Monday, April 13, 2015

Forum: Are Negotiations With Iran Worth Continuing? Why or Why Not?

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week's question : Are Negotiations With Iran Worth Continuing? Why or Why Not?

Don Surber: Iran is worth bombing ala Israel bombing Iraq's nuke facilities in 1981. May take more bombs this time, but we have them. Use them.

 The Razor :The Iranian regime has made it clear they want to destroy us. Not only has their rhetoric been consistent since the Iranian Revolution, but they’ve backed their words with deeds beginning with the Hostage Crisis, followed by the Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut, continuing through the 1980s and 1990s with their support of various sundry terrorist actions including the kidnapping and murders of American civilians in Lebanon, culminating in their fighting US soldiers in Iraq both overtly through the Shiite Militias and covertly using Iranian special forces. Their track record in that regard is amazingly strong, consistent and clear – unlike the American responses to the regime which has varied through the administrations beginning with Carter’s.

You can be the greatest diplomat in the world, a modern day Talleyrand or Nixon-era Kissinger, but you cannot negotiate anything with someone intent on killing you beyond the manner of your death.

So no the negotiations aren’t worth continuing and if I were in a place to decide I would force the Americans and Europeans to walk away. In fact I’d make Benjamin Netanyahu look like Dennis Kucinich by committing the Western World to the complete destruction of the Iranian regime. The only way to stop a murderer from killing you is to kill him first.

To paraphrase the great Roman statesman Cato the Elder, Iran delenda est.

JoshuaPundit :As far as I'm concerned, we haven't really been involved with 'negotiations' with Iran for some time. Ever since this circus started in late November, 2013 it's been the same story. John Kerry or Barack Obama holds a presser to tell the American people about  what a wonderful deal we just made with Iran, and the Iranians respond by outing them as the liars they are. This story I wrote 15 months ago could just as easily be dated today, as Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, President Rouheni, Iran's own Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, (who supposedly agreed to all this in the last minute negotiations at Lausanne), and Defense Minister Hossein Dagan once again show us that our president is an unrepentant liar.

Even this president's comments about the sanctions 'snapping back' if Iran cheats are an outright falsehood. Does any sane person really believe that China, Russia and even Germany are suddenly going to give up millions in trade in a timely enough manner to curtail Iran getting the bomb? It took almost two years to put the sanctions regime in place originally. And what if Iran objects or differs with what the IAEA finds or where it can inspect? How many months is that going to take to adjudicate and come to a decision in the UN, of all places?

What this has really been about is buying time for Iran to perfect its nuclear weapons, although the Obama regime added a new twist be rewarding them for stalling with billions in badly needed cash to keep the regime alive and the centrifuges spinning. The latest 'deadline' of June 30th, 2015 will have given Iran an additional 17 months to progress towards nuclear weapons and to harden and fortify their nuclear sites.

There is no 'framework.' There never has been, just concessions to Iran and repeated delays for their benefit. Among other things, this 'diplomacy' has been used to intimidate Israel and prevent them from dealing with what amounts to an existential threat while this travesty has been going on. That too is deliberate.Chamberlain and Deladier used the same tactics to stop the Czech army from mobilizing to defend themselves against Hitler.

As I wrote here, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that President Barack Hussein Obama has no problem with a nuclear armed Iran, and yes, he has both personal ideological and domestic political motivations I detail at the above link. That's exactly why he and Secretary Kerry have converted a position of strength into a position of weakness. He's willing to let Iran have nuclear weapons and if that happens to lead to region-wide proliferation and/or a nuclear attack on what he considers that white, colonialist Zionist outpost, I'm sure he'll issue a suitably phrased, nuanced statement condemning it while lecturing Israel on the need to 'reduce tension in the region.'

And therein lies the heart of the matter. Even a few years ago, Iran's nuclear facilities could have been disabled with a fairly minimal loss of life on both sides. That isn't true any more. To shut down places like Fordow would now almost certainly require massive bombing and perhaps even tactical nukes,,not to mention the fact that this president and his Iranian-born consigliere Valerie Jarrett aren't going to allow any action against Iran, no matter how grave the risk to U.S. security.

Barring impeachment or an unlikely removal from office, that's where we unfortunately sit.

We will unfortunately pay dearly in blood and treasure as a result.

 Wolf Howling: Until the reelection of Obama in 2012, negotiations with Iran were based on multiple UN declarations requiring that Iran cease any further enrichment of uranium that could be used for a nuclear arsenal. Those negotiations were backed by sanctions that were hurting the Iranian economy and, deep in the background, there was a threat of force if the negotiations failed. Arguably, force should have been applied years ago, but be that as it may, the sanctions were hurting Iran sufficiently that they've come to the table to have them lifted.

But the negotiations as they now exist are over a Proposed Framework that would lift sanctions, see the continuation of the Iranian nuclear program as well as continued development of Iran's delivery systems for nuclear weapons, and give the imprimatur of the U.S. and the U.N. to full scale development of an Iranian nuclear arsenal in a decade. The collateral effect of a deal on these terms would be to see Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey create their own nuclear arsenal. All of this would be, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, "a catastrophe, not a strategic objective."

No, the negotiations over the Proposed Framework are not worth continuing. The mere fact that they happened is insanity itself.

The contention from Obama that it is either this or we de facto acquiesce to an Iranian nuclear arsenal is suicidal fallacy. According to Obama, sanctions will not work to end the Iranian threat. As to force, Obama stated in his NYT interview with Tom Friedman, that “a military strike or a series of military strikes can set back Iran’s nuclear program for a period of time — but almost certainly will prompt Iran to rush towards a bomb, will provide an excuse for hard-liners inside of Iran to say, ‘This is what happens when you don’t have a nuclear weapon: America attacks.’"

As I wrote in a critique of that interview:

Economic sanctions with a threat of force is what brought Iran to the table. Now Obama claims that neither continued and ever increasing economic sanctions will work and use of force will only lead Obama to a nuclear weapon more quickly? That is ludicrous. One, economic sanctions were crippling Iran's economy and can work if given time. The negotiations ongoing now are proof.

But if we run out of time, there must be a threat of overwhelming force. The Iranian regime is wholly dependent on sales of oil and gas for it's economy. Cut them off from their oil and gas and the bloody theocracy would soon fall. All of Iran's oil and gas fields are on a strip running along the western border of the country. Indeed, when Iraq attacked Iran in the 1980's, their master plan was to take control of a portions of that western border region. It was actually a workable strategy, had Saddam Hussein not been an incompetent commander. Bottom line, there is no need to attack all of Iran to bring the theocracy to its knees and destroy it. Because of its dependence on oil revenues and the vulnerability of its oil fields, it would be much easier to bring decisive force on the theocracy than it might at first blush appear. The whole concept of using force is based on the truism that you use it until the other side gives up. It's kind of been that way since before the written word. Obama's claim that force would only lead Iran to faster development of nuclear weapons would only be true if the force used were utterly insufficient and ineffective to convince the mad mullahs that they would lose everything if they continue to pursue nuclear weapons.

So bottom line, negotiations over a Proposed Framework should end now. Negotiations from the deck of the 5th Fleet anchored in the Persian Gulf and backed by the threat of overwhelming force to end, once and for all, Iran's nuclear program should recommence. But those negotiations should come with a hard end date, when words end and diplomacy "by other means" begins. And that threat of force should be multilateral, including not just the U.S. and Israel, but all of the other nations that have a stake in seeing that Iran's mad theocrats never gain a nuclear arsenal. That should be about 205 by my count. There are no other acceptable options. Peace in our time with a nuclear armed Iranian theocracy is as impossible today as "peace in our time" was impossible in 1930's Europe with Hitler and his Nazi regime.

Bookworm Room : Iran is now as it has been for the past 30 years: Intractably hostile to America; holding genocidal intentions towards Israel; moving towards regional dominance, especially control over the Gulf; funding Islamic terrorism around the world; determined to become a nuclear power; and, at the leadership level, in thrall to a version of Islam that it believes requires it to jump-start the Apocalypse.

In its negotiations with Obama, Iran has made it patently clear that, in exchange for ridding itself of onerous economic sanctions, it will give . . . nothing. Obama is fine with that deal. No sane person should be.

Until Iran is will to make real concessions, we should not be negotiating with it. Instead, we should continue sanctions.

Having said that, I understand that the world's bad actors -- Russia, China, Venezuela, etc., not to mention the EU -- are anxious to get into Iran and start making money. Given this reality, there's an argument saying that, because we can't hold these entities back any longer, we should just recognize reality and make a bargain with Iran if for no other reason than to save face when economic sanctions vanish under a wave of bad-actor investments.

I disagree. I know that this sounds like old-fashioned, self-righteous morality, but it seems to me that, if bad things are going to happen no matter what, the very least a moral country can do is to refrain from putting its signature on a deal with the Devil. Until Iran is willing to make serious concessions and start acting like a nation among nations, rather than a mad terrorist stalking civilization, we should not be negotiating with it, and we certainly should not put our imprimatur on its allegedly inevitable move towards being an apocalyptically-oriented nuclear power.

Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason:Our negotiations with Iran seem pointless. On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Secretary of State Kerry said we don’t trust Iran.  How can there be any productive negotiations with those you do not trust?

The administration says we have a framework for a deal.  The self-imposed March deadline has come and gone.  The Supreme Leader (of Iran) insists all sanctions against Iran must be dropped immediately for any agreement.  Iran is playing America, playing the P+5 nations (United Nations Security Council plus Germany), and playing for time, making us look like fools as they further their nuclear ambitions and build alliances with radical Islamic elements around the world.

The Glittering Eye : I continue to be surprised at the Obama Administration's chronic inability to understand one of the basics of conducting a successful negotiation: only negotiate with decision-makers. People who are capable of making and standing behind a commitment. In the case of the very strongly top-down Obama Administration that means the president. There is only one person who can speak for Iran: the Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and, as Eli Lake has pointed out at Bloomberg, he does not apparently agree with the framework that the Obama Administration is claiming that his negotiators agreed to:
Here’s the thing about agreements. The parties that enter into them have to actually, you know, agree.

Take the Iran framework agreement, for instance. President Barack Obama says he has one on the basics of the nuclear deal with Iran. He doesn't. How do we know this? Because Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran -- the only person who decides on this matter -- says he hasn't agreed to the most important elements of the deal as laid out in the White House fact sheet.

Negotiations like this are always messy. But the disagreement between Khamenei and Obama gets to the heart of whether this is a good or a bad deal. Obama says the sanctions on Iran would be relieved over time and could be snapped back. This gives the U.S. and its allies leverage if Iran defies inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency or goes back on its word, as it has on previous arms control agreements. Here’s how the White House fact sheet released the day the framework agreement was announced on April 2 describes that mechanism: "U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place."

Khamenei says he will only agree to a deal if all the sanctions are lifted up front, upon Iran's signature. In Khamenei's version of events, the only realistic leverage the U.S. and the west would have against Iran would be to bomb its nuclear facilities.

The question then becomes "Is an agreement in which all leverage the P5+1 have with Iran is lifted before Iran lifts a finger 'worth it'?" I think the answer it "No".

There are any number of bizarre and puzzling things about the ongoing and interminable negotiations with Iran beyond why we are negotiating with lackeys. For example, why has the U. S. policy changed from finding Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon "unacceptable", the diction of both the Bush and Obama Administration's for years to "not unacceptable"?

For me the most puzzling thing about the negotiations is why are we negotiating anything which will strengthen the hand of the present Iranian regime at all? Not only has the regime executed and imprisoned more Iranians than the Shah ever dreamed of, it has poured scarce resources of money and time into a nuclear development which, without a nuclear weapon, makes considerable less economic sense for Iran than modernizing its oil and gas industries would have done, and is destabilizing the entire region with its proxy wars (not that our efforts in the region for the last couple of decades have been notably stabilizing).

GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD :For eons, American policy has been for Iran to enjoy a regime change. Until 44 hit town of course.

There doesn't seem to be any reasons that benefit the U.S. with Iranian negotiations. The fake believe meme that these negotiations are better than war is easily disproved with the uncool facts that Iran has been at war with us since Ayatollah Khomeini. Asymmetrically of course, yet warfare is a better description than being at odds.

Iran is the mommie of terrorist groups with a nation state sponsor. The current regime is illegit since open and fair elections is somewhat of a deception. The State's idea of tolerance is not found in any dictionaries and Iran has a history of breaking tons of agreements negotiated in good faith.

Instead of non profit jaw flapping, Iran should be sanctioned heavily, repeatedly sans modesty or restraint until the regime collapses.

A "talk to the hand" treatment with Preacher Command would gain far more benefits for Iran and America in the long run.

 Well, there you have it!

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