East country with nuclear aspirations.

What's the excuse of the people who believe the US government now?

Being right or wrong about a foreign policy question is completely orthogonal to what the position of the US government happens to be. In this case, as cited in the Gharib piece linked above, an overwhelming chorus of non-proliferation experts and foreign policy analysts with no connection to the Obama administration believe that this deal has the potential to slow down Iran's acquisition of a nuclear bomb. If anyone on the other side of the issue had put forth a credible alternative that couldn't be filed under Einstein's definition of insanity, then your continued harping on the fact that the US government has been wrong about stuff in the past might gain some traction.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:45 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


JiA: You had the US government promoting a war using every channel at its disposal, and your criticism is aimed at ... an author who believed them, and a politician [Netanyahu] who was then not even in Government. Yes, I suppose they are at faulty for believing the assurances of the US government.

Of course. Netanyahu was an exemplary dove, til the US convinced him that war was the necessary course. And it's not like his support for invading Iraq or calls for bombing Iran increased his base of support or furthered his political career and goals in any way.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:28 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked Bush not to delay an attack in 2002. He may also have threatened to nuke Iraq.

It wasn't like Bibi was the lone Israeli leader calling for American intervention. Also Netenyahu was a member of Sharon's government Nov 2002-2005 serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and then as Minister of Finance. So in fact Netenyahu was a member of the government during the time of the Iraq war.
posted by humanfont at 11:48 AM on August 3, 2015




Inspectors So Far Denied Access to Iran’s Scientists
[click via Google News]
WASHINGTON—Iran so far has refused to allow United Nations inspectors to interview key scientists and military officers to investigate allegations that Tehran maintained a covert nuclear-weapons program, the head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said in an interview Wednesday.

Iran’s stance complicates the International Atomic Energy Agency’s probe into Tehran’s suspected nuclear-military program—a study that is slated to be completed by mid-December, as required by the landmark nuclear agreement forged between world powers and Iran on July 14 in Vienna.
More about Parchin:
Iran Already Sanitizing Nuclear Site, Intel Warns
The U.S. intelligence community has informed Congress of evidence that Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, in broad daylight, days after agreeing to a nuclear deal with world powers.

For senior lawmakers in both parties, the evidence calls into question Iran’s intention to fully account for the possible military dimensions of its current and past nuclear development. The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran have a side agreement meant to resolve past suspicions about the Parchin site, and lawmakers' concerns about it has already become a flashpoint because they do not have access to its text.
Challenging president, Schumer declares opposition to Iran deal
WASHINGTON -- Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, the most senior Jewish member of the United States Congress and likely the next Democratic leader of the Senate, will oppose the Iran nuclear deal reached last month.

His declaration in opposition is the first from the Senate Democratic caucus. It is considered influential by his peers: A plurality of Democrats remain undeclared on a pending vote of disapproval over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while 15 members of the Senate have declared their support.
Heh:

Jackson Diehl – Listening to Obama today, you'd never know that Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry all supported the Iraq war

You'd think he would have held up publication, but in case we need reminding that Iran is run by crazy, reactionary clerics:
EXCLUSIVE: First Translation of Khameini’s New Book on the Destruction of America, Israel
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:00 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


More experts endorse the nuclear deal
posted by humanfont at 12:04 AM on August 9, 2015


About Those 24 Days
posted by tonycpsu at 1:51 PM on August 12, 2015


« Older How insignificant Marcus Aurelius's works...   |   Chuck Not So Amuck Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments