Iran. Iraq. Somebody Remind Me….

President Obama and his Administration are announcing a breakthrough in dealing with Iran on the matter of nuclear proliferation. The media is reporting the obvious condemnation from the Republicans, the Republican wanna-be presidential candidates, and the incessant one-note whining of Israel’s PM.  In contrast, Secretary of State Kerry and others in the Administration are floating hyperbolic self-congratulations over their own hard work and stellar performance.

Most of what I heard yesterday by 7:00 PM indicated the “details” of any agreement would not be worked out for 6 months or more but the “framework” was pretty good as frameworks go.  Then again, the Kyoto Protocols and the SALT II talks were frameworks of international agreement too and whether they did good or ill remains unresolved in minds of many. I suspect most frameworks are built on compromise and whatever they yield is just about as satisfying.

For the liberal world, you have to start somewhere and if a framework gets you started in the correct direction, it is better than creeping toward greater conflict.  To the conservative world, this agreement is worse than Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of the National Socialist Party and the first step along the slippery slope toward mutually assured bloodshed.

So have we staved off disaster, or have we hastened it?

As a layman, I believe this agreement-in-principle is a step toward something better than the status quo for both America and Iran. I also don’t think Israel’s concerns are identical with those of the United States, so I am not persuaded by Mr. Netanyahu’s pandering. President Obama’s foreign policy credentials were never good, and they were only made worse by signing on H Clinton and her advisors. It seems to me the continuation of “triangulating” is the only game either of them know and are modestly competent at executing. I also think it is a bad way to go (although I am no foreign policy whiz either); however, in this case, I believe they have made a marginally good step forward.

The thing that I wonder about is how we in America can be so positive Iran poses a nuclear threat when we were so totally wrong about the threat of Iraq?   And by the same token, what evidence do we have that Israel is any less threatening when we do know they are, in fact, a nuclear power?

Another criticism voiced in the news is the paradox of our choosing both sides of the Sunni-Shia religious divide to fight ISIL. I am not sure what to make of this critique. Why? I recently finished reading Lawrence in Arabia (by Scott Anderson). If you want paradox and triangulation, read this book. The Middle-east was a broken place hundreds if not thousands of years before now—the open sore of history and of humanity.  Anderson’s book walks the reader through the 20th Century part and delivers us to the doorstep of Israel’s emergence, American patronage, and Sunni-Shia rivalry (only this time with automatic weapons). After reading this book, I am bound to think the best anybody can hope for in the Middle-east is the creation of comprehensive scab over the whole of it.  It is not a boil to be lanced.  That has happened many time over with the effect being more of poison ivy than relief.  It is not an infection that has an artificial cure, an antibiotic that can injected from the outside. And the tissue around this sore is too delicate to cauterize with atomic bombs. But I submit that Middle-east is a cancer-like infection with proven lethality among those who toy with it.






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  • We have made a deal to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I hope we have also made a deal to stop the US Air Force from bombing Kansas City. Iran has as much intention of building a nuclear weapon as the US Air Force does of bombing Kansas City, so my second comment is as relevant as my first one.

    Republicans are concerned that if Iran suceeds in building a nuclear wapon (and, to repeat, there’s no evidence they are trying to do so), that would “start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” That’s sort of dim-witted because Israel already has nuclear weapons, and if you accept the US government’s position that Iran is trying to build one, then there already is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

    The arguments on this issue vary between surreal and ridiculous.

  • Ewwwww…. I’m not sure I like the allusions to the Middle East being like a boil. How about an infected cyst? Anyway, we have played both sides against the middle with Iran for decades. They hold our people hostage in 1979 – we turn around and sell them HAWK missiles in 1986 as part of the Iran-Contra debacle. We shoot down one of their civilian airliners in 1988, slaughtering almost 300 innocent civilians – Iran helps us hunt down Al-Qaeda personnel fleeing Afghanistan in 2002, after we sent the CIA in to flush them out. Such a schizophrenic foreign relationship usually doesn’t have a happy ending. However, this new accord, if it holds, is a very positive step in the right direction, if for no other reason than it proves we can solve foreign policy problems using words, not bullets and bombs.

    • Sort of like a firefighter committing arson, though. Do you applaud him for putting out the fire, or condemn him for setting it in the first place?

      Granted, it was not this administration which created the problem, but it was this nation. So we can commend the individual firefighter who put it out if he was not the one who set it, but we still need to bear in mind that firefighters as a group and not automatically heroes.

      Especially if the firefighter is putting out this fire while setting others with drones, and in Libya, Somalia, Syria….

  • The analysis is a a bit one dimensional, not mentioned is Netanyahu’s need for a existential threat to distract from his actions at home (bashing Palestinians and non-Jewish Israelis), AIPAC support for Israel and hence Netanyahu, and hence the Republicans’ desire for a continued AIPAC contribution stream (as stalwart defenders of Israel).

    Note our political leaders would be stalwart defenders of dogs shitting on sidewalks if dogs contributed money to their campaigns (Freedom of speech, I suspect, where’s a Scalia or Roberts when one needs one? Here boy, good judge, have a treat).

    We’d have to add the insult of a Black President actually achieving something. Because as we all know Uppity Blacks (TM) cannot possibly ______________. (Yes this is a fill in the blank statement),

    Greedy (R)acists? We report, you decide.

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