Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 229: Munich II in Geneva? (Points of concern on the emerging Geneva deal with Iran)

NB: Follow-up, on Saudi Arabia's reaction, here

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs makes some telling points in its online issue of Nov 12, 2013:
  • Eliminating Iran’s 20-percent-enriched uranium, but allowing the Iranians to continue to produce 3.5-percent-enriched uranium is an unacceptable option if the goal of the West is to prevent Iran from advancing a nuclear weapon. Allowing Iran to enrich to the 3.5-percent level will not address the threat emanating from Iran’s latest generation of faster centrifuges and the scenario of a fast dash by Iran to weapons-grade uranium, known as “nuclear break-out.” 
  • President Obama’s former aide on the National Security Council, Gary Samore, warned in October that ending the production of 20-percent-enriched uranium is not enough because Iran can also reach weapons-grade uranium using its stock of 3.5-percent-enriched uranium. Thus, any agreement must eliminate all of Iran’s enriched uranium. 
  • If the Geneva talks produce a bad agreement and allow Iran to continue its drive for nuclear weapons, there will be accelerated nuclear proliferation in the Middle East among Iran’s neighbors, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. A multi-polar nuclearized Middle East will in no way resemble the bi-polar superpower balance during the Cold War and is likely to be unstable. 
  • Iran’s global network of terrorism will obtain a protective nuclear umbrella, allowing its organizations to strike with complete impunity. Finally, given Iran’s increasing propensity in recent years to remove any constraints on the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapons to its terrorist proxies, the flow of nuclear technologies to these groups cannot be dismissed. 
  • Iran has argued that it has an “inalienable right” to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT), while Western states have contested this. If the West now accepts Iranian enrichment of uranium to the 3.5-percent level, it will be acknowledging that Iran has a right to enrichment. Moreover, the UN Security Council adopted six resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment. Chapter VII resolutions are binding international law. If the West now says that the suspension is no longer necessary, what does that mean for the binding nature of Chapter VII resolutions?
 Given the unravelling web of deceit and manipulation that led the current US administration to promise repeatedly that existing health care plans would not be changed -- knowing all the while since the run-up to passing the Obamacare that this was not so, we know we cannot trust the words, promises and commitments of this US administration in their rush to tick off what can be headlined as an "achievement." (Cf. commentary here.)

So, the above concerns are clearly not overblown, given Iran's known behaviour and declarations of intent (especially towards Israel) since 1979.

In that context, we need to very soberly reflect on Netanyahu's remarks after the latest US diplomatic moves by Messrs Obama and Kerry. As Times of Israel summarises:
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “in a state of shocked disbelief” at the deal apparently taking shape in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli television news reports said Friday night. 

Netanyahu, the reports on Israel’s Channel 10 and Channel 2 news said, had “an unprecedented confrontation” with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Tel Aviv on Friday morning over the possible deal, which he publicly described as “a very, very bad deal” and which he implored Kerry “not to rush to sign” and to “reconsider.”
The Netanyahu government is “in a crisis of faith” with the Obama administration over the possible deal, Israel’s Channel 1 News further reported, in part because it apparently differs in content from the terms that Kerry had previously described to Netanyahu. Other Israeli reports said Netanyahu felt he had been “misled” by the US over the terms of the deal.
Netanyahu, who blasted the possible accord as the “deal of the century” for Iran, believes it would enable the Islamic Republic to become a “nuclear breakout state,” the TV reports said — since Iran would retain its nuclear enrichment capabilities, and would thus be capable of racing to a bomb at short notice at a time of its choosing.
Israel, the TV reports said, also believes the US has been negotiating with Iran in a secret channel, without disclosing the content of those discussions to Israel.
The TV reports quoted unnamed sources on the Israeli political right accusing the Obama administration of “throwing Israel under the bus,” and leaning toward an agreement with Iran that would fatally puncture the carefully constructed international sanctions regime against Iran.
The report then continues:
A series of analysts on the Friday night Israeli TV news broadcasts also assessed that Israel could not possibly strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities itself if the international community finalizes the mooted deal in Geneva. Israel “has no more military option,” a Channel 10 news analyst stated flatly, despite Netanyahu’s public declaration after his meeting with Kerry Friday morning that “Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself.” The report also said Vice President Joe Biden had recently assured President Barack Obama that Netanyahu would not strike at Iran.
Here is an obviously very concerned Netanyahu:

In short, if the deal goes down on the lines described, this is a patent surrender to Iran with highly predictable and sobering consequences.

Now, too, we already have credible reason to believe that Netanyahu intended to strike about a year ago but backed down under intense pressure and assurances from Washington. Let's cite Ben Birnbaum again:
conversations over the past two years with individuals who have been directly involved in the decision-making process have convinced me that Netanyahu is quite serious about striking Iran and would have done so by now had it not been for intense American pressure . . . . 

Netanyahu draws the Red Line at the UN
Iran is now dangerously close
Virtually all top Israeli officials agree that given the choice between “bomb or bombing,” bombing is the lesser of two evils. The debate instead has been over whether Israel has more time to wait for other measures to take their toll or whether, by waiting too long, it risks allowing Iran to enter what former defense minister Ehud Barak called the “zone of immunity,” when the Iranian nuclear program would be beyond Israel’s military reach [--> i.e. with conventional weapons] . . . the major question before Israel has always been whether it could trust the U.S.—with its superior military capabilities—to strike in the event that its own window of military opportunity closes. 

Until now, a number of senior Israelis have believed it could. “I heard very carefully what President Obama said,” former Mossad chief Meir Dagan told "60 Minutes" last year. “And he said openly that the military option is on the table, and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state.” Current president Shimon Peres was even more emphatic in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, arguing that Israel should give the U.S. more time to pursue sanctions and diplomacy. “If none of this works, then President Obama will use military power against Iran,” he said. “I am sure of it.”
It looks like the diplomacy is nearing an endgame that would leave Iran at a nuke threshold and able to sprint to nukes in short order, providing nuke strike capability against Israel, sending the whole turbulent Middle East into a multi-polar nuke weapons race and giving a nuke umbrella to Iranian sponsored terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and indeed globally. With an emerging Iran-led empire spanning across Syria and Lebanon, possibly bringing Iraq into the fold -- essentially re-creating a good slice of the old Persian Empire. 

All the while, backing Israel into a desperate corner that would make it seem an international pariah if it strikes Iran in the face of an impending or actual "deal."

Actually, this would not be Munich II.

It would be worse.

Nukes are already in play this time around.

(In 1938 nuclear fission had not yet been discovered, that happened in Germany in 1939. By 1945 nukes were used, developed with the aid of German and other exiles working at Los Alamos. Stalin's spies allowed him to get a leg up from that project and he went nuke a few years later.)  

{U/D: Added,  Nov 17} I am not the only one deeply concerned along these geo-strategic lines. Here is Ms Glick of the Jerusalem Post, On "The Demise of Pax Americana":

COLUMN ONE: The demise of Pax Americana

11/14/2013 20:47

The US remains the most powerful actor in the world. But last week, American credibility was shattered.

[ . . . . ]

Secretary of State John Kerry spent the first part of last week lying to Israeli and Gulf Arab leaders and threatening the Israeli people. He lied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Saudis about the content of the deal US and European negotiators had achieved with the Iranians.

Kerry told them that in exchange for Iran temporarily freezing its nuclear weapons development program, the US and its allies would free up no more than $5 billion in Iranian funds seized and frozen in foreign banks.

Kerry threatened the Israeli people with terrorism and murder – and so invited both – if Israel fails to accept his demands for territorial surrender to PLO terrorists that reject Israel’s right to exist [--> cf. here and here on this, if you have doubts on the basic legitimacy of modern Israel (which is above and beyond particular concerns and critiques we may have on the sins of Israel)]  . . . .
[Where also,] it was the British and the French who informed the Israelis and the Saudis that far from limiting sanctions relief to a few billion dollars in frozen funds, the draft agreement involved ending sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector, and on other industries.
In other words, the draft agreement exposed Washington’s willingness to effectively end economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s agreement to cosmetic concessions that will not slow down its nuclear weapons program.

Both the US’s position, and the fact that Kerry lied about that position to the US’s chief allies, ended what was left of American credibility in the Middle East. That credibility was already tattered by US fecklessness in Syria and support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt . . . .

As Walter Russell Mead wrote last week, it was fear of losing Pax Americana that made all previous US administrations balk at reaching an accord with Iran. As he put it, “Past administrations have generally concluded that the price Iran wants for a different relationship with the United States is unsustainably high. Essentially, to get a deal with Iran we would have to sell out all of our other allies. That’s not only a moral problem. Throwing over old allies like that would reduce the confidence that America’s allies all over the world have in our support.”

The Obama administration just paid that unsustainably high price, and didn’t even get a different relationship with Iran . . . . But the real story of what happened last week is far more significant than the future of Obama’s foreign policy. Last week it was America that lost credibility, not Obama. It was America that squandered the essential component of global leadership. And that is the watershed event of this young century . . . .

Obama has taught the world that the same US that elected Truman and formed NATO, and elected George H.W. Bush and threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, can elect a man who betrays US allies and US interests to advance a radical ideology predicated on a rejection of the morality of American power. Any US ally is now on notice that US promises – even if based on US interests – are not reliable. American commitments can expire the next time America elects a radical to the White House.
  [--> that is, as is true for trust, credibility as the foundation for alliance cannot be surged; it can only be bought afresh in the most painful currency of all  as it was originally bought during the Second World War -- blood, backed by demonstrated unyielding determination to see the strategic issue at stake through to the end]

And it is probably not coincidental that the American public is distracted by the domestic confusions over the Obamacare and Government shutdown.

{U/D 2, Nov 17} Similarly, the demonstrated mendacity comes at a further cost in credibility. Glick, aptly but sadly, comments in her Oct 31st column, "Obamacare victims and Israel" -- and remember, this is before we learned of the above developments: 
US President Barack Obama views lies as legitimate political tools. He uses lies strategically to accomplish through mendacity what he could never achieve through honest means . . . . 

On the domestic front, despite Obama’s repeated promises that Obamacare would not threaten anyone’s existing health insurance policies, over the past two weeks, millions Americans have received notices from their health insurance companies that their policies have been canceled because they don’t abide by Obamacare’s requirements.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board explained that Obama’s repetition of this lie was not an oversight.  It was a deliberate means of lulling into complacency these Americans who opted to buy their insurance themselves on the open market, in order to stick them with the burden of underwriting Obamacare.

In the editorialist’s words, “The [healthcare] exchanges need these customers [whose private policies are being canceled] to finance Obamacare’s balance sheet and stabilize its risk pools. On the exchanges, individuals earning more than $46,000 or a family of four above $94,000 don’t qualify for subsidies and must buy overpriced insurance. If these middle-class Obamacare losers can be forced into the exchanges, they become financiers of the new pay-as-yougo entitlement.” . . .
Such evident willingness to mislead and deceive in order to lull opposition into silence until it is too late, as a component of policy-making has grave implications. For, as Glick observed, even before  the attempted Iran Nukes Deal was exposed as a further case of policymaking based on misleading and lulling:
Also this week [--> end of October], US Secretary of State John Kerry took a swipe at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for daring to question the administration’s total commitment to negotiating with Iran. Kerry indignantly insisted, “We will not succumb to fear tactics” against holding talks with Iran. [--> the very talks that led to the proposed terms of agreement have unravelled American credibility]

The same day that Kerry decried Israel for supposedly sowing fear unnecessarily about the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Olli Heinonen, the former deputy head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that the Iranians may have already passed the breakout phase and have the capacity to build an atomic weapons within two weeks . . .
Obama has a track record. According to former national security adviser Giora Eiland, Netanyahu was poised to attack Iran’s nuclear installations in the fall of 2012, but Obama pressured him into standing down. It is hard to believe that Obama’s was a soft sell.

By forcing a delay to now, blocking Israel from acting a year ago, the US may actually have already let Iran reach the nuke threshold, in which context, the agreement proposed would have sealed the deal that a nuke Iran is acceptable to this Administration.

We now know those talks with Iran also amounted to effective abandonment of containing Iran's nuke ambitions, multiplied by deceiving what have to now be deemed former allies in the Middle East, not only Israel but Saudi Arabia and the cluster of states near enough to Iran to be under threat of a nuke umbrella -- immediately, those within 1,500 miles given the range of an intermediate range ballistic or cruise missile. (And if such are mounted on ships, that is a global threat. Indeed, IslamIST terrorism backed by a nuclear Iran would become an instant global nuclear threat.)

That is what we now seem to be at the threshold of facing.

I hate to say this, and know some will be angered by such a chain of reasoning -- especially as updated, but logic in light of evident facts and consequences that MUST be recognised in strategic decision making centres in Washington DC, Jerusalem, Tehran, London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing and elsewhere now pushes me:
I: this is patently too co-ordinated, too neat and definitive in potential outcomes -- and too well timed to exploit a predictable distraction over a controversial US domestic policy issue that has been bubbling up since 2010 -- to be mere coincidence and feckless bumbling.

II: It looks deliberate.

III: There is no way the senior officials in Washington could be unaware of the chain of highly likely geostrategic consequences outlined above.



IV: Obviously, those consequences are acceptable to them and reflect a fundamental alienation from Israel and willingness to live with the sort of Middle East that is emerging.
Though many Americans would not agree with such a re-alignment, it is obvious that they have lacked the capability to block any number of radical and questionable "change[s]" emanating from this administration. 

Further conclusion:
V: The United States is being fundamentally realigned in the post-Christian, secularist, statist European mould, and:
  •  it seems the balance of forces is now on the side of that re-alignment,  
  • from seeking to corrupt marriage (the most fundamental civilisation-stabilising social institution)  under false colours of equality and rights, 
  • to massive statist takeovers of major sectors of the US economy 
  • to alienating hitherto pivotal allies across the world (especially in major trouble-spots)  and 
  • allowing or even actively enabling the rise of fundamentally hostile powers to a place where 
  • they will predictably seriously hamper or even block any future US geo-strategic actions designed to be protective of the free world and pivotal trade choke points, starting with no 1 and 2 -- the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal. 
  • Thus ushering in a new post-Christian era with radical Islam as the pivotal power bloc [probably envisioned as a third world champion and balance/ check to US imperialism . . . about as likely as Germany under Hitler was as a check to French and British Imperialism . . . ]
That very unwelcome summary is a recipe for global chaos and war on a scale hitherto unimaginable.

COMMENT: Those who inadvertently but enthusiastically voted this in or gave support to it by refusing to think soberly about the agendas at work in our civilisation and its leading countries have some serious reflecting to do.

Elections, indeed, have consequences. 

For good, or for ill.

 One thing I can say, the nuclear Armageddon clock just took a long step closer to midnight.

I can only hope that something will emerge that will allow us to pull back from the brink before we plunge over into an abyss of horrors I do not want to contemplate.

A nuke-armed, mahdism- maddened apocalyptic Iran under the Mullahs in their Guardian Council  is THAT bad. END
Vol. 13, No. 30    12 November 2013
Vol. 13, No. 30    12 November 2013