Archive for the 'Iran' Category

Napoleonic Appeasement

It is not easy to fathom the mindset that believes Obama has found a path to peace in our times. We call it appeasement because that is what Neville Chamberlain, its best-known advocate, proudly called it.  Appeasers believe that every opponent is a reasonable person suffering only from an inferiority complex, in need of friendly outreach and professional counseling.  It is a twin error with isolationism, which is the belief that we have enemies only because we have friends.

We tend to frame appeasement in 1930′s Hitlerite terms.  Since the reductio ad hitlerum is properly suspect (one only needs to counter that “Iran is not Hitler”), it may be useful to look for other examples.

In the early years of the 19th century, European leaders were perplexed by the problem of an aggressively revolutionary France.  The Chamberlains and Obamas of the day thought that they could cut deals with Napoleon.

Here are some prescient words from a 1954 doctoral thesis on the subject.

The defenders of the status quo therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical; as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes; as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions.  Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane… 

“Appeasement”… is the result of an inability to come to grips with a policy of unlimited objectives. But it is the essence of a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.

It does not take much vision to see in these words the thinking of the Islamic Republic of Iran:  “a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.”

Think about today’s leaders in the West (including Mr. Obama), “…treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical...” As if “Death to America!” and “Erase Israel from the Map” were just political sloganeering!

“…as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes…”  As if Iran really wanted to live in peace with its neighbors, or anyone else (except other Shiite Muslim theocracies, of which there are thankfully none yet)!

“…as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions…”  As if the Mullahs really wanted only to build nuclear power plants, so they could end their reliance on foreign oil!  (Has any diplomat ever asked Iran why it wants or needs ANY nuclear capacity?)

“Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists”, as Mister Netanyahu, Joe Lieberman, and other voices in the Wilderness know only too well.  Someday (heaven forfend), their names may be listed on a tragic honor roll along with that of Winston Churchill.

As for the wishful optimists, the “balanced and sane” folks who counsel “adaptation to circumstance”, well, you know who they are.

[If you are interested in the name of the doctoral student who wrote the above analysis, it is Henry Kissinger, in A World Restored; Europe After Napoleon: The Politics of Conservatism in a Revolutionary Age.  It is well worth a read.]
As always, I’d be interested in your reaction.  Just click the “Leave a comment” button up top, and have at it.

Iranian Moderates, Then and Now

We are hearing much these days about negotiations with the new “moderate” Iranian leadership. What is an “Iranian moderate”?

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

December of 2001, shorty after the 9/11 attacks, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 4th President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, spoke at Teheran University.

“RAFSANJANI SAYS MUSLIMS SHOULD USE NUCLEAR WEAPON AGAINST ISRAEL”

Nuclear Weapons Can Solve the Israel Problem

Rafsanjani said that Muslims must surround colonialism and force them [the colonialists] to see whether Israel is beneficial to them or not. If one day, he said, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [meaning nuclear weapons] – on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This, he said, is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.  [MEMRI.org, citing three Iranian newspapers] Continue reading ‘Iranian Moderates, Then and Now’

Chamberlain, meet Wendy Sherman

As soon as the deal with Iran was announced, many folks asked this question:  How is this deal different from the 1994 deal with North Korea, a spectacular failure?

It certainly looked a lot like the deal Bill Clinton bargained in 1994, in which the US gave the Kim dictatorship millions in aid while the North Korean nuclear weapons program moved steadily ahead.

It now appears that the deals may be similar for the simplest of reasons.  They both had the same architect. Continue reading ‘Chamberlain, meet Wendy Sherman’

This Is A Sad Day

The US and Iran have agreed to a deal, one that will ease sanctions and effectively remove all military options from the table.  In return, Iran will promise…something (yet to be determined).

No surprises here.  It sounds essentially like the deal Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton made with the North Koreans in 1994, after which the North Koreans went ahead and developed their nuclear weapons.

The Washington Post story reporting the deal included this astonishing comment:

“The Obama administration has been seeking to quickly finalize an agreement in the face of threats by Congress to impose additional economic sanctions on Iran.”

In other words, the threat of stricter sanctions on Iran put pressure on…Obama!

(I thought the whole idea was to put pressure on Iran. I guess I really don’t understand this negotiating business after all.)

The only remaining question is whether Kerry will carry an umbrella and wave a piece of paper when he arrives back in the US. Continue reading ‘This Is A Sad Day’

Iran, Obama, Munich, and the US Senate

My friend David Smith is keeping the heat on Montana’s isolationist senators. Here is his latest letter.

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WHERE ARE BAUCUS AND TESTER ON IRAN?

Last August, 76 of the 100 members of the US Senate sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to act resolutely to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons development. The letter stated:

“We believe there are four strategic elements necessary to achieve resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions, and a convincing threat of the use of force that Iran will believe. We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared.” (1)

Our Senators, Jon Tester and Max Baucus, were among the small minority that refused to sign the letter. Continue reading ‘Iran, Obama, Munich, and the US Senate’

“We believe…Iran,”

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN and the world, decrying Iranian President Rouhani’s “charm offensive” as more deceit and stalling.  This has been going on since the US and others first imposed sanctions on the Mullah’s regime, to get them to stop developing nuclear weapons in 1996 (in Bill Clinton’s first term!) Eighteen years of world protest and Iranian stalling!

Netanyahu demolished the Iranian claim that they are only planning “peaceful uses”; if so, he asked, why are they also building ICBM missiles capable of reaching New York?

In response, President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney yesterday said:

We believe that the Iranian leadership has very publicly…changed their approach to resolving this issue with the international community.”

The Iranian regime says it has changed; so our president believes them.

I am speechless.

 

Montana’s Senators Defend Their Isolationism

I mentioned below that 24 US Senators, including both Montana Democrats, refused to join their 76 colleagues in urging greater pressure on Iran.

Our ever-vigilant friend David Smith wrote to both of these gentlemen, asking why.

He has received their answers.  In the interest of fairness, I reprint them in full below.

[from Senator Max Baucus]

It is good to hear from you about American-Iranian relations.  I appreciate you sharing your views on this important topic.

On June 15, 2013, the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani, a centrist candidate as their new President.  Continue reading ‘Montana’s Senators Defend Their Isolationism’

The 24 Who Wouldn’t Sign the Letter Opposing Iran’s Nukes

As I wrote below, the US Senate spoke with a particularly strong bipartisan voice this week. In a letter signed by 76 of 100 senators, they called on the president to let Iran know that its stalling game will no longer be tolerated.  They asked for the US:

“to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process. We need to understand quickly whether Tehran is at last ready to negotiate seriously. Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end.”

And they emphasized that “We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared.”

But, as I noted below, 76 names on the letter means 24 senators who do not support its message.  When you choose to stand in such a small minority, you must intend something by it.

The late Arthur Vandenberg was a Republican senator during the FDR administration who gave this country a lesson in bipartisanship; he famously wrote:

“To me “bipartisan foreign policy” means a mutual effort, under our indispensable two-Party system, to unite our official voice at the water’s edge so that America speaks with maximum authority against those who would divide and conquer us and the free world.”

As I say, those who chose to avoid signing the letter presumably had their reasons.  With some, it seems obvious.  Rand Paul (KY) is a classic isolationist.  Bernie Sanders (VT) is a classic socialist opponent of US foreign policy.

As for the others, I guess you can ask them.  Here are their names:

SENATORS WHO CHOSE TO REJECT THE LETTER

Alabama’s Richard Shelby, R

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, R

California’s Barbara Boxer, D, and Dianne Feinstein, D

Colorado’s Mark Udall, D

Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, D

Delaware’s Tom Carper, D

Illinois’ Dick Durbin, D, and Mark Kirk, R

Iowa’s Tom Harkin, D

Kentucky’s Rand Paul, R

Michigan’s Carl Levin, D

Montana’s Max Baucus, D, and Jon Tester, D

New Mexico’s Mark Heinrich, D, and Tom Udall, D

Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn, R

Washington’s Ron Wyden, D

South Dakota’s Tim Johnson, D

Tennessee’s Bob Corker, R

Vermont’s Pat Leahy, D, and Bernie Sanders, D

West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller, D

Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, D

76 Senators Oppose Iranian Nukes; What about the Other 24?

Just when I am about to give up all hope that the US may finally stand up to the Iranian regime and their full-speed development of a nuclear Holocaust weapon, something positive happens.

Led by Democrat Bob Menendez (NJ) and Republican Lindsey Graham (SC), no fewer than 76 US Senators have signed and sent a letter to President Obama, urging him:

to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process. We need to understand quickly whether Tehran is at last ready to negotiate seriously. Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end.”

The letter is commendably specific:

“Iran must cease installing centrifuges, agree to the removal of 20 percent enriched uranium from Iran, and cease work on the heavy water reactor being built in Arak.”

Further, the Senators identify

“four strategic elements necessary to achieve resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions, and a convincing threat of the use of force that Iran will believe. We must be prepared to act, and Iran must see that we are prepared.”

Altogether a clear, concise, and reasonable summary of US policy as stated (but, so far, not enforced) by the president.

So here is my question.  Apparently 24 Senators refused to put their name on this letter. Why?  Which part of the letter do they find objectionable?  Are they foreign policy “realists” who think that the world will just have to learn live with a nuclear Iran?  Or are they “anti-Zionists” of the sort who blame Israel for all such problems? (Note: Chuck Hagel would have been a certain non-signer, so there is one good by-product of his recent job change.) Or are they just old-school appeasers and isolationists who think we should avoid conflict with foreign regimes no matter what they do to us or our allies? (Note: Republican Rand Paul did not sign.)

Or what?

I am writing this while summering in the beautiful state of Montana, and I notice that neither Democrat Max Baucus (retiring at the end of this term) nor Democrat Jon Tester (presumably planning to stay on) are signatories.  I’d like to know why.  And I’d like to know the same about the other non-signers.

Wouldn’t you?

 

Iran Wants To Negotiate…Again

I see that Iran is putting out peace-talk feelers again.  Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator has stated the regime’s willingness to reopen discussions with the US and Europe over Iran’s fast-track Manhattan project.   For Iran, this can only mean three things.   First, sanctions are hurting.  Second, their bomb development needs more time.  And third, they think Obama will stupidly fall for this “Rope-a-Dope” routine again.

They may be wrong about Obama.  He may not be the sucker they think he is.  He may be something much worse: a co-conspirator.

In the words of Jonathan Tobin in a well-titled Commentary article “Down the Garden Path with Iran Again” ,

“If President Obama is prepared to engage in a repeat of last year’s P5+1 fiasco that took up the better part of a year doing nothing but allowing the Iranians to get that much closer to their nuclear goal, then it will be difficult to argue that he is not doing the same thing as the Iranians: stalling until it is too late to do anything about an Iranian bomb.”

This is a terrible thing to consider.  The successor to Harry Truman and John Kennedy selling out our closest and most faithful ally, the only freedom-loving, democratic state in a region seething with fanatical haters of America? An American president siding with an apocalyptic regime as anti-Semitic as Hitler’s, against a nation willing to live in peace with its neighbors?

It is hard to believe. But how else to explain the President even considering putting Chuck Hagel in charge of the free world’s defense?  Hagel, an anti-Israel, Iran-appeasing politician of the pure Pat Buchanan, Walt-Mearsheimer breed, as Secretary of Defense?

The president is clearly an isolationist, who believes that the main reason we have enemies is because we have bad friends.  Left isolationists believe that we are imperialists, who cause damage whenever we use force.  Hagel is of the right isolationists, believing that our “friends” are just using us for suckers.  The difference is one of rhetoric, not of result.

(Hypothetical question: Is it possible to be an isolationist today without blaming our problems on Israel and abandoning them to deal with their sea of enemies alone?)

As for Iran, Israel, and Obama, we must wait (not long) to see what happens.  If Obama accepts a new round of Iranian talks, or if he nominates Hagel for Defense Secretary, then Israel will know beyond a doubt that it will have to deal with Iran alone.  Once again, the Zionist truth will be proven: no one but a Jewish state will defend Jews.

Obama, Romney, Israel, Iran: Did This Election Matter?

UPDATE:  Obama won.   This piece originally was titled “Does This Election Matter?”  I would have done a strikethrough of the word “Does” before the “Did”, but I don’t know how to do that.

Time will tell if my worries are warranted or not.  But the election has made it clear that the American people are not in a mood to be too concerned about anything that happens outside our borders.   Isolationism often follows troublesome wars.

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by Hans Moleman

Recently a bright young lady of my acquaintance was expressing her frustration with the present political campaigns, especially the Obama-Romney choice.  She asked the question many people ask:  Does it really matter?

We agreed that the economy is out of control, but also that economists don’t really know what the effects will be of any policy.  As my friend Finiti says, economics, like all the “social sciences”, is not really a science.  He calls it a branch of philosophy.  The one thing it cannot do is conclusively answer a question about the future.

But I told her there was at least one area where I am convinced that there is a clear choice between two very different outcomes.  I believe that war in the Middle East, and a possible World War, hang in the balance.  And that war, like WWII, can only be prevented by those willing to use limited force before it is too late.

I cited two scenarios.

First Scenario: Obama is re-elected.  Iran continues its current program of nuclear enrichment and weapons development.  Israel warns that Iran is reaching the point beyond which the program cannot be stopped.  Obama, to judge by his past actions, disagrees, and counsels patience and more sanctions.  Obama says (privately) that if he is wrong and Israel is right, Israel will still be safe because we will deter any Iranian aggressive action.

Israel assesses the value of this assurance.  It means that in the event of a successful, destructive Iranian attack on Israel, the US will retaliate with a nuclear counter-attack on Iran.  Israel wonders: would Obama follow through?  More importantly, would Iran believe that Obama would follow through?

What if Russia steps in and warn the US that any attack on Iran will be treated as an attack on Russia? In that case, would Obama risk a Russian counter-attack on the US just to carry out a posthumous (post-Holocaust II) commitment to punish Iran for destroying Israel?

Here the question marks stop.  The clear answer is NO.  US action in that case would be limited to UN resolutions, more feeble sanctions, and dithering demands that Russia stop supporting Iran.

One thing is certain.  Israel knows that no other country can be counted on to prevent the annihilation of Israel.  Just as Hitler knew in the 1930’s that no other nation would take action to prevent the annihilation of Europe’s Jews.  Israel was founded on this principle.  And Iran knows it as surely as Hitler did.

So Israel will decide Obama’s promises are not sufficient to guarantee Israel’s survival, and that it must act.  Israel’s highly effective but limited military forces can severely impair Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but cannot deal a knockout punch.  It would take repeated hits, at dreadful cost.  Russia has already bolstered Iran’s air defenses.  And Iran would feel no restraint in counter-attacking Israeli cities.

Could Israel expect Obama to stand by them while they use up their air forces in repeated attacks?  Obama has made it clear that if Israel acts alone, it will be on its own.

Would the Arab street, even the “Arab Springtime” street, miss the opportunity to join what could be the final anti-Israel War?  Would the US and Russia eventually be drawn in?   What do you think? Continue reading ‘Obama, Romney, Israel, Iran: Did This Election Matter?’

More advice from Professor Walt?

by David Smith

I see Professor Stephen Walt is once again offering us his foreign policy insights (“Time to get US nukes out of Europe”.)

He raises an interesting question about the future US role in Europe’s defense.  But he does so in a way that reminds of the kind of thinker he is. He is a thorough-going Chamberlainesque isolationist appeaser.  He is also an ntellectual leader and apologist for the anti-Zionist, anti-Israel left.

To start, he demonstrates US foolishness by wondering why we still worry about airport security “long after Osama bin Laden’s death.”  He believes Islamist terrorism was a one-man band, now deceased!

And how about his previous advice?

The best way to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons is to engage it diplomatically and attempt to normalize its relationship with the US.”

This is from the his best-seller The Israel Lobby, published 2007. Its central thesis was that US foreign policy was directed by Israel and its friends, to the detriment of America’s real interests. In other words, the Jews are running this country. Continue reading ‘More advice from Professor Walt?’

WW12ID: What Would the 12th Imam Do?

The latest news from Iran.  According to the AP, “Iran may be cleaning up nuke work”.  That is, they appear from satellites to be cleaning up radioactive debris from a site where they appear to be testing “nuclear triggers”.  The report comes from diplomats working with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The IAEA has already identified the Parchin military site as the location of suspected nuclear weapons-related testing. In a November report, it said it appeared to be the site of experiments with conventional high explosives meant to initiate a nuclear chain reaction.

“It did not mention a neutron initiator as part of those tests but in a separate section cited an unnamed member nation as saying Iran may have experimented with a neutron initiator, without going into detail or naming a location for such work.”

If you are wondering what a nuclear initiator looks like, don’t bother asking at your nearest nuclear power plant.  Peaceful users of nuclear energy don’t need them.  Only warheads need them.

This must all be very mysterious to the great minds in the Obama Administration who think Iran just can’t make up its mind.  Continue reading ‘WW12ID: What Would the 12th Imam Do?’

Is Iran a “Rational Actor”?

Here are the recent thoughts of the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey on the subject of Iran and its nuclear program:

We also know or believe we know that the Iranian regime has not decided that they will embark on the effort to weaponize their nuclear capability.…And we are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.”

That first assertion could be made only by someone with a very weak connection to reality. To doubt Iran’s serious commitment to “weaponizing thdeir nuclear capacity”, one must ignore:

  • Iran’s ten-year history of covert nuclear development;
  • Iran’s outright rejection of numerous UN mandates to open its nuclear program to inspection;
  • Iran’s insistence on moving its nuclear facilities to underground bunkers;
  • Iran’s continuing official threats to destroy America and wipe Israel “off the map”;
  • Subtle hints like this headline from Iran’s official news agency: “The wife of an assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist reiterated on Tuesday that her husband sought the annihilation of the Zionist regime wholeheartedly”;
  • And, finally, Iran’s acceptance of the cost of a decade of slowly escalating sanctions, which might have been easily avoided by allowing inspections.

But forget all that. Let’s look at the other assertion: the Iranian regime is a “rational actor”. In other words, they are not crazy. They can be relied upon to do the rational thing, and therefore they will be deterred by the threat of retaliation from Israel or the US if they initiate a nuclear attack on Israel (or us).

This assertion may be true or it may be false. Consider those two possibilities.

If the regime is rational, it will presumably weigh the benefits and risks before initiating an attack. And what will they conclude? Will they quake in fear at the prospect that President Obama would retaliate against Iran, given that Russia and/or China would almost certainly threaten counter-retaliation? Or will they conclude that any US response would be limited to condemnation, sanctions, and aid to any Israeli survivors. If you can imagine Obama pressing the button for military action to punish Israel’s murderers after the fact, then you need to look in the mirror and ask what kind of actor you are.

But what about Israeli retaliation? Wouldn’t that threat be sufficient to deter a nuclear Iran?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Unlike the US and USSR, Israel is so small (about the size of New Jersey) that targeting all its military sites in a “first strike” is by no means unthinkable. And if a few nukes escape and get through to Iran, the devastation of a few centers might be survivable.

As we know from the Cold War, “thinking about the unthinkable” is a strategic necessity for all nuclear states. We did it, the Soviets did it, and you can bet the Iranians are doing it, too. But they are processing the thought through a 7th century brain and the disturbing question: “What Would the 12th Imam Do?”

Yet General Dempsey says that Iran is a rational actor,

And General Dempsey is an honorable man. Continue reading ‘Is Iran a “Rational Actor”?’

Iran Plays “Rope-a-Dope” with Us

Mister Moleman is pleased to present a new friend (actually an old friend of mine, but new to you), Mister Dave Smith.  He is an old union man, now retired, who has made valuable anonymous contributions to this blog in the past.  Today we celebrate his “coming out.”

by Dave Smith

Iran continues to play “rope-a-dope” with the US and the world.  First, they rattle sabres, threatening Israel and the US with destruction (which they cannot yet carry out.  They threaten closure of the Straits of Hormuz, our terror of higher gas prices.  Then, they offer the “olive branch” of negotiations, to stall for a few months before they need to utter the next round of threats.  All the while, they openly develop the weapons that will make them truly dangerous and make a second holocaust possible.

And the US policy? Admit military impotence (even shrink our own forces), worry about offending Iran, and put off serious sanctions until we can be sure they won’t affect oil prices.  And warn Israel against taking action to defend themselves.  “Leave it to us,” the US says.

I don’t know what Israel should do about Iran. But it seems obvious what America and our president should do. Continue reading ‘Iran Plays “Rope-a-Dope” with Us’

Military Options Are Not Hopeless

Jonathan S. Tobin, writes in Commentary blog Contentions: Echoes of 1967 in Israel’s Iran Dilemma.  This is a refreshing counter-point to Barry Rubin’s depressing piece (cited below).

I myself don’t know what Israel’s leadership should do.  I have no inside information on Iranian defences or Israeli military options.

But I like what Tobin is saying.  He simply argues that the military option is not hopeless.  Iran is not invulnerable.  This doesn’t sound particularly controversial until you consider how many supposed “realists” treat with the contrary proposition as a default axiom, a matter that must be taken on faith.

Tobin also points to the similarity with 1967, when world opinion was united in urging Israel not to take preemptive action against Egypt’s planned holocaust.

What is most surprising is today’s “realist’s” claim that an Israeli strike would turn Iran into an implacable enemy of Israel!  Have these guys been listening to Iran’s leaders lately?  It’s worse, more openly genocidal, than anything Nasser ever spouted.

Barry Rubin is wrong!

I never thought I would write these words, but Barry Rubin over at Pajamas Media is wrong in his effort to reassure us that Israel will not attack Iran’s nuclear program.  Rubin is a perceptive and courageous analyst of the Middle East and its problems.  But this piece is merely a rehash of “realist” pap about how Iran is so well protected that an Israeli or US attack “will not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”  There is also the usual stuff about how Iran’s leaders can’t really be as crazy as they sound, and how deterrence just might work on these 12th-Imam fanatics.

Now, we’ve been hearing about Iran’s invulnerability for years.  Yes, we know that some of Iran’s facilities are deep underground.  We’ve been hearing that for years from those urging inaction.

Fact:  In May of 2006, James Fallows wrote in the Atlantic: “Now that Iran unquestionably intends to build a nuclear bomb, the international community has few options to stop it—and the worst option would be a military strike.”

Fact: In 2009,  Defense Secretary Gates, obviously speaking at the president’s direction, has announced that the US has no military ability to destroy the fast-developing Iranian nuclear program.  All we would do would be “send it further underground.”

Fact:  In May of 2011, The AP reports thatIran has moved some of its centrifuge machines to an underground enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes, the country’s vice president said Monday.”

Questions:  If they’ve been so bloody invulnerable for so long, why are the Iranians suddenly burying them? Continue reading ‘Barry Rubin is wrong!’

They Are So Right!

Israeli officials are so frustrated with Obama’s refusal to take strong action against Iran that they are finally speaking out.

Read about it here.

The headline:

Israeli officials: Obama too soft on Iran

The sub-head:

Top government officials laud France, UK, but tell Ynet White House policy with regards to Iranian nuclear program ‘hesitant’

Is there anything more humiliating than a United States president too timid to follow the lead of Britain and France?  I mean, they invented appeasement, for crying out loud!   (See my “The Arc of Appeasement” below or here.)

Has there ever been a more anti-Israel, pro-appeasement president than Obama?  Not even Eisenhower, no friend of Israel, would have stood for Iran’s outrageous actions.  Unfortunately, Obama cannot distinguish between speeches and actions.  He believes that when he speaks, the world listens.  But why would they?

In O’s first year, French President Sarkozy lectured Obama for his big talk unaccompanied by action.  He told the Security Council (I spotlighted it below, in “A French Lesson”):

“We live in the real world, not the virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.    President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.  Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993…”

Since that scolding, Obama has continued to block any type of strong action, including serious sanctions.  As he has done before, he supports the weakest possible sanctions and hopes everything will somehow work out.

 

Flashback: Bullwinkle: “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

Rocky: “That trick never works.”

Bullwinkle: “This time for sure.”

Bullwinkle (after trick fails): “I gotta get a new hat.”

 

Obama doesn’t need a new hat.  He needs a backbone.

Iran Should Not Be A Partisan Issue!

An old union buddy of mine wrote the following letter to his US Senator, Jon Tester.  It is worth reading.

Dear Senator Tester:

On Oct. 6, you issued a public statement raising the issue of US companies doing business with the dangerous regime in Iran.  I appreciate your doing so; it was long overdue.

Iran is clearly the number one threat to world peace: an apocalyptic regime committed to the destruction of a democratic neighbor state, implacably
hostile to the US, a fountainhead of terrorism, murderer and oppressor to its own people.  And for years this dangerous regime has bent all its efforts at developing nuclear weapons.  The response of the US and the West has been all too feeble.

But I was deeply disappointed to see you raise this all-important issue for the apparent purpose of taking a partisan cheap shot at a political enemy!  By spotlighting Koch Industries as the only mentionable company doing business with Iran, you used an international crisis to score points on a major Republican supporter, rather than unmasking just how serious this problem is across the board.

True, Koch Industries is on the list of companies doing business with Iran.  But so are the following:

High-tech firms like Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, Dell Computers, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, MCI, and United Technologies.

Continue reading ‘Iran Should Not Be A Partisan Issue!’

It’s a Big War, and Iran is the Urgent Front

Michael Ledeen, over at Pajamas Media, has an excellent post entitled “It’s a Real War, Stupid. A Big War. A Worthy Challenge for America”.  You should read it.

His point is that we need to recognize the uncomfortable reality that radical Islam has declared war on us, and that we must confront this as a worldwide war rather than a series of unrelated regional and local conflicts.

His analysis is correct and perceptive.  Unfortunately, it is hard to muster much hope for our success, given the general collapse of Western resolve.  It is hard to see the West facing up to ANY of its problems, denialism having become our operative mode. 

 But the need is clear: We must mobilize all of the West’s resources in the struggle against Radical Islam, as Truman did in 1948 against communism.  Support for friends, non-support of enemies, active propaganda, and direct force when and where needed.

Syria is indeed a critical battlefield.  But we must not forget the most dangerous threat we face:Iran’s drive to become a nuclear power. 

We have dropped the ball on Iran long enough.  The recent reports of their uranium centrifuges being moved to “bombproof” subterranean sites suggest that the door is fast closing on our options.  A Syrian revolution, no matter how successful, will not stop Iran’s centrifuges.  Even an Iranian uprising might not do it.

A worldwide war must be waged simultaneously on many fronts.  But right now, no front is more pressing than Iran.

The Arc of Appeasement: Germany and Iran

Once again, a rising military aggressor is bent on domination of its neighbors and holocaust of the Jews.  And once again, the nations (in this case, one nation) which could stop them fails to act.

The arc of the Iran story is so redolent of the 1930′s British appeasers (not just Baldwin and Chamberlain, but a genuine broad-based political consensus, except for Churchill) that both stories can be told in the same words.

Stage One:  “(Germany/Iran) may be arming for war, but it is not strong enough to threaten peace anywhere. The real danger is posed by our ally (France/Israel).”

Stage Two: “(Germany/Iran) may be arming for war and getting stronger every day, but they are not irrational.  They may threaten the peace, but their fear of our ally (France/Israel), backed by their fear of us, will be sufficient to deter them.”

Stage Three: “(Germany/Iran) is a threat to peace.  They are already too strong for us to stop them militarily.  We must rely on diplomacy to make the best deal with them we can.” Continue reading ‘The Arc of Appeasement: Germany and Iran’

Iran’s Underground Weapons Program Moves Underground

Lost in the (certainly justifiable, if premature) celebration of the imminent fall of the monster Gaddafi, the world seems to be underreacting to this disturbing AP news story from the Middle East:

Iran moves centrifuges to underground site

“Islamic Republic transfers some of its uranium enrichment machines to subterranean facility
offering better protection from possible airstrikes:  Associated Press”

Iran has moved some of its centrifuge machines to an underground enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes, the country’s vice president said Monday.”

“Engineers are “hard at work” preparing the facility in Fordo, which is carved into a mountain to protect it against possible attacks, to house the centrifuges, Fereidoun Abbasi was quoted as saying by state TV.”

What makes this puzzling is that authoratative-sounding media pundits and prestigious national security experts have been assuring us for years that Iran’s nuclear program could not be stopped by airstrikes, since it was buried in deep subterranean facilities.  This was all patiently explained to neocon hotheads who called for air action similar to the successful attacks that ended both Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs in past decades.  As the “wise men” made clear, the only alternative to diplomacy and sanctions was a horrendous nightmare of “boots on the ground”; and nobody wants that now, do they?

So now it turns out that the uranium centrifuges, the biggest and most vulnerable part of the program, were sitting around in the open air?   Oops.

This whole debate had settled down somewhat in recent years, as both the Administration and the news media (but I repeat myself?) took their eye off the Iranian ball.  If you want a refresher course in this denialism, take a look back at my dialogue with Frankie Sturm,  then Communications Director of the Truman Democrats (a misnamed organization trying to resurrect national security credibility for the Democratic Party).  The title was “A Perfect Storm of Appeasement”, and it was written in February of 2009 – two and a half years ago.

Here is Mr. Sturm, expressing the left’s conventional wisdom at the time (and since):

There’s a lot out there on the futility of air strikes. Here is one article from the Atlantic and another link to a study by the Oxford Research Group. It was easy to take out Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1983 because the entire program was contained in that single, above ground installation. The suspected nuclear site in Syria that Israel took out recently is a similar story – it was just one above ground building. Iran learned from the Israeli airstrike against Iraq in 1983. That’s why they’re so thoroughly buried underground.

Oops. Continue reading ‘Iran’s Underground Weapons Program Moves Underground’

Lead, Mr. President !

[An old union buddy of mine wrote the following letter to his local newspaper.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  It would be a good thing if every concerned citizen did the same with his or her local paper.  The author assures me he won't object to any degree of plagiarism.]

During the 2008 campaign, Candidate Obama was clear about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  In a “60 Minutes” interview (9/22/2008), he said:

“I think that a nuclear armed Iran is …a game changer in the region. It’s unacceptable. And that’s why I’ve said that I won’t take any options off the table, including military, to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier (July 23, 2008), he told an Israeli audience: “That is our single most important threat to Israel but also to the United States of America. So this is something that we’re going to spend a lot of time working on.”

Since then, Iran’s nuclear weapons program has progressed unimpeded.  The centrifuges continue to hum, fuel continues to be stockpiled, and the only remaining question is when the first Iranian nukes will be ready to mount on their missiles.  When, not if.

And where is President Obama’s commitment “to spend a lot of time working on” the problem?  Whatever happened to all the “options” he so boldly kept on the table?  It appears that the options, along with the “single most important threat to the USA”, have somehow fallen off the president’s table. Continue reading ‘Lead, Mr. President !’

Iran: Same Old Debate, But the Clock is Ticking

One might ask what progress has been made on stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program since the Obama administration took over a year and a half ago. In that respect, I recently reviewed a dialogue I had with Mr. Frankie Sturm, Communications Director of the “Truman National Security Project” back in March of 2009.  It turns out that every word written then is still relevant today; the only progress has been in Iran’s weapons program and in the erosion of US diplomatic prestige.  The Doomsday Clock is still inexorably approaching High Noon. (Whatever happened to the Doomsday Clock, BTW?)

Anyway, take a look and see if you don’t agree. 

See “A Dialogue with Mr. Frankie Sturm on Iran” here.

Agnostic about Genocide?

My friend Ben Finiti talks of having become a political agnostic, uncomfortable taking sides on many of the most contentious issues of our time. I feel the same – up to a point. I agree that many questions (stimulus, bailouts, immigration, health care, etc.) offer at least two sides with plausible concerns, relevant facts, and about the same level of good- and bad-faith arguments.  To invest in one position, I must do one of two things. I must decide that I know what this is all about and am sufficiently informed, disinterested, and dispassionate to be able to say which position should prevail. Or I must use my affiliations as guides to my positions (“My friends/family/party are for it, so that must be the right position.”) Like Ben, I find it increasingly difficult to do either on most issues.

But not on all issues. In the Middle East and around the world today, a struggle of titanic proportions is taking shape. The battles are still small by 20th-century standards. In Afghanistan and Iraq, US troops fight in the field.  Around the globe, security forces try to thwart murderous terrorists before they can strike at civilian targets.  Under multiculturalist banners, unassimilable immigrants demand recognition of Sharia law, accommodation of “honor killings”, and punishment for anti-Islamic speech. Continue reading ‘Agnostic about Genocide?’

Paging Dr. Walt and Dr. Mearsheimer

I Have a Question, Doctors

A few years ago, two professors wrote a book.  Stephen Walt (Harvard) and John Mearsheimer (Chicago) published The Israel Lobby in 2007, and it made quite a splash.  Its central thesis was that US foreign policy was directed by Israel and its friends, to the detriment of America’s real interests.  In other words, the Jews are running this country.

 Accusations of anti-Semitism arose, but were deftly parried by the authors and their defenders.  It’s about Israel, they responded; it has nothing to do with Jews!

(This is why I wish that Ben Gurion had given the Zionist entity a different name, like maybe Semitia.  But then the world’s W’s and M’s would have patiently explained that they are not anti-Semites, but anti-Semitians.  If he’d named it Jewland, W and M could explain that their problem is with Jewlandians, not Jews. Oh, well.)

 Here I note that I venture no judgment on the inner prejudices of W and M.  But I do note that if you check their book on Amazon, you will learn that “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; Beyond Chutzpah; On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism; Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid (by Jimmy Carter); The Holocaust Industry; and The Power of Israel in the United States.”  I know that guilt is not proven by association.  You may draw your own conclusions.

 So, in the dark days of the dreaded neocon likudnik administration of George W. Bush, professors M and W surveyed US mideast policy and made an interesting discovery.  Every action occurred in Israel.  The Muslim states were mere passive observers, reacting to Israeli and US provocations.  The best example was in their look at Iran. 

 “Israel’s perception of the Iranian threat underwent a fundamental change in the early 1990’s, as evidence of Teheran’s nuclear ambitions began to accumulate.  Israeli leaders began warning Washington in 1993 that Iran was a grave threat not only to Israel but to the US as well.  There has been no letup in that alarmist and aggressive rhetoric since then, largely because Iran has continued to move ahead on the nuclear front.” Continue reading ‘Paging Dr. Walt and Dr. Mearsheimer’

Iran Threat Must Be Faced

by David Smith

The Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today poses a grave and imminent threat to world peace. A wealthy nation, led by apocalyptic anti-Semitic fanatics committed to the eradication of a neighboring nation, is rapidly developing the weapons that will put that goal within its reach.

The whole world knows it; indeed, Iran barely bothers to deny it.

The Iranian regime is and has always been an avowed and implacable enemy of both Israel and of our own country. Their hatred of us and their desire to destroy Israel are not new. What is new is their development of the weapons needed to accomplish their goal of a Jew-free Middle East.

There can be no mistake; the Iranian regime is preparing for its “Final Solution” to the problem of Israel – nothing less than a Second Holocaust. Their denial of Nazi genocide is a smokescreen to distract attention from their plans to out-murder Hitler. With a weapon that Hitler could only dream of, Iran will have instant genocide – the extermination of 6 million Israeli Jews in a single day – at their fingertips.

Diplomacy and sanctions have been tried and have not worked. China (politely) and Russia (rudely) have made it clear (repeatedly) that they will oppose or sabotage serious sanctions. Sanctions will not work under such circumstances. Continue reading ‘Iran Threat Must Be Faced’

“Iran Will Never Negotiate…”

I was planning to write about something positive and uplifting for a change. Maybe Obama’s speech to schoolkids.   

Instead, I am forced to turn back to the ugliest story developing anywhere in our world. The newly re-installed (through a clumsy whitewash of an election) president of Iran is back in the news, on the eve of a US-set September deadline for serious progress on stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To encourage progress on the issue, our President Obama has been tactfully and diplomatically silent about the stolen election, the arrest, beatings, and murder of Iranian democrats, the threats against Israel’s very existence, and the other human rights atrocities that are Ahmadinejad’s daily bread.  We remain silent in order to avoid giving Mr. A reason to turn against us.  

And how is that working so far, you ask? Continue reading ‘“Iran Will Never Negotiate…”’

Mr. A hears Mr. O’s Message of Hope

So how is the Obama administratrion’s Iran “charm offfensive” working out?  We have some more proof that  Iran now regards us in a new, hopeful light.

Yesterday, AFP (France) reported Ahmadinejad saying “The US needs us and wants to develop relations.  Circumstances are changing rapidly in our favor.  We are on the road to victory.”

And Israel? “The Zionist occupiers are destructive microbes.” 

So Iran is on the road to victory over whom?   The story doesn’t say.

Sounds like O’s message of hope and optimism is resonating in Teheran. 

And Israel?  Well, what can you expect from a bunch of destructive microbes?

Ahmadinejad and Munich Nostalgia

 

Whenever the subject is Iran, I find my thoughts drifting back to the 1930’s, and I realize I am becoming a Munich bore.  But I can’t help it.

Mr. Ahmadinejad (I started to write Herr Ahmadinejad, but I am really trying to lay off on the sarcasm) was interviewed in Der Spiegel [here] yesterday by a German reporter who pulled refreshingly few punches. 

What first grabbed my interest was Mr. A on the subject of the rights of the Palestinians.

Ahmadinejad: We are defending more than the basic rights of oppressed Palestinians. Our proposal for resolving the Middle East conflict is that the Palestinians should be allowed to decide their own future in a free referendum. Do you think it right that some European countries and the United States support the occupying regime and the unnatural Zionist state, but condemn Iran, merely because we are defending the rights of the Palestinian people?

I flashed back to Churchill’s magnificent speech in Commons opposing Chamberlain’s Munich agreement.  (It will be a most hopeful sign when this great oration is once again studied in both civics and literature classes.)

Continue reading ‘Ahmadinejad and Munich Nostalgia’

Appeasement, Old and New

It is common for pundits to quote Churchill about the policy of appeasement and its inevitable failure to cope with aggressive dictators.  But this unfairly allows the policy’s opponents to define it, and gives rise to the feeling (by modern-day appeasers) that the term is an ugly epithet which no one of good will really deserves. 

 

But in fact it was Chamberlain himself who called his policy “appeasement”.  And under that very name it was extremely popular, as witness the cheering crowds greeting his return from Munich, and his 369-150 vote of support in Commons.

 

So how did Chamberlain define appeasement?  One of his best summations was the following, from his speech in defense of the Munich agreement, where Czechoslovakia was sold out in exchange for Hitler’s promises of peaceful behavior.

  Continue reading ‘Appeasement, Old and New’

A Dialogue With Mr. Frankie Sturm on Iran

by Mr. Hans Moleman

(Mr. Moleman began this dialogue by critiquing Mr. Sturms’s original paper, in a post entitled “A Perfect Sturm of Appeasement”.  Mr. Sturm responded, sparking a dialogue that is still going, and for which Mr. M is grateful.  There are now 7 responses back and forth.)

The Truman National Security Project is a worthy effort by a group of “Truman Democrats” to craft a foreign policy that more consistent with the Truman postwar principles than with the pacifist policy of every Democratic candidate since George McGovern.

 Unfortunately, their latest paper “Iran: Putting the Threat in Perspective” by Frankie Sturm  suggests that the “Truman Democrats” are still stuck in the dead-end of a thoughtless (or cynical) anti-neo-conservatism. 

Continue reading ‘A Dialogue With Mr. Frankie Sturm on Iran’

Will “Truman’s Mistake” Be Corrected?

I recently read some history of the creation of the modern state of Israel.  I was struck by the crucial role played by President Harry Truman.  Put simply, if not for him, Israel would not now exist.  Harry Truman, not the Truman administration or the United States.  Truman.  Democrat Harry Truman.

 

And if not for the creation of Israel, the desert wind could blow from North Africa to southwest Asia unimpeded by anything as tawdry as a voting booth.

 

Truman’s decision to support the UN partition plan that put Israel on the map was fought by many of the wise men in his State Department and the rest of the foreign policy establishment.  They thought it was a big mistake.

  Continue reading ‘Will “Truman’s Mistake” Be Corrected?’

I’m Afraid Obama Isn’t Scary Enough

Halloween looms and I am scared.  Not of the trick-or-treaters, but of the very real monsters lurking in the world.

 

And of Obama.  I am afraid that he isn’t scary enough.  To the right people.

 

It’s all about America’s place in the world.  Paradoxically, many consider this Obama’s strong suit.  The rock-star reaction to his world tour suggests that the world loves him.  And we like that.  We want our country and our leaders to be loved. Continue reading ‘I’m Afraid Obama Isn’t Scary Enough’


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