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03 December 2012


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good luck

William R. Cumming

Terrific think piece! Hope WH reads!

Thanks MB!


What evidence do you you have that supports your conclusion Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons?


Thanks to Prof. Brenner for a realistic if not optimistic analysis. There is incredibly little sign of new thinking from the Obama administration. At the heart of government, is there even time to think?


"The White House within the past few days has issued a thinly veiled ultimatum that Iran has until March to meet its demands or face dire consequences. Is that tantamount to saying that the United States is ready for war? No – but it expresses an attitude that could make war unavoidable."

It is so hard to imagine Obama bombing Iran over the nuclear issue. I suppose this is the expected posturing in order to get from here to there. I recall Col. Lang saying that in the Middle East, final agreements are known before any negotiations take place, with negotiations only necessary to work out the details.



Michael Brenner writes "serious nuclear program" not "serious nuclear WEAPONS program". I presume he intends to be ambiguous and perhaps to hint that he doubts the goal of the program is weapons.

Paul D

Can anyone cite an example of President who used his second-term status to act independently and forcefully for the good?



I did not say that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Indeed, there is no evidence - as admitted between the lines even by biased IAEA reports. They likely would like to have the capability to build one were circumstances to make that necessary in security terms. The key question, I believe, for a serious negotiation (not the virtual ones pursued by pantomime) is what we would accept as retained capability and what constraints the Iranians would accept on their ability to edge close to the threshold at some future time. There are people who have spedculated knowlesgeably about this andsome who understand the Iranian state(s) of mind. None, as far as I know, are close to the center of Obama administration decision-making. (The Iranians notion of what is acceptable is not carved in stone, but rather depends on our readiness to acknowledge the regime and its legitimate interests in the Gulf).

On a possible war, it seems evident that Obama has no stomach for it. Unfortunately, this amateur has boxed himself into a dangerous corner. The risk is less that he will yield to pressure from Israel and its partners than that conditions could develop wherein an incident - actual or intended - sets in train a chain of events that he couldn't control.

Finally, time to think. What a quaint notion. Hillary I see has spent hours literally penning personal notes to scores of Democratic candidates, losers as well as winners, in the recent elections. Perhaps she and Petraeus and Allen should co-author a guidebook to performing the duties of high office without infinging on what's really important for them.


There is a suggestion elsewhere among progressives that the Obama administration will maintain its reputation for spinelessness in its second term. The excuse that will be trotted out is "the 2014 congressional elections" followed by the 2016 elections thereafter.

Alba Etie

Mr Brenner
What exactly do you mean 'this amateur has boxed himself into a corner " regarding bombing Iran ? What are the chain of events that would lead to the BHO administration being forced to bomb Iran ?
I am certainly not an expert -but it seems to me , so far -starting with Gen Dempsey's visit to Israel last year that the BHO administration has pushed back pretty hard against starting a war with Iran.
And so far the BHO administration has not directly intervened in Syria . Another interesting question is who will replace Secretary of State Clinton? What would you think of Secretary of State Chuck Hagel ? Senator Hagel was adamantly opposed to invading Irak - and is being villified by the right wing nut jobs as a RINO - ( Republican In Name Only ) ,

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