Thursday, August 06, 2015

Obama Hits Low on Iran Deal

The author [left] & President Obama during happier times

Obama gets personal - Alan Dershowitz [pictured above]

[I]n his desperation to save his Iran deal, [President Obama] has taken to attacking its opponents in personal ways. He has accused critics of his deal of being the same republican war mongers who drove us into the ground war against Iraq and has warned that they would offer “overheated” and often dishonest arguments. He has complained about the influence of lobbyists and money on the process of deciding this important issue, as if lobbying and money were not involved in other important matters before Congress.

These types of ad hominem arguments are becoming less and less convincing as more democratic members of Congress, more liberal supporters of the President, more nuclear experts and more foreign policy gurus are expressing deep concern, and sometimes strong opposition to the deal that is currently before Congress.

I, myself, am a liberal Democrat who twice voted for President Obama and who was opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Part of the reason I was opposed was because I considered, and still consider, Iran a much greater threat to the security of the world and to the stability of the Middle East than Iraq ever was. In my newly published e-book
The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran From Getting Nukes?, I make arguments that I believe are honest, fair and compelling. I recognize some advantages in the deal, but strongly believe that the disadvantages considerably outweigh them and that the risks of failure are considerable. My assessment is shared by a considerable number of other academics, policy experts and other liberal Democrats...

The President would be well advised to stop attacking his critics and to start answering their hard questions with specific and credible answers. Questions that need answering include the following:

1. Even after the expiration of the nuclear agreement, will American policy remain that Iran will never under any circumstances be allowed to develop nuclear weapons?  Or is it now our policy that Iran will be free to do whatever it wants to do once the deal expires?

2. After the major constraints contained in the deal end, or were the deal to collapse at any point, how long would it take Iran to produce a deliverable nuclear bomb?

3. Would the United States allow Iran to begin production of a nuclear arsenal when the major constraints of the deal end?

4. Does the deal reflect a reversal in policy from President Obama’s pre-reelection promise that “My policy is not containment; my policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon”?

5. If not, will President Obama now announce that it is still the policy of the United States that Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon?

6. How exactly will the inspections regime work? Precisely how much time will the Iranians have between a request for inspection and the inspection itself? What precisely will they be permitted to do during this hiatus? And why do they need so much time if they don’t plan to cheat?

7. What will President Obama do if Iran is caught cheating on this deal during his administration?

8. Precisely when will which sanctions be lifted under the agreement? Do provisions that prevent the P5 plus one from imposing new sanctions apply even if Iran is found to be in violation of its commitments under the agreement? When exactly will sanctions prohibiting the sale of weapons, and particularly missile technology, be lifted?

If and when these and other important questions about the deal are answered - directly, candidly, and unambiguously - Congress will be in a better position to answer the fundamental questions now before it: would rejecting this deeply flawed deal produce more dangerous results than not rejecting it? If so, what can we now do to assure that Iran will not acquire a nuclear arsenal? The answers to those questions may profoundly affect the future of the world.

President [Obama] should spend more time on substance and less on personal attacks.
[Jerusalem Post]

Confrontation with Iran Is Inevitable - Jose Maria Aznar

Sooner or later the West will have to confront Iran - only later it will face an emboldened, better prepared, modernized and richer Iran that will do its best to attain the goals we've always tried to prevent. 
The writer is chairman of the Friends of Israel Initiative and a former president of Spain.
(Wall Street Journal)


Congress Can Rewrite the Iran Deal - Orde Kittrie

Congress has flatly rejected international agreements signed by the executive branch at least 130 times in U.S. history. Twenty-two treaties were voted down, and the Senate permanently blocked at least 108 other treaties by refusing to vote on them. Moreover, more than 200 treaties agreed by the executive branch were subsequently modified with Senate-required changes before receiving Senate consent and finally entering into force. In the case of the Iran nuclear agreement, a resolution of disapproval or separate legislation could specify what changes would be needed to meet congressional requirements.

The Senate required that several treaties with the Soviet Union be modified before ratification. Since the Iran deal is not a treaty and is not legally binding, such nonbinding political agreements receive less deference and are considered more flexible than treaties. Congress should be comfortable sending one back for renegotiation. 
The writer, a law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former lead State Department attorney for nuclear affairs.
(Wall Street Journal)

Obama's Legacy - Gary Gambill

Obama's a smart guy, with the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus at his disposal. If he's willing to bet his own farm on the JCPOA, it can't be that bad, can it?

Unfortunately, yes. If smarts, knowledge and the desire to be judged favourably by history guaranteed foreign policy success, presidents would seldom make mistakes. Obama says he has "never been more certain about a policy decision than this one," but he also thought overthrowing Qaddafi would be a hoot and look how that turned out. Clearly he's not omniscient.

"Look, 20 years from now, I'm still going to be around, God willing," the president told The Atlantic in May. "If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it's my name on this." But the larger problem with the my-name-on-it argument is that legacy-making and the defence of U.S. national interests are two different things. Good policy decisions don't always highlight White House leadership in ways that can fill a wing of a presidential library.

[A] progressive like Obama surely assumes that future generations will be more sympathetic to his worldview than his contemporaries. He may therefore reason that a charitable judgment can best be ensured by staying true to himself, as it were, even if it entails serious security risks, all the more so because his administration has deviated from these presumed future norms in other areas (e.g., drone strikes).

This may have given Obama reason to prefer a deeply flawed agreement that embodies his worldview over walking away from the table with nothing at all. Failed negotiations don't interest Steven Spielberg. At a time when prospects of an unvarnished domestic policy triumph have dimmed, and after his ambitious effort to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian talks went nowhere, the Iran negotiations were his last chance to do something big.

Whatever his reasons, Obama's approach has been to extract as many concessions from Iran as possible before he leaves office, but not leave the table without an agreement. Unfortunately, the Iranians correctly ascertained that he could not afford to take no for an answer, and that standing firm on unreasonable demands would bring American flexibility.

Congress and the American people should give the Obama administration a fair hearing and evaluate the JCPOA on its merits, but pay no attention to the president's expressions of boundless confidence in the agreement.

It's a good bet even he never imagined he'd have to settle for such a crappy deal.
[Middle East Forum]

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