Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Perhaps the Horse Will Sing

In one sense, the Iran deal could pay off for us, if Iran really doesn't go nuclear during the decade of the deal and if in that time Iran does change for the better. But those are big "ifs."

[A] historian named Herodotus, tells of a thief who was to be executed. As he was taken away he made a bargain with the king: in one year he would teach the king's favorite horse to sing hymns. The other prisoners watched the thief singing to the horse and laughed. "You will not succeed," they told him. "No one can." To which the thief replied, "I have a year, and who knows what might happen in that time. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die. And perhaps the horse will learn to sing.”SOURCE

Sometimes the only thing you can do when faced with a problem is buy time and hope for the best. As I've said before, appeasement can work if you cannot defeat the threat right now, remember that the end game is to eliminate the threat, and use the time you bought to gain the ability to defeat the threat.

President Obama clearly believes that the deal itself just buys time rather than solving the nuclear problem:

President Barack Obama almost came right out and said it: Under the terms of the nuclear deal reached in Vienna, by the time Iran could build a nuclear bomb again the country might be a very different place. ...

Gently, but unmistakably, Obama pointed at what more he believes could happen because of the process he started, off an idea that many Democrats (including his former secretary of state) and Republicans mocked as naïve and pointless.

He used a word from his campaign posters, a word that captured the idealism that got him elected in 2008 and the evoked the bitterness about his failed promises: “Our differences are real and the difficult history between our nations cannot be ignored. But it is possible to change,” he said, hitting the end of the sentence.

“This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change,” he said, “change that makes our country and the world more secure.”

In some ways, the president's thinking about the diplomatic deal mirrors my thinking on the use of military force. I don't think wrecking Iran's nuclear infrastructure would stop Iran from going nuclear, but if it buys time it is good enough until we can support regime change. A non-nutball government with nukes is unpleasant but not highly threatening and a non-nutball government could decide the costs (money and diplomatic) aren't worth it.

Which is why I was extremely disappointed that President Obama refused to support Iran's Green Movement in 2009. A better government is the real solution to the Iran nuclear problem.

This nuclear deal is hope and change--[sarcasm]which worked so well at home[/sarcasm]--applied to foreign policy. The president hopes the deal--somehow--will lead to regime change. He has not remembered that Iran under the mullahs is a threat. And he doesn't seem committed to eventually defeating the threat when we can.

The president's diplomacy isn't bringing about real and meaningful change in Iran--his diplomacy seeks to buy time during which he hopes real and meaningful change will take place, somehow.

It's all based on a hope that President Obama has identified the right side of history and all we have to do is wait for the inevitable victory without having to do anything to achieve it.

Our president truly believes the horse will sing.

The problem is that the deal is also a ceasefire, much like the Syria WMD deal ended the threat of American strikes against Assad's forces. So Iran knows we won't strike Iran during the ten years. Iran has had their nuclear program legitimized by America and the United Nations, so how could we justify attacking it? Remember, we are held hostage to a deal and constrained, too.

So unless the president's bet on hope and change pays off, Iran simply has assurances of a decade of progress in mastering nuclear technology and total freedom to pursue nuclear weapons after that period.

And that assumes Iran doesn't cheat. Or if they don't cheat on the specific terms of the deal, the bet assumes that Iran doesn't have a nuclear option completely outside of the four corners of the deal.

Without this deal, we'd still be free to attack Iran's nuclear facilities with cyber or below-war threshold force and be free to choke off funding for nuclear programs and the regime.

And be free to really hammer them, which would limit Iran's actions to avoid that option.

We'd also be free to support anti-regime elements in a population that has better opinions of us than many of our allies.

The basic problem is that appeasement should only be used when we have no other choice. Only then is it a defensible approach to a problem. It truly should be the last option considered. We had other options, including doing nothing.

And now we have to worry that the horse will get nuclear weapons--and become the strong horse in the minds of young proto-jihadis, singing a song of power that we won't like one bit.

UPDATE: Victor Hanson has more on appeasement.

And from an unlikely source, a good argument against the nonsense that President Obama is like President Reagan in making deals with the Evil Empire, the Soviet Union:

Reagan’s insight was that it was possible to strike deals with Moscow on nuclear arms while simultaneously waging an uncompromising Cold War. Obama’s ideology, which he has applied to Cuba and Burma as well as Iran, is that the United States should seek not to defeat its adversaries, but to coax them into more cooperative behavior.

Yes. Reagan never forgot that the USSR was our enemy and that defeating them was the objective. Negotiations aimed at defeating the enemy were fine.

That's not what President Obama is doing. He is retreating before enemies and hoping for their gratitude and realization that they want to be good and not evil.