Tag Archives: Obama Iran policy

Putting the squeeze on Israel

One of the many anomalies of Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s collapsing foreign policy is Washington’s growing rift with Israel, despite the two countries’ historically intimate ties at every level.
Obama’s fundamental antagonism toward Israel was always apparent: during the 2008 campaign he announced one of his “transformations” would be putting “light between the U.S. and Israel”. Nor were his various close relationships to bitter American Israeli critics secret: Obama sat through two decades of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in turn a friend of the notorious Louis Ferrakhan. There was his close friendship with Rashid Ismail Khalidi, once Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization spokesman. [Obama’s 2005 speech at a send-off party for Khalidid departing the University of Chicago for Columbia University is bottled up along with all his other records.] The traditional “Arabists” in the Washington bureaucracy – for example, Obama’s CIA Director John O. Brennan, who continues to deny “jihad” is a call to war against the West – bring up the rear.
All this was somewhat camouflaged by the presence in the Obama entourage of a number of secular Jewish campaign apparatchiks – including some grownup Red Diaper babies. And, of course, there is his continued Democratic Party’s traditional hold on the miniscule but critical Jewish vote and political contributions since the days of FDR.
But now with presumably no more elections for Obama and a growing personalization of the Administration’s foreign policy in the President’s hands, the differences between Washington and Jerusalem are leading to strategic divergence.
In what to all intents and purposes looked like an Administration inspired plant, an “analysis” in The New York Times suggested Obama offers a “deal” to Jerusalem: lay off criticism [and lobbying on Capitol Hill] against Obama’s Iran proposals and Washington will not join the Europeans in the UN pushing a Palestinian state. [One of the fundamentals of American Mideast policy, of course, had been that only a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves, rather than a dictated “peace”, would be long-lasting.] But this is a “bargain” even the most fervent Israeli Netanyahu critics among leftwing “peace” advocates could not accept.
The ugly truth is that – bitterly criticized by the Obamaites when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated it during his election campaign – there is no possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian compromise, at least for now.
First, of course, is that there is no negotiating partner on the Palestinian side. In their Arabic language pronouncements, at odds with what they feed their media friends in English in the West, Palestinian officials [and popular opinion] refuse to acknowledge the Jewish state’s right to exist. Secondly, of course, the Palestinians are divided – at least into two groups. There is the PLO kleptocracy of Mohammed Abbas on the so-called West Bank. [Called Judea and Samaria from Biblical times,“the West Bank” came into fashion only after the Jordanian state, itself carved illegally out of the League of Nations Palestine mandate took it in the 1947-48 war.]
The PLO is in a bitter struggle with Hamas which dominates Gaza. [Gaza PLO partisans have been thrown off roofs without benefit of parachute.] Furthermore, despite its ultra-Sunni Moslem Brotherhood origins, Hamas has become a client of the Shia terrorists in Tehran who supply it arms. Although Abbas has postponed elections indefinitely on the West Bank, there are growing indications that Hamas’ Moslem terrorists would gain control there too absent the PLO’s collaboration with Israeli security.
All this has written finis to the whole concept of Israeli trading “land for peace”. An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank – as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s 2005 exit from Gaza – would invite another hostile force within mortar range of Israel’s “heartland”. The proposed demilitarization of a Palestinian state by United Nations guarantees has vanished. On the contrary, UN peacekeepers on the Lebanese, Syrian and Gaza borders have become liabilities for the international community, unable to defend themselves in deteriorating situations.
In reality the whole concept of two states west of the Jordan River is dead for now, perhaps permanently. If, indeed, there is any possibility of compromise, it would go back to a plan drafted by the then Israeli foreign minister Yigal Allon just after the 1967 Six Day War. Allon proposed designating Jordan ruled by the old British allies, the Hashemite dynasty, the Palestinian state. It already has a Palestinian majority. Arab cantons on the West Bank would be annexed to its present territory east of the Jordan, and Israel would take over the traditional Biblical Hebrew centers. The fact that the Allon Plan gets no mention these days suggests the emptiness of Secretary of State John Kerry’s frantic calls to revive “the peace process”.
Obviously, reading Obama’s mind on the Mideast is an exercise in more than the usual frustration. It is hard to know whether his earlier adamant statements on policy, now completely reversed, were only politically convenient statements.
But whatever is behind his wholesale concessions to Tehran he publicly refused only months ago, it certainly does not include the interests of what has been the U.S.-Israeli alliance.
On this issue as in his proposed concession to the mullahs in Tehran, he will face overwhelming opposition in his own party as well as among Republicans in the Congress. But, once again, the enormous power of the American presidency is being tested by an executive who has always insisted he intended “to transform” long-held U.S. policies.

Iran: Why?

Why is one of the world’s poorest countries [40% living in poverty, halfway down on list of countries in per capita GDP]] building capital-intensive nuclear power facilities?
Iran has the third largest oil and the second largest gas reserves in the world [without recourse to new shale gas potential]. 2006 oil production level was enough for 88 years if no new oil were found. But only in the last weeks a whole new huge reserve was located offshore in the Caspian Sea. Iran’s fossil fuel export potential is so great that were current sanctions ended suddenly, the world price of oil might well drop $10. That’s despite Tehran’s official rationale that nuclear plants for desalinization are necessary to halt diversion of oil and gas exports.
Why do the Tehran mullahs insist on construction of high cost nuclear power facilities when Iran produced 254 billion kWh gross in 2012 from fossil fuels and hydro, with consumption only 200 TWh?
Demand – before the sanctions — was growing at about 4% per year, according to the World Nuclear Association, London. But although Iran trades electricity with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Turkey, it had small net surplus. Tehran plans to boost generating capacity by 2022 would have produced additional substantial exports.
Why did Tehran keep details of its nuclear program secret after signing a safeguards agreement with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency [1958] and other additional weapons of mass destruction limiting treaties since?
Iran’s experimental nuclear program was initiated by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi [1967] under the U.S Atoms for Peace Program. But in November 2003 the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] announced Tehran systematically had violated its internastional agreements over 22 years, concealing nuclear weapons capability. Iran confirmed the IAEA’s accusations but denied their importance.
Why has Iran violated its agreement with Russia for a fuel supply including the return of used fuel?
Adherence to the agreement would have removed any necessity for uranium enrichment which Tehran now admits after dissident Iranian expatriates revealed the details of a secret enrichment plant in 2002. Furthermore, some 20 countries have nuclear power facilities which do not depend on locally sourced enriched nuclear fuel.
Why is Iran enriching nuclear fuel at at least three plants with the IAEA in March 2015 questioning whether another undisclosed facility may also exist?
In about 2000 Iran started building a sophisticated enrichment plant, which it declared to IAEA only after it was identified in 2002 by exiled dissidents. A second and and third plans for uranium conversion are under international safeguards, though IAEA says its monitoring is limited.
Why has the subject of Iran’s role as the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism been excluded from present negotiations?
Diplomacy to end Iran’s nuclear arms program by the 5+1 [United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany] with Tehran began in the spring of 2003 with continual extensions deadlines. During that period, Tehran has successful extended it aid to the Syrian regime of Basher al-Assad that has killed some 200,000 of its own people, been suspect in the murder of an investigator in the two 992 bombings of Israeli diplomatic and Jewish 1community centers in Buenos Aires, set up a new Latin American infiltration and subversion center in Bolivia, armed and now rearms the Hamas terrorist in Gaza, attempted [but was thwarted by the Israelis killing a prominent Irnian general] to extend its puppet Lebanese Hezbollah to a new anti-Israeli installation on the Golan Heights, expanded a drug smuggling and intelligence network with sympathetic Venezuelan [and Cuban] officials throughout Latin America and in the U.S., among other worldwide subversion activities targeted against the U.S. and its allies.
In November 2014, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said, “In order to avoid a bad deal, the P5+1 must hold strong on achieving an agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program to a reasonable civilian capability, significantly increases the timelines for breakout to nuclear weapons, and introduces enhanced verification that goes beyond the IAEA’s Additional Protocol. A sound deal will also require Iran to verifiably address the IAEA’s concerns about its past and possibly on-going work on nuclear weapons, which means Iran must address those concerns in a concrete manner before a deal is finalized or any relief of economic or financial sanctions occurs.”
The Obama Administration and its supporters have presented a dire dilemma: either accept an increasingly watered-down agreement now being negotiated which would ostensibly limit Tehran’s nuclear weapons program with [what can only be described as a highly suspect] monitoring, or go to military action to end or degrade Iran’s program with the possibility of an ensuing regional conflict in the chaotic Mideast.
This formulation ignores several counterarguments:
1] With the current dramatic drop in world fuel prices – likely to continue even in the notoriously unpredictable oil and regional gas markets because or rising production in Iraq and Libya [and by Iran’s own black-markets operations]. That forecast is despite local violence because of new entries of shale gas in the U.S. and abroad, Saudi Arabia’s current low price regime to retain share in a dwindling market, and increasing fuel economies in a depressed world economy.
2] Continued sanctions or elevated sanctions could well bring about a capitulation of the mullahs or regime change in Tehran. [The Obama Administration not only refused to publicly endorse Iran’s Green Revolution after stolen elections in 2009 but ignored demonstrators’ signs in English calling on Obama’s intervention. Instead the Obama Administration moved for negotiations which strengthened an endangered regime.] .
3] As Washington [in 2006] proved in its successful efforts against North Korea counterfeiting of dollars, threatened or actual sanctions against third parties by the U.S. can be enormously effective. [Chinese banks temporarily withdrew their support from North Korea in the face of American pressure until it ended its most flagrant counterfeiting and distribution of $100 bills.]
. 4] If military action were to be taken even against parts of the Iranian program, it does not have the capacity quickly to restore the weapons program since it does not have the domestic industrial backup which has produced the current level of activity. It has relied on imported machinery and technology. It would produce an extended period of a halt to nuclear [and perhaps missile] development, and would critically impact a regime with growing serious economic difficulties.
So, the ultimate question:
Why has the Obama Administration continually given ground in its negotiations with Tehran, now permitting not only continued enrichment, but in effect, reducing the “breakout” time for conversion of enriched fuel to weapons?

The Obama Persian Mystery

Obscured by all the hullabaloo over the Congressional speaking invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the more fundamental mystery of the Obama Administration’s Iranian strategy.
Laying aside the increasingly evident incompetence of the political hacks, wordsmiths and other amateurs the President has surrounded himself as foreign policy advisers, there is still the unanswered question of what Obama intends with his policy toward Tehran.
The pettiness of the White House stance toward Netanyahu notwithstanding, it is unlikely that the Israeli leader will add more than detail and reinforce the vast array of background threat we already have about the Tehran regime: It has violated international obligations for almost four decades, pursued a policy of state terrorism throughout the world, made every effort to diminish and expel American influence in the Mideast region, and seeks a role as a major power. Furthermore, there is unfortunate evidence that is close to achieving regional hegemony with its domination or alliance now with four, however embattled, Arab regimes – in Damascus, Hezbollah in Beirut, Hamas in Gaza, and the new Yemen Sana government. Having squared the Arabian peninsular, it has created near hysteria in Saudi Arabia, the U.S.’ nominal principal ally in the region and a leader of Sunni Islam, which like the other Gulf Arab states feels abandoned by Obama’s Washington.
Were Tehran to succeed in its program to build weapons of mass destruction– nuclear bombs and intercontinental missiles to deliver them– it would consolidate its place as Washington’s premier foreign policy problem.
Although the Administration spokesmen claim the final details of an agreement with Tehran are still not finalized, every indication is that Washington is prepared to extend earlier concessions which would give the mullahs “nuclear weapons threshold” capacity. That would include the ability within a short period through an inventory of enriched uranium and large batteries of centrifuges to produce more weapons fuel quickly to become a nuclear power.
It has been the stated policy of previous U.S. administrations– and by the Obama Administration itself– Washington would not permit the Iranian religious fanatics to cross that red line. That position has been endorsed not only by all the NATO allies but also inferentially by Moscow and China, despite their underhanded cooperation with Tehran in pursuit of nuclear power capability. It should be noted that Tehran’s enriched uranium pursuits are not a requirement for a country– still endowed with enormous oil reserves– for a nuclear power program as some two dozen other countries have demonstrated under United Nations and bilateral political and technical agreements eschewing any capacity to enrich fuel.
As this situation inevitably moved toward crises with the Iranians continuing to build nuclear capacity– despite their announced cutbacks under preliminary agreements with the Obama Administration– it behooves us to try to understand the Obama strategy. Incidentally, the Netanyahu controversy has obscured the news just this week that the UN Atomic Energy Commission to which Iran must report its activities under the control treaties has found evidence of new, secret and unreported Iranian nuclear activities. This was the pattern for some 17 years before the Iranian enrichment activities were revealed by Iranian scientists in exile to the UN control group. It is this history which puts a question to any claims by the Administration that it is creating under any new agreement the ability to monitor and halt any violations of the Washington-Tehran pact.
Given this only partial background of U.S.-Tehran negotiations over its attempts to create nuclear weapons capability, there is great puzzlement over what the Obama Administration is attempting in its current search for an agreement. That search, in itself, has created confusion about Obama policies which in the past have supported the Moslem Brotherhood– even after its overthrow by an Egyptian government– with its dedication to the destruction of Shia [Iranian] influence, and the Sunni Arab allies who see Tehran as their principal rival and enemy in the region.
Conflicting statements from the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry and his State Department, it is virtually impossible to discern a central Obama strategy in this miasma.
Since the beginning of the Cold War in the 1940s, of course, the possibility that Iran with its inherited mantle of the long history of the Persian empire, its size and the sophistication of its elite, might become a powerful ally of the U.S. in the region. That earlier strategy collapsed in 1979 when a combination of internal forces and the tacit support of the Washington foreign policy grey eminence, Averill H. Harriman and his protégé, U.S. Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan, helped bring down the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Reza Shah was, to some extent, the victim– as he himself had sometimes warned — of his “white revolution”, an attempt to destroy the landlord-back feudal system he had inherited and moved to modernize. Washington’s hand-handed efforts to back a military government collapsed in the face of the onslaught of religious fanatics, who have periodically dominated Persian history even in pre-Islamic eras.
Whether Obama is attempting a new modus vivendi with a new more powerful Iran, despite the Mullahs’ anti-American record, or not, I the negotiations already endanger the current shaky balance of power in the area. Cairo, long considered the leader and center of the Sunni world, which has just declared war on Hamas, once the Egyptian protectorate, feels doubly threatened by a distant American policy and Iranian terrorist inroads on its doorstep in the Sinai. A tacit approval by the U.S. of nuclear weapons capability by Iran would likely set off a nuclear arms race in the area– with the Saudis already tacitly allied to Pakistan whose nuclear weapons are generally seen as financed through grants and loans from Riyadh.
Whatever information and advice Netanyahu may offer in Washington, is not likely to unlock this mystery of what exactly the Obama Administration thinks it is accomplishing with an Iranian policy which keeps slipping away from original stated intent of removing all possibility of Iran obtaining weapons of mass destruction.