Repost-Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’

Written over two years ago, now.  I think it holds up decently:

Piece here (link may return behind a paywall)

A good analysis, likely worth your time. ======================

This blog remains skeptical, and mostly critical (surprise me) of the potential Iran deal so far, because, as Richard Epstein has pointed out, without the threat of force, the deal doesn’t have the leverage needed to really put pressure where it’s needed:  Upon a throughly committed, anti-American incentivized group of mullahs and post-1979 revolutionaries running terrorism, militias, guns and money around the region (and sometimes further afield) to become as powerful as they can.

Deliverable nukes are not just a means for an authoritarian theocracy to keep repressing its own people (though there’s plenty of that) nor a way to quell Iranian hostility towards and isolation from international institutions (plenty of that, too), but also a way for deeper Persian, Shia, and national Iranian identity and pride to assert itself in a dangerous region under an authoritarian theocracy. The basic security issues are more than mullah-deep, and the basic security of the Saudis, Israelis, and other interested Sunni-led countries and parties leads one to conclude this could easily turn into an arms race.

This is very risky if you’d prefer peace, or fighting the wars that you need to fight for the security of yourself and your own people, for treaties, alliances and trade, basic human rights or whatever interest or ideal you’d like to see leading our policy in the world (I’d prefer to stay ahead of war in the first place). More details at the link:

‘Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites.’

The negotiations may yet do a lot of harm because they may not be capable of stopping the Iranian regime from buying time, nor ultimately getting deliverable nukes, nor changing nor constraining their activities enough for the possible opportunity costs involved. Our authors finish with:

If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region. Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order. Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms. History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves

Addition:  Richard Epstein ‘Barack vs. Bibi:’ takes the classical liberal, non anti-war libertarian position:

‘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: Adam Garfinkle has a thoughtful piece on American political discourse and the Iran deal.

Another Addition: Israel, Iran, & Peace: Andrew Sullivan Responds To Charges Of Potential Anti-SemitismSome Saturday Links On Iran-Skepticism, To Say The Least George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’ 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

Some Friday Links-Your Data Has Been Massaged & Foreign Affairs

The Hoover Institution looks at the late Fouad Ajami’s book of essays:

‘Writing on Iraq, he suggests that many troubles in the Arab world can be linked to America’s limited understanding of the region, thirst for oil, and need to deal with terrorism. He provides a chilling look at the life of 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah, asserting that “the very normalcy of his upbringing and the old hedonism giving way to a sudden need for absolution are much more unsettling than the warning signs and the zeal of a true believer.”

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Megan McArdle At Bloomberg, Obamacare inflates its numbers. I feel sick:

When reality doesn’t line up with political promises, massaging the data to the point of absurdity becomes necessary.

‘The administration counted stand-alone dental plans in order to claim that 7.3 million people had signed up during the first open enrollment period. Without the addition of the dental plans, enrollment would have very slightly missed its target of 7 million enrollees. Moreover, simple arithmetic indicates that it is still counting them in its current claims about enrollment.’

Perhaps even some big data folks and (S)cience driven realists are realizing that when it comes to ideology and politics, technocracy and bureaucracy, the pursuit of truth is often left to bad masters.

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Andrew Michta At The American Interest: ‘Putin Targets The Scandinavians:’

Not a Cold War, really, but let’s have some strategy:

If you’re in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, you’re looking at Georgia, Ukraine and you’re own Russian populations, Putin’s actions and you’ve probably been thinking a lot lately.

‘As 2015 approaches, NATO finds itself confronted with the urgent need to address the fundamentals of deterrence and collective defense in general, and to go beyond the important symbols of “persistent rotations.”

From Via Media: ‘Middle East In Flames: The Fruit Of White House Policy In Syria’

Full post here.

‘At the moment, mainstream media criticism of the President’s foreign policy mostly centers around the issues that bother the legalist left: too many drones, not enough closure at Guantanamo, too much persecution of reporters trying to ferret the President’s dark secrets out of his staff. What isn’t taking place, yet, is a process of examining the consequences of key administration moves in the Middle East.’

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Interesting paper here.

Addition: What’s going on in Turkey?  More here.  The region is roiling.

Adam Garfinkle makes it sound almost mercurial:

So why is the United States not intervening in Syria? Because our level of affinity with the victims is low, our aesthetic sense is not much ruffled, and our cycle-sensitivity is very high. We actually do have interests and principles both at stake in Syria, but they’re no match for the real reasons why America does or does not intervene abroad

From a while back: Full video here. (Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Ignatius, Jim Jones and Michael Mazarr respond to Mazarr’s new article “The Risk Of Ignoring Strategic Insolvency“) More discussion of the piece here.

Many Americans are contented enough at the moment with a move away back towards isolationism, away from Iraq and Afpak, and to regroup and align our interests with our budget (our military budget is being cut significantly, presumably to spend it inefficiently at home).

Now, we’re never going to fix that part of the world, but we want to be strategically well placed within it.  The Republican establishment isn’t looking too good on foreign policy, and the neo-con wave crested a while ago.  Personally, I have little faith that the current ideals guiding foreign policy, and the political commitments that come with them, can place us as well as we need to be placed.

Related On This SiteUpdate And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Too late to act with the least risk and the most gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘How To Become A Dictator’

Full piece here.

Totten touches on libertarianism, anarchy, federalism, the idea of federal states, Lebanon, Syria under both Assads, and more:

“If you decide you want to leave journalism,” Nadim Shehadi said to me over coffee at a café on Beirut’s old waterfront, “if you feel like you’ve been there and done that and would like to become a dictator, you should hire me as an advisor. I’m expensive, but I’m worth it.”

and:

“If Syria is to become like Lebanon, though,” I said, “it will have to be like Lebanon without its militias.”

“Lebanon,” he said, “will be a very different place without the Assad regime next to it.”

Totten’s book: Where The West Ends. I donated to Totten to allow him to keep up his travels.

It’s likely you won’t agree with all of Samuel Huntington’s ideas, but he maintained a deeply learned understanding of the animating ideas behind Western/American political organization with keen observation of what was happening on the ground in foreign countries.  Here’s a brief summation from Robert Kaplan’s article:

“• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.

• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.

• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.

• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.

• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.”

I also tend to think that Francis Fukuyama’s End of History and Hegelianism, at least, was a return to the kind of expansive idealism that leads towards bigger federal states, and fuses cultural and national identity, pumping up bureaucracies and the federal state towards unreachable secular ideals.

Related On This Site: What about a night watchman state, and isn’t libertarianism partially an introduction of Enlightenment rationalism moving  individuals towards forms of anarchy and away from religious doctrines, traditions, customs and conservative ideas?: Repost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’

Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

From Michael Totten: ‘The North Is Ready To Blow’

Full post here.

That’s Northern Lebanon, along the Syrian border.  Iran is still backing Assad, funneling arms and money to its proxy Hizbollah in Lebanon, and to Assad’s troops.  America is now training some Syrian Free Army troops (the opposition) in Jordan, and has committed $60 million in aid to that Army (and has, no doubt, been involved in other ways).  Saudi Arabia, and and other Sunnis across the region are backing their side, while the Turkish Army is keeping a tight lid on the Syrian border and the Kurds.  The Israelis are keeping a close eye on developments, too:

‘The two sides are composed of Sunni and Shia Muslims. “Both communities,”Nicholas Blanford wrote in Beirut’s Daily Star, “are rooted in strong tribal traditions, have a general disdain for the authority of the state, are fiercely independent, have a history of militancy, are well armed and, most pertinently, have chosen to actively back opposing sides in Syria’s civil war raging just across the border.”

This doesn’t bode well.

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Totten’s written a new novel: “Taken,” available for pre-order.

For those interested:  Mohammed Atta, one of the primary 9/11 bombers went to Aleppo and found what he was looking for:  the ideal Islamic city on the hill.  See Lawrence Wright’s piece at Slate. Wright wrote an excellent book on Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11.