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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

John Bolton: On Obama's Iran deal, the choices are bad and worse (MUST READ)

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton writes that no matter what Congress decides to do with President Hussein Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran, the only choice left now is a military one. Or a nuclear-armed Iran.
Obama’s mistakes, concessions, and general detachment from Middle Eastern reality for six and a half years make it impossible to travel in time back to a theoretical world where sanctions might have derailed Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. If Obama can save the Vienna agreement from Congress, he will lift sanctions for the remainder of his presidency. Alternatively, if his veto is overridden and U.S. sanctions remain in place, Europe, Russia, China, and everyone else will nonetheless proceed to implement the deal on their own. (And given Obama’s propensity not to enforce laws with which he disagrees, which he is already signaling in this case, U.S. sanctions will almost certainly prove ineffective.) Either way, it is naïve to think that a new Republican president in January 2017 will find any takers internationally to revive sanctions. However Congress votes, Iran will still be marching inexorably toward deliverable nuclear weapons. 
Deals don’t constrain the mullahs, who see this capability as critical to the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s very survival. Not surprisingly, therefore, existing sanctions have slowed down neither Iran’s nuclear-weapons program nor its support for international terrorism. General James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, testified in 2013 that sanctions had not changed the ayatollahs’ nuclear efforts, and this assessment stands unmodified today. 
Tehran’s support for such terrorists as Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis, and Syria’s Assad regime has, if anything, increased. As for the sanctions’ economic impact on Iran, Clapper testified that “the Supreme Leader’s standard is a level of privation that Iran suffered during the Iran–Iraq war,” a level that Iran was nowhere near in 2013 and is nowhere near today. 
In short, to have stopped Tehran’s decades-long quest for nuclear weapons, global sanctions needed to match the paradigm for successful coercive economic measures. They had to be sweeping and comprehensive, swiftly applied and scrupulously adhered to by every major economic actor, and rigorously enforced by military power. The existing Security Council sanctions do not even approach these criteria. 
...
In recent history, the only sanctions regime to approximate the ideal paradigm was that imposed on Saddam Hussein in 1990, just days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Security Council Resolution 661 provided that all states “shall prevent . . . the import into their territories of all commodities and products originating in Iraq or Kuwait” except food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies. 
That is the very definition of “comprehensive,” and the polar opposite of the congeries of sanctions imposed on Iran. Significantly, while Resolution 661 approached the theoretical ideal, even its sanctions failed to break Saddam’s stranglehold on Kuwait. Had Washington waited much longer than it did before militarily ousting Saddam, Kuwait would have been thoroughly looted and despoiled.
Read the whole thing.

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