Four More Months-The White House & The Iranian Regime

Secretary Of State John Kerry has announced a four month extension of the initial preliminary talks with Iran, stretching them until November 24th:

Claudia Rosett is unhappy with language coming from the White House, worried that we’ve already legitimized too much.

It’s tough to see what happens in the next four months that hasn’t happened already:

The phrase is absurd. Iran’s nuclear program is manifestly not about peace. If it were, there would have been no need for Iran’s collaboration with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan nuclear network, no need for secretly built Iranian enrichment facilities, no need for Iran’s years of maneuvering under sanctions, no need for Iran’s work on long-range missiles to deliver nuclear weapons, no need for the whole vast elaborate web of deceits and dodges and ploys with which Iran has built its nuclear program. There would be no need now for months and months of multi-tiered haggling in Vienna with the U.S., Britain, France and Germany (and, nominally, with China and Russia — which have managed the trick of both supplying materiel to Iran’s nuclear program, and bargaining over the results). There would be no need for secrecy. There would be no need for any more Iranian nuclear program going forward. Iran’s regime could dismantle its entire nuclear kit, and amuse itself with developing the country’s vast wealth of oil and gas.’

Click through for more.

It’s hard to see from here how the divide gets bridged:  An Iran which sees nuclear enrichment and weapons as a right, a big stick, and a matter of national destiny, and a U.S. that sees an Iran with nuclear weapons as fundamentally unacceptable.

In Iran, you’ve got a theocratic, repressive regime which sponsors terrorism far beyond its borders, props up Assad and runs guns to Hamas and various others. This is a deep State largely controlled by an Islamic revolutionary security apparatus which squelches domestic political opposition, spies on its citizens, and has been known to murder and jail dissenters and opponents. There are some democratic elements, journalists, and many business interests in Iranian society, of course, bumping up against the Baseej, the Supreme Leader and the theocracy, but they don’t have too much control over their country.

It was argued that with newly elected Hassan Rouhani as President, this was the best chance for something to happen.

By and large, we’re out on a limb with a crafty, authoritarian regime at the end of the day, generally not to be taken at its word most of the time but which probably acts in what can be recognized as rational ways (aiming for regional domination and nuclear weapons as a matter of national destiny, for starters).

I keep putting this quote up from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”

What about an unadventurous foreign policy, but still very risky nonetheless?

-Dexter Filkins on Iran here.

-Scowcroft and Brzezinski may be offering plans: ‘George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’

Which Ideas Are Guiding Our Foreign Policy With Iran.’ Some Saturday Links On Iran-Peace At What Price?

Israel, Iran, & Peace: Andrew Sullivan Responds To Charges Of Potential Anti-Semitism

Two Thursday Links On Foreign Policy

Claudia Rosett At PJ Media: ‘The Upside Of Russia’s Threat To Trash The Iran Nuclear Talks:’

Reaching out to the leadership in Iran is risky, but Rosett seems to think it isn’t worth the risk at all:

‘I’ve been in Vienna for the first two rounds of these talks, Feb. 18-20 and March 18-19, and there’s no sign that this diplomatic process is going to stop Iran from getting the bomb. Rather, Iran is making some temporary and reversible concessions, while continuing to enrich uranium, and refusing to give up its ballistic missile program or abandon construction of a heavy-water de facto plutonium-factory reactor near Arak’

Zavid Jarif seemed pretty clear about Iran’s right to enrich as of March 20th, 2014.  This will be tough to bridge.

Putin’s pursuing an ethno-nationalist petro-empire and our most common interest would still be in preventing Islamist terrorism (Iran funds terrorism, mind you).  Is the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus alliance worth bargaining with?  Meanwhile, the Saudis and Israelis are taking their own precautions, given Iran’s right next door.

Many Chinese interests line-up against ours.


Robert Kagan at the Washington Post: ‘President Obama’s Foreign Policy Paradox:’

Per Kagan:  You wanted isolationism, withdrawal, and a light footprint, America, you’ve got it and you don’t seem pleased:

‘For many decades Americans thought of their nation as special. They were the self-proclaimed “leader of the free world,” the “indispensable nation,” the No. 1 superpower. It was a source of pride. Now, pundits and prognosticators are telling them that those days are over, that it is time for the United States to seek more modest goals commensurate with its declining power. And they have a president committed to this task.’

So, what next?

From Foreign Affairs: ‘How To Engage Iran’

Full piece here.

About our author:

‘Having worked within the Iranian government for nearly 30 years, and having sat on the secretariat of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for much of the decade before 2005, I was involved in discussions about both of these two approaches.’

and he claims the door to diplomacy was open, but is now closing:

‘These statements are clear evidence that Obama’s engagement policy has failed. In fact, they support Ayatollah Khamenei’s assessment that the core goal of U.S. policy is regime change.’

Well, to some extent, regime change is the goal in some quarters (and I could well understand that the Iranian leadership recognizes this as an existential threat).   Most Americans probably don’t understand Iranian society very well, let alone the more repressive and theocratic elements of Iranian leadership.

There is a peaceful path — one that will satisfy both Iranian and U.S. objectives while respecting Iran’s legitimate nuclear rights.’

It is a very mutually suspicious, often hostile relationship, and as long as Washington maintains that it can’t let Iran can’t go nuclear, there will probably be an impasse.  Peace can be an overused word, and from Washington’s perspective, peace in the Middle East might be better served by not having Iran acquire nuclear capabilities.   Avoidance of a costly war, however, is definitely worth thinking about on both sides.

Related On This Site:  From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Are Airstrikes Imminent In Iran?’From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Will Israel Attack Iran This Spring?’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Iran: Keeping The World’s Oddest Couple Together’…Materialsim and Leftism Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran

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From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Will Israel Attack Iran This Spring?’

Full post here.

‘In my opinion, the country is gearing for a strike on Iran. The only way for the Iranians to prevent it would be for them to abandon their aspirations for acquiring nuclear weapons.’

That could be a false choice, but we’ll have to wait and see.  The comments are worth a read.  It might be important to identify what both an Obama administration and any other other administration would face:  an internally divided, often corrupt Iran (green revolution, Ahmadinejad’s authoritarian populism, the ayatollah and a religious theocracy, and a mostly oil and gas export economy) which is almost impossible to trust/deal with diplomatically.  Its nuclear program probably cannot be stopped without some form of combat or sabotage, and the U.S cannot really let Iran go nuclear (least of all because of Israel).

Fukuyama had a piece in the Guardian from 01/30/2007 distancing himself (I don’t really advocate the Statism he’s been pursuing more openly since) from neo-conservativism (and the Bush handling of Iraq) that makes some good points.

Related On This Site:  From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Are Airstrikes Imminent In Iran?’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Iran: Keeping The World’s Oddest Couple Together’…Materialsim and Leftism Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran

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From Reflections Of A Rational Republican: ‘Are Airstrikes Imminent In Iran?’

Full piece here.

Perhaps not imminent, but:

‘While the probability of an imminent attack on Iran is likely low, one might view all of these signals as a prelude to a precision airstrike on Iran’s nuclear weapons program over the next several months.’

It bears watching.  What happens when the limits of the “agressive humanitarian” and A New World Order approach are reached?  Is normal combat a next step? I’ve heard it argued that Obama will have many reasons to initiate some response to the Iranian regime’s posturing in the Strait Of Hormuz.  I’ve also heard it arued that we’re already engaged in war with Iran in all sorts of ways, to prevent engagement.  I remember being unimpressed with McCain’s talk on Iran, and Lieberman’s rhetoric seemed dated at best.

Related On This SiteSunday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. MillFrom Foreign Affairs: ‘The Problem With Obama’s Decision To Leave Iraq’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Iran: Keeping The World’s Oddest Couple Together’…Materialsim and Leftism Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran

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