American Elephants


It Is Way Past Time to Call a Halt to this Pathetic Search for a Nuclear Deal. by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s Iran nuclear negotiations are coming down to the final days before a self-imposed deadline expires. The administration is desperately seeking support for its effort to make a deal at any price. Five of Obama’s closest advisers, members of his inner circle of advisers on Iran have signed a letter urging him to stand his ground for once. Iran’s parliament has voted that they will accept no inspections, none of their military sites will be open to inspectors at any time, and generally thumbed their noses at the U.S.

Obama came to office with an array of really big accomplishments he expected to make to place him in the list of the greatest presidents. Health Care was one. Ending the Iraq War, closing Gitmo, a Two-State Solution between Israel and Palestine, renewing relations with Cuba, and a nuclear deal with Iran. His list seems remarkably short on history and anything but the shallowest understanding of world affairs.

He badly wants a deal with Iran, and seems open to any concession that might enable him to get “a deal.” Sanctions have put Iran’s economy in a bind, exacerbated by the advent of “fracking” and America’s abundance of oil and natural gas — which, in turn, has significantly brought down the price of a barrel of oil, to less than the break-even cost for Iranian oil. It was the sanctions and pressure on Iran’s economy that brought them to the table in the first place.

The administration has long insisted that any nuclear deal will have no effect on American determination to stop Iran’s support for terrorism, their drive for nuclear weapons, and their regional ambitions. From Mr. Obama’s public statements, he apparently believes that the Iranians are just people like us, who essentially care about their families, and their claims of “Death to America” are just public relations ploys to keep the locals happy, or something like that. From Michael Ledeen:

The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.

Obama has already lifted most of the sanctions that brought Iran to the table. Now he is ending some funding that annoys Iran. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Dubai-based Sri Lankan businessman was cited by President GW Bush as the :”chief financial officer and money launderer” for the nuclear-proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan,  In 1994 or 1995, Mr. Khan asked Mr. Tahir to ship uranium centrifuges to Iran. The Bush Administration put Mr. Tahir on the U.S Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of sanctioned persons. The Treasury Department removed his name from that list on April 3, exactly one day after the framework agreement was announced.This delisting is intended to whitewash Iran’s illicit acquisition of centrifuges as having anything to do with a nuclear weapons program. Nothing to see here, just move on.

Iran’s ballistic missile program has long been considered as the most effective way to deliver a nuclear weapon, and the Administration pushed for U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missiles in 2010. When it came time to negotiate, however, the Administration gave in, as they did to most everything else, to Iran’s insistence that it would accept no missile limitations, thus separating the missile program and the nuclear program.

As the shape of the nuclear deal becomes clearer, it looks like a betrayal of our friends and a gift to a repugnant dictatorship, not to mention a real threat to America.

The Obama administration is unlikely to return to the previous goals of requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure or cease, even temporarily, its uranium enrichment. Nor is it likely to insist that Tehran alter non-nuclear policies such as support for terrorism and destabilizing regional activities in connection with a nuclear accord or as a condition for sanctions relief. These facts alone ensure that any nuclear deal will fall well short of longstanding U.S. goals and face significant opposition in Washington and among allies in the Middle East.

Today Iran is insisting the United States and world powers deliver more concessions at the negotiating table, including consenting to demands that any final nuclear agreement last less than 10 years.

Iran’s bid to pressure Western powers came amid reports that the United States promised in secret documents to deliver to Tehran “high-tech reactors and other state-of-the-art equipment” that would modernize and improve its nuclear program. This portion of the agreement appears to reverse decades of U.S. policy towards Iran.



A New Cold War? by The Elephant's Child

Michael McFaul is the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. He left his position last month. From a March 15 Facebook post:

I am very depressed today. For those of us, Russians and Americans alike, who have believed in the possibility of a strong, prosperous, democratic Russia fully integrated into the international system and as a close partner of the U.S., Putin’s recent decisions represent a giant step backwards. Tragically, we are entering a new period with some important differences, but many similarities to the Cold War. The ideological struggle between autocracy and democracy is resurgent. Protection of European countries from Russian aggression is paramount again. Shoring up vulnerable states, including first and foremost Ukraine, must become a top priority again for the US and Europe. And doing business with Russian companies will once again become politicized. Most tragically, in [the West’s] seeking to isolate the Russian regime, many Russians with no connection to the government will also suffer the effects of isolation. My only hope is that this dark period will not last as long as the last Cold War.



Obama’s Former Defense Chiefs Criticise, Press Doesn’t Notice. by The Elephant's Child

Two  of Obama’s former Defense Secretaries slammed his Syria policy as “not a strategy” and projecting “weakness.” You would have had to turn to page 12 of Thursday’s Times to find that two of Obama’s former defense secretaries “publicly questioned the administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis, as the newspaper put it.”

Robert Gates and Leon Panetta were appearing at a Tuesday evening forum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Gates mocked the president’s idea of an “incredibly small” attack to punish Syria for supposed chemical use, explaining that “to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple days, to underscore or validate a point or a principle, is not a strategy.”  He added that bombing Syria “would be throwing gasoline on a very complex fire in the Middle East” and said Obama could have weakened America’s world standing by asking and not getting Congress’ permission to strike.

Mr. Panetta who was Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff, and an Obama CIA director, said Obama placed the word of the U.S. government in jeopardy. “When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word,” Panetta said, adding that Obama “should have directed limited action, going after Assad, to make very clear to the world that when we draw a line and we give our word… we back it up.”

Panetta also said that Iran, soon to be nuclear armed, was “paying very close attention” to Obama’s handling of Syria, “and what they are seeing right now is an element of weakness.”

The Obama sycophants in the media were loath to report any of this.




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