Monday, June 26, 2017

A Six-Point Pretend Plan to Defeat Iran

As America looks like it is getting serious about stopping the mullah-run Shia caliphate that Iran is, it would be useful to go back to a Brookings plan presented to the Senate a few months back to "resist" Iran.

This is seriously delusional. The plan has six elements:

1) Rigorous enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal.

2) Support for the Iraqi Abadi government and the war on ISIL.

3) Promote a political resolution of the Yemen civil war.

4) Reduce Iran's influence in Syria.

5) Gather our regional allies to resist Iran in a "burden-sharing effort."

6) Lay the foundation for talks on Iran's ambitions and behaviors.

So what of the elements?

We should be rigorously enforcing the nuclear deal now! Is this plan implying we haven't been?

And that's aside from the horrible nature of the enforcement mechanism of the 2015 deal already two years through the 10-year period. And aside from the fact that as envisioned, the deal frees Iran to go nuclear in 8 years. And aside from whether North Korea is an avenue for Iran to get nuclear weapons.

I'm seriously supposed to believe that the nuclear deal is a brilliant opportunity to tame Iran in the time the Obama-Kerry deal bought? Let's hope it is better than the absolute failure of the Syrian chemical deal, eh?

As for Iraq, of course we support the war on ISIL. But if that victory isn't an opportunity to suppress Iranian influence in Iraq bolstered by the support of Shia militias that Iran hopes will be a version of Hezbollah on the Tigris and Euphrates, we are truly foolish.

In regard to supporting Abadi--no!!! Don't support a person. Support the system of elections and rule of law. Support the suppression of pro-Iran (and other) militias that threaten rule of law and honest elections. That is how we get a stronger Iraq capable of resisting Iranian malign influence and more willing to work with America and the West.

Blaming the previous Iraqi prime minister, Maliki, for being pro-Iran is missing the point because Maliki had no alternative to leaning on Iran given that America had walked away from Iraq in 2011, having gloriously "responsibly ended" that war.

The element on a political settlement in Yemen risks cementing Iran's role in Yemen and simply paving the way for the next round of violence when Iran is better prepared. Diplomacy may well settle this, but no settlement should envision an Iranian role in Yemen. And given that Saudi Arabia is leading the effort on the ground, how is American indirect support getting us dragged into a quagmire? Isn't this the fruits of leading from behind? Shouldn't we be happy allies are willing to fight our common enemies without our forces taking the lead? Why run from this development rather than support it?

Reducing Iran's influence in Syria is not "difficult and complicated." It is difficult and simple--defeat the Assad regime which enables Iran's entrenchment in Syria as the head of a Syrian version of Hezbollah represented by various domestic and foreign militias ("5,000 IRGC, Basij, and Iranian Army elements; some 3,000 to 5,000 highly trained Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon; and some 20,000 Shiite militiamen recruited from Afghanistan and Pakistan") that Iran organizes and pays for (thanks Iran nuclear deal with its lifted sanctions and pallets of cash!).

Brilliantly, we're supposed to get Russia to make sure Assad denies Iran port facilities in Syria--as if that is the key issue!--when you know Russia will demand concessions for that non-help.

Will Russia want their presence in Syria validated? Their conquest of Crimea accepted? Their views on opposing NATO missile defenses implemented? Their role in the Donbas conceded? The lifting of Ukraine-related sanctions? Yeah, it really is complicated and difficult when you avoid the direct solution of defeating Assad.

Given Iran's high interest in remaining in Syria to reach Lebanon and the prototypical Hezbollah there, how do you persuade Iran to leave Syria? Without defeating Assad, it would have to be a difficult, complicated--and doomed--effort.

The gathering of allies (a "concert!"--it's a French term, so yay! Instant, intrinsic nuance!) is the one element that makes sense. But if allies are gathered to pretend to resist Iran as this plan does, America gets the worst of both worlds--an Iran annoyed but not stopped in any meaningful way and allies disgusted with our leadership that refuses to try to win and simply accepts our allies on the front lines of an increasing powerful--and eventually nuclear--Iranian threat.

Kudos. Bravo. Simply brilliant. Huzzah. Awards all around!

As for the talks proposed with Iran, since it relies on the premise that the nuclear deal was the successful result of a commitment to talks, what can I say? The Iran nuclear deal was a pretend deal. Iran pretended that it had no nuclear weapons ambitions; we pretended to believe Iran; and we pretended that the deal is actually a meaningful solution to solving the problem of Iran going nuclear.

And now I find that Iran could escape a lot of limits earlier than we were told based on the totally inadequate mechanisms of the deal for "confirming" that Iran is not working on nuclear weapons.

So I'm sure Iran will be fully on board the talks. They aren't stupid even if they are fanatics. Oh the possibilities! Will talks get Iran to abandon Yemen while recognizing Iran's role in Syria? Give a little to get a little, eh?

Of course, then Iran shifts to bolstering influence in Eritrea to threaten Red Sea oil shipments rather than rely on a Yemen bastion--if Iran even abides by a deal.

And good luck with curtailing Iran's missile work given that they throw us the middle finger now when the nuclear deal is in effect. Why would Iran be more willing to limit their missiles after the nuclear deal goes away?

Face it, any talks require the West and our Arab allies to agree to a prominent mullah-run Iranian role in the Middle East. Easing back Iran's malign influence rather than defeating Iran's malign influence (and imposing a higher cost when we cannot stop them) is no plan to defeat Iran.

Oh, and any deal with Iran requires America to support the continued existence of the Iranian mullah-run government in order to keep the deal in place. The deal could be 100 pages of "Blah, blah, blah" in English, French, and Farsi for all the mullahs care if the American-led "concert" (so much better than a mere "coalition!") is on record as effectively backing their continued rule.

So there you go. I assume the people who came up with this are brilliant. You'd have to be brilliant to paint a picture of glorious victory from the pallet of defeats and retreats that make up the whole.

The plan focuses on American limits. We can't stop Iran from going nuclear. We can't eliminate Iran's influence in Iraq. We can't beat Iran in Yemen. We can't eject Iran from Syria. We can't take action without consensus from allies. We can't halt Iran's ambitions and behaviors.

With all those self-imposed limits, how on Earth is Iran defeated? Is it all an exercise in translating "please" into Farsi?

This is a six-point plan to pretend to resist Iran that has no hope of defeating Iran before it can get nuclear weapons even with Iran's adherence to the nuclear deal.

God save us from the echelon above reality.