Right Under Our Noses

 

While the media’s obsession with the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been front-and-center in our minds, the rest of the world is essentially being ignored. It’s not unusual to see this kind of pre-occupation with dangerous world events. But the media and the U.S. are demonstrating, once again, that we are unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, or more likely, choose not to. And the situation could actually escalate in unexpected ways, putting the entire world at risk, if we don’t wake up.

Rather than focus on Russia and Ukraine, I want to remind you that there is supposedly an Iran negotiation taking place regarding the hopeless and meaningless JCPOA. President Trump had enough sense to know that it made no sense to stay in the agreement because from the start, the Iranians ignored the requirements. They managed hidden sites with centrifuges and when inspections were “requested” by the IAEA, they simply said “no.” In addition, I never could see the point in trying to delay their production of a nuclear weapon: they would develop the weapon, regardless. But everyone wanted to pretend that the JCPOA, along with Obama’s bribing the Iranians with $150 billion would somehow mitigate the situation. Of course, there are some who could technically say we were releasing Iran’s own money that had been frozen, but then why did we try to release it in secret?

Meanwhile, Joe Biden decided to reconstruct the JCPOA, even though the Iranians have made substantial progress  in enriching uranium, and are perhaps only weeks away from having enough fissile material for a bomb:

Some critics have said the U.S. should have called it quits long ago, with Iran enriching uranium up to 60% and enriching uranium metal, spinning more advanced centrifuges and more of them, and obstructing access for the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear weapons-grade uranium is enriched at 90%, while the nuclear deal capped Iran’s enrichment at 3.67% for 15 years. . .

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others have warned for a couple of weeks now that Iran is just a ‘few weeks’ away from that critical threshold — although the senior State Department official said it would take some additional time to actually build a nuclear bomb, declining to provide a timeline for that.

These circumstances are dangerous enough, but now we are reminded that both China and Russia are in on the negotiations with Iran. And Russia is very unhappy about the sanctions we have imposed on them regarding their war on Ukraine. Putin told the Iranians before he invaded Ukraine of his intentions:

One of President Putin’s first calls after declaring his intention to invade Ukraine was to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who told the Russian leader that he supported his decision and affirmed that ‘NATO expansion is a serious threat to the security and stability of independent nations.’ Some Iranians have taken to the streets to protest President Putin’s actions, showing that support for the Russian regime is not uniform in the country.

Putin is not satisfied with gaining the support of Iran regarding the Ukraine invasion. Most recently he has made his own additional demands regarding the nuclear deal:

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. and pretty much the rest of the world have sanctioned Russia so severely that it has crippled their economy. This week, Russia threw a monkey wrench into the Iran talks by demanding that a nuclear deal include provisions that do not hinder its trade with Iran.

Essentially, the Russians might be using the Iran Nuclear Deal talks to try and get western powers to lift sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

These factors don’t even describe the number of times that Iran has poked our country in the eye during negotiations:

‘On January 3rd, two suicide drones were aimed at the State Department’s Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center near the Baghdad International Airport. Two more terror drones targeted American forces deployed to fight ISIS at the Al Asad air base. The base has been repeatedly hammered by Iran-backed rocket attacks over the past year, most notably when 14 rockets struck the base over the summer causing several injuries.’

‘There were repeated Iran-backed rocket strikes against Americans in Iraq throughout the last year totaling an estimated 25 separate attacks under the Biden administration.’

‘On September 11, two drones launched an attack on U.S. forces at Erbil International Airport.’ This time the attack apparently targeted our consulate in Erbil.

At this point, Iran is probably extremely frustrated at the delays in completing the nuclear deal and having sanctions lifted, and is raising the stakes.

So, what are the potential conclusions we can consider from this international mess?

First, we already know that Russia and China are allied, although the status of that alliance might be in question, given Russia’s performance in Ukraine. Both countries are supporting Iran and want to continue to do business with the Iranians. All three countries are now, or are soon-to-be, nuclear powers. The Biden administration will be desperate to close a nuclear deal with Iran, and even though they state they will not acquiesce to unreasonable demands from Iran, I’m not confident that they are strong enough to back out if failure is imminent. Due to Iran’s negotiations, and the Biden administration’s failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, we are losing credibility with those Middle Eastern nations that chose to be allied with us, and to those groups from the region that are hostile to us:

Fayez Abu Shamala, a political analyst from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, also sounded optimistic regarding the growing weakness of the US and its allies. He wrote:

‘Today, NATO stands unable to protect its allies and is facing a rising Russian power. Some NATO countries want to be liberated from American hegemony. The coming days will bring many surprises. We, the Arabs and Palestinians, have nothing to do but watch events with great caution and ponder how to exploit the developments.’

Just when we might have thought we didn’t have to focus on terrorism with Russia in our sights, we are in danger once more. Where will the realignments take place? Who are our legitimate allies anymore? Is there a country we can count on to back us up in the face of Russian aggression, Iranian recalcitrance, Chinese realignment potential, and our own inability to stand up against evil?

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Iran is the only outlaw country I don’t worry about.  Since I am sure Israel will solve the problem. With or without U.S. help. 

    • #1
  2. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Are we

    1. drifting

    2. easing

    3. falling

    4. galloping

    5. rocketing

    into chaos?

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Iran is the only outlaw country I don’t worry about. Since I am sure Israel will solve the problem. With or without U.S. help.

    I’m not so sure, navyjag. I am a huge Israel fan, and have a lot of confidence in their abilities, but I believe they are very worried. They can try to destroy Iran’s bomb facilities, but do they know where all of them are? I know Iran can only make one or two bombs at a time, but if Israel guesses wrong, how many bombs will Iran need?

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Are we

    1. drifting

    2. easing

    3. falling

    4. galloping

    5. rocketing

    into chaos?

    It depends on the precise moment you’re pointing to. I think we are “galloping” at the moment, since I fear our diplomats are going to do something very stupid to get Iran to agree with them.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Keep in mind that Iran, along with other Arab countries, does not embrace life. Death is just fine, especially in the form of martyrdom.

    • #5
  6. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Israel took care of the Iraq facility in 1981. And Syria’s a few years ago. Their intel far superior to ours. They screwed up Iran’s computers several years ago and blew up another facility last year. Remember Sexnet? They know where they are. And how to take care of them. Will focus on China and Taiwan. 

    • #6
  7. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Are we

    1. drifting

    2. easing

    3. falling

    4. galloping

    5. rocketing

    into chaos?

    It depends on the precise moment you’re pointing to. I think we are “galloping” at the moment, since I fear our diplomats are going to do something very stupid to get Iran to agree with them.

    If it is any consolation, the EU suspended negotiations today. 

    As for other international tensions…Japan re-asserted its claims to the Kuril Islands against Russia. Tuesday, I think it was. Fun times. 

    • #7
  8. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Israel took care of the Iraq facility in 1981. And Syria’s a few years ago. Their intel far superior to ours. They screwed up Iran’s computers several years ago and blew up another facility last year. Remember Sexnet? They know where they are. And how to take care of them. Will focus on China and Taiwan.

    But isn’t it strange that a tiny country of less than 9 million people in the Middle East has now been forced to become the world’s policeman? Has the United States abdicated that moral leadership role?

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This has been on my mind too all week.

    A looming disaster.

     

    • #9
  10. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Israel took care of the Iraq facility in 1981. And Syria’s a few years ago. Their intel far superior to ours. They screwed up Iran’s computers several years ago and blew up another facility last year. Remember Sexnet? They know where they are. And how to take care of them. Will focus on China and Taiwan.

    But isn’t it strange that a tiny country of less than 9 million people in the Middle East has now been forced to become the world’s policeman? Has the United States abdicated that moral leadership role?

    With Slow Joe and Kamala Cackler in charge sure looks like it. Israel wants to survive.  U.S. wants to just get along and lead the way to a fossil free future. Thanks, never Trumpers. 

    • #10
  11. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Are we

    1. drifting

    2. easing

    3. falling

    4. galloping

    5. rocketing

    into chaos?

    Yes.

    • #11
  12. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Susan Quinn: Of course, there are some who could technically say we were releasing Iran’s own money that had been frozen, but then why did we try to release it in secret?

    But it was their own money. 

    If your bank refused to give you your money when you wanted it what does that make your bank?

    In secret?  If unfreezing funds was part of the JCPOA how was it ‘in secret’?

    • #12
  13. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Susan Quinn: Is there a country we can count on to back us up in the face of Russian aggression

    Why would they?  We’ve shown ourselves to be unreliable allies.

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Is there a country we can count on to back us up in the face of Russian aggression

    Why would they? We’ve shown ourselves to be unreliable allies.

    I agree, Randy. But so far on this OP, a number of people seem unconcerned–a problem with Iran, Israel will take them out; Russia and China getting even closer to Iran: who cares?–No one to back us up in the world–meh. Maybe I’m just an alarmist.

    • #14
  15. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Is there a country we can count on to back us up in the face of Russian aggression

    Why would they? We’ve shown ourselves to be unreliable allies.

    I agree, Randy. But so far on this OP, a number of people seem unconcerned–a problem with Iran, Israel will take them out; Russia and China getting even closer to Iran: who cares?–No one to back us up in the world–meh. Maybe I’m just an alarmist.

    You are not an alarmist, and conservative Israeli columnist Caroline Glick thinks the agreement will be a trap for Israel.  She recently interviewed Mark Doran of the Hudson Institute, who makes the point that the agreement being negotiated effectively makes the U.S. the “guarantor” of the Iranian nuclear program.  Glick says, and Doran agrees, that she can imagine the U.S. getting a resolution through the Security Council supporting Iran’s program such that if Israel attacked an installation they would be in “hot water.”  Doran also explains what he thinks is behind the administration’s negotiations, namely, progressive domestic policy.  As Doran puts it, “The answer to any major problem has to be an answer that is acceptable to progressives,” and in the progressive understanding, we have been the problem, and the agreement with Iran is “the key to stabilizing the Middle East.”  Part of their project is then destroying relations between the U.S. and Israel. 

    I would like to think that it will be hard for Congress not to intervene given Russia’s role in all of this, to say nothing of Iran’s recent attack near our consulate in Iraq, but optimism is not an appropriate mood these days.  

    • #15
  16. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Is there a country we can count on to back us up in the face of Russian aggression

    Why would they? We’ve shown ourselves to be unreliable allies.

    I agree, Randy. But so far on this OP, a number of people seem unconcerned–a problem with Iran, Israel will take them out; Russia and China getting even closer to Iran: who cares?–No one to back us up in the world–meh. Maybe I’m just an alarmist.

    Or maybe you’re thinking ahead about the implications of our current policies.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Sandy (View Comment):
    You are not an alarmist, and conservative Israeli columnist Caroline Glick thinks the agreement will be a trap for Israel.  She recently interviewed Mark Doran of the Hudson Institute, who makes the point that the agreement being negotiated effectively makes the U.S. the “guarantor” of the Iranian nuclear program.

    Thanks for linking her interview, Sandy. I get her articles and videos, too, and I think she is extremely well-informed. You just beat me to listening to that one! ;-)

    • #17
  18. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Of course, there are some who could technically say we were releasing Iran’s own money that had been frozen, but then why did we try to release it in secret?

    But it was their own money.

    If your bank refused to give you your money when you wanted it what does that make your bank?

    In secret? If unfreezing funds was part of the JCPOA how was it ‘in secret’?

    If I recall correctly, the “unfrozen” funds were delivered as a pallet of cash. Not the way above-board financial transactions are made between governments.

    • #18
  19. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Of course, there are some who could technically say we were releasing Iran’s own money that had been frozen, but then why did we try to release it in secret?

    But it was their own money.

    If your bank refused to give you your money when you wanted it what does that make your bank?

    In secret? If unfreezing funds was part of the JCPOA how was it ‘in secret’?

    If I recall correctly, the “unfrozen” funds were delivered as a pallet of cash. Not the way above-board financial transactions are made between governments.

    It’s murky, I’ll grant

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2016/10/03/the-united-states-iran-and-1-7-billion-sorting-out-the-details/

    • #19
  20. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    The malevolent cretin in the White House and his team are doing all of these things for a reason. It’s not just incompetence. They have a goal. 

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):
    They have a goal. 

    I doubt that Biden knows what it is, but I suspect his handlers are out to destroy the country and remake it in their own image. A god-like plan, don’t you think?

    • #21
  22. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Nothing can explain the actions of our Supreme Leader and his minions in this Administration and the State Dept.  except for High Treason.  They all should be prosecuted and shot. These incredibly insane nutters want to destroy the world and for what? Just to destroy “evil” America?

    • #22
  23. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Of course, there are some who could technically say we were releasing Iran’s own money that had been frozen, but then why did we try to release it in secret?

    But it was their own money.

    If your bank refused to give you your money when you wanted it what does that make your bank?

    In secret? If unfreezing funds was part of the JCPOA how was it ‘in secret’?

    Pallets of small bills. 

    • #23
  24. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    If we pay Iran billions not to build a bomb any faster than they possibly can, the real danger is not the weapon but the almost unimaginable levels of weakness and stupidity that will likely encourage its use.  The mullahs are probably already imagining the adjectives that John Kery or Jen Psaki would throw at them for nuking Americans, the hashtags and ferocious declarations of an America that is really, really cheesed and demanding negotiations to determine what we did to provoke them.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The mullahs are probably already imagining the adjectives that John Kery or Jen Psaki would throw at them for nuking Americans, the hashtags and ferocious declarations of an America that is really, really cheesed and demanding negotiations to determine what we did to provoke them.

    Of course! It’s always, always America’s fault.

    • #25
  26. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Another great article.  

    The US faces two critical threats.  The first is Washington, whose running it is not clear,  I’d say  a coalition of those who want the US destroyed and those who don’t understand the threat which includes those making so much money.  The latter are the biggest problem. The other critical threat are the Chinese who want to bring us down a few notches while we have a weak pretend president in the White House.  Russia?  Well if we continue to play it stupidly it plays toward the threats.  

    • #26
  27. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Of course, there are some who could technically say we were releasing Iran’s own money that had been frozen, but then why did we try to release it in secret?

    But it was their own money.

    If your bank refused to give you your money when you wanted it what does that make your bank?

    In secret? If unfreezing funds was part of the JCPOA how was it ‘in secret’?

    I don’t care if it was their money or not.  I consider the Iranian leadership to be psychopathic murderers.  In the United States, when criminal enterprises make money, we confiscate that money according to law.  Even if you would consider our taking of Iran’s assets “stealing,” I still consider it appropriate in order to hinder Iran’s terrorist actions around the World.  I think the same principle applies to taking Russian assets  if it continues to invade peaceful  countries.  I don’t know if we took any German or Japanese assets in World War II, but I seriously doubt that anybody would complain that it was stealing if we did.

    • #27
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    I don’t care if it was their money or not.  I consider the Iranian leadership to be psychopathic murderers.  In the United States, when criminal enterprises make money, we confiscate that money according to law.

    We do that here too.  Something about the proceeds of crime, I think.  But. The money that the US froze was not the proceeds of crime.  It was money that they were happy to accept when the Shah sent it over to buy arms.

    Even if you would consider our taking of Iran’s assets “stealing,” I still consider it appropriate in order to hinder Iran’s terrorist actions around the World.

    Not stealing, extortion.

    I think the same principle applies to taking Russian assets  if it continues to invade peaceful  countries.  I don’t know if we took any German or Japanese assets in World War II, but I seriously doubt that anybody would complain that it was stealing if we did.

    So when America behaves badly it’s okay for other countries to confiscate American assets?  Do you really believe that?

    • #28
  29. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    As far as the Iran Nuclear deal goes, I hardly ever pay any attention to what’s happening because I don’t think it makes any difference at all as to whether or not they make a nuclear bomb.  As it is with many authoritarian countries, their word is completely untrustworthy.  It’s a fool’s errand to make any agreements with these people that you cannot enforce because they simply do not adhere to anything.  I think all the “negotiations” are just window dressing and have no effect on Iran’s nuclear program at all.  Navy Jag is right.  Israel does no talking or negotiations at all, yet they have been the only effective deterrent against a nuclear Iran.

    The way I understand it, the Russians started helping Slo Joe with the Iran negotiations as a way of getting the doddering old fool to become dependent on Russia’s help and therefore he’d be less likely to hamper Russia when the planned attack in Ukraine happened.  And that’s exactly what unfolded with America being the last Western country to get on board against the Russian Bear.  Biden had been desperate for a “win” in Iran (if you want to call letting them have nuclear weapons a win) because he’s had virtually no other victories to brag about otherwise.  Putin knew this and he led the naive cretin along for the last year.

    • #29
  30. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    I don’t care if it was their money or not. I consider the Iranian leadership to be psychopathic murderers. In the United States, when criminal enterprises make money, we confiscate that money according to law.

    We do that here too. Something about the proceeds of crime, I think. But. The money that the US froze was not the proceeds of crime. It was money that they were happy to accept when the Shah sent it over to buy arms.

    Even if you would consider our taking of Iran’s assets “stealing,” I still consider it appropriate in order to hinder Iran’s terrorist actions around the World.

    Not stealing, extortion.

    I think the same principle applies to taking Russian assets if it continues to invade peaceful countries. I don’t know if we took any German or Japanese assets in World War II, but I seriously doubt that anybody would complain that it was stealing if we did.

    So when America behaves badly it’s okay for other countries to confiscate American assets? Do you really believe that?

    Yes.  As soon as we start exporting terrorism against Jews or others around the World, or invade peaceful  countries for annexation, they should confiscate our assets, too.

    • #30
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