Peregrine Falcon, Torrey Pines

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Well, let me say this — it's not that the idea of Iran recognizing Israel is unreasonable. It's completely reasonable and that's U.S. policy....
There's still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran, and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime. But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment. Barack Obama
I have read a lot of interesting stuff on the Iran deal, both pro and con of late. Don't want to get into a big hash out right now, I'm really not up to it. But I did want to take a moment to ponder a letter from Robert, a very good and bright friend from Berkeley.
I am not particularly fond (or trusting!) of Iranians based on my personal dealings with them. And, objectively, I can see merits to both sides of the arguments (including yours aside from the intense Obama criticism).
Amos Yadlin is very insightful and respectable - this article and interview is one of the best perspectives I have read to date, and wanted to share with you.

To be honest, I haven't even had time to check out the link but will one day soon. I was mostly struck by his phrase regarding my intense Obama criticism. Because it has been intense and in my passion it may also have been unfair at times.

Obama gave an interview to Friedman in the NYT the other day that seemed very genuine in his sadness for the current division between the United States and Israel.
“This is an area that I’ve been concerned about,” the president said. “Look, Israel is a robust, rowdy democracy. ... We share so much. We share blood, family. ... And part of what has always made the U.S.-Israeli relationship so special is that it has transcended party, and I think that has to be preserved. There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as ... opposing Israel. There has to be a way for Prime Minister Netanyahu to disagree with me on policy without being viewed as anti-Democrat, and I think the right way to do it is to recognize that as many commonalities as we have, there are going to be strategic differences. And I think that it is important for each side to respect the debate that takes place in the other country and not try to work just with one side. ... But this has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.”
You take it personally? I asked. 
“It has been personally difficult for me to hear ... expressions that somehow ... this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest — and the suggestion that when we have very serious policy differences, that that’s not in the context of a deep and abiding friendship and concern and understanding of the threats that the Jewish people have faced historically and continue to face.”
And I was struck by a couple things, things that sort of bothered me.
...if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies. The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. ... You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
This passage seemed a little blustery. Israel is clearly patronized here, we will take care of them, the Iranians can't fight us, our military is so big... Hmm, remember the mouse that roared? Or Vietnam, some of these little pushover countries can turn out to be a real pain in the ass. Anybody remember Somalia and Blackhawk Down?

The reality is that when push comes to shove, I am not sure that it is ever so easy. Our President drew a red line already, once, with the Syrians on what he would do if they ever used chemical weapons. The Syrians proceeded to step right over the red line and we did nothing. So talk is cheap and assurances are pretty useless with our President. If I was the Israelis I wouldn't rely too strongly on them. Guys are on your own.

Israel is supposed to feel good that we have just entered a deal when their principal enemy, who will now have between four months and a year to build a bomb at the sunset of the agreement, depending on which expert you believe, and is still committed to wiping your people off the earth. But don't you worry none, cause ol' Obama will provide.

Obama may or may not harbor anti semitic leanings, how do you know what any human or politician really thinks? The dog whistle flap with Menendez regarding his jewish donors was very entertaining. But the people he has surrounded himself in his administration are clearly assholes, and seem to have a deep animus about Israel, imho. Take one Marie Harf. I got a few letters signed by her once when I wrote the CIA for my FOIA files.

Marie Harf, the State Department spokeswoman, was the lady who recently said that Iran's stated aim to annihilate Israel was not germane to this deal.
The US State Department rejected over the weekend Israel’s demand that any final deal with Iran on its nuclear program include recognition of Israel’s right to exist, saying that was not the issue at hand.
“This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Friday night, according to Fox News. “This is an agreement that doesn’t deal with any other issues, nor should it.”
While I understand the need not to complicate a deal, her reply lacked a tad bit of sensitivity.  By the way, I don't think Netanyahu understands that what he thinks the deal should or should not include is not particularly germane either, he isn't a signatory to this thing and the Persians aren't going to come over and play mah jong anytime soon. Better to keep the powder dry.

Harf recently was in a little imbroglio when she suggested that what terrorists really need is jobs. The typical bleeding liberal meme. "We just have to love them."

“We cannot win this war by killing them — we cannot kill our way out of this war,” she said. Instead, she argued that the United States and its allies need to focus on the “root causes,” such as the lack of job opportunities for young Muslims. She said discouraged 17-year-olds opt to “pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business” due to their socioeconomic situation. 
Later she said that her deep thinking on this matter was perhaps a bit too nuanced for her critics. And I thought to myself, Marie you ignorant airhead, go to Africa where Boko Haram is busy murdering children and burying people alive and tell them that you are now ready to hire them and turn their lives around. Tell them to put down the AK-47s and maybe start a Frosty franchise. Lets see that wide eyed vacuity and idealism of yours hit the street and start to make a difference.

Who is this Marie Harf? Could she be harboring the typical State Department animus against the Israelis? Lets look at this brief introduction from her alma mater, IU. She follows her father into Political Science and writes her master's thesis on how conservative evangelical support for Israel complicates U.S. foreign policy. Sounds like her world view was inculcated at an early age, although she is still a kid, having only been born in 1981. She knew who the bad guys were, Israel and conservatives, especially evangelical conservatives, clearly one of Israel's only loyal friends today.

She joins the administration's Jen Psaki, Josh Earnest and Denis McDonough in their rather forceful and muscular approach to the Israelis and their concerns. You remember Psaki, the spokesman who refused to call the freedom loving Palestinian throwing a molotov cocktail a terrorist and Earnest, who tripped all over his dick explaining why the shooting in the jewish deli in Paris had no theological or anti semitic connections.

George Schultz and Henry Kissinger are giants in the field of foreign policy, both former Secretaries of State. You can agree with them or disagree with them, and I often do, but they have to be respected for their enormous experience. They wrote a very thoughtful and comprehensive article on Iran this week, now unfortunately stuck behind a paywall at the WSJ. I will paste the end:
The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing,” the two statesmen wrote. “Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken. 
Some advocates have suggested that the agreement can serve as a way to dissociate America from Middle East conflicts, culminating in the military retreat from the region initiated by the current administration. As Sunni states gear up to resist a new Shiite empire, the opposite is likely to be the case. The Middle East will not stabilize itself, nor will a balance of power naturally assert itself out of Iranian-Sunni competition. (Even if that were our aim, traditional balance of power theory suggests the need to bolster the weaker side, not the rising or expanding power.) Beyond stability, it is in America’s strategic interest to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war and its catastrophic consequences. Nuclear arms must not be permitted to turn into conventional weapons. The passions of the region allied with weapons of mass destruction may impel deepening American involvement.
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.
They are worried about this deal as are many of us. Nobody should be beating swords into plowshares just yet. And how did Ms. Harf react to the remarks? Thanks for the "big words and big thoughts."
“I wouldn’t say that it’s damning,” Harf said of Kissinger and Shultz’s damning verdict on the Iran deal. “And I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives. I heard a lot of big words and big thoughts in that piece, and those are certainly – there’s a place for that – but I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives of what they would do differently.
In a perfect world, of course we would have an agreement that would do all of these things,” she said on the idea of forcing Iran to accept other political restraints as part of the deal. “But we are living in the real world, and that’s the responsibility of the secretary to negotiate where we can see if we can get this one issue dealt with. And that’s how important it is.”
To hear a lightweight like Harf comment on the substance and merit of statesmen with the article's authors' pedigree and experience is insulting and damnable. And Obama is responsible for putting these people on the front lines. As bad as when Bush's Dana Perino admitted to not knowing anything about the Cuban Missile crisis. She is way out of her depth here and too stupid to realize it.

Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough says that the fifty year Israeli occupation must end and signaled that Israel must go back to 1967 borders. I hope that the first occurs but the second ain't ever going to happen. It would leave Israel indefensible. Lets look at the little country. After numerous wars seeking to vanquish them, their enemies on all sides are poised to invade them in 1967. Nasser is massing his troops in the Sinai. He closes the Straits of Tiran. Syria and Egypt sign a pact against the Israelis and the Jordanians are rattling sabers as well. They are going to take care of the new neighbor once and for all. Israel defeats its enemies in six days and secures land in the West Bank, Sinai and Golan that will hopefully provide some insulation for them in the event of future attacks.

Ever since, Israel's enemies have tried to undue politically what they failed to do militarily. Israel is supposed to forget the neighbors' past aggression and give them a big diplomatic do over. Neighbors who have never accepted either their historical connection to the land or their right to exist.

Obama is worried that Congress might eff up the Iran deal or the next or future administration might.
Asked whether his possible Republican successor could revoke the deal upon taking office, Obama said that any president ought to be mindful of “traditions and precedents of presidential power” and knowledgeable enough not to question the executive branch’s capacity to negotiate internationally.
“If that starts being questioned, that's going to be a problem for our friends and that's going to embolden our enemies,” Obama told NPR.
And I must say that I find the President and Hillary for that matter, just a little disingenuous here. Because there is the matter of the 2004 letter that Bush sent to Sharon, acknowledging that conditions had changed and that the borders would most probably be changed forever, a letter that Hillary and the Obamaites have themselves disavowed. Doesn't seem terribly consistent.
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

© robert sommers 2015

The Ayatollah finally spoke up today. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated Thursday that Iran won’t sign off on any final nuclear agreement unless military sites are declared off limits to foreign inspectors. Oh, that's going to work. And oh, ya, lift the sanctions immediately. Interesting. Obama has spent so much currency on this thing already he may not be able to pull the plug at this point, and the Iranians can pull his strings like a puppet.

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