By Sal Bommarito
The Middle East continues to be a powder keg, literally, exacerbated by the milquetoast response of the U.S. and its coalition to the ISIS threat and an impending deal with Iran that would enable it to build a nuclear bomb in the near future.
This blog has lambasted the administration and Arab countries opposing ISIS for underestimating the potential of the insurgency and by responding in a manner that has allowed it to become a phenomenon attractive to young people around the world. More aggressive action is necessary immediately to prevent ISIS and its affiliates from becoming an existential threat to the Middle East.
But, this week, the Iran nuclear deal is front and center. Two New York Times articles will be referenced in this post. The first addresses the advocacy of Secretary of State John Kerry for an Iran treaty. The second outlines the growing conflict between the Obama administration and Israel pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program.
John Kerry is desperate to win a significant foreign policy victory. He has, unsuccessfully to this point, invested in personal relationships with several individuals in the Middle East, Europe and Russia trying to bring peace to the world. The Times states, “ . . . [because of] Kerry’s inordinate attention to [the Iran nuclear negotiations], there is an impression that he wants this agreement more so than the Iranians.” And, his “eagerness” is an “open invitation” for Iran to demand more concessions. The article references Kerry’s unsuccessful Middle East efforts that ended in “bitter recriminations between Israel and Palestine,” along with little progress to end the civil war in Syria. Regarding Russia, the U.S. is not even at the negotiating table in talks to end the violence in Ukraine.
Couple Kerry’s zeal with Obama’s obvious legacy ambitions and the situation could be explosive for the Middle East. If Kerry and Obama had their way, Iran would surely have a nuclear weapon in the near term. Fortunately, Congress will not allow the administration to give away the ranch because two U.S. politicians are worried about how history will remember them.
This all leads us to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has arrived in Washington to address Congress, without endorsement by the Obama administration, to discuss the dangers associated with an Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu considers an Iranian nuke an existential threat, and he should know given his country’s proximity to Iran and Iran’s longstanding anti-Semitic posture and objective to annihilate the State of Israel.
In a Times article, the White House offered a number of unconvincing arguments that suggest a deal with Iran is the best course of action. Unfortunately, the administration is not revealing pertinent information because it does not believe Americans are capable of understanding the gravity of the negotiations, or there are no strong factors supporting a deal.
The Times story is chock full of squishy comments by the administration and a number of contradictions. The purpose of the White House comments was to discredit Netanyahu by implying that he does not appreciate the process. This is a curious tact given Israel’s concerned about how Iran would use a nuclear in the region in the next year, in ten years and forever. The basis of the prime minister’s perspective is Israeli intelligence on the matter, which is likely more substantive than U.S. information.
The U.S. stated that Netanyahu “has failed to present a feasible alternative [to the American proposals, which are current not known in any detail].” Really? Israel wants to ensure that Iran never has a nuclear weapon, which was the original intent of the U.S., if memory serves me correct. Obama is just not listening to Netanyahu or anyone else that would interfere with his deal to improve relations with a mortal enemy of America.
The U.S. indicated, “that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran’s nuclear efforts frozen for an extensive period was preferable to a breakdown in talks . . .” When dealing with nuclear proliferation, imperfect treaties are could be deadly. If the U.S. objective is no nukes for Iran, this deal does not make sense.
“The alternative to not having a new treaty is losing inspections.” This comment is contradicted in two other parts of the story. Iran has not answered “a dozen questions by the Atomic Energy Agency about the ‘possible military dimensions’ of Iran’s program.” And, “last week Iran stonewalled inspectors on answering most of [their] questions.” Clearly, Iran is not cooperating before the deal is signed, meaning that it will not cooperate afterwards either. Without verification of compliance, Iran will be free to do many things in secrecy.
The balance of the article addresses time schedules and how quickly Iran could develop a bomb if it opts out of a treaty. This all nonsense. The Obama administration is prepared to give Iran the ability to produce a bomb in about ten years, or sooner if it cheats. Congress should trash this proposal and step up sanctions against Iran until it agrees to indefinitely defer its nuclear ambitions. This would benefit the Middle East, Israel, Sunnis in the region and the U.S.