Don’t Ask Me to Explain The Iran Nuclear Agreement

 

1000If anyone is hoping for foreign policy wisdom from me about this, you’re looking to the wrong person. Nothing about this makes sense. Adam Garfinkle’s piece in the American Interest strikes me as closest to rational. He rejects the idea that the negotiations are “a cover for shepherding that bomb into being as an ante toward bringing about an Iranian-U.S. condominium to ‘stabilize’ the Middle East,” this on the grounds that the explanation is essentially a conspiracy theory:

It behooves those who hold such views to explain why an American President would think that multinational nuclear proliferation in the Middle East suits mid- to long-term U.S. national security interests. It obviously doesn’t, and so they cannot explain their position rationally.

But he notes that it would seem the President was willing to accept any deal, however unfavorable:

… the hopeful interpretations attached to this decision … make absolutely no sense. The manifest unwillingness of the President to walk away from these increasingly pointless and even ridiculous negotiations on March 31 directly contradicts the intended message that he is, in fact, willing to walk away. Moreover, if U.S. negotiators make concession after concession after concession, as they have, then it leads others to wonder where the line is that changes a good deal into a bad one from which we walk away. Conclusion: There probably isn’t any such line.

Note that the Iranians are now claiming the Administration is lying about the terms of the deal. No idea what to think of that: I’m not inclined to start trusting Tehran more than I do Washington. If I were, then I wouldn’t worry about negotiating with Tehran, right? But the series of Tweets emanating last night from the Iranian negotiating team hardly filled me with confidence that any kind of deal in which I could repose even face-value confidence had been struck.

What I simply don’t understand is the point of this deal—in the President’s mind. As Garfinkle points out, Iran is already a nuclear threshold state, and we’re already on the verge of massive WMD proliferation in the region. Thus his conclusion follows naturally:

Sooner or later, under either this Administration or its successor, we will be right back where we started before all the talking began: We will have to choose between living with an nuclear-armed Iran, letting some other power try to take care of it, or using a variety of moderate- to high-risk means to first paralyze and ultimately prevent it. When all is said and done, what happened today in Switzerland will be seen as not having made so much as a dent in this wall of bad options.

So why are we doing this? What piece of the puzzle is missing? Could there be any secret provision that makes this deal seem rational? Could there be any good reason to kick this decision further down the line? From what I know of it, the deal doesn’t even seem worth the money spent on all those expensive orchid arrangements.

I surely appreciate that there are no good options—only the least bad—but why the urgency to sign off on this particular bad option? Does it look less bad than the others in any obvious way to you? Is there any information that could be added to the picture of the negotiations we now have that would make you say, “Okay, this now seems clearly to be the least bad of our bad options?”

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  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Don’t Ask Me to Explain The Iran Nuclear Agreement

    Wouldn’t dream of it.  This, like much of late, makes sense if you consider a truly bad motive for the President and his people.  That is, bad for us, good for them.

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Ball Diamond Ball:This, like much of late, makes sense if you consider a truly bad motive for the President and his people.

    Garfinkle’s explanation of the motive is “hyper-partisanship,” which I read to mean, “The only thing Obama cares about is domestic politics, and he simply isn’t thinking much about whether the deal is in fact rational.” I don’t buy the idea that Jarrett’s a sleeper agent and that Obama’s deliberately tanking American interests. That’s too much of a conspiracy theory. But something here is–obviously– weird.

    • #2
  3. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    It makes sense if your belief is that if we give in enough, the belligerence by the other side will go away.  Our left got used to infantilizing our enemies a long time ago.  Iran will open up and flowers will bloom.  The “negotiations” seem to me to be window-dressing, and I suspect Obama is frustrated that he has to go through this charade.

    • #3
  4. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Claire Berlinski:

    Ball Diamond Ball:This, like much of late, makes sense if you consider a truly bad motive for the President and his people.

    Garfinkle’s explanation of the motive is “hyper-partisanship,” which I read to mean, “The only thing Obama cares about is domestic politics, and he simply isn’t thinking much about whether the deal is in fact rational.” I don’t buy the idea that Jarrett’s a sleeper agent and that Obama’s deliberately tanking American interests. That’s too much of a conspiracy theory. But something here is–obviously– weird.

    Mark Steyn doesn’t provide an answer, but he does ask an interesting question:

    So please don’t insult Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, because conspiracies are generally a comforting illusion: the real problem with Obama is that the citizens of the global superpower twice elected him to office. Yet one way to look at the current “leader of the free world” is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

    • #4
  5. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    The West is changing, but so is Iran. Which faction dominates in Iran over the next fifteen years, and the kind of polity they run, is both vital for the rest of the world and a function of which faction the rest of the world empowers today.

    • #5
  6. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    By increasing Iran’s power and status Obama is decreasing American power and status in the region and the world. Is that not his stated goal? No conspiracy, just doing what he said he would do.

    • #6
  7. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    The problem with banning conspiracy theories is that it’s usually too late to act once the theory becomes demonstrable fact.

    Argue both sides of this equation. Demonstrate the President’s actions are not a deliberate attempt to create a nuclear-armed Islamic nut-job state. Because as of right now that’s just a theory, too. And not a very strong one.

    • #7
  8. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski:

    Ball Diamond Ball:This, like much of late, makes sense if you consider a truly bad motive for the President and his people.

    Garfinkle’s explanation of the motive is “hyper-partisanship,” which I read to mean, “The only thing Obama cares about is domestic politics, and he simply isn’t thinking much about whether the deal is in fact rational.” I don’t buy the idea that Jarrett’s a sleeper agent and that Obama’s deliberately tanking American interests. That’s too much of a conspiracy theory. But something here is–obviously– weird.

    What stretches credulity is the thought that these simultaneous, disparate, comprehensive attacks on our nation, our defenses, our liberties, and our reputation are something other than aspects of a single purpose.  By “nation”, I mean the American people and the American culture.  We are being physically replaced.  Thank Heaven gun rights are going the right way these days.  It’s not as though they aren’t trying — I chalk it up to an increasing unease with the actual goals of major portions of our government.

    I realize that Ricochet doesn’t want to talk about certain things that Obama doesn’t want to talk about.  You won’t hear me mention those things, but Claire, have you read Alinsky?  If so, do you think it’s all a coincidence that his people are accomplishing his goals using his methods?

    The performance of this Alinskyite machine is impressive, truly spectacular in the way that the 9/11 attacks were a spectacle.  Horrific and terrifying, but truly notable.  Works of dedication.  Do you seriously think that this ruthless crew is so inept that they can’t help but bumble from setback to setback?  That’s a suicide who stabbed himself 47 times in the back.

    ——————-

    This is the party that refuses to learn.  We will be as unprepared next time for a vicious domestic enemy as we were in 2012 and 2008.  These people are serious and we are not.  Might as well dub “Jeb” for “Mitt” in Ricochet podcast #101 and schedule it for early 2016.  Can’t wait to be harangued with Ann “severely conservative” Coulter’s “just words” next time around.  We’ll get the whole RINO Tabernacle Choir to sing the Shut Up and Vote for Jeb chorus.

    • #8
  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Sandy:It makes sense if your belief is that if we give in enough, the belligerence by the other side will go away. Our left got used to infantilizing our enemies a long time ago. Iran will open up and flowers will bloom. The “negotiations” seem to me to be window-dressing, and I suspect Obama is frustrated that he has to go through this charade.

    These people are implacable in getting what they want.  Imagine if they had put this much effort into working out a SOFA in Iraq.

    There is a certain buffoonish streak in Obama, but that’s not what’s working overtime to give Iran the bomb.

    • #9
  10. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Ball Diamond Ball:

     You won’t hear me mention those things, but Claire, have you read Alinsky? If so, do you think it’s all a coincidence that his people are accomplishing his goals using his methods?

    I have, but found in Alinsky absolutely nothing surprising: It’s just a pop-psychology “How to succeed in marketing” book adapted for use by left-wingers. Nothing in it would work if people didn’t like the ideas they were marketing.

    • #10
  11. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Zafar:The West is changing, but so is Iran.Which faction dominates in Iran over the next fifteen years, and the kind of polity they run, is both vital for the rest of the worldand a function of which faction the rest of the world empowers today.

    Does our policy seem to you designed to empower any faction in particular?

    • #11
  12. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    EJHill:Demonstrate the President’s actions are not a deliberate attempt to create a nuclear-armed Islamic nut-job state. Because as of right now that’s just a theory, too. And not a very strong one.

    For that to be the real policy, many people would have to be in on it, at a very high level. Pretty much everyone connected to Iran policy over quite some period of time. It stretches credulity that so many Americans would keep a secret like that.

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski:

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    You won’t hear me mention those things, but Claire, have you read Alinsky? If so, do you think it’s all a coincidence that his people are accomplishing his goals using his methods?

    I have, but found in Alinsky absolutely nothing surprising: It’s just a pop-psychology “How to succeed in marketing” book adapted for use by left-wingers. Nothing in it would work if people didn’t like the ideas they were marketing.

    Yes, I didn’t claim he had supernatural powers.  What you dismiss as “pop-psychology” is how the world works outside the irony tower.  He’s not just their Tom Hopkins.  He’s their Ziglar, their Covey, their Carnegie.  “How to succeed in marketing” books which stay popular for decades are not earth-shattering — they are robust.  Do what the book says year in and year out, and you will achieve your goals.

    Your dismissal seems more convincing as support.

    Finally, if you have such faith in people that they like what the left peddles but don’t fall for the “marketing”, then what  should the right do?  You think that Alinskyite antics are mere street performance and that the real business of convincing people is accomplished in polite meetings somewhere?  You assert that the tactics accomplish zero that the ideology doesn’t already accomplish?  Well, sounds like we’re drowning in a sea of thoughtful, committed socialists.  Why bother?

    • #13
  14. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski:

    EJHill:Demonstrate the President’s actions are not a deliberate attempt to create a nuclear-armed Islamic nut-job state. Because as of right now that’s just a theory, too. And not a very strong one.

    For that to be the real policy, many people would have to be in on it, at a very high level. Pretty much everyone connected to Iran policy over quite some period of time. It stretches credulity that so many Americans would keep a secret like that.

    It’s hardly a secret, and it doesn’t take a conspiracy — just a critical mass of like-minded people who “get it”.  The pop culture, the news media, the schools –you’re soaking in it, Madge.

    You cannot wake a man who only pretends to sleep.

    • #14
  15. MisterSirius Member
    MisterSirius
    @MisterSirius

    The best case scenario:

    Beneath his Pajama Boy exterior, the Dear Leader is a cold, calculating, patriotic Mr. Spock. He sees the historical timeline with high accuracy, and he knows with scientific precision that the current Iranian government will implode in 7 years, plus or minus two years.

    This implosion will be just like the one that took out the Soviet Union. The “Green Movement” of a few years ago was too soon, and American involvement then would have been a “Bay of Pigs” moment.

    The Iranian Atomic Bomb Program will hasten the Iranian implosion, in exactly the same way that Reagan’s defense build up (or SDI alone) caved the Soviet Empire. All the money that the Iranians pour into that rat hole is money not going to improving the happiness of the citizens, through consumer goods, refineries, gay bars, abortion clinics, or whatever.

    It is an economic warfare.

    The old saw is that everybody is geared up to fight the last war, not the next one. So the next war is always going to be a little different, even if the results are the same. Thus, Reagan did his thing in the open, with real pieces, and public statements; the Left did their part with hysterical protests across Europe.

    Reagan was “the cowboy,” with every action he made leading to that image. Dear Leader is Pajama Boy. But the plan is the same. The other side thinks that time is on their side. Victory for the USA is guaranteed.

    Worst case scenario:

    The deal is as bad as it looks today.

    • #15
  16. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    MisterSirius:The best case scenario:

    Beneath his Pajama Boy exterior, the Dear Leader is a cold, calculating, patriotic Mr. Spock. He sees the historical timeline with high accuracy, and he knows with scientific precision that the current Iranian government will implode in 7 years, plus or minus two years.

    Why that’s preposterous!  Do you know how many people would have to conspire on such a nefarious program of deception?

    • #16
  17. user_157053 Member
    user_157053
    @DavidKnights

    Claire,

    To quote a recent Secretary of State, “At this point, what difference does it make?”

    Our choices are:

    a) Those in government are a bunch of well-meaning but clueless rubes who truly believe that making a deal will accomplish something good,

    or

    b) The evil sleeper agents have gotten their hands on the levers of power and are doing everything they can to weaken America.

    I don’t see a third explanation, but I am open to hearing one.  In any case it doesn’t matter if it is a) or b) above.   Whoever comes into power in 2016 will be faced with an Iran that is 18 months closer to the bomb.

    In the case of Iran, I am not sure there are any good choices left, just a series of bad options.  I suspect that in 18 months, there will be even fewer options, and they will be worse overall.

    • #17
  18. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Claire Berlinski:

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    You won’t hear me mention those things, but Claire, have you read Alinsky? If so, do you think it’s all a coincidence that his people are accomplishing his goals using his methods?

    I have, but found in Alinsky absolutely nothing surprising: It’s just a pop-psychology “How to succeed in marketing” book adapted for use by left-wingers. Nothing in it would work if people didn’t like the ideas they were marketing.

    Yes, I didn’t claim he had supernatural powers. What you dismiss as “pop-psychology” is how the world works outside the irony tower. He’s not just their Tom Hopkins. He’s their Ziglar, their Covey, their Carnegie. “How to succeed in marketing” books which stay popular for decades are not earth-shattering — they are robust. Do what the book says year in and year out, and you will achieve your goals.

    Sure, but try re-reading what you wrote this way:

    If so, do you think it’s all a coincidence that his people are accomplishing his goals using a left-leaning version of “How to succeed in marketing?”

    In which case, I’d say, “No, it’s not a coincidence–that’s how I’d expect the American left to succeed in marketing.” But you wouldn’t really need Alinsky to explain it, or appeal to any kind of organized conspiracy: You’d just have to pay attention to how things are marketed, and assume that Americans do tend to be good at marketing and have lots of examples around them of people who do it successfully.

    Finally, if you have such faith in people that they like what the left peddles but don’t fall for the “marketing”, then what should the right do?

    What should the right do about this issue or about winning elections, generally?

    You think that Alinskyite antics are mere street performance and that the real business of convincing people is accomplished in polite meetings somewhere?

    It’s both–you get votes through one kind of antic, you get backroom deals through the other. And some kinds of political persuasion happen quickly, others, gradually.

    You assert that the tactics accomplish zero that the ideology doesn’t already accomplish?

    No, I didn’t assert that, but didn’t find anything all that surprising in the tactics he suggested.

    Well, sounds like we’re drowning in a sea of thoughtful, committed socialists. Why bother?

    I’m not sure whether we are. It can seem that way, looking at the Administration and the media, but does it seem that way in your immediate daily environment? I don’t know to what extent what I see really reflects a permanently changed underlying set of political attitudes.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Claire Berlinski:

    Ball Diamond Ball:This, like much of late, makes sense if you consider a truly bad motive for the President and his people.

    Garfinkle’s explanation of the motive is “hyper-partisanship,” which I read to mean, “The only thing Obama cares about is domestic politics, and he simply isn’t thinking much about whether the deal is in fact rational.” I don’t buy the idea that Jarrett’s a sleeper agent and that Obama’s deliberately tanking American interests. That’s too much of a conspiracy theory. But something here is–obviously– weird.

    Putting aside the Jarrett quip (which I assume was a joke, or at least an idea that isn’t to be taken seriously), I don’t see any conspiracy required.

    Isn’t it fairly well established that Obama’s politics aren’t merely partisan, but rooted in some of the more toxic extremes of leftism that hold, speaking loosely, that the problem with the world is America?  Is it such a stretch to think that someone whose thinking is influenced by that line of thought might pursue a deal that weakens America, because he thinks that a weaker America is a better citizen of the world?

    • #19
  20. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    My impression of Obama was cemented by Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars. In it, the Pentagon and various professionals try to come up with a strategy to address the real issues involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    What comes out of the book is a clash of personalities and egos instead of any impersonal analysis. For Obama, everything is personal. The policies that emerge aren’t analytic; they’re much more the result of appeasing personalities, principally Obama himself.

    All of his maneuvering since then has struck me as being new instances of that same old style. It’s all about Obama. He got a deal. He kept us out of war. What was needed to end these negotiations was some other ego-driven shiny bauble that would have flattered his narcissism, making it more urgent than any deal.

    How great is a constitutional system when it empowers a narcissist to do whatever he wants? I want Article II rewritten and amended to prevent any more Obamas who could foul up the country just so he can be flattered by MSNBC.

    • #20
  21. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    MisterSirius:The best case scenario:

    Beneath his Pajama Boy exterior, the Dear Leader is a cold, calculating, patriotic Mr. Spock. He sees the historical timeline with high accuracy, and he knows with scientific precision that the current Iranian government will implode in 7 years, plus or minus two years.

    What if there’s an underlying strategic logic more like this: Let Iran and the Sunni axis destroy and weaken each other as thoroughly as possible before intervening?

    • #21
  22. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Perhaps he’s operating under the following assumptions:

    • Iran is going nuclear one way or another.
    • Better to get a foot in the door before it’s slammed in our face, especially since there’s no way in hell we’re taking military action against them – not on his watch.

    Or,

    • Iran is going nuclear one way or another.
    • There’s no way in hell we’re taking military action against them – not on his watch.
    • By making some kind of deal and making noise that maybe Iran isn’t as terrible as we thought, we’re depriving Netanyahu of the implicit support of the US for an Israeli strike of some sort, while erecting at least a superficial diplomatic barrier to an Israeli strike.
    • He doesn’t want the Israelis to act because then the US would have to get involved militarily. And there is no way in hell we’re taking military action against Iran – not on his watch.
    • Besides, the region needs some power to balance against the Saudis and Turkey. Never mind that that balance is likely to come at the cost of a nuclearized Middle East and perhaps a regional war which might unify the region into the long-sought caliphate. Perhaps such a war will even spark a larger conflict. No matter, that’ll be the next guy’s problem.
    • #22
  23. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Matthew Continetti got me thinking in his new piece over at the Free Beacon.  I don’t think opinions about this agreement are worth a hill of beans because I don’t think we can believe anything that comes out from the administration about it. So many major Obama announcements concerning foreign policy in the past have been later demonstrated to be at the least a hedge and usually a complete lie.  I know, let’s ask that guy who started the Benghazi attack by his video what he thinks!

    Our entire “foreign policy” team is a clown show.  That is truth.

    • #23
  24. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    satchelpaige:

    Isn’t it fairly well established that Obama’s politics aren’t merely partisan, but rooted in some of the more toxic extremes of leftism that hold, speaking loosely, that the problem with the world is America?

    I just cannot say that I know. All these years into Obama’s presidency, and I still don’t feel that I have any intuitive sense of what motivates him. I don’t think anyone can occupy that office for that long and continue to believe that the problem with the world is America. His own power is too bound up in American power; he must be entirely aware that he’ll be judged forever by Americans. He’d have to be something of an anti-narcissist to want to reduce American power and diminish his own legacy, right? He’s the President of the United States, after all. Holding that office just has to leave a man believing that America is a great place. It elected him President, after all. Twice.

    • #24
  25. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Claire Berlinski:….

    Well, sounds like we’re drowning in a sea of thoughtful, committed socialists. Why bother?

    I’m not sure whether we are. It can seem that way, looking at the Administration and the media, but does it seem that way in your immediate daily environment? I don’t know to what extent what I see really reflects a permanently changed underlying set of political attitudes.

    Living in Chicago, as I do, I’ve noticed that socialism isn’t a dirty word anymore. Without exaggeration, I think that the leadership of the teacher’s union here is basically socialist – and it has much traction. A widespread response to arguments like, “no one gets that compensation/benefits in the private sector” is that more people should start demanding more benefits then. It’s not so shocking, I suppose, for people to want as much as they can get for as little cost as they can get away with. What’s shocking is the extent to which this principle overrides other civic considerations.

    • #25
  26. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    satchelpaige:….Isn’t it fairly well established that Obama’s politics aren’t merely partisan, but rooted in some of the more toxic extremes of leftism that hold, speaking loosely, that the problem with the world is America? ….

    No, I don’t think it’s any more established than whatever the left thought of Bush, Bush, or Reagan.

    He thinks differently and we don’t like the way he thinks – it runs contrary to our (ie the right’s) interests. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated or nefarious than that.

    • #26
  27. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    As I understand things, there is no deal. What they are touting is an agreement as to what the terms of a deal would look like. Demonstrating once again, the Obama Administration is the realization of a popular NBC sitcom.

    A Presidency about Nothing

    • #27
  28. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Does anyone find the face-value explanation at all convincing, namely, that this is the best way to facilitate aggressive inspections? The memory of Pokhran, I assume, looms large–as well as the obvious intelligence failure in Iraq. Perhaps the logic is, “We need much better intelligence before we can consider military action?” 

    I’m really trying to think this out. Not that my support for the deal or lack thereof will change anything, but I’m just trying to come up with a reasonably satisfying mental map of what they’re thinking. I doubt they’re thinking, “We want a nuclear Iran and rampant nuclear proliferation.” There are too many people around them who simply wouldn’t sign on for that. They’ve convinced a lot of people in the high levels of the defense and intelligence community that this  strategy makes sense. I wonder what the Party Line in the heart of our Deep State really is?

    • #28
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    “Does our policy seem to you designed to empower any faction in particular?”

    @Claire

    Yes of course – the faction that wants to make deals with America rather than the faction that doesn’t. Iow the reformers rather than the Basijis.

    They will still be Iranian patriots, working for Iranian interests rather than America’s, but they will be open to working on common areas of interest (eg Iraq, ISIS), not locked into mindless opposition by fear of the U.S.

    • #29
  30. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Claire Berlinski:….I doubt they’re thinking, “We want a nuclear Iran and rampant nuclear proliferation.” …..

    Perhaps you’re right about that. However, it’s not so clear whether this aversion to a nuclear Iran is stronger than the aversion to taking military action against Iran to stop it from occurring. My bet is that the aversion to military action is stronger, whether or not the permanent diplomatic/intelligence apparatus agrees.

    • #30
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