03 March 2015

Iran must have pictures of Obama with a sheep or something

Does the president want to be Iran's bitch, or is it just a side effect of being a geopolitical dumbass?

It can be hard to tell with this guy. He talks tough, but his every action belies that tough talk. In fact, he does literally nothing strategically that advances the interests of America, or freedom generally, in the world. Every policy, in fact, does the opposite.

Of course, the distinction is somewhat immaterial, since the actual real-world consequences are nearly identical whether one is a groveling stooge or just a plain ol' dumbass. Still, it makes for an interesting question, because it goes straight to motive and provides important context for future behavior.

Here is the Wall Street Journal: "Iran on the Nuclear Edge". For those of us who remember Iraq and the 1990s - hello, Washington? - this makes for very disturbing reading.

The latest startling detail is Monday’s leak that the U.S. has conceded to Iran’s demand that an agreement would last as little as a decade, perhaps with an additional five-year phase-out. After that Iran would be allowed to build its uranium enrichment capabilities to whatever size it wants. In theory it would be forbidden from building nuclear weapons, but by then all sanctions would have long ago been lifted and Iran would have the capability to enrich on an industrial scale.

On Wednesday Mr. Kerry denied that a deal would include the 10-year sunset, though he offered no details. We would have more sympathy for his desire for secrecy if the Administration were not simultaneously leaking to its media Boswells while insisting that Congress should have no say over whatever agreement emerges.

The sunset clause fits the larger story of how far the U.S. and its allies have come to satisfy Iran’s demands. The Administration originally insisted that Iran should not be able to enrich uranium at all. Later it mooted a symbolic enrichment capacity of perhaps 500 centrifuges. Last July people close to the White House began talking about 3,000. By October the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Kerry had raised the ceiling to 4,000.

Now it’s 6,000, and the Administration line is that the number doesn’t matter; only advanced centrifuges count. While quality does matter, quantity can have a quality all its own. The point is that Iran will be allowed to retain what amounts to a nuclear-weapons industrial capacity rather than dismantle all of it as the U.S. first demanded.
So, Kerry and Obama are excited about a plan where they give away just about everything and force Iran to concede nothing.

But wait - it gets worse.

Mr. Kerry also says that any deal will have intrusive inspections, yet he has a habit of ignoring Iran’s noncompliance with agreements it has already signed. Last November he insisted that “Iran has lived up” to its commitments under the 2013 interim nuclear agreement.
Just stop right there. Stop. Nuclear inspection teams run by the IAEA are nearly useless, regardless of what Kerry and Obama say. Inspections have almost no real power to catch anybody in the act: "we're from the U.N. and you better let us in or we will denounce you in the harshest possible terms back at HQ next month!" doesn't carry as much weight as some appear to think it does. Especially compared to, say, getting your ass blown to smithereens by military firepower.

When was the last time we heard about an inspection team stumbling upon an important find? Has there ever been one? I used to read a lot about Iraq weapons inspectors and the follies of IAEA inspectors back when Iraq was the main story on this front. Nothing much ever came of it, except of course the dog-and-pony show aspect. Pardon my lack of enthusiasm for the usefulness of future inspections.

Then we have the economic sanctions. Unfortunately, entire industries spring up around how to bypass those, and if you don't believe me, search "oil for food" and do a little reading up on how Saddam Hussein made a mockery of the U.N. Oil for Food program in the 90s and early 2000s. Here are a few links to get you started: The Economist, Heritage Institute , Council on Foreign Relations. It makes for sobering, compelling reading.

From the Heritage report above:
... the complicity of more than 2,200 companies in 66 countries as well as a number of prominent international politicians ... bribery, kickbacks, corruption, and fraud on a global scale-without a doubt the biggest financial scandal in modern history. It amply demonstrates how the Iraqi dictator generously rewarded those who supported the lifting of U.N. sanctions on Iraq and who paid lip-service to his barbaric regime. Oil-for-Food became a shameless political charade through which Saddam Hussein attempted to manipulate decision-making at the U.N. Security Council by buying the support of influential figures in Russia and France.
Sanctions create a black market for goods and services. People around the world will take advantage of that. Simply declaring an activity illegal does not cause it to stop, especially when there is an existing market for all those same goods and services that is suddenly "turned off". The world does not work that way. The world will never work that way.

Just to really hammer this point home, some more details from the Heritage report again:
  • "Oil surcharges were paid in connection with the contracts of 139 companies and humanitarian kickbacks were paid in connection with the contracts of 2,253 companies." Companies accused of paying kickbacks to the Iraqi regime include major global corporations such as Daimler-Chrysler AG, Siemens AG, and Volvo.
  • The Saddam Hussein regime received illicit income of $1.8 billion under the Oil-for-Food Program. $228.8 million was derived from the payment of surcharges in connection with oil contracts. $1.55 billion came through kickbacks on humanitarian goods.
  • In allocating its crude oil, "Iraq instituted a preference policy in favor of companies and individuals from countries that, as Tariq Aziz described, were perceived as 'friendly' to Iraq, particularly those that were members of the Security Council."
  • Russian companies purchased 30 percent of oil sold under the Oil-for-Food Program, worth approximately $19.3 billion. French companies were the second largest purchasers of Iraqi crude oil under the Program overall, contracting for approximately $4.4 billion of oil from Iraq. "Total International Limited and SOCAP International Limited contracts accounted for approximately 74 percent of the oil purchased by French companies under the Programme."
  • "Iraq awarded 'special allocations' not only to companies, but also to individuals and their representatives. These individuals were influential in their respective countries, espoused pro-Iraq views, or organized anti-sanctions activities. They included present and former government officials, politicians and persons closely associated with these figures, businessmen and activists involved in anti-sanctions activities."
Sanctions accomplish nothing except allowing politicians to proclaim that they are "getting things done". The only things they are getting done, in fact, are fooling a great many gullible people, and enabling bad actors in the world.

Even the Washington Post - hardly a conservative paper - is pretty concerned about the Iran deal being discussed, in a recent editorial The emerging Iran deal raises major concerns. They give several reasons, among them that while the original goal of the negotiations was to "eliminate Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, the administration now appears ready to accept an infrastructure of thousands of Iranian centrifuges" by moving the goalposts to the idea that we can "limit and monitor" that uranium, all for the laughably weak goal of preventing Iran from producing "the material for a warhead in less than a year". This is conceding every strategic goal to the Iranians.

What possible explanation is there for such concessions? Why on Earth would an American president give away nuclear capability to a country like Iran, that has made a habit of killing Americans for decades? You don't have to be conservative to find this extremely disturbing.

And one thing that keeps running through my mind: the president is now going out of his way to grant major concessions to the same Iranians that killed and maimed thousands of American troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, via IEDs planted by Iranian militias / terrorists working in concert with the Shia in Iraq.

But hey, he's definitely not a Muslim! He just happens to make all the wrong decisions that help Muslim nations, at our expense.

Links:
Iran on the Nuclear Edge
Ayatollah sent message to Obama
"oil for food" search
Rolling up the culprits
The Final Volcker Oil for Food Report: An Assessment
Iraq Oil for Food Scandal
The emerging Iran deal raises major concerns
Rotten in Denmark
‘Geneva talks a facade, US-Iran worked secretly on deal for past year’