Trump Tosses a Grenade at NATO

As President Obama sighs with relief at his improved approval ratings, why not take a shot at Donald Trump? Everyone else is doing it. Especially when you are worldly and wise, in regards to the Middle East, for example. And your policies have been a raging success.

Or have helped produce a raging, crazed insurgency called Islamic State. But to be fair, ISIL is also the result of a disastrous Iraq War and a subsequent policy tussle over how or whether to end America's presence there. And Syria is just the latest in a long line of collateral damage, that could have been avoided by less optimistic - to not say delirious - expectations of nation building and democratic renewal in the area. In which Obama, however, shares plenty of the blame.

But NATO is perhaps another matter. As the president shakes his head in low key irony at Trump's criticism of the organization, military experts seems to welcome a debate on what NATO has become and what it should be doing in 2016. Especially with an aggressive Putin that has pushed Russian interests in Ukraine in what was - and perhaps still is - a de facto war between the two countries.

Insiders in both the American and British militaries know full well that their two countries are what keep NATO afloat. And that continental European members of NATO need constant prodding to increase their defense spending in support of a sustainable and credible common defense front for Europe's members. So yes, America does pick up Europe's tab, in large part.

But, does NATO need reform or a revolt by it's founding father, if you will? Imagine the UK and the USA deciding to part ways with their current allies in NATO. And a EU force emerging on continental Europe - growing out of CSDP operations perhaps - to replace their NATO forces. It would be charitable to be optimistic about the prospects for such a force. And Putin would be pleased as punch.

Is Trump's threat to withdraw from NATO just another explosive headline he pulls the pin on, and then tosses out? Or is it the raw unvarnished plank of a foreign policy platform that noisily and ostentatiously throws out all the assumptions held by America's allies. To then invite them back and behind closed doors renegotiate the terms of NATO. At least he's willing to challenge the assumptions held.

One wonders, however, if that's an accidental outcome from a campaign that likes to toss raw meat to it's supporters. Rather than a well thought out policy.

Posted by Keeley at April 7, 2016 11:26 AM
Comments
Comment #404099

Trump is clearly unfit to be president, and his foreign policy pronouncements- or gaffes- or off-the-cuff notions- or whatever you want to call them, makes it obvious he is unfit. On the plus side, he helped the GOP finally come to terms with rejecting the Neocons and accept the facts that Iraq was “a big fat mistake” and that 9/11 happened on the watch of George W Bush.

Cruz might be even worse than Trump, if that is possible. Cruz plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem on “day 1” and recognize it as the capital of Israel. Yeah, that’s the ticket. What happens when war breaks out on “day 2” is anybody’s guess. He also plans to scrap the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Iran on “day 1,” which means scrapping the agreement we made with our negotiating partners: Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Perhaps “day 2” means “war 2,” as Israel and the US go it alone in initiating hostilities on multiple fronts.

Let’s face it: conservatism never recovered from the Neocon blunders under George W Bush, and after spending seven years opposing everything Obama did simply because it was him doing it, conservatism has become a horrible mess. It consists of bad ideas, incoherent notions, gaffes motivated by barely concealed hatred and xenophobia, and worse. It’s just a big, stinking mess.

Is it any wonder so many are hoping for a hung convention so that Paul Ryan can slip in as nominee?

Posted by: phx8 at April 7, 2016 11:42 PM
Comment #404102

So a President Cruz would not only bypass the House and Senate and magically turn us into a fascist seven mountains theocracy or whatever, but now he will also start WWIII?
LOL! You guys are a hoot.

“One wonders, however, if that’s an accidental outcome from a campaign that likes to toss raw meat to it’s supporters. Rather than a well thought out policy.”

It’s the same “I will use the most powerful office in the world as a bully pulpit to do what’s best for America” line that Trump has been feeding his supporters from day one.
The only thing one has to wonder is why the left, with all their ‘cut defense by at least 50%’ rhetoric, doesn’t support reforming our role in NATO.

Posted by: kctim at April 8, 2016 10:32 AM
Comment #404103
Is Trump’s threat to withdraw from NATO just another explosive headline he pulls the pin on, and then tosses out?
He wants as much free media coverage as he can get. The free media should follow his pronouncements with video of a monkey flinging excrement.

This year’s lesson should be that the system of primaries and caucuses should end. It’s a ridiculous way of selecting nominees, fed by endless fundraising to pay for media expenditures telling us how much we hate each other.

Posted by: ohrealy at April 8, 2016 10:33 AM
Comment #404105

kctim,
Here is what I wrote:

“Cruz plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem on “day 1” and recognize it as the capital of Israel. Yeah, that’s the ticket. What happens when war breaks out on “day 2” is anybody’s guess. He also plans to scrap the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Iran on “day 1,” which means scrapping the agreement we made with our negotiating partners: Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Perhaps “day 2” means “war 2,” as Israel and the US go it alone in initiating hostilities on multiple fronts.”

Cruz promises to do these things on “day 1.” Do you understand this? Apparently not, because here is what you wrote in response:

“So a President Cruz would not only bypass the House and Senate and magically turn us into a fascist seven mountains theocracy or whatever, but now he will also start WWIII?”

Do you think Cruz is lying about moving the US embassy in Jerusalem because it is the eternal capital of Israel? I think he means it. Cruz is a Dominionist.

Do you think Cruz is lying when he says he will tear up the Iranian nuclear non-proliferation treaty with our allies and Iran? Do you undertand what such a move would mean in terms of international relations? If so, say so.

Posted by: phx8 at April 8, 2016 1:02 PM
Comment #404106

Phx8,
I read what you wrote, but I was laughing at what you intentionally left out and the absurdity of what you are implying.

Moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital is not some evil plan Cruz came up with.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Embassy_Act

Then you claim war will break out the very next day: “What happens when war breaks out on “day 2” is anybody’s guess.”

Tell us Phx8, do you think Hillary is “lying about moving the US embassy in Jerusalem because it is the eternal capital of Israel?”

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/07/09/senate.2000/hrc.jerusalem/

“Do you think Cruz is lying when he says he will tear up the Iranian nuclear non-proliferation treaty with our allies and Iran?”

No, I do not think he is lying. IMO, Cruz is not the kind of person who would pander to Iran based solely on false hope.

“Do you undertand what such a move would mean in terms of international relations?”

Like you, I understand what such a move could mean. Unlike you, I am not on some quest to create a legacy for Obama out of everything possible, so I have no need to dabble in all the doom and gloom.
Those countries knew Obama bypassed Congress and they knew it wasn’t settled. IF they can’t accept that and address it, it’s on them.

Posted by: kctim at April 8, 2016 2:22 PM
Comment #404107

kctim,
You are right, moving the capital of Israel to Jerusalem is not an evil plan concocted by Cruz. It has been on the books since 1995, and waived by every sitting president since because it represents a threat to the security of both the US and Israel. It is an evil plan. It would spark a war. That is why it has never been enforced.

HRC has been on both sides of the issue. While Secretary of State under Obama she did not support the move because it would have prevented negotiations. It would have started a war.

I have said it before and I will say it again- Hillary Clinton is too hawkish on the Middle East, and if she is elected, it will get her in trouble. She is still the best candidate out there. But this is trouble waiting to happen. Having said that, when put into context, HRC’s statements are nowhere near as dangerous as Cruz and Trump. The Islamaphobia of both is a matter of record- banning Muslims from entering the US, patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods in the US, and so on- and given that context, the comments of Trump and Cruz are far more dangerous and threatening to world peace. These are politicians with no foreign policy experience who are stoking the fires of hatred for their own political ends.

You write: “Unlike you, I am not on some quest to create a legacy for Obama out of everything possible, so I have no need to dabble in all the doom and gloom.”

None of this has anything to do with Obama. That is misleading.

Posted by: phx8 at April 8, 2016 4:04 PM
Comment #404108

Phx8,
Clinton, Trump and Cruz have all stated their support to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. All three are pandering for support.
IF elected, all three will do as previous President’s have done - look at the available intel, weigh it, and then make a decision.

Stricter scrutiny or a temporary ban of people from certain places is not unheard of.
Patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods in the US is no different than what we do now with the Mafia, gangs, extremist groups etc… I seriously doubt that you care one bit about the Feds patrolling and/or infiltrating Christian churches in order to keep tabs on groups like Christian Identity or the Klan.

“These are politicians with no foreign policy experience who are stoking the fires of hatred for their own political ends.”

BS. They are politicians playing to the concerns of people worried about terrorism being brought to their country. It is no different than the ‘push granny off the cliff’ ‘seniors eating cat food’ ‘Republicans are racist/sexist’ ‘evil corporations’ and ‘NRA supports murder’ tactics that have been used.

“None of this has anything to do with Obama. That is misleading.”

The Iran ‘treaty’ has everything to do with Obama. He did it all on his own. He did not want or even care about what the people wanted.
Have you read the treaty? Can you guarantee that it does indeed prevent Iran from ever getting a nuke? No, you cannot. But yet you are adamant in that it can not be reworked or replaced without upsetting our ‘close allies’ Russia, China and Iran.

Oh, and I’m afraid I will have to disagree with you about your prediction for Hillary and the middle east, so I am going to stick my neck out and make my own prediction: Hillary will be out next President and because of the escalating turmoil and strife here at home, her handling of the middle east will stand out and be what defines her Presidency.

Posted by: kctim at April 8, 2016 5:33 PM
Comment #404109

kct, your knowledge of the Iran nuclear treaty would be comical if it weren’t for phx8’s effort to adhere to a serious discussion.

Posted by: Speak4all at April 8, 2016 5:44 PM
Comment #404110

In that case Speaks, either Phx8 or yourself should have no problem pointing out where the treaty does indeed prevent Iran from ever getting a nuke. That is after all, one of the ONLY two reasons one would think it should never be reworked or replaced.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Posted by: kctim at April 8, 2016 6:03 PM
Comment #404111

“Can you guarantee that it does indeed prevent Iran from ever getting a nuke?”

kctim,

No, but not in the foreseeable future. The IAEA has confirmed that thousands of centrifuges have been disabled, tons of uranium have been shipped out of Iran and the core removed from the Arak reactor. Iran has committed to ongoing independent inspections.

The Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped. What more could you want or expect?

Posted by: Rich at April 8, 2016 6:54 PM
Comment #404112

It didn’t work with Korea and you Lib/Progressives expect it to work with Iran????

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 8, 2016 7:53 PM
Comment #404115

+KAP,
It did not work in North Korea because they were willing to risk war. If a country is willing to do that, then we have to choose whether to contain, sanction, and live with it, or attack. A lot of factors worked against preventing nuclear proliferation in North Korea, including mistakes by the Clinton and Bush administrations, and failures on the parts of China and Russia, as well as enabling by China, Russia, and certain members of the Bush administration such as Donald Rumsfeld.

In the case of Iran, China and Russia have been on board with us since 2009. They did not used to be. The Bush administration did absolutely nothing while the Iranians built up their inventory of centrifuges. The failure of the George W Bush administration’s leadership in the world cannot be understated. Thanks to the successful leadership of the Obama administration, the sanctions initially coordinated by Hillary Clinton and carried out by Kerry, and a strong united front taken by the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, sanctions worked. We avoided some of the mistakes made in North Korea. We achieved all of our nuclear non-proliferation goals with Iran as much as is possible.

Unless, of course, you want a war.

kctim,
“The Iran ‘treaty’ has everything to do with Obama. He did it all on his own.”

We do NOT have diplomatic relations with Iran, so a treaty was not an option. We and our negotiating partners reached an executive to executive agreement with Iran. Almost all international agreements take this form rather than treaties, in part because there are literally thousands of agreements out there.

“Can you guarantee that it does indeed prevent Iran from ever getting a nuke? No, you cannot.”

Nothing is guaranteed except death and taxes. Next to that, this agreement is about as guaranteed as it gets.

Unless, of course, you want war.

Posted by: phx8 at April 9, 2016 12:20 PM
Comment #404116

KAP,

Also notable when comparing North Korea and Iran is different way the recent agreement treated the Heavy Water Reactor operated by each regime. The core of the Iranian reactor in Arak was removed and filled with cement while the Korean reactor in Yongbyon was merely mothballed. This allowed North Korea to swiftly bring its reactor back online once the deal fell apart. In contrast, Iran will pretty much have to start of from scratch.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 9, 2016 2:01 PM
Comment #404117

Warped and phx8, Iran wants a bomb and the delivery system to go along with it. Do you 2 really think Iran is going to abide by that piece of crap agreement? If that be the case then you 2 need to get your heads out of your backside region and smell the BS that you are pushing. Iran will get what they need one way or the other and you can bet on that.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 9, 2016 3:11 PM
Comment #404118

If Iran’s #1 priority is to get a bomb, then there is nothing we can do to stop them save invasion, occupation and subjugation. Fortunately, the Bomb was merely a means to an end for Iran. If we can provide Iran a path to that end that does not require a bomb, then their own self-interest will prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 9, 2016 4:11 PM
Comment #404119

KAP,
Does Iran still want the bomb? I don’t think that is true. And yes, I think Iran will abide by the agreement. Iranian moderates just won the recent elections. The voters rewarded them for bringing Iran back into the international community. This was a tremendous foreign policy achievement for the Obama administration. We accomplished our aims without firing a shot. Negotiation and diplomacy worked.

The conservative Iranian hardliners lost. I think the conservative hardliners will lose in this country too. The conservative hardliners in both countries need each other to justify their fear and hatred, the implicit threats of bombing and invasion by the US, and threats to develop a nuclear bomb by the Iranian extremists.

Posted by: phx8 at April 9, 2016 4:33 PM
Comment #404120

Warped, phx8, With Israel and countries near Iran who have nuclear capabilities do you 2 really, really think that some CRAP agreement is going to stop them or some election? They will get what they want, it may take some time but they will get it. By the way phx8, they still hate the U.S. and Israel and they still want to blow Israel off the map.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 9, 2016 4:59 PM
Comment #404121

Same old liberal/socialist bullshit. Feed the beast to keep him satisfied until he is strong enough to eat you for lunch.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 9, 2016 5:54 PM
Comment #404122

If Iran truly wants a bomb, they will get a bomb. Neither this agreement nor any amount of sanctions will stop them. However, you are missing the whole point. The recent elections are important not because the Democratic process is restraining the pro-nuclear faction. It is important because it indicates that obtaining a bomb is not a #1 priority for Iran. If getting the bomb was Iran’s top priority, Khamenei would have rigged the election in favor of his allies.

RF,
Get back to me when Iran achieves military parity with our allies let alone the US. Then you can make the leonine analogies. Until then, understand that Iran is governed by people who aren’t much different than you or I. These people can always relied upon to act in their own self-interest.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 10, 2016 3:16 AM
Comment #404123

Warped, Khamenei is the ultimate leader he will have his way sooner or later and his cronies in power because the hate is strong for the U.S. and Israel.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 10, 2016 8:47 AM
Comment #404124

KAP,

Absolutely right. As long as he remains alive, Khamenei remains top dog in Iran. The fact that the JCOPA went through and that Rouhani’s allies did well in February’s election means that obtaining a nuclear bomb is not Khamenei’s top priority.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 10, 2016 10:47 AM
Comment #404126

Warped, But hate for the U.S. and Israel is a top priority. How long do you think they will let that hate fester before they snap????

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 10, 2016 1:29 PM
Comment #404127

KAP,
Have a little faith in the American political system. Our ideals appeal to people. Have some confidence.

We have faced far larger adversaries and far more dangerous opponents than Iran. We have negotiated with the likes of the Soviet Union, Communist China, Viet Nam, and many others. Over time their hatred waned. Over time, our values prevailed.

As an economy, Iran contributes about 0.69% of the world’s economy. Its economy is latterly a small faction of any one of the US negotiating partners, and its economy is even smaller than that. The idea that they pose a significant challenge to us is ludicrous. They border a whole host of bad actors in the Middle East, including Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Their sect of Islam represents a small part of the total Muslim population. Despite all that, they have a long tradition of NOT invading their neighbors.

The threat posed to world peace by the likes of Trump and Cruz is far more serious than anything Iran will ever do. Trump threatens to ban Muslims from entering the US. He has made so many outrageous statements, it is hard to even know where to start. Cruz is every bit as bad. He has Frank Gaffney on his foreign policy team, a guy who says Hillary Clinton’s State Department was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Cruz just named General Boykin to his team too. Boykin was cashiered for positing the War in Iraq as a war between Christians and Muslims.

Posted by: phx8 at April 10, 2016 1:40 PM
Comment #404131

phx8, I don’t really give a DA*N what Cruz or Trump say or do they are not on the top of my list of prospective POTUS’, at that matter neither is Hillary or Sanders. All the countries you have listed still hate us they just like our money. IMO Iran will be another Korea in time and you will be eating your words. They are already testing missiles. In do time phx8 in do time.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 10, 2016 8:07 PM
Comment #404133
Warped, But hate for the U.S. and Israel is a top priority. How long do you think they will let that hate fester before they snap????

Building a nuclear bomb is not a snap decision when the core of one’s heavy water reactor is cemented and the country is crawling with IAEA agents. It would take extensive planning and coordination for Iran to evade the JCOPA. Meanwhile, Iran understands that adherence to this agreement is its last chance to be accepted as a legitimate state by the world community. Why anyone would think Iran prefers autarky is beyond me.

Iran will follow the paths of Vietnam, China and the Soviet Union into integration with the world community because Iran’s circumstances more closely resembles those three states than North Korea.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 10, 2016 11:11 PM
Comment #404137

Rich,
If it does not guarantee that Iran will never get a nuke, then wouldn’t it be fair to say that there is room for improvement? That it is indeed possible for it to be “reworked or replaced” with something more effective?

Why would somebody be predicting international scorn and probable war for any deviation from the current ‘treaty?’ Why would somebody be against constantly working to ensure Iran never gets its hands on a nuclear weapon?

Posted by: kctim at April 11, 2016 9:08 AM
Comment #404138

kctim,

Nothing in life is perfect. I’m sure that there are improvements that can be made. That said, the deal is quite a bit better than what many people were expecting. Iran’s ability to manufacture enough fissile material for a bomb has been crippled severely for at least a decade. We hope that is enough time for geopolitics to change. If not, we can always return to the negotiation table. However, it will always be the Chinese and Russians in the driver’s seat. Because they were Iran’s main trading partners before the sanctions they are the only ones with leverage over the regime there.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 11, 2016 9:31 AM
Comment #404139

Exactly Warped, Russia and the Chinese in the drivers seat. I agree there are always improvements to be made to any treaty. But I wouldn’t trust the Russians or the Chinese to improve anything unless it goes in their favor.
kctim, I hope Iran never gets their hands on a NUKE, but I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping they don’t, but as I stated to Warped, I wouldn’t trust the Russians or Chinese to improve anything unless it benefited them and their position in the region.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 11, 2016 10:39 AM
Comment #404140

The whole point of NATO was to keep Europe under a Pax Americana so there wouldn’t be repeats of WWI or II. You want to weigh the risks of a more militarized Europe against the benefits.

It also represented our sphere of influence in Europe, as the Warsaw Pact once represented the Soviet Union’s comrades.

What some Republicans and Conservatives need to realize is that waging a war is an attempt to gain direct control over a given set of territory or people. An attempt. It doesn’t always work out as the gordian knot cut that they fantasize it to be.

If Iran wants a nuke, they will have to work damn hard to keep it a secret, and at the risk of new economic benefits. It takes specialized parts and systems to do something as technically advanced as a nuclear weapon. As Doc Brown famously stated, you can’t exactly get Plutonium at the corner store. You need reactors, you need Uranium and/or Plutonium fuel, you need centrifuges of incredible mechanical complexity to purify it to a level necessary to weaponize it.

Folks need to worry about more likely problems, to be blunt.

They also, though, don’t need to be making any more problems than they already have. Republicans seem to have a talent for that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 11, 2016 11:47 AM
Comment #404141

Or they need Russia or China Stephen. I am NOT advocating war. Iran already is testing missiles and thumbing their noses at us. As I said before it is just a matter of time.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 11, 2016 1:24 PM
Comment #404142

“If it does not guarantee that Iran will never get a nuke, then wouldn’t it be fair to say that there is room for improvement?”

KAP,

I am sure that the agreement could be improved. But, to refuse to accept substantial progress in lieu of a perfect agreement is foolish.

It is not just the nuclear issue. The re-integration of Iran into the international economic and diplomatic community is an equally important factor in my opinion. An isolated and pariah Iran is a recipe for another North Korea. We cannot afford that in the volatile Middle East.

Posted by: Rich at April 11, 2016 2:15 PM
Comment #404143

Rich, Yes the agreement can be better and improved. Yes progress has been made. That being said Iran is testing missiles and thumbing their noses at us. They still want us and Israel wiped off the map. Do you really think they can be trusted? Can Russia and China be trusted or will they just improve their position in the M.E.?

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 11, 2016 2:47 PM
Comment #404144

Rich and Warren,
While I believe it was done the wrong way and that we unnecessarily capitulated and are giving trust that has not been earned, all in the name of hope, I have nothing against the agreement itself.
Our President’s are privy to intel that we are not and I defer to their judgement on such issues.

My issue is with the ridiculous predictions of war if anybody dares address the agreement sometime in the future.
Seeing how you both have agreed that there is always room for improvement, it is quite evident that the motive behind such predictions is to create unnecessary fear and to capitalize off it.

KAP,
Iran will have a nuclear weapon within ten years and a capable delivery system within twenty.

Posted by: kctim at April 11, 2016 5:43 PM
Comment #404145

kctim, I can believe that in 10 years they will have Nuc capability and 20 for a delivery system. As far as war goes, NO. IMO it will be like the Pakistan and India thing.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 11, 2016 9:25 PM
Comment #404148

kctim,

It seems your angst ought to be directed towards the Russians and the Chinese. They are the ones who decided to trust Rouhani here. This is what gave Obama and Kerry such a weak hand to play with in the first place. To characterize this as “capitulation” betrays a real misunderstand of what was going on.

Russia and China were sending clear signals that they were going to resume trading with Iran regardless of the status of the UNSC sanctions. If that were to happen, Europe would certainly be chomping at the bit to join them. Already, the system of sanctions was falling apart. It is remarkable that we were able to get Iran to commit to any sort of agreement, let along the current JCPOA with its incredibly intrusive inspections and monitoring.

Which leads us back to the ultimate question: Does Iran really want nuclear weapons that as badly as portrayed by neoconservative critics? If so, why did they bother signing the JCPOA? Already, they had innumerate centrifuges running 24 hours a day and a functioning heavy water reactor in Arak manufacturing plutonium. With zero inspections or monitoring, they were on the path to developing nuclear weapons in just a couple of years. Why did they sacrifice all that, delaying the obtainment of nuclear weapons by at least a decade? Yes, trading with Russia and China is helping to prop up the Iranian economy, but those countries already indicated they were wiling to violate sanctions. Meaning, Iran was going to get its economy rescued by foreign trade regardless. Sure, Iran got its hands on some of its own money that had been previously frozen by the US, but this is really small peanuts if we are to believe that the regime is hell bent on getting nukes and using them to preemptively strike Israel.

No matter how I look, the only conclusion I can reach from Iran’s behavior is that while nuclear weapons are a “nice to have” thing, not a “must have” thing. They have other priorities that are much more important (such as growing their economy to be the biggest in the Middle East, which is quite feasible given their natural resources). This is great, because it allows us to lead them around with the appropriate carrots and sticks.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 12, 2016 12:20 PM
Comment #404149

While their is great hope for a peaceful use of nuclear energy in the entire ME, there is also great concern for the advancement of more sinister uses of nuclear power in the region. This could be from either duly elected governments or terrorists getting their hands on the fissile material necessary to use as weaponry. I can understand the consternation of both parties in this regard(pro or con the Iran agreement). There is a deep mistrust of the Iranians in our country and it is understandable that there are reservations held when discussing their access to nuclear energy. There is also a need to use effective diplomacy and not “shoot from the hip” style policies in regards to the region. Any President would do well to use measured responses in regards to any approach as to how we can affect this region of the world in a positive manner, if that is even a possibility.

For all of the perceived problems presented by the JCPOA there are some who look forward to the outcomes.

Isn’t if funny how big business seems to thrive in either adversity or prosperity? It’s the American way. We all just get to hope for the best, I know I do.

Posted by: Speak4all at April 12, 2016 3:41 PM
Comment #404150

Warren,
I am ‘directing’ nothing towards President Obama, Kerry, Russia or China, here. As I said, they are all privy to intel that I am not.
From how things seem to have played out though, it is my opinion that they took the lead, we refused to play hardball, and we felt lucky to even get that “weak hand.”
The US should never negotiate from such a position of weakness.

Only a fool with no knowledge of the region would believe Iran is not dead set on obtaining nukes. Their past and present behavior does not warrant the coddling they are now receiving and it most definitely will come back to bite us in the rear.

“This is great, because it allows us to lead them around with the appropriate carrots and sticks.”

You do not lead a nation like Iran around with anything, Warren. You put it in its place and you keep your eyes on it.

I honestly hope that you are right and all Iran wants is what’s best for its economy. While I find that to be very naive, I would welcome the ‘I told you so’s’ you would be entitled to.

Posted by: kctim at April 12, 2016 3:54 PM
Comment #404151
The US should never negotiate from such a position of weakness.

As long as war is off the table, the US is always going to be negotiating from a position of weakness. There’s nothing Obama or any Republican President can do about that save mobilize for an invasion.

Only a fool with no knowledge of the region would believe Iran is not dead set on obtaining nukes.
Calling me an ignorant fool does nothing to demonstrate your argument that Iran is as desperate for nuclear weapons as you claim. The simple fact is that Iran could have easily walked away from the JCPOA agreement and developed nuclear weapons unmolested within a couple of years. The very fact that they elected to make their path towards obtaining nuclear weapons is prima facie evidence that Iran values other priorities over nuclear weapons. This isn’t to say they don’t want them, only that they want other things even more.
Their past and present behavior does not warrant the coddling they are now receiving and it most definitely will come back to bite us in the rear.
Characterizing the JCPOA as “coddling” really demonstrates that you have no idea what you are talking about. The inspections and monitoring are intrusive and without precedent. When before has the US convinced a nation like Iran to poor cement into the core of a heavy water reactor rendering it permanently unusable? Never before has a national volunteered to put itself through such scrutiny.
I honestly hope that you are right and all Iran wants is what’s best for its economy.
Did you even read what I wrote? I said: You misunderstand me. Iran’s economy is not Iran’s priority. What Iran wants more than anything else is regional hegemony. This is why they sought a bomb in the first place. It would have given them leverage over Turkey and Saudi Arabia. However, with the JCPOA we have given them an alternative path to what they want that does not involve nuclear weaponization. Posted by: Warren Porter at April 12, 2016 7:15 PM
Comment #404152

“As long as war is off the table, the US is always going to be negotiating from a position of weakness.”

Wrong. First of all, we possess overwhelming military strength. It takes many forms, including intelligence, unconventional forms of warfare, as well as conventional. Second, our military strength is only one source of our power. Our economic strength is just as important as our military strength, if not more so, because that economic strength allows us to sustain a level of pressure no country in the world can withstand. It was economic strength that helped us achieve everything we wanted without firing a shot. Third, our leadership and ideals form a third leg that amplifies our other strengths. Our allies and negotiating partners work with us because we are doing the right thing and working with them to align our self interests.

The idea that we have been negotiating from weakness is pure poppycock.

Iran seeks to defend its borders and to protect Shias in the region. This is not really the same as regional hegemony, since Shia populations are too dispersed outside of Iran and Iraq to become a united force. It does mean Iran will act to protect the interests of its fellow Shias in Afghanistan, Kuwait, the Emirates, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey.

A nuclear weapon is not necessarily in Iran’s favor, since it would mean Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other countries would also develop their own bomb. About the only really useful purpose it serves is to prevent the US from bombing and invading Iran, and if we can lower tensions with them and re-integrate Iran into the world economy, the need to develop a nuke goes away.

Posted by: phx8 at April 12, 2016 7:47 PM
Comment #404153

Well said, phx8. If you look objectively at the actions of Iran in the Middle East, they have been primarily defensive in nature. That includes the animosity between Iran and Israel. It only became intense after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon which resulted in Iran supporting Hezbollah as a means of protecting Shia in Lebanon.

I would suggest that a wary eye should be more focused on Saudi Arabia than Iran. It is from Saudi Arabia that virulent Muslim fundamentalism emanates. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, al-Nusra Front are all Sunni fundamentalist groups practicing a form of Sunni Islam fundamentalism supported by Saudi Arabia. This past Sunday, 60 Minutes had a piece on a secret section of the 9/11 Commission Report which implicates not only wealthy Saudi princes but also elements of the Saudi government in supporting the 9/11 plot within the US.

Posted by: Rich at April 12, 2016 10:06 PM
Comment #404160

Rich,
There has been a lot of bad blood between the US and Iran for decades. But at some point we work on the assumption that our opponents, whether it is Iran or the Soviet Union or China, are rational enough not to want to destroy themselves in a nuclear exchange- the old doctrine of mutually assured destruction. But through patience and diplomacy and negotiation even the bitterest enemies can eventually come to terms.

Israel and its neighbors have maintained extremely hostile relations for decades too. Their hostilities are fueled by religion. Israel possesses its own nuclear arsenal, but does that actually make Israel any safer?

Posted by: phx8 at April 13, 2016 12:09 AM
Comment #404161
Third, our leadership and ideals form a third leg that amplifies our other strengths. Our allies and negotiating partners work with us because we are doing the right thing and working with them to align our self interests.

Phx8 while this is the case now it hasn’t always been this way nor can we count on it being this way in the future. Just a decade ago we had what was referred to as cowboy diplomacy and we couldn’t even talk one country into handing over their WMD’s. So we went to war, as you know, and occupied the country. Hell even then we couldn’t get them to disclose the locations of their WMD’s despite occupying the country.

Certainly you aren’t suggesting the approach of the Obama administration is somehow superior to cowboy diplomacy, how can that be?

Posted by: j2t2 at April 13, 2016 12:46 AM
Comment #404165

Weak diplomacy nor Cowboy diplomacy, The Cowboy type didn’t work well for Bush and neither is the weak diplomacy working very well with Obama. Iran is still thumbing their noses at us and working on a missile system. They still want the U.S. and Israel wiped off the map.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 13, 2016 10:50 AM
Comment #404166

Warren,

“There’s nothing Obama or any Republican President can do about that save mobilize for an invasion.”

As Phx8 has pointed out, there is plenty we can do, we just have to accept it is up to us and take the lead. Iran has proven that it cannot be bullied, and handling it with kids gloves has not been working. The only thing you can do with a country like that is to bring it to its knees.

“Calling me an ignorant fool”

That was not my intention and after reading back over it, I truly apologize for it coming out like that.
Rich, Phx8 and yourself have clearly demonstrated better than average knowledge of the area and I respect the information you all provide, even if I disagree with the opinions you form from it.

“does nothing to demonstrate your argument that Iran is as desperate for nuclear weapons as you claim.”

For decades they have allowed their economy and their people to suffer so that they could pursue nuclear weapons. They have gone to great lengths to hide their work and progress. They have openly displayed hostility towards the US and have supported our enemies. They have threatened to destroy our White House. They have promised to destroy the state of Israel.
But what they want most is to take care of their people and regional dominance through peace?

“The inspections and monitoring are intrusive and without precedent.”

Only if Iran and the others abide by the agreement and only if we actually know the true status of their nuclear weapons program.
Precedent shows that they won’t, and that we don’t.

I do indeed read what you write, Warren. In fact, I enjoy it greatly. I just disagree that their goal is limited to “regional hegemony.”
IMO, they don’t want to be just another Turkey or Saudi Arabia. What they are after is the power to dictate the course of the middle east, and that course will be to the detriment, not to the benefit, of the US and its allies.

Posted by: kctim at April 13, 2016 11:09 AM
Comment #404167

KAP, The war monger diplomacy you seem to think is the answer hasn’t worked and I see no reason to think it will work in the future. You guys on the right were all about going into Iraq seeking revenge for the twin towers attack. But look what it got us. More terrorist, more war and the US deeper in debt.

The biggest contributing factor to the radical terrorism we see in the middle east is the occupation of the countries in the middle east. The mistake you make is in thinking the strategy employed by the Obama administration is weak. It works. There comes a time when you guys have you admit the Tom Cottons who betrayed our country while doing the bidding of Israel are wrong. As much as it may hurt your ego to admit it, it is time to admit Obama was right.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 13, 2016 11:35 AM
Comment #404168

j2 I wish you would learn how to read. There is no where that I even mentioned WAR, it is only in your imagination, WAKE UP. I have said that Iran cannot be trusted and you take that as going to WAR, RIDICULOUS NOTION. Iran is testing missiles for what, telling us to go and F**K ourselves, we’ll do what we want and when we want and you can go and screw that agreement. How many agreements has Iran had and broke? Obama’s agreement is weak and gave in to Iran, Obama just wanted something and he gave into Iran’s demands.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 13, 2016 12:16 PM
Comment #404169
Wrong. First of all, we possess overwhelming military strength. It takes many forms, including intelligence, unconventional forms of warfare, as well as conventional. Second, our military strength is only one source of our power. Our economic strength is just as important as our military strength, if not more so, because that economic strength allows us to sustain a level of pressure no country in the world can withstand. It was economic strength that helped us achieve everything we wanted without firing a shot. Third, our leadership and ideals form a third leg that amplifies our other strengths. Our allies and negotiating partners work with us because we are doing the right thing and working with them to align our self interests.

The idea that we have been negotiating from weakness is pure poppycock.

Weakness is an admittedly subjective term and it certainly isn’t a black or white status. While we may be in a strong position in an absolute sense, we are weak when compared to the ideal proposed by kctim and other JCPOA critics.

Consider this: After defeating the Japanese at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the US enjoyed a pretty strong position against Japan, but the position was still not strong enough to force submission with the Potsdam Declaration. Only the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the devastation experienced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought us the strength we needed to force capitulation. Before we dropped those atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were negotiating from a comparatively weaker position despite our greater strength overall.

As Phx8 has pointed out, there is plenty we can do, we just have to accept it is up to us and take the lead. Iran has proven that it cannot be bullied, and handling it with kids gloves has not been working. The only thing you can do with a country like that is to bring it to its knees.Absent military engagement, sanctions were the most potent weapon we wielded. Unfortunately, Russia and China signaled that they were going to abrogate the sanctions regardless of what the US thought. You can’t bring Iran to its knees by shouting angry words at it from a thousand miles away nor can you bring Iran to its knees simply by traveling to Jerusalem and Riyadh and selling out American interests for Israeli or Saudi ones. The only way to bring Iran to its knees enough in order to force them to surrender their own interests would be to threaten them credibly with military action.
For decades they have allowed their economy and their people to suffer so that they could pursue nuclear weapons. They have gone to great lengths to hide their work and progress. They have openly displayed hostility towards the US and have supported our enemies. They have threatened to destroy our White House. They have promised to destroy the state of Israel. But what they want most is to take care of their people and regional dominance through peace?

Ask yourself, kctim, why did Iran do all those nasty things? Was it malevolence for malevolence’s sake? Or was their a logic behind all of that hostility? Take a step in the Ayatollah’s shoes and see where it takes you.

These nasty things Iran does, they are only a means to a greater end, which is regional dominance. Iran wants to call the shots over the greater Middle East just as many Persian empires have done in the past. They might aspire for outright occupation, but they certainly desire as much influence as they possibly can. The JCPOA gives Iran an opportunity to call the shots in the Middle East without even having to bother acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 13, 2016 3:11 PM
Comment #404170

My apologies for the HTML mistake. The blockquote should have ended like this:

The only thing you can do with a country like that is to bring it to its knees.

Absent military engagement, sanctions were the most potent weapon we wielded…

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 13, 2016 4:43 PM
Comment #404171

KAP, I can read fine. You can’t have it both ways KAP so please explain to me the options to this weak agreement if war isn’t the plan. Be specific please, vague and ambiguous only works for talk radio conservatives.


I am surprised with your inability to grasp the world existed before Obama. Yep you guys had a cowboy in office and ruled the roost choosing to invade Iraq instead of Iran, despite the belief Iran was developing nuclear weapons. Yet nothing from you or your guys on weak agreements with Iran.


Your team held talks that led us to where we are today. Yet you consider the current plan weak. I think you are clueless on what is going on. But hey what do I know? Why not explain to me why the GWB administration was so strong yet the Obama administration was so weak when it comes to the Iranians. I mean they had the same chance to stop Iran years ago why didn’t they do it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_nuclear_program_of_Iran

Posted by: j2t2 at April 14, 2016 12:53 AM
Comment #404173

j2, Weak agreements don’t mean WAR, that is only in your mind, and that is really specific, because it is only in your mind that conservatives want War all the time because your hero in the W.H. doesn’t know how to be a strong leader. Giving in to the enemy is not a showing strong leadership. Conservatives held talks but were not giving in to appease a ROGUE regime who wants nothing more than to wipe Israel and the U.S. off the map and rule in the M.E.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 14, 2016 10:43 AM
Comment #404174

Just as I thought KAP, nothing but myth misinformation half truths and outright lies from conservatives on this issue. You criticize Obama but cannot even tell me what, besides war, would make this agreement a “strong” agreement. You claim I am wrong for suggesting you want war yet your bitterness against Iran ” telling us to go and F**K ourselves, we’ll do what we want and when we want and you can go and screw that agreement” suggests you do. So once again, other than lip service against war, what do you want if this agreement will not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons?

You cannot accept this agreement is better than what your guys did. So you attack this agreement as “weak”. You deny war is the answer, so what do you want other than to blame Obama for doing something without selling out to the Israelis. Because you can’t be serious when you suggest doing nothing, walking away from the table as you claim your conservative buddies have done, is the answer. Standing around wringing one’s hands and claiming all sorts of things isn’t the answer KAP. IMHO you have befuddled yourself with these ridiculous claims of no appeasement but no war claims of yours. But once again what do I know, please explain how that makes sense.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 14, 2016 1:12 PM
Comment #404175

j2, Get a life and get that WAR idea out of your head.

Posted by: Rich KAPitan at April 14, 2016 1:51 PM
Comment #404176

j2t2,

The issue at had is that our poor friends, criticizing the JCPOA for its perceived weaknesses, are suffering from a bout of cognitive dissonance. What they fail to comprehend is that there is no way to strengthen the current American negotiation position without threatening war. Instead, they want something akin to the treaty of Versailles from a century ago, forgetting that the only way such a treaty was even made possible was due to the defeat of the German Army during the spring offensive of 1918 and subsequent allied victories later that year.

If the US is to call all the shots, as the Right believes it ought, then it needs to defeat Iran on the battlefield. Until then, we must negotiate with carrots and sticks. With the latter method, agreement is only possible if it serves both American and Iranian interests.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 14, 2016 2:05 PM
Post a comment