Tuesday, July 28, 2015


"The Iran deal presented at Vienna is both weak and also far more dangerous than most observers had anticipated. Weak because it very evidently does not definitively meet its own objective of ensuring Iran won’t be able to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, and dangerous because in return for the temporary limitations set on Iran’s nuclear programme, the regime and its conventional military capabilities will be profoundly emboldened.... Despite all of this, the Obama administration insists that the deal will be effective and that no better deal would have been attainable. To his critics, Obama accuses that if they favour war, then they should say so. But for years, the Obama administration insisted that all options were ‘on the table’ when it came to confronting Iran, and everyone understood this to be reference to possible military intervention. ‘I don’t bluff’ insisted Obama when referring to the use of force in 2012. And yet more recently the President has made plain his belief that there is no realistic military solution to the Iranian threat, rather suggesting that he was indeed bluffing. Many suspected so at the time, not least the Iranians. And therein lies the problem. When it comes to the military option – an unpalatable prospect to be sure -there is an important role for the military deterrent. That doesn’t mean that the West would have to use military force, but it would need to convince Iran that it was serious about doing so if need be. We shouldn’t forget that the one time Iran appeared to voluntarily halt work on its nuclear programme was during the invasion of Iraq. Clearly the mullahs’ thought there was a real likelihood that they could be next. The same is true of sanctions. During these negotiations, Obama consistently resisted congressional pressure to have new tougher sanctions ready in the event that Iran walked away from a deal that actually met the West’s security objectives. The threat of yet more sanctions could well have given the negotiators the leverage for securing a deal that was actually robust enough to be taken seriously. If Iran knew that the West was prepared to stop at nothing to derail any attempts to go for the bomb, then regime might think twice, certainly if it thought its own hold on power would be jeopardised. But in reality, Tehran could see just how badly Obama needed to get a deal signed and they cashed in accordingly. The capitulationist agreement that emerged from Vienna is the result, and history will judge our leaders for not showing resolve and pushing for better."
Tom Wilson, "There was a credible alternative to the Iran deal. Obama just chose to ignore it". The Spectator. 20 July 2015, in www.spectator.co.uk
"After so much wrangling — the false starts, constant setbacks and mutual suspicion — the nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers was always likely to disappoint. Many will say it has lived down to expectations. It should be applauded anyway. For one thing, there is a fair chance that history will take a kinder view. For another, the agreement must be measured against the more unpalatable alternatives. Benjamin Netanyahu will not agree. The Israeli prime minister’s fulminations against the Tehran regime have grown louder and, it must be said, somewhat delusional. The other day, Mr Netanyahu said that Iran’s goal “is to take over the world”. Iran has been ruthless in promoting its Shia proxies as much of the Arab state system has fallen into collapse, but taking over the world? Mr Netanyahu’s answer to Tehran’s nuclear programme has long been to start another war.... Supporters of the agreement should not try to hide from its weaknesses. Even with a new, uniquely intrusive inspection regime, Tehran might still press ahead with a clandestine nuclear programme. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will have access to tens of billions of frozen and new resources. It will pump more oil and buy technologies hitherto denied it. If it breaks its pledge to stick to a civilian nuclear programme, the so-called “snapback” provisions of the deal may struggle to reinstate effective sanctions. But then who could claim that sanctions have themselves been effective? As Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has pointed out, economic isolation has not prevented Iran from increasing the number of uranium-spinning centrifuges from 200 to 20,000. By US calculations that leaves Tehran within three months of producing enough fissile material for a bomb. One of the purposes of the deal is to push that timeline out to a year."
Philip Stephens, "Three cheers for a flawed Iran deal". The Financial Times. 14 July 2015, in www.ft.com
One does not have to be a ideological soulmate of Mr. Philip Stephens of the Financial Times, to feel that au fond, what he says apropos the Persian nuclear deal is indeed correct. The simple fact of the matter is, that from a historical vantage point, the time, if there ever was a time to engage in the va banque policy of 'regime-change' towards Persia was circa either 1992 or 2002. And a quick look at both dates shows how reluctant and unevenly such a policy would have played-out in the chancellories of the West. With as much if not more opposition to such a policy among both the Western publics and in International opinion in the rest of the world as was inspired by the Iraq adventure in 2003. And, even if such a policy were engaged in and nominally 'successful' what would have been the ultimate end-result? The triumph of Western Democracy pluralism in Tehran? The mind reels at the thought. Infinitely more likely would have been a repeat, on a larger and grander scale of the debacle in Iraq. However, mere facts are not things that our neo-conservative ideologues and their political enablers in the USA and the UK were ever much concerned about. Faute de mieux, let us try: to engage in a policy of regime change, or conversely to employ force in order to destroy or retard Persia's nuclear programme, would be sheer and unadultered madness given the fact that currently almost the entire Near and Middle East, from Libya in the West to Iraq in the East is in flames and chaos as it undergoes assault by Sunni, religious fanatics of one sort or the other. Resulting in the absurdity that it is (in a strange and perverted fashion), Persia and its allies in the Lebanon and in Syria, who are the 'conservative' forces supporting the status quo ante. Favoring (albeit in an extremely limited fashion) pluralism of religion and sect. Accordingly, the agreement that the Americans and their allies have cobbled together with the regime of Mullahs in Persia, is as former high State Department official in the governments of Bush the Elder and Bush the Younger, Richard Haas noted recently, the very best that can be gotten at the present time given the overall situation in the Near & Middle East:
"The net result is that the accord should lengthen the period it would take Iran to produce one or more nuclear weapons from several months to as much as a year, making it more likely that such an effort would be discovered in time. The prospect that the JCPOA could keep Iran without nuclear weapons for 15 years is its main attraction. Sanctions alone could not have accomplished this, and using military force would have entailed considerable risk with uncertain results. On the other hand (there always is another hand in diplomacy), the agreement permits Iran to keep far more nuclear-related capacity than it would need if it were interested only in civil research and in demonstrating a symbolic ability to enrich uranium. The agreement also provides Iran with extensive relief from economic sanctions, which will fuel the regime’s ability to support dangerous proxies throughout the Middle East, back a sectarian government in Baghdad, and prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime" 1.
'Politics', as the greatest statesman of the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck once aptly put it, 'is the art of the possible'. The accord arrived at with the detestable regime of Mullahs in Persia is simply the very best that can be negotiated at the present time. And there is nothing to suggest that there were or are any levers: either economic or military which would have successfully resulted in Tehran agreeing to anything much better.
1. Richard Haas, "Living With the Iran Nuclear Deal". The Council on Foreign Relations. 14 July 2015, in www.cfr.org. See also with many of my own caveats, and reluctance, in the conservative, British periodical, the Spectator, in: Leader, "Iran can’t be trusted: This is an awful plan, but it’s the best option we’ve got". The Spectator. 18 July 2015, in www.spectator.co.uk. See also the following analysis by Shashank Joshi of the Royal United Services Institute:
"Without rehearsing its strengths and weaknesses, the most important feature is that Iran’s nuclear programme will be limited and monitored such that, over the next two decades or so, any Iranian efforts to construct a nuclear weapon – whether in secret or in declared facilities – will not only be detected swiftly, but in ample time for the United States and its allies to craft a diplomatic and, if necessary, military response. Iran will be rewarded with sanctions relief only when it has imposed these restrictions and, if disputes arise, any of the E3+3 can - after an admittedly complex process of adjudication and arbitration - re-impose sanctions by notifying the UN Security Council".


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