Monday, November 25, 2013

Israel, Obama And Iran - When The Rubber Meets The Road

By now the full details of the West's capitulation in Geneva has become known. And what the West agreed to was staggering.

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, someone who knows a great deal about nuclear proliferation and about Iran called it an abject surrender.He's entirely correct.

As I pointed out earlier, the new agreement de facto recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium, something that is going to have huge implications as other countries who signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are going to claim the same right themselves. And like Iran, they are going to refuse to sign the additional protocols of the NPT, which allow for snap inspections.

The United States and other Western nations have never conceded a 'right' to enrich uranium, for the every simple reason that it is perfectly possible to have a nuclear energy program that also  allows for medical uses without it. Canada, for example, is one nation among many that uses nuclear energy without enrichment. Enrichment is only vital if the desired result is the ability to eventually manufacture nuclear weapons.

That's also why there were numerous UN resolutions calling specifically for Iran to cease enrichment and allow inspections, and why the sanctions were implemented in the first place, after years of attempts at 'diplomacy'.

That's all been thrown by the wayside now. It took years to even implement any sanctions. Thanks to President Obama and his willing helpers at Geneva, that's not going to happen again, even if Iran is caught violating this new agreement.India, China and South Korea among other countries want additional imports of Iranian oil, and EU countries want to open up the floodgates to trading with the Ayatollahs.The sanctions are history. And Iran knows this very well.

Among other things, this legitimizes an evil, fascist regime that brutalizes its own people and is probably the biggest financier and enabler of Islamic terrorism in the world. And the West is disgracefully aiding and abetting the regime, not only by giving them a clear path to achieve nuclear weapons but by giving them blood money in the amount of $7 billion and probably much more in frozen assets in the bargain.


Aside from this, the other loopholes in the new agreement are extraordinary.

While Secretary Kerry preens and bloviates about verification, the IAEA inspections have already been delayed for three months by agreement with Iran in exchange for absolutely nothing on Teheran's part. In that time period, the Iranians can move, hide and conceal pretty much anything, as well as strengthening their facilities against attack.

And while the agreement calls for IAEA inspections at Fordow and Natanz, these facilities are pretty much under satellite surveillance anyway. The Iranian military base at Parchin where weapons test are suspected to have occurred is not part of the agreement, nor is Iran required to reveal any secret nuclear facilities they may have or allow them to be inspected. The IAEA has received quite a bit of information from Iranian dissidents about possible secret nuclear sites, but there is no followup or right for the IAEA to conduct on site investigations in the new agreement.

Also, just as there is absolutely nothing in the new agreement stopping the Iranians from continuing to enrich uranium, there's nothing stopping them from developing and improving their ballistic missiles, warhead technology or other nuclear related weaponization like nuclear triggers.

Abject surrender pretty much covers it. And the fact that the almost frenzied efforts to make any kind of deal were very likely done to take the spotlight off of the dismal failure of ObamaCare and the president's rapidly falling approval ratings makes it even more craven.

Democrat Senators Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez, horrified by what just occurred in Geneva, are attempting to drum up support for new sanctions legislation . That's all very well, but rest assured that President Obama will veto it.

So what can we expect in the near term?

The Iranians, quite correctly are calling this a major victory. And why not? They lose nothing, not enrichment, not a single facility and the sanctions, whatever nonsense the president and our clueless secretary of state might tell you are dead and gone forever:

Expect the Iranians not to blatantly make a point of breaking the agreement, but to do what they have done to date - to obfuscate, to lie, to hide, to delay, to covertly enrich uranium to weapons grade, to continue to work towards nuclear weapons...and to continue to strengthen their nuclear sites against attack. One day, we'll simply wake up to headlines about a successful nuclear test. We've already seen this once before, with North Korea.

Countries within striking distance of Iran that already have nascent nuclear programs like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey can be expected to rush to get nukes as fast as they can, leading to a new Middle East arms race.

Expect President Obama to milk this as much as he can for domestic politics, aided and abetted by his media minions and the pro-Iran lobby. In fact, that's already started, from the usual suspects.

You can also expect President Obama to lean very heavily on the Israelis, repeating the same threats he's used previously to keep them from defending themselves against what amounts to an existential threat. That's already started as well.

And to add insult to injury, apparently the Obama Administration was negotiating on a back channel basis for the last six months without briefing the Israelis, using Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and President Obama's own consigliere, Iranian born Valerie Jarrett, who has been in direct contact for over a year with former foreign minister and current head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi. In other words, the Geneva Agreement was worked out before hand, and Netanyahu was simply presented with a done deal once the details were worked out.Meanwhile he was gamed to 'let the work continue'.

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu, as always, came up with some appropriate rhetoric, saying "What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it is a historic mistake," he said. "Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world."

Now, he has to figure out what to do next.

Netanyahu was elected by his fellow Israelis with the idea that he could protect the country against Iran. He's failed at that task so far. He should have taken out Iran's nukes a long time ago, but he simply lacked the will to do it and directly buck the Obama Administration. The Israelis, thanks to Netanyahu's dithering, are faced with a choice between a bad option and a worse one.

The Israelis, the Saudis and the Gulf states have found a degree of rapprochement, based on the old Middle East dictum that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. That will be helpful, but only to a degree.

While the Israelis definitely have the capacity to attack Iran and take out its nuke sites, the job is going to be infinitely harder than it would have been 3 years ago. And on some sites, like Fordow, they may have to use tactical nukes to do it. An attack on Iran at this juncture is going to involve a major break with the Obama White House, something President Obama intended all along from the day he took office in 2009. In fact, there's on report out there that President Obama has actually told Israel and the Saudis that the U.S. maintains and controls radar capabilities over the skies of Iran and that no strike can be launched without the permission of the Obama administration. Or in other words, President Obama is telling them that he would warn the Iranians of any incoming attack. The source of this is somewhat questionable, but given this president's animus towards Israel, it seems entirely credible. It sounds like exactly what President Obama would say and do.

If the Israelis attack now, they can expect to pay a price politically, with President Obama letting his anti-Israel UN ambassador Samantha Power lead the charge.

That's the bad option.

The worse option, unfortunately, is to do nothing.A nuclear armed Iran would put Israel's survival on a knife edge. The threats now coming from the Ayatollahs would have real weight, and make it impossible for Israel to exist as a normal country. A nuclear armed Iran will give Hamas and Hezbollah protection that will allow them to carry out terrorist attacks with impunity.Foreign investments, trade, business start-ups and immigration to Israel would all suffer severely, and many Israelis might actually emigrate themselves. And one fine day, the Ayatollah Khamenei or his successor is going to wake up and say 'today's the day' and the Israelis will find themselves under nuclear attack, either from Iran or from Iran's proxy, Hezbollah.

Israel's second strike capability would exact a heavy price, but the death and destruction in the small country would be unimaginable. All too imaginable would be the empty words of condemnation for Iran from the UN and President Obama..followed by dead silence.

And by the way, this is not just Israel's problem. Such things never stop with just the Jews. As Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev said the other day to America and the Europeans, "The Iranians are building intercontinental ballistic missiles. They're not building them for us. They already have missiles that can hit Israel. They are building them for you."

He's right about that.

This is where the rubber hits the road. The Israelis have been hung out to dry, just like what was left of Czechoslovakia was after Munich. They are entirely alone, and they now understand, if they didn't before, that President Obama's talk about not allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is worth nothing. Israel will have to decide themselves between that bad and worse option. Either way, they're going to be demonized and maligned for defending their right to exist. If they do decide to defend themselves, I hope they're also smart enough to make a point of taking out Iran's oil infrastructure while they're about it.

That would pretty much trash the various expert opinions that an Israeli strike would only set Iran back a year or two. Without oil, the Ayatollahs aren't going to be able to afford these dangerous toys anymore, and China, Russia and the EU's interest in Iran would quickly evaporate.


B.Poster said...

Part of how the Iranians approach the negotiations has to do with the American political system. It's well understood by all that Americans are literally dead set against any more active wars. Any attempt to enforce sanctions would only lead in this direction. The Iranians are aware of this and that any thing American leaders say about "all options being on the table" is a bluff. The Americans don't have the "cards" and even if they did, the American people are not going to allow the leaders to use them, at least not presently and after an Iranian attack it may to late and furthermore after a successful Iranian attack the Europeans, Russians, and the Chinese will line up in support of the Ayotollahs making a retaliatory attack even more problematic for us.

Additionally, much of the American leadership and those who supply intelligence analysis to said leaders range from left leaning individuals to far left leaning individuals. The "left" has always made the assumption that America operates in a vacuum. For example, the American people are set against war with Iran, American leaders as everyone knows are going to act with this in mind, and since America does not want war, there will be no war. As such, the path to prevent war is to undercut America's ability to fight it (in the case of the news media) by a steady stream of anti-American propaganda, and in the case of American negotiators simply make enough concessions. As if by magic, war gets avoided simply by American decisions and actions alone.

The analysis fails to account for the Iranian position. If Iranian rhetoric is to be taken seriously, such as "death to America" then it ultimately may only make things worse to make concessions or to undercut American defensive capabilities with regards to Iran. Essentially the left fails to account for Iran's position in this at all and lays every thing on what America does. At best, this leads to an incomplete analysis of any situation and at worst leads to a completely flawed analysis. When dealing with foreign adversaries or potential foreign adversaries, incomplete or flawed analysis have the potential to lead to millions or perhaps 10s of millions of Americans dead.

Very respectfully I think the last paragraph is overly optimistic. Instead of "losing interest" the parties you mention especially the Russians and the Chinese are more likely to become even angrier at us than they currently are. As such, if we are involved, it will likely lead to WWIII. As the American military is currently constituted, even with perfect leadership, victory for America is unlikely in such a war. With the current flawed military and political leadership victory in such a war is less likely than winning the lottery!!

Israel has the advantage over us of having better trained and better led forces, superior pilots, and better intelligence. This gives them military strike capabilities that we do not possess. If we are involved WWIII is all but inevitable. If Israel acts alone the mission stands a better chance of succeeding and we are more likely to avoid WWIII than if we are involved. Additionally, America is riddled with foreign agents. As such, any attempt to inform the US in advance would only endanger the mission.

Due to all around bad decision making there really aren't any good options at this point. A military action to cripple the Iranian nuclear program was always more likely to succeed if Israel acted without American involvement and it does pose an existential threat to both countries which is probably more quickly acute for Israel due to its small size and geographic location. Frankly, the Israelis should have taken this out back in 2008. I wish they'd act but can't make them do so. If the American government and the American people are a bunch of idiots, that should not be their concern.

Geoffrey Britain said...

B. Poster,

I entirely agree as to your analysis of the American public. I do not agree that either Russia or China would start a nuclear war over Iran with the US. Neither loyalty nor stupidity would lead to them starting WWIII. But since Obama is NOT going to militarily attack Iran, it's really a moot question.


Overall I very much agree with you POV. On one point I suspect you may be very much mistaken. You state, "Netanyahu ... should have taken out Iran's nukes a long time ago, but he simply lacked the will to do it and directly buck the Obama Administration."

Again, I suspect it is NOT so much a matter of Netanyahu lacking the will, as lacking the backing from the Israeli public. That lack of backing is NOT so much the average Israeli's lack of support for Netanyahu's taking out the Iranian nuclear facilities, as it is Netanyahu's certainty, that a majority of the Israeli public is unwilling to accept the political cost of doing so.

You agree that Obama, from day one opposed Israel. Agreed. Israel attacking Iran would provide the perfect excuse for Obama to not only cut off all aid to the Israeli's but to initiate actions in the UN, that would certainly consist of sanctions and, might even consist of an economic blockade of Israel. Israel would lose all American support and protection in the UN.

Netanyahu may or may not be willing to go it alone but its highly doubtful that a majority of Israelis are willing to do so. So if I'm right, then the question becomes, does Netanyahu have the right to impose what he believes to be the right course upon an unwilling public?

On one last note, we shall have to agree to disagree that Israel has the capability to stop Iran sans a nuclear first strike.