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07 October 2013


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Sanctions don't work.
Military action will not work.
Just HOW does this strategic genius propose preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

Diplomatic means?
Iran has been talking with (and stalling) the west for years.
Without sanctions and the the threat of military action, what motivation does Iran have for changing course?

The problem with these academics (and Obama and his sycophants, as well) is that they have little or no experience in actual negotiation.

And some of you think that Rouhani is a warm and cuddly alternative to the previous little thug.
Wait 'til he gets a nuclear weapon; see how warm and cuddly Iran is then.


I think that would probably the most subtle way in which the Lobby for war with Iran could kill the prospect of rapprochement early.

I read today that Kerry has offered the Iranians basically the old junk offer the US made before - very little for a whole lot of Iranian concessions. As long as this isn't tough talk for domestic consumtion only, which is unlikly.

When the US utters silly statements in foreign policy that's usually out of genuine cionviction. It may just be (yet) an(other) offer designed to be rejected - in newspeak: like a move to 'put the ball back into Iran's court'.

The most recent US proposal, issued in February and reiterated in June at Almaty, remains the standing offer, and that was a dud to begin with.



If it goes on like that negotiations will fail, and the Obama administration will then declame: "These ingrates - we made them a generous (read: crap) offer and they refused it despite all their talk about being serious about negotiations (read: surrendering without precondiitions)! Does this not show that these Shia devils cannot be reasoned with?"

Obviously, there is no other choice but to bomb Iran.

r whitman

Perhaps Iran has already achieved a nuclear weapon unannounced and that is why they are interested in serious negotiations now. It would not be the first time the IC community was dead wrong on a big issue.


what Israel is about to prevent is that Iran is to be denied the means to acquire nuclesr technology and know how that would enable it o produce nuclear wepons some day, like Japan that could build nucklear weapons in two months if they choose to.

Why do you think the Iranians lie when they say that they think nuclear wepons to be sinful and that they are not going tio build them? I really want to know, because theologically, coming from where it comes, it is a significant statement.

Chemists with a decent lab and university training can now cook Sarin without too great difficulty. The technology is sixty years old and common knowledge. You want to prevent a hypothetical Iranian chemical weapons capability you need to stop teaching chemistry in Iranian universities and don't allow Iranians students elsewhere, and for good measure, and to be super safe, de-industrialise Iran and close down their chemical industry.

When those clerics say Iran doesn't want to develop fiendish weapons like chemical weapons, and didn't even do that in retaliation for extensive Iraqi use of chemical weapons against Iranians - do they lie?

There is a point after which you need to trust. Not being a fool, you will want verify, but for that to make sense, you will want to choose criteria that are verifiable.

As it is, the allegation that Iran - perpetually two years away from developing a nuclear weapon for two decades now - is like me calling on you to stop to beating your wife already, adding that it is now up to you to prove that you don't, and never have. You will not be able to prove that.

As Mr. Bolan writes, the “nuclear weapons capability” is unverifiable, and I think that is the very point.

Trinity was sixty years ago and by now the word has gotten around how the US pulled that trick off. If you want to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability you need to stop teaching physics in Iranian universities and don't allow Iranians students elsewhere, and for good measure, and to be super safe, de-industrialise Iran and close down their nuclear industry - never mind that the NPT gives them the inalienable right to have that very industry.

It is fairly obvious, that no matter what one thinks about the Iranian government, the point here is that the nuclear issue is one of those that, like before Iraq, "everybody could agree on".


The unverifiability of Iran's nuclear weapons capability is actually appealing, precisely because it practically guarantees that, if one is so inclined, there always will be some doubt, not to mentione the known and unknown unknows, to give an excuse to perpetuate the sanctions in eternity - because it is still about regime change. All that makes me pesimistic about the prospects of US-Iranian rapprochement. That said, I'd be happy if it came to that anyway.

What the Israeli right wing, the Saudis and their supporter in the US, actually want is to remove Iran as a regional and rivalling power. The Saudis just want to expand thir influence and don't like heathens I guess. And as for Israel - Iran could become a counterweight and an effective check on Israeli ambition, and it would limit Israeli room of manoeuvre, namely their ablity to bomb Syria and Lebanon at will and with impunity, which the Israeli right wing, overweeningly and foolishly, consider imperative for heir security.

Chris Bolan

One doesn't have to believe that Rouhani is 'warm and cuddly' to make the case that Iranian interests are not served by developing a nuclear weapon. Nuclear weapons have little utility beyond deterrence and the political & economic costs can be burdensome, e.g. sanctions.

What proof do you offer that Iran has a nuclear weapon? People have been predicting for decades that Iran is within months of developing a nuclear weapon. Why have those predictions been so errant? Maybe...just maybe...it's because for their own reasons, they don't want one. Did you also think that Saddam had a nuclear weapon? Why have only nine states developed nuclear weapons when so many more have the technological capability to produce them?

Chris Bolan

I agree that this initial US offer will be inadequate to the task. However, opening 'bids' in any serious negotiations are just that. Ultimately, we'll see how 'serious' the US is.

Nonetheless, the US has a genuine strategic interest in reaching a deal with Iran short of war. The President has been making this case since he's been on the election trail, so I suspect he is interested in actually testing the possibilities.

Presidents in their last term begin to think seriously of the judgment of history. I suspect Obama would think it a huge plus in his foreign policy legacy if he could accomplish something along the line of Nixon's rapprochement with China.

William R. Cumming

IMO there are fundamental flaws in US FP and its antinuclear proliferation efforts. Many of these flaws go back to the dawn of the atomic age.

The nuclear priesthood in the US saw their promotion of nuclear power turn into tee ashes of anti-proliferation efforts.

The real fact is the USA is the leading proliferator of nuclear weapon technology!

IMO we gave Israel plutonium it was not stolen!


Mr. Bolan,
I sure hope you are right on Obama and a foreign policy legacy along the line of Nixon's rapprochement with China.


I apologise for the errors. The post was written in haste.



in case the "All options are on the table." mantra gets in use again: http://rationalwiki.org/w/images/thumb/c/c2/Monkey-with-his-penis-in-his-mouth.jpg/300px-Monkey-with-his-penis-in-his-mouth.jpg

Sorry for the vulgar interpretation, but after years of pointless macho auto-eroticism I find the pics only slightly pale reflection of the reality. Is it possible to organize some sort of Coliseum-like entertainment for those infantile, dogmatic boys? I will rather prefer if they satisfy their primitive, sadistic urges by slaughtering and raping animals (using chemical agents to disable their pain receptors without the knowledge of the 'elites' is rather good idea), instead of terrorizing the rest of the planet.


The onus is on the US to perform. Iran already offered the US a deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil back in may 2010. Though it met all of the conditions Obama spelled out, he still rejected it.

Sadly, if history is any indication, Obama will move the goal posts rather than negotiate seriously. This time around, however, US insincerity will be widely seen for what it is, since Rouhani's election has resulted in hopes being set for a peaceful outcome.


Agree. And Putin had quite good initiative for solving the dispute. But hey, what is reason compared with the wet dreams for regional dominance of a fanatic primates?

Babak Makkinejad

Your understanding of Obama's intentions may or may not be accurate but I would like to ask your estimation of how likely is the US Congress to go along with any deal that Mr. Obama's negogiating team achieves?

Chris Bolan

I don't pretend to know what in Obama's (or any other man's) heart or mind. However, I feel fairly confident in anticipating that many in Congress will seek to undermine any genuine effort at rapprochement. Some of that opposition will be heart-felt, some will be for pure calculations of domestic politics, and much of it will be out of an immature fear and lack of empathy for 'the other.'

That said, some Congressional leaders have already penned a letter to the President encouraging a diplomatic solution.


Babak Makkinejad

I surmise then that no practical deal within the political structures of the United States with Iran is probable.

Thanks you.

Charles I

Yes, Bibi's goalpost is not just the weapon but the whole fuel cycle, all the centrifuges, any enrichment whatsover as he stated on Charlie Rose and several other venues this week past.

Look for many many efforts to establish the wolf in sheep's clothing meme and a constant theme that now is the time to really rev up the sanctions until they give.

In every of his statements, "Israel" and 'Settlements" could have been swapped for "Iran" and "nuclear program" and made perfect sense.

Surely scowling hypocrisy can shut down an Iranian president.


If these negotiations fail to achieve a meaningful outcome, it would be the last time Iranians offer to sit down to resolve the nuclear issue. The hardliners in Iranian regime may well choose the path taken by North Korea. Iran would fall in the lap of Russia and China and ME will continue to burn. I hope I am wrong and things will turn out differently.

Chris Bolan

As you imply, these are precisely the reasons the US should fully exploit this particular opportunity for a negotiated outcome. Our position will not improve over time.

Unfortunately, many now equate 'compromise' with 'appeasement' (in what is surely the most over-used historical metaphor of all time).

With all of our muscle-bound military strength post-1990, the U.S. government has chosen to let our ability to conduct serious diplomacy atrophy. Nonetheless, progress in Syria could generate some momentum for progress with Iran, and then who knows maybe even with Israel-Palestine....okay, that last one was going too far into an optimistic never-never-land.


Chris: I bed to differ on the muscle-bound military atrophying diplomacy. Negotiation = appeasement seems the order of the day on Capitol Hill Re: Shutdown. I think our FP is reflecting our political culture.

In general Obama has said a lot of things repeatedly, but all I hear are a string of vowels and consonants. On most matters, his actions diverge. Based on actions to date, the likelihood of successful negotiations would seem small.


First,I just read your biography.
Seriously impressive.

I (a simple civilian with no access or training) cannot offer evidence of Iran nuclear weapons.
Why WOULDN'T Iran develop nuclear weapons, if they can?
Other countries with the technology (Japan, for one?) and not doing it aren't theocratic dictatorships ruled by extremist crazies?

And I still cannot see how such a society is motivated to NOT develop such weapons without the threat of sanctions or force.

Diplomacy may be a velvet glove, but is it taken seriously without a fist inside?


10 states, South Africa had nukes too. Plus 5 Nato states with direct access to American bombs.

Nukes are in todays world so political costly that their only military use is as a last resort weapon. Most states that that can build nukes can make the calculation that they have time enough to build those nukes in case they need a last resort weapon.

What you do see is that many states don't build nukes and i assume also don't design nukes but do build the delivery vehicle for it because designing and building a solid fuel ICBM is much harder than the nukes themself. See for example non nuke countries like Italy, Japan, Iran, Brazil who make almost completely useless solid fuel rockets with exactly the right profile to be used as ICBM

Will Reks

"The problem with these academics (and Obama and his sycophants, as well) is that they have little or no experience in actual negotiation"

This presumes that there is some group of people out there who are experienced negotiators (in the Republican party?) who would be able to leverage sanctions and the threat of military action towards a satisfactory resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Are you aware that North Korea developed nuclear weapons during the previous administration?


Experienced negotiators?
Labor leaders.
As for N. Korea, go back to Clinton. That's where it started.
Did Bush do anything?
But what's that got to do with Iran today?


I would not have had this answer a few years ago:

Look at the problems the Air Force has been having with maintaining our arsenal.

I am afraid there is an insoluble problem posed by nukes: They can destroy the world but they are also ignored and forgotten on a day-to-day basis by most of us. Being assigned to working with them is apparently all but a career-killer.

I assume other members of the nuclear club are having the same experiences that we are.

Best to stay out of that club, if possible.

It is an albatross.


I am sorry, but what is that fist inside all about? The US got plenty of fist.

Iran must be perfectly aware that, with a nuke or without one, they are at the mercy of the US.

They won't go without a fight, just out of national pride. But if it came to a war with the US they wouldn't stand a chance against a serious, conventional US onslaught.

I read an after action report on the first gulf war and the weaons effect were so drastic that they even surprised Air Force planners, and the report called that Hyperwar because of its unprecedented destructiveness, especially on infrastructure targets. The US did bomb Iraq back into the early 20th century.

The Iranians were watching. They know what would expect them. Of course one can mirror image and say, if I were them I'd want a nuke then.

Point is, if they ever used a nuke, Iranian history and culture would be lost in a glass crater. So what would be the point?

Which brings us to the isue of self preservation. Self preservation is what why Ayatollah Khomeini eventually ended the war with Iraq. They were losing and had lost a million people already. eniough is enough. Self preservation means they want to not lose the independence they gained in the revolution. Self preservation means they have an interest in not losing what they have succeeded in building in the roughly two generations since then.

All the Israelis say to gloss over these pertinent facts is that Iranian Shia, or at least the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad, are all a bunch of millennialist, apocalyptic nuts in the fold of Pat Robertson or Norman Podhoretz. Seriously?

And then thre is the matter of principle. Of course, western cynics say that all politicians are alike, are all crooks, and if they aren in the Middle East they're all thugs. As a result, they conclude that principled behaviour by a politician is not happening. But that nihilistic attitude is leading nowhere because it is about stereotypes and not reality.

The Iranians did, for theological reasons, not develop CW because they considered them immoral. That was at a time when Saddam had them showered with CW and inflicted heavy casualties on Iran. Under international law the Iranians would have been justified to retaliate in kind. They didn't do it. Why? Lack of capability? The Iranians were unable to produce even phosgene, a standard chemical and a WW-I chemical agent? Seriously? Or WAS IT indeed out of principle? Choose.

Now there is that fatwa by that Iranian Grand Ayatollah that condemns nuclear weapons as immoral and sinful. Is that a lie or a statement of principles? I think it is the latter, because it is an interpretation of religious doctrine.

The pope, likewise, cannot just flip flop on doctrine also and say something is a deadly sin one day and say that it isn't the next. I think that especially non religious people tend to underestimate that such doctrinal statements are very serious statements and binding.

All that babble about them Shia devils being allowed to lie when under threat, in order to deceive silly westerners like me, sidelines the substantive issue above, and is IMO simply anti-Iranian propaganda.

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