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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Conservatives Making Fools of Themselves Over the Iran Agreement

Enough already!  Here's a piece from the Federalist saying the whole Iran deal will come a cropper because Iran will escort inspectors at Parchin, its military base.   The flaw in the Iran Deal even a child could see.  Nothing from the author's background suggests any expertise on these issues.  But that doesn't stop conservative pundits from making fools of themselves.

Lots of problems with the piece.  I might start by saying as a military base, Parchin has always been outside the normal areas for IAEA inspection.  Iran was in its legal right to deny inspectors there, and everyone knew it.  But no one thought it was doing anything on the nuclear program there for a long time.  So why spend any time focusing on it?

Actually, Parchin is not key to this problem.  The key is the amount of fissile material Iran is allowed to have. Iran already was past threshold for nuclear weapons.   The deal is to roll this back.  Might work; might not. But doing nothing meant Iran was already there!

Also, conservative pundits:  stop reminding us how nasty Iran is.  We got it!  We negotiated with the Russians for years over this nuclear stuff--and maintain diplomatic relations with them--even though we knew they were supporting insurgencies and, yes, terrorism.   This is different, okay?!?

Dare I say that Trump has been the only Republican candidate who has made sense on this issue?  He said he would ensure Iran lives up to the deal.  Right!  (Even Trump gets it.  Have conservatives gone nuts?)

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Iran Deal Will Work

I've reprinted below the best explanation I could find defending the new Iran deal.  Energy Secretary Moniz is a nuclear scientist and helped negotiate the agreement.   I think we got more from the Iranians than I would have expected going in.  If they break this deal, they can expect very tough sanctions and a loss of global support.  They'll be the bad guys, not us.         

Ernest Moniz: Why the Iran deal will work

The Tribune Editorial Board has expressed skepticism about the Iran nuclear deal. An editorial Sunday claimed that the deal allows Iran to keep secret some of its earlier nuclear weapons program and hinders full access to nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Unfortunately, the Tribune editorial cites problems that don't exist and demands new conditions that aren't necessary. Let me explain.
This deal between the United States and other great powers and Iran commits Iran not to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. President Barack Obama and, I expect, future presidents will hold Iran to this commitment. Congress shares this resolve.
It expands the current two- to three-month breakout period to at least a year — enough time for a strong allied preventive response — and will not provide sanctions relief until Iran complies with the nuclear restrictions in the JCPOA.
Quite the opposite of enabling Iran to move to a bomb, it pulls Iran away from the threshold of being able to do so.
The unity of purpose by the signatories — China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States — should not be underestimated.
It is rooted in a self-interest in preserving a strong nonproliferation regime based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was this unity of the international community that imposed severe economic sanctions on Iran for the purpose of forcing negotiations that would eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapon threat.
This gives us confidence that the international community would again be united in a swift and strong response to Iranian cheating toward a nuclear weapon.
The flip side is that a unilateral undercutting of the JCPOA by the United States would instantaneously squander our position of advantage gained through years of diplomacy.
The JCPOA blocks Iran's pathways to the nuclear material needed for a nuclear weapon. It drastically reduces Iran's enriched uranium stockpile, currently enough for at least 10 weapons, by 98 percent and eliminates all stockpiled 20 percent-enriched uranium not required for its current research reactor.
It cuts back installed centrifuges by well over two-thirds, allows enrichment only with Iran's least capable centrifuge for 10 years and nearly eliminates the extensive ongoing research and development program on the next-generation centrifuge for that period.
Iran will convert the Arak reactor, capable of producing enough weapons-grade plutonium for one to two weapons per year, to produce an order of magnitude less plutonium. For added protection, Iran will send out of the country all spent fuel that could be used for plutonium production.
It also establishes unprecedented verification measures.
At all of Iran's nuclear facilities, IAEA inspectors will have regular access with short notice. At undeclared locations, inspectors will have access in as few as 24 hours.
If Iran tries to stall, this agreement provides a first: a process to provide access within a fixed time, 24 days — well within our window of high confidence to detect the traces of nuclear materials used. This includes military sites suspected of nuclear related activity.
The IAEA will be able to use advanced monitoring technologies, many developed at U.S. labs. The Los Alamos lab also provides training courses for every IAEA inspector. As the director of national intelligence has said, while no agreement could give us 100 percent certainty, the JCPOA gives us better visibility into Iran's program, providing a strong deterrent to cheating.
The Tribune editorial's characterization of secret side deals is a myth. The JCPOA requires Iran to finally cooperate with the IAEA to allow it to complete its work on the possible military dimensions of Iran's previous nuclear activity and to carry out its responsibilities by Oct. 15.
As with any country, the IAEA then works out a confidential protocol to carry out the needed inspections. The IAEA can then complete its report, which has been many years in the making, by mid-December for submission to its board of governors, including the United States.
The entire global nonproliferation regime rests on countries' willingness to share their sensitive nuclear information with the IAEA and in turn the assurance that the organization will safeguard that information.
In order for the IAEA to accomplish its critical nuclear security and nonproliferation work in the 188 countries that are parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA must uphold its reputation as an impartial and independent organization.
Make no mistake, Iran was a nuclear threshold state before the negotiations, and this deal moves it back from that threshold.
The United States remains the world's economic, military and diplomatic leader, and Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries remain our friends and allies in the region. This deal draws on that collective strength to ensure that Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was a negotiator on the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dump Trump

Donald Trump, the real estate developer and media personality, is running for president as a Republican. This looks like a Democratic Party "black bag operation" to me.   Trump literally holds NO views which could be described as conservative.  Some believe Bill Clinton put him up to running; it wouldn't surprise me.

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel took Trump down Friday, accusing him accurately of being a overt liberal and a crony capitalist.  Yeah, pretty much.

Some columnists like Pat Buchanan have identified Trump with the populist tradition in American politics. He is, but only in the sense that he's running outside the established party system.  Otherwise, he is a system player to a tee.  

Trump made waves with his incendiary comments about illegal immigration and claims that we wouldn't even be talking about this issue if it weren't for him.   He must have missed the Republican primaries in 2011-12; the issue was old hat even then.  (As Mighty Whig has noted in prior posts, illegal immigration is well below its historic highs of 15-20 years ago.)

Trump might hang around for awhile.  He's a billionaire and totally impervious to criticism or self-reflection.  Not even a sex scandal would make a dent on him.

In short, this guy has nothing to offer the American people except for cheap entertainment and voyeurism. This guy's the political equivalent of Caitlyn Jenner.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima and the American "Democratic Jihad"

The seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima is today.  Hard to overstate the importance of the event, but it won't be commemorated here in the US.   We moved the "Enola Gay" out of the Air and Space Museum on the Washington, DC Mall years ago.

In Japan, they are holding some "die-ins."  I read these are organized by those who support Japan's pacifist constitution.  Perhaps for them this ceremony is not merely to express their victimhood, but to remember the actions that got them there.

Hiroshima was destroyed by the Bomb.  But that's just a small part of the whole price the war cost Japan.  Try finding a pre-1945 building in Tokyo. 

Which brings us to the concept of American "democratic jihad,"  a phrase used extensively by T.R. Fehrenbach.   In America, we wage two types of war:  "democratic jihad" and "national policy."   On the one hand, democratic jihad is a war the whole country is behind--morally--and we are in it to win it.   World War II and the American Civil War from the North's perspective are the best examples. 

On the other hand,  wars of "national policy" are those in which we are trying to shape an outcome.  Sure, we'd like to win, but it's not the be all and end all.  Korea, as Fehrenbach wrote in "This Kind of War" was the transition between democratic jihad and war of national policy. 

Pretty much all are wars since 1945 have been for national policy, and our track record has been so-so, to say the least.  

Back to Hiroshima.  It is okay if you think it was wrong to drop the Bomb.  In his WWII memoir about fighting in Burma, "Quartered Safe Out Here,"  George Macdonald Fraser (the "Flashman" author) discusses in later life being on panels with professors who decried the use of the Bomb.   Fraser says he probably would agree with them, but  notes that, while on patrol, late in the summer of 1945, a naked Japanese soldier charged his squad with nothing but a sharpened stick.  "He was not ready to surrender that day," Fraser says.  

On August 6th 1945, the Japanese were not ready to surrender.