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08 August 2015

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Babak Makkinejad

Of course English institutions were not "well designed", how could they? The grew over a millennia in ad hoc manner but they function and function well as long as the English people are running them.

The decay in UK is quite real, I agree - it is almost like the state deliberately abandoned people to their own devices; lowering the quality of primary and secondary education - for example - through hiring low IQ individuals.

USSR was not the best in the sense that the English created states such as Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia etc.

It was a fluke of history; Stalin as the Commissar of the Nationalities wanted to treat all of these nationalities as provinces, Lenin wanted them to be legally defined as states in order to absorb Germany, France, UK in the future.

In Central Asia I expect the states to disintegrate over time - under internal or external stress.

confusedponderer

Fred,
"Hypothetical can also be used to refer to the possible or "what-if". Intelligence services do not bat 1000 and the Iranians have a history of deception, which makes it perfectly rational to consider the possibility the Iranians would acquire a nuclear weapon."

I dispute that, given that the idea of the deal is to deprive Iran of the external threat that would make it attractive for them to pursue the road down to nukes - to deter the threat of attack by the Israelis and the Americans.

Under the deal the Iranians would go through that acrimonious process of inspections and verifications, during which the US could unilaterally re-impose sanctions practically at any time, only to cheat then and get nukes? get real.

That is hypothetical as in 'If pigs could fly' ... well, they can't and for the forseeable time won't be able to.

Bibi himself has expressed as his biggest concern that Iran would not cheat on the deal.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the security cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said."

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.651350

The problem form him was always about the end of isolation, he never was concerned about a nuke.

The nuke issue, is, as it was in Iraq, merely a rhetorical device for not having to say regime change or perpetual isolation, to paraphrase Wolfowitz 'it's the issue everybody can agree on opposing'. After all, who does want Iran to have nuclear weapons? Nobody, of course, except that never was the issue to begin with.

What you do when you so hypothesise is use that rhetorical device for effect, and I think you do so deliberately.

The function of the device is to box in Iran or wear it down through sanctions, so that Israel can retain it's advantage in military strength vis a vis its expanded neighbourhood.

This is a balance of power isssue, and what Israel fears is loss of dominance and its ability to strike at its neighbours at will and with impunity.

The proposition that Israel is under perpetual external threat of annihilation from its neighbours is implausible since at the very least the US invasion of Iraq, which resulted in Israel ascending to a position of regional dominance. It is that position that they want to retain.

So the Iranians arm Hezbollah? Hezbollah cannot undo Israel, but they can deter Israel from trying anything silly in Lebanon by making life in northern Israel miserable through rocket artillery fire in reataliation for an israeli attack. The Israelis can't defend against that (not anymore as the Lebanese can't defend against Israeli air force).

To sane minds that would create stability. It drives the Israelis are crazy and they want to end it because they are paranoid about having their option to strike at will into Lebanon curtailed because it now comes at a price i.e. they are now deterred from doing stupid shit on a whim.

Since this is a balance of power issue, let's talk about it in plain language instead wasting time on surrogates like hypothetical nukes. The resulting clarity would benefit the conversation immensely and also save everybody a lot of time.

confusedponderer

Fred82
"I would generally call US diplomatic capabilities mediocre. The Middle East always struck me as having the best negotiators. I've seen some of that first hand and my old teacher/mentor used to say, "Don't ever try negotiating with Iranians."

At risk of being judgemental, maybe your old teacher/mentor was just bad at haggling and still held a grudge? Or was he commenting on you? A late and unbeloved uncle of mine ascribed all sorts of demonic acumen in business to Jews, and I don't quite see how ascribing comparably trancendental haggling skills to the Iranian 'rug merchants' is any less idiotic.

So, the deal is bad because Shylock the wily Iranian rug merchant took hapless Uncle Sam to the cleaners and will soon demand his pound of flesh?

You don't know that but you sure fear it, given the mediocrity of America's diplomatic capabilities, though the jury isn't in yet, so things are hazy, but VERY worrying?

Give me a break.

If it wasn't so sad, it'd be funny how those eager to denounce the deal for Israel now in desperation go back to projecting old and tried anti-semitic stereotypes on Iranians, and I don't mean just the hooked noses they like to give them in cartoons.

William R. Cumming

Is Iran a signatory to the NPT?

William R. Cumming

IMOm based only on open sources Iran completed work on a Fission Bomb but does not yet have a Fusion Bomb!

William R. Cumming

Does any evidence exist of US support for Iranian nuclear weapons and capability pre-1979? The US did provide Iran its first nuclear reactor under the ATOMS FOR PEACE program!

confusedponderer

WRC,
Iran is a signatory to the NPT. Iran signed the treaty on 1 July 1968 and ratified on 5 March 1970. Iran signed the IAEA statute in 1958.

For contrast: Israel is just a member of the IAEA statute, but never signed the NPT.

It's a persistent irony that of all countries Israel makes the loudest fuss about Iran's compliance with the NPT, a treaty Israel itself deems so intrusive into it's nuclear weapons privacy that it prefers to abstain, largely because Israel's nuclear weapons and civilian nuclear programs are probably inseparably intertwined and thus uninspectable without embarassment.

An added Irony is that Israel itself deceived US delegations to Dimona about their nuclear weapons program back in the day, building false walls to conceal parts of their installations and so forth. So to speak, the Israelis wrote the book on nuclear cheating.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/15/truth-israels-secret-nuclear-arsenal

confusedponderer

"Does any evidence exist of US support for Iranian nuclear weapons and capability pre-1979?"

Not that I know of.

The Beaver

CP and WRC

FYI: I always consult this timeline to see how far back Iran was looking for nuclear energy ( not weapons) and who were the stakeholders as far as the US was concerned:

http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=us_plans_to_use_military_force_against_iran&iran_general_topic_areas=us_force_against_iran_nuclear

Babak Makkinejad

"Iran is a signatory to the NPT. " - there are many Iranians that consider that to have been a colossal blunder by the Shah and that the further adherence to NPT by Iran to have been a traitorous action of the Islamic Republic - betraying Iranian security.

confusedponderer

Babak,
what are your thoughts about the fatwa against nuclear weapons in Iran?

confusedponderer

Fred82,
"On another note, I think you fail to acknowledge the receptivity of the US domestic public to various propaganda efforts"

You don't need to tell me. Manifest proof for that can be found in the percentage of Americans who still believe that Saddam as behind 9/11, was in league with Al Qaeda or had WMD.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/poll-republicans-wmds-iraq-114016.html

I am also aware of the efforts undertaken by and on behalf of Israel ... 'America is a thing easily moved' comes to mind.

The infamous 2005 "laptop of death" "alleged studies" documents were forgeries, probably originating from Israel.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2009/12/politics-us-intelligence-found-iran-nuke-document-was-forged/

Telling in that light is that in light of such evidence US intelligence and the Mossad came to an assessment that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.

That assessment is only disputed by political players because it runs counter to a narrative that is woven in support of a preferred policy - continued isolation of Iran till kingdom come.

Fred82

Actually,

He had around 60 years dealing with the ME and was a recognized expert in the field of negotiation, with one specialty being hostage negotiation. He got his start dealing with players like the Irgun and MB.

Iraqis tend to be a pretty tough bunch of negotiators too.

The jury is still out on the deal and it hasn't even been implemented and enforced yet, though it has been signed. That said, to get hypothetical again, if I was a fence sitter and you tried the tactics you are using to sell the deal, I would probably give you the finger and be less inclined to support the deal.

Putting words into people's mouth and having arguments with non-present or existent entities is hardly how you sell a deal.

That's OK though. The Obama administration has done a pretty poor job of selling the deal too.

William R. Cumming

The Shah's Air Force did have some aircraft IMO with nuclear weapon capable delivery!

William R. Cumming

Many thanks and great link!

Babak Makkinejad

It is the Law.

charly

Yes

confusedponderer

Beautifully put.

confusedponderer

Fred82,
what the detractors do is that they point out potential flaws in the deal in an attempt to discredit the deal per se through innuendo. The argument you made is suitable for that, and I have read it before. Your argument is a simple syllogism. Here's how I understand it, correct me if I get you wrong:

* The Iranians are tough negotiazing partners
* US diplomacy is mediocre
* ergo, the deal is probably lopsided in Iran's favour

Looking at the facts of the deal I do not see how it is lopsided in Iran's favour.

The US can at any time re-impose sanctions - Russia, china, France and the UK don't even get a chance at a veto. That is a Damocles sword over Iran's head in case of even just asserted non-compliance or petulant American wilfullness under the influence. Lopsided in Iran's favour? Hardly.

Michael Oren made essentially the same argument of the deal being lopsided, or of the US having been suckered, while pressing into service the 'rug merchant' stereotype for good measure. But the argument is at its heart essentially the same - the US got outhaggled and suckered.

The hyperbolic caricature I drew I takes the gist of the argument to the absurd conclusion that at least Oren's variation deserves.

http://time.com/3770461/iran-deal-michael-oren-obama-israel/

I concede that I may have unfairly projected Oren's talk on you, having (mis)judged you as a garden variety hasbara troll and taken the opportunity to poke fun at you. If that isn't the case, I apologise; if not, I don't.

That said, I don't seriously dispute the expertise of your mentor - the Irgun, Iraqis and Iranians were/are tough customers, as are the Israelis today - all people with a pronounced zero sum mentality, to whom Western ideas of win-win-solutions are hard sells as they seek greater or greatest advantages for themselves.

The point is that I think you unfairly dismiss US diplomatic skill as mediocre. My own menthor, with a couple decades UN experience under his belt, spoke of with great respect of the professional ability of American negotiators. I haven't come to a different conclusion myself.

The US does have a couple decades experience negotiating with Middle Easterners under their belt now, sometimes in earnest, sometimes as 'Israel's attorney'.

Everything indicates that they must by are acutely aware that in the aforemetioned they face folks with a pronounced zero sum mentality - Israel for their part drives that point home with abandon, and it isn't as if that was something Americans would be entirely unfamiliar with from their own bipolar political system anyway, or the cut-throat dealings of the American business world.

Wendy Sherman, lead negotiator of the deal under Obama, has made the sligthly off remark that with Iranians "deception is in their DNA." Make of that what you want, but I do not think it suggests a naively-trusting US approach.

The Iran deal is the result of efforts going back well over a decade, involving very experienced old hands and careful, thorough and serious work. You don't just get taken to the cleaners in such circumstances.

You may find this interesting.

https://platosguns.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/how-freelance-diplomacy-bankrolled-by-rockefellers-has-paved-the-way-for-an-iran-deal-peter-waldmanbloomberg/comment-page-1/

With the criticism about the flaws in the deal, keep in mind that what the critics want, what Oren wants, what Bibi wants, is not a 'better deal', but no deal at all - that is after all what they have been saying all the time while the deal was in the making. That is, the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Fred82

Only time will tell.

From the looks of things, I'd say the Iranians got the better of the deal. That said, things could change for better or worse, depending on follow up deals, how well the thing is enforced, etc, etc.

I'd say it is a mistake to think all critics want no deal, though some US political interests and the Netanyahu camp clearly don't want a deal. I don't think they could be convinced period.

With the obvious "no deal" people out of the way, there are clearly critics who could have been convinced by a better deal and a better sell of the deal. The Obama administration has done a poor job of selling the deal.

Assuming the deal goes through Congress though, I don't see any reason to repeal it.


The Beaver

Harper

FYI:
http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9607062/camerons-talking-to-the-wrong-libyan-government-he-should-call-my-old-driver/

Two interesting bits:

"He was particularly pleased to see me, he said, because he had a message for David Cameron: he must start dealing with the new Libyan government, the Islamist one, or else the migrant crisis will only get worse."

"The West recognises the Tobruk government and considers Libya Dawn to be illegitimate and run by extremists. The trouble with this is that the Tobruk government is relatively powerless. Libya Dawn controls most of the country and, crucially, the two main ports used by the people-traffickers. Now that the migrant crisis has flared up and Cameron has said that he wants to tackle it, Libya Dawn are the obvious people to deal with."

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