Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Diplomatic Beer Goggles

Former Secretary of Defense Panetta makes my one very conditional case for how the Iran nuclear deal could work out:

In itself, the Iran deal would appear to reward Tehran for defying the world, make funds available for its extremist activities and generally make it stronger militarily and economically. Although the agreement provides for a temporary delay in Iran's nuclear enrichment capability, it allows Tehran to retain its nuclear infrastructure and obtain sanctions relief. The risk is that Iran could become an even bigger threat to the region.

Let's face it, given the situation in the Middle East, empowering Iran in any way seems like a dangerous gamble. ...

Yet the Iran deal provides the United States with an opportunity to define a policy of strength, not ambivalence, in the Middle East. The administration need only make clear that the fundamental purpose of the nuclear deal is not just to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions but to build a strong coalition that will confront both Iran and terrorism in the future.

Basically, he says that the deal is bad, but we can use any time it buys to mobilize our allies and the region to fight back against Iran's aggressiveness.

Dim the lights, squint, and down a couple shots and the appearance of the deal doesn't look so bad, eh?

Note the total mismatch between the editor's title implying approval of the deal and Panetta's argument that the bad deal could be okay if a number of aggressive steps are taken against Iran.

This is the argument I've made: A policy of appeasing an enemy makes sense if you use the time you bought with the appeasement to build the capacity to defeat the enemy.

Of course, we have the ability to defeat Iran right now. So this is a retreat of choice and not a retreat of necessity.

And nobody believes that President Obama will lean forward to resist Iran as the enemy they are.

Sadly, we view the deal as the end itself. Iran views diplomacy in general and the deal in particular as just one of many means to pursue their objectives. Khamenei is under no delusions:

"We negotiated with the U.S. on the nuclear issue for specific reasons. (The Americans) behaved well in the talks, but we didn't and we won't allow negotiation with the Americans on other issues," Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying.

We'll do nothing to justify Panetta's conditional acceptance--that is, we'll continue to behave well from the Iranian perspective--to make Panetta's view on the deal a reality and salvage something from this retreat before our enemy.

Our enemy will continue to wage war on us after having achieved their specific reasons ("'God willing there will be nothing left of the Zionist regime in 25 years,' Khamenei said.") for concluding the nuclear deal.