Monday, November 25, 2013

Cruising the Web

So do John Kerry and Barack Obama really believe all their nice rhetoric on Iran or are they cynically just making whatever figleaf of a deal they can make so that they can pretend that they have fixed the problem of Iranian nukes? Either choice is thoroughly disheartening to say about our nation's leaders.

We now learn that the administration began these deliberations while Ahmadinejad was still president. Obama has carried out his promise from the 2008 campaign to negotiate with some of the world's worst regimes. Perhaps he can comfort himself that this will really stall Iran's decades-long efforts to develop nuclear weapons. But as James Jay Carafano writes, the world gave up the only leverage we have had.
The saddest part of this negotiated fiasco is that everyone agrees why Iran came to the bargaining table. The sanctions worked; the mullahs had run out of cash, and Tehran determined that the easiest way to get the funds flowing was to get the West to back off.

This is where the realists and the idealists part company. Realists knew that the sanctions were good for only one purpose: to weaken the regime to the point where it would collapse or be overthrown. They crossed their fingers, hoping that would happen before Tehran got a nuke it could turn on the West. Regime change remains the only realistic option to bombing or bearing the danger of living with a nuclear-armed Iran.

Idealists, on the other hand, held that sanctions were the magic button for getting the Iranians to be reasonable. Once Tehran started on the path to accommodating the West (they theorized), the mullahs would realize that the benefits of collaboration and transparency outweighed the burdens of isolation and confrontation.

The parting of the ways between realists and idealist is not about two different visions of the path to a peaceful future. In the case of this particular foreign-policy conundrum, the realist approach is based on a full awareness of whom the West is really dealing with.

The idealists’ assessment is delusional. They see a “freeze” as a confidence-building measure, the first step in disassembling Iran’s weapons program. But where there is freeze, there can also be a thaw. Nothing in this agreement prevents Iran from just picking up where it left off. Nothing in this agreement affects Iran’s effort to improve its long-range ballistic missiles. Nothing can stop Iran from continuing to work on how to weaponize (build a bomb suitable to be put on a missile) a nuclear device in secret.

In return for getting precious little, the negotiators oppose Iran at the table gave up the one thing the mullahs really feared – a continuing squeeze on Tehran’s dwindling bank account.
Roger L. Simon points to the ability this agreement gives to the Iranians to fix any centrifuges that are broken.
How many of those 19,000 are broken? I’m not sure anyone outside Iran knows, but as will be recalled, the Stuxnet computer virus of 2010 was designed to bring these centrifuges to a halt and apparently did so quite successfully in many cases. But now — thanks to the deal that Obama and Kerry have put together — the Iranians will have six unmolested months to get as many of them up and running as they can, enriching uranium.
As the New York Times tells us, this deal would add "at least several weeks, and perhaps more than a month" to the time Iran needs to produce weapons' grade uranium.

Just in time for my A.P. Government's unit on federalism and our discussion of what the phrase "laboratories of democracy" means, here is a survey out from 24/7 Wall St. listing the best and worst-run states. See where your state ranks based on their criteria. So is this really going to do anything at all to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons? Of course not. All it does it give the administration the opportunity for feel-good claims about their supposed accomplishments.
But some experts, including a former official who has worked on the Iranian issue for the White House, said it was unlikely that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would ever close the door on the option to develop nuclear weapons. Instead, they said, any initial six-month agreement is more likely to be followed by a series of partial agreements that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities but do not definitively solve the nuclear issues.

“At the end of six months, we may see another half step and six more months of negotiations — ad infinitum,” said Gary Samore, a senior aide on nonproliferation issues on the National Security Council in Mr. Obama’s first term. Mr. Samore is now president of United Against Nuclear Iran, a nonprofit group that advocates tough sanctions against Iran unless it does more to curtail its nuclear program.

The agreement also reflected compromises on other issues.

On the contentious issue of the heavy water reactor Iran is building near Arak, which could produce plutonium and therefore another path to a bomb, Iran agreed not to produce fuel for the plant, install additional reactor components there or put the plant into operation.

Iran is not required to dismantle the facility, however, or convert the plant into a light water reactor that would be less useful for military purposes.

Regarding enrichment, Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from about seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.

To guard against cheating, international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.

But Iran did not agree to all of the intrusive inspection regime that the International Atomic Energy Agency had said was needed to ensure that the Iranian program is peaceful.
And this is what Kerry and Obama think was worth giving up the only tool we've had to make a difference with Iran - tough sanctions. How likely is it that, after six months, they'll get Russia and China to go along with reinstituting the sanctions if there is any indication at all to distrust Iran's side of the deal? As Simon writes,
One month? For this we give them oodles of desperately needed cash — seven billion on the face of it but some suggest that’s floating up to twenty — not to mention ending sanctions on such things as auto parts. This is great for Ayatollah Khamenei who, we have learned recently, owns the BMW distributorship in Iran.

Nevertheless, we are told by such wise men as Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski that this is a good deal and we should jump at it. More specifically, these realists attest, this is the best deal we can get now.

Really? The Iranians came to the table because of sanctions. We are now lifting them and, simultaneously, encouraging others to think proactively about doing business with Iran, a potential gold (or oil) mine. We are also ratifying the hellacious Islamic regime of the mullahs that oppresses women, murders homosexuals and imprisons and tortures all those who oppose it. Forget human rights. What are they? America (really Obama in this instance) just wants a deal.

Steven Hayward looks on the bright side for Republicans of the Democrats' taking the nuclear option on the filibuster.

David Bernstein notes this about media blackouts on the Kennedy assassinations.
While fifty years later, much of the MSM still refuses to acknowledge that JFK’s assassin was a Communist loser, somehow it’s also apparently not cricket to point out that his brother RFK was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.
Hmmm. Notice a trend here?

Glenn Reynolds points
to the differences between engineers and politicians for the failures of
What engineers know that lawyers and politicians often don't is that in the world of things, as opposed to people, there's no escaping the sharp teeth of reality. But in law, and especially politics, inconvenient facts are merely inconvenient, something to be rationalized away.
Some Democrats are worried that their party leaders are in denial on the political impact of the failures of Obamacare.