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Monday, April 13, 2015

Three alternatives to Obama's 'historic framework' with Iran

President Hussein Obama believes that every problem is solvable, and when he can't find a good solution, he adopts a bad one and challenges his critics to 'propose something better.' We've heard this before.

But in the case of Iran, there actually are solutions other than the status quo. Here are three of them.

1. Keep the interim deal in place
The idea behind this alternative is that if the November 2013 agreement has worked as well as Obama says it has, then replacing it with a bad deal would be a step backward. Though the deal was only supposed to last six months and already has been extended twice, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., suggested in a March 22 interview with CBS that this option would be preferable to a final deal with loopholes that allow Iran to ultimately develop a nuclear weapon.

2. Tougher sanctions
This option is most closely associated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he offered it in his March 3 speech to a joint meeting of Congress. But it's also the thinking behind bipartisan legislation in Congress that would impose tougher new sanctions on Iran if the current talks fail.
"Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil," Netanyahu told lawmakers. "Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do."
The legislation by Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey would put that idea into practice, tightening restrictions on Iran's oil industry and financial markets in particular to try to force its leaders to give up their nuclear ambitions.

3. Military pressure
Advocates for this approach, such as Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, say Iran's Shiite Muslim theocracy is the real threat, not its nuclear program and note that even Obama has repeatedly said that the military option remains on the table. They have offered options ranging from U.S. airstrikes aimed at destroying Iran's nuclear capabilities to complete regime change. 
"The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure," Bolton wrote in a March 26 New York Times op-ed. 
"The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel's 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed."

Read the whole thing. It includes a discussion of the downside of each alternative.

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At 4:19 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

Hard choices. I like a one-two approach, or rather, Doors numbered 2 and 3.

I wish we'd get someone like John Bolton into office - or even more favorably, get him into the State Department to clean out the stables. He once said it would take about ten years. I'll bet he's upped that estimate since then.

I love the picture...that child's expression captures perfectly the cynical disbelief so many of us feel.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

BTW, in a discussion of China on our blog, I put forth the idea that a China-Israel alliance would be helpful to both.

Israel is smart, tough, and has few illusions. In return for China's interest - which would end some of the take-for-granted attitude in the US, Israel could give China some of the innovations it needs to prosper.

For example, China's huge population has been forced to devour most nearly every bit of flora and fauna in the populated areas. Israel is skilled at healing desertification and devising ways to conserve. China could use that.

The Chinese culture isn't innovative, but it will copy faithfully any design or scheme that works.

Since Israel is endogamous itself, China needn't fear "pollution" of the Han peoples.

Both cultures teach (as all cultures should) their people superiority based on history and achievement, but neither needs outside affirmation of that fact.

Both cultures can trace their achievements back across thousands of years.

Israel is good at finding the flies in the ointment anyone tries to sell them, a definite plus in dealing with China.


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