“Presidents make lonely, difficult decisions about the use of force to protect our interests — usually with the solace of knowing at least that diplomacy had failed. The tragedy of our current plight is that diplomacy was succeeding before it was abandoned.”
“Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.
But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.
For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.
We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.
The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.” DL: Please finish the article, it gets better. Did you know that the CIA decided that the rewards outwayed the risks, and supported the assassignation?
“It was a hot day in June, 30 years ago. I was sweating in a chador, a speck in the black-clad throng of mourners pouring through Tehran for the funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As the keening crowd surged dangerously toward the grave site, I was lifted off my feet, lost in a heaving mass of humanity.
Then, I was a Middle East correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. My job was to understand and explain why what may have been the largest crowd of mourners ever assembled wept hysterically for a man my readers considered monstrous.
Today, three decades of diplomatic failure later, I watch from afar on cable news as a similar crowd in Iran, this time a deadly one, mourns Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. I’m not a journalist anymore, so I’m reduced to groaning at the TV when commentators don’t help us understand what’s going on, but instead confound our understanding by providing incorrect information.”
“TEHRAN — With the completion of the nuclear deal with Iran and the opening of its market, European businesses expected a trade bonanza.But three months after the lifting of many sanctions against Iran, there is growing frustration among European politicians, diplomats and businesspeople over the inability to complete dozens of energy, aviation and construction deals with the Iranians.The main obstacle, the Europeans say, is their ally, and the driving force behind the historic nuclear agreement, the United States. Wary of running afoul of new sanctions imposed by Washington over Iran’s missile program and accusations that Iran sponsors terrorism, European banks are refusing to finance any of the deals, effectively perpetuating Iran’s isolation from the global financial system.Europeans also point to new American visa regulations that make it more difficult for them to enter the United States if they have traveled to Iran. Those financial and travel restrictions, they say, make it nearly impossible to reach agreements with their Iranian counterparts.The hurdles set up by the United States, Europeans say, are also infuriating the Iranian leadership and undermining what they understood to be one of the main goals of the nuclear deal, which was to draw Iran out of its international isolation.”
It is shame that Obama’s government insists on being so strict with Iran, that they might undo all the good of the nuclear deal. You can’t soften the opposition in Iran by preventing the benefits of the nuclear agreement to happen.
“Iran’s pragmatic centrists offer a way around that deadlock. They seek to harness the popularity of the reformists to the institutional power of the conservatives, and to define a national interest on which the most temperate elements of both camps can agree. This approach holds out hope for a more constructive and inclusive politics, and for real improvement in Iran’s material circumstances and its standing among nations. But it also comes with dangers: that the center will be defined increasingly rightward, as it has been throughout the life of the Islamic Republic, and that important but controversial reformist priorities — human rights, representative politics and the rule of law — will languish beyond the pale of political expediency. The reformists risk sacrificing their identity in this coalition; outside of it, they sacrifice their relevance.”
So many protean thoughts. This is one of the more complicated explications I’ve worked through on dear sweet Iran.
The next and last paragraph: “Iran’s revolution is a work in progress. Its protagonists and its factional alliances are protean. Yesterday’s hard-liners are today’s pragmatists. Today’s reformists were something else yesterday. The way Iranians vote — whether they see voting as an expression of support for the system, a demand for sweeping revision, a meaningful exercise of political choice or a strategic tool — is in constant flux. The demand for inclusion is raucous, relentless, life giving. The centrists must not take it for granted, for they owe it all their strength.”
Strong and complex writing by Laura Secor.
It turns out that the word “protean,” or changeable, or changing like the sea, unpredictably, comes from the Greek God Proteus, who was known as the Old Man of the Sea, and in some tales, including Homer’s Odyssey, was the first son of Poseidon, older brother of Triton. Iran is a deep, slow puzzle. We should be patient as the Chinese, and allow a hundred years to pass, to see if the reformers get the upper hand. But wait, will climate change and the threat of World War III allow civilization as we know it in a hundred years?
Perhaps an Iranian nuclear scientist will discover the fusion or hydrogen engine which will save the world from overheating. We will need more characters in a happy science fiction about the near future. Someone will have to come up with a way to curb out of control overpopulation, a way that isn’t the usual, history proven, completely expected, drought, followed by famine, followed by war and widespread cannibalism. As we face a protean future, we need skill, luck, and the help of the gods to avoid the expected outcomes of our uncontrolled fecundity.
“WASHINGTON — President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have a simple explanation for their surprising success in getting Iran to dismantle much of its nuclear infrastructure, ship out 98 percent of its nuclear fuel and release five American prisoners: Patient diplomacy, backed by escalating economic sanctions, accomplished more than military action ever could have.
When the final history of this remarkable encounter between Washington and Tehran is written, the story is likely to be far more complex.Yes, diplomacy and economic pressure were critical, but even several of Mr. Obama’s top aides doubted as recently as a year ago that, in the end, Iran’s mullahs and generals would actually dismantle a program in which they had invested both national pride and billions of dollars. Those aides had good reason for skepticism: While all comparisons between North Korea and Iran are fraught, if economic pressure alone could do the trick, Pyongyang would have given up its nuclear program two decades ago.
But Mr. Obama’s strategy had a major coercive element as well. This included covert actions that repeatedly, if briefly, set back the nuclear program and convinced Iranian elites that its secrecy had been compromised. Then there was the fear, in Washington and Iran, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would launch a pre-emptive attack.”
I strongly support the nuclear arms deal with Iran, and Tom Friedman reviews why it is a good deal for the US.
“The final deal with Iran announced by the United States and other major world powers does what no amount of political posturing and vague threats of military action had managed to do before. It puts strong, verifiable limits on Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years and is potentially one of the most consequential accords in recent diplomatic history with the ability not just to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon but also to reshape Middle East politics.”
This is the whole interview on video, 46 minutes. Not for all, but excellent. Friedman identifies an Obama Doctrine, from strength, engage your enemies in negotiations. Obama has recreated relations with Burma and Cuba. Iran is a bigger enemy to work with. One of the good comments after the op-ed piece points out that this approach echos that of another president, Teddy Roosevelt, who said the US should talk softly, but carry a big stick. Three cheers for our President Barack Obama.
Barack Obama is great president. He has been consistently excellent in foreign policy. This new deal with Iran, might be great improvement for both countries. I have viewed the videos, they are inspiring. Here is the most recommended comment after the interview.
CA Yesterday “Ask yourself which of the GOP candidates can make such a coherent -thoughtful and eloquent statement about their foreign policy!
Which ones can speak beyond platitudes and populist rhetoric on issues of importance.
Obama is a great and vastly under-appreciated president by an electorate that cannot discern between those unqualified demagogues pandering to their emotions to attain office and those with the intellect and depth of character and experience and wisdom to work in their best interests and common well being.”