Organizing For Action-A Few Links On The Iran Talks

Understandably, Netanyahu’s government is telling anyone who will listen that it’s very skeptical of the p5 + 1 negotiations, and now they’re telling the the French government, which is taking a harder line with Iran than our government currently (yes, that’s Francois Hollande’s coalition).  Understandably, Israel’s security, and perhaps their very existence, is at stake, and they’re playing all the angles.

For my part, as I recall with Obamacare, the pattern here seems to be starting from a principle (there will be healthcare available for all through the government…there will be a deal with Iran), while keeping the base active, then making sure any stray Democrats fall-in-line.  Then, while making a lot of promises and playing it straight for the public, all who disagree on principle, Republicans, other interested parties, any reasonable dissenters etc. are kindly ignored or told what to go do with themselves.

Walter Russell Mead:

‘But more and more people in the center are beginning to see beyond the pretty packaging and to ask questions the White House doesn’t seem to be able to answer about its overall plan. Thomas Friedman looked askance at the President this week, asking “Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?” Henry Kissinger’s most recent book contains a long warning against the course we are on. Jeffrey Goldberg, anything but a knee-jerk opponent of the President, has been voicing his growing worries over the cost of the deal—most recently declaring that there’s “no solution” when it comes to Iran, very much including a nuclear deal. Former Administration officials are aghast; like Martin Indyk before him, David Petraeus is really saying that the President’s strategy doesn’t cohere.’

A while back, I was referred to Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech to show the framework upon which he hangs his foreign policy. He’s been called a realist by some, or one who generally deals with the world as it is, not as he’d like it to be.  In the speech, Obama sets an expectation of using force against evil in the world if necessary. He’s willing to part company with Gandhi and MLK in the face of a genuine possible evil and the grim choices events may require.

According to this view, Obama has rejected the Hillary Clinton/Samantha Power wing of humanitarian interventionism as idealists to his realism. He split the difference in Libya to the operation they wanted (like Bosnia) because of his realism. He later thought Syria wasn’t worth the risk because of his realism (it has since devolved into a near worse-case scenario into which Putin had to step-in). He approved, then withdrew, the surge in Afghanistan after he didn’t see the gains he wanted because of his realism.

All of this difference-splitting, essentially, is evidence that Obama is the one taking the longer view and resisting the impulses of those who will act to make the world as they’d like it to be by using military force and sticking our noses into the affairs of others (Bush in Iraq, Bill Clinton in Bosnia, Hillary Clinton in Libya).

I don’t find this argument tenable, except in moments of realism (realpolitik?) [addition: In other words, many of the ideological presuppositions and commitments are challenged come election time or when the system in place requires it, otherwise history and the world are generally expected to fit within those ideological presuppostions and a policy of constant activism and change towards ‘peace’ or ‘progress’ gets pursued as the logic dictates…].

Addition: Michael Doran at The Brookings Institution a while back:

‘One’s evaluation of the nuclear deal depends on how one understands the broader context of US-Iranian relations. There are potential pathways ahead that might not be all that bad. But I am pessimistic. I see the deal as a deceptively pleasant way station on the long and bloody road that is the American retreat from the Middle East.’ 

And he finished with:

That, in sum, is the true price that we just paid for six months of seeming quiet on the nuclear front. It is price in prestige, which most Americans will not notice. It is also a price in blood. But it is not our blood, so Americans will also fail to make the connection between the violence and the nuclear deal. It is important to note, however, that this is just the initial price. Six months from now, when the interim agreement expires, another payment to Ayatollah Khamenei will come due. If Obama doesn’t pony up, he will have to admit then that he cut a bad deal now. So he we will indeed pay — through the nose.’

Addition:  Richard Epstein ‘Barack vs. Bibi:’

‘In the end, it is critical to understand that the current weaknesses in American foreign policy stem from the President’s adamant reluctance to commit to the use of American force in international relations, whether with Israel, Iran or with ISIS. Starting from that position, the President has to make huge unilateral concessions, and force his allies to do the same thing. Right now his only expertise is leading from behind.  The President has to learn to be tough in negotiations with his enemies. Right now, sadly, he has demonstrated that toughness only in his relationships with America’s friends and allies.’

Another Addition: A former CIA director calls it ‘the worst of all possible outcomes.‘  The Iranians have bought time, and maybe just a means to legitimize their nuclear ambitions even more.

From the Jerusalem Post, it’s looking like the right to enrich uranium in the first place is a sticking point.  The clock is ticking, and many costs have already built up. Some Saturday Links On Iran-Peace At What Price?

Israel, Iran, & Peace: Andrew Sullivan Responds To Charges Of Potential Anti-SemitismSome Saturday Links On Iran-Skepticism, To Say The Least

So what are our interests and how do we secure them as the fires in the Middle-East rage?  Michael Totten makes a case here in Why We Can’t Leave The Middle-East.’  He gets push-back in the comments

Democracy as we envision it requires people to constrain themselves within laws and institutions that maintain democracy…through Mill’s utilitarianism?: Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. Mill  Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’
Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft of perpetual peace?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

2 thoughts on “Organizing For Action-A Few Links On The Iran Talks

  1. Obama’s foreign policy is a nightmare scenario. I will not even give him credit for being a realist because he completely underestimates the treat of radical Islam. He believes marginalizing Israel will settle things down, but the result will be an increase in violent acts elsewhere. The only hope is a split in the Democratic party that would allow a veto proof majority to stop him, and even that has limits.

    This is also going to redefine the 2016 presidential race by forcing Clinton to distance herself from Obama, but that also increases her problems with the progressives.

    I have tons of new material, if you have time, please stop by.

    • Ron,

      Pretty spot-on. Perhaps he touched realism and reality when other parties and early potential compromises forced his hand. Left to his own devices and judgment his late-term flexibility has produced more commitment to activism and the anti-war base.

      I’m coming by. You’ve always got some good stuff up!

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