Tag: Iranian Nuclear Deal

How to Insult Friends and Not Influence People


Obama PipelinesIf there is a perfect microcosm of President Obama’s foreign policy, it is the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed oil pipeline would stretch from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, essentially duplicating pipelines already in existence or under construction. It would deliver much-needed crude oil in a cost-effective way to the great refineries of Texas and Louisiana and — at a stroke — reduce American dependence on hostile foreign sources while also giving an economic boost to America’s closest ally. All this makes Keystone XL the foreign policy equivalent of a no-brainer. The crude will come into America whether or not Keystone XL is approved, either in existing pipelines or via an overstretched rail system. There would simply be less crude and likely at a significantly higher cost. Even if one accepts the global warming theories peddled by the Obama Administration, the crude that would flow through Keystone XL would have only a marginal impact. In a world where China is building coal power plants at a record pace, a few hundred thousand barrels of Canadian heavy crude is dust in the balance.

So why has the Obama Administration blocked Keystone XL since almost the moment it entered office? While the issue is a minor one in domestic politics, it is of disproportionate importance to a small group of Democratic donors. These wealthy activists have accepted the tenets of the Greenista creed and regard industrial civilization with contempt. They do not view the extraction of resources – or the constructions of great pieces of infrastructure – as tools that allow ordinary people to live richer and better lives. They view industrial civilization as a threat to the goddess Gaia; the common man be damned.

Whether Keystone XL would have much of an impact on global warming is irrelevant to these activists. It is, however, of tremendous symbolic importance. If the construction of a vital and largely harmless piece of infrastructure can be stopped so easily, it will act as a precedent. It will help drive investment away from the pipeline sector and, over time, make fossil fuels more expensive. This is part of a long, slow march to end industrial society. To placate, this small group of rich cranks, the Obama Administration has weakened the American economy and insulted a harmless and valuable ally.

Why the Iran Deal Won’t Work


The announcement hammered out between Western powers and Iran last week is, in all likelihood, doomed for failure, not least because of a number of unjustifiable assumptions that undergird the deal. As I argue in my new column for Defining Ideas:

The first problem with the deal is that it gives Iran an undeserved respectability that comes simply from being allowed to sign a significant international agreement.

France and the Iranian Nuclear Deal


2013-11-24T041744Z_559600050_GM1E9BO0XZ501_RTRMADP_3_IRAN-NUCLEAR-DEALFrance’s agreement to the deal reached between Iran and P5+1 represents a change in position. The endless talks temporarily collapsed, in November 2013, when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius denounced Iran’s position as “a fool’s deal.” They were widely applauded by those opposed to the deal as clear-sighted and brave; they were impugned by those in favor of a deal as short-sighted and corrupt. This was typical of the latter kind of analysis:

… And what happened to some degree over the summer was that Prince Bandar and other Saudi officials began trolling through Europe, trying to figure out if they could pull away some of the countries of Europe in favor of the Saudi position, and essentially the Israeli position, on issues like Syria and Iran. They seem to have had great success with the French, who, of course, have a serious economic problem. They have been struggling trying to get out of this recession. They’ve had a recent credit downgrade. They’ve had high unemployment. And so when the Saudis began to flash some of their petrodollars around, it was certainly something of interest to the French. And the Saudis have recently been signing up contracts with the French for military assistance. There’s a one-and-a-half billion dollar plan for the French to help refurbish some of the Saudi Navy. And you’ve had other Gulf states making other deals with France in terms of buying their equipment, especially their military equipment. So what you’ve got here is the French having a very clear economic incentive to help the Saudis and the Israelis as much as possible.

I expect the commentary will quickly reverse itself: Those who support the deal will now applaud France for taking a brave risk for peace; those against the deal will explain French behavior in terms of the same logic. French firms have been making that kind of analysis easy by openly salivating at the the thought of the business prospects should sanctions be lifted:

Obama: Witting or Witless?


obamairanI was elected to end wars, not start them. – Barack Obama

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. – George Orwell

 A question has hung in the air since Barack Obama first moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and began his “fundamental transformation” of this country: Did he intend harm or was he merely so blinded by ideology that he could not see the damage his policies were creating? The Iran deal provides an answer.

The Libertarian Podcast, with Richard Epstein: “The Iran Deal”


Is President Obama out of his mind? That’s more or less the question that animates this installment of The Libertarian podcast.

In addition to considering the security implications of our diplomatic agreement with Iran, Professor Epstein also digs into the convoluted legal structure: How is it that President Obama can essentially invert the traditional treaty power so that it’s a heavier lift for Congress to reject the deal than for the president to get it passed? And do challenges to that innovation have a chance in court? Find out by listening below or by subscribing to The Libertarian via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.