Saturday, January 25, 2014

Please, Pass Me the Clue Bat

Fareed Zakaria is confused. Wait. Allow me to me more specific. He's confused about the interim agreement between the American-"led" West and Iran.

Apparently, differing views about what is in an interim agreement supposedly typed up on paper that they both signed cause Mr. Zakaria to question the value of the agreement in reaching a final settlement:

[Iranian President] HASSAN ROUHANI: So in the context of nuclear technology, particularly of research and development and peaceful nuclear technology, we will not accept any limitations. And in accordance with the parliament’s law, in the future, we’re going to need 20,000 mega watts of nuclear produced electricity and we’re determined to get it at the hands of our Iranian scientists.

FAREED ZAKARIA: So there would be no destruction of centrifuges?

ROUHANI: Not under any circumstances. Not under any circumstances.

CHRIS CUOMO: I mean, what is the deal? That’s supposed to be the whole underpinning of moving forward from the United States perspective. How do you interpret what you just heard from the president?

ZAKARIA: well, I was as struck by it as you were. This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. For the fist time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. So this seems like — you know, this is still — I’m not even quite sure what they’re going to talk about if these are the opening [positions?] and it’s very hard to walk back from as absolute [a provision?} as the president of Iran laid out.

Ya think?

Look, let me apply the clue bat to Zakaria. The man couldn't find his own buttocks with both hands and a GPS signal, so, you know, God bless him, and all.

But there is no problem here to getting a deal if you keep in mind what this is about.

Iran wants nuclear weapons.

We want a deal. All signed in multiple official languages and with bright ribbons affixed with wax seals! And oh! Be still Kerry's heart. Maybe a Nobel Peace Prize by the end of 2015!!

Within that penumbra where American and Iranian positions overlap lies a deal: Iran will solemnly promise not to build a nuclear weapon. And we will solemnly pretend to believe the Iranians.


I can understand how the Nuanced-Americans in our foreign policy elite--in and out of government--can be confused about this. For they were and remain confused about the Syria deal about getting rid of Assad's chemical weapons.

The elites continue to strut about boasting about how threatened (incredibly small!) American air strikes got Assad to get rid of his chemical weapons.

But the fact is, this agreement is not about getting rid of chemical weapons. It is about buying time for Assad to defeat the rebels. While the temporary disarmament is going on, we won't do much to help the rebels and we certainly won't launch air strikes, as in Libya.

For Assad, he knew that time is more valuable than chemical weapons. Even the passive Obama administration would have to take official notice and do something if Assad used chemical weapons enough to affect the war. Even the Russians and Chinese would not have used their Security Council veto to protect Assad after that. So chemical weapons were of no value to him in this war.

After the war, of course, if he wins, Assad can rebuild his chemical weapons stocks (with newer delivery systems and more deadly agents!).

Or, if you prefer an actual nuclear deal to compare this to, consider North Korea. In 1994, we negotiated a fine deal--the Agreed Framework--that we thought would halt North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Sadly, North Korea didn't agree with our assessment. During the Bush administration, we rudely pointed out that North Korea was pursuing nuclear weapons.

And today, North Korea has blown off a few nuclear devices and is working on making their devices small enough to put on a missile warhead.

Diplomacy with nutballs sure is grand!

So yeah, Fareed, this is a train wreck. But it is not a train wreck because differing views on it are an obstacle to a deal. It is a train wreck because despite the differences, our differing objectives contain the basis for a signed deal that gives each of us what we want.

Not that a clue bat would have any effect on Zakaria. He will require a clue nuke.

Have a super sparkly day.