November 10, 2013
"Where Are the American People?"
Either they're asleep, or on numbing narcotics, or have decided they just don't give a damn any longer what happens in the world -- so that the fact that their president is surrendering America's proud and exceedingly important international role is just fine with them.
Please! do not write to me explaining what happened to America. The above is rhetorical flourish by way of introduction to what I am seeing. I cannot fix America, and whether Americans are asleep or on something, the result is the same: America's proud and important role in the world is being swiftly abandoned. I grieve for this. The implications are terrifying.
And the bottom line here, of course, is that the president of the United States is destroying America. I think Americans have yet to face the profound consequences of what is being wrought.
The core of what I am referring to is, of course, Iran. What has become shockingly clear is that Obama has capitulated to Iran. Talks have been going on in Geneva between Iran and P5 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the US, France, Britain, Russia and China) + 1 (Germany).
What had been on the verge of being finalized just days ago was a horrendous agreement. It would have required Iran to stop enriching at the 20% level, but would have permitted the continuation of enrichment at the 3.5% level, with enrichment continuing at all sites. Nothing would have been dismantled and there would have been no limit on the number of centrifuges that Iran would continue to possess (estimated at 19,000).
In return for this, there would have been a considerable reduction in sanctions -- the unfreezing of $3 billion in fuel funds, an easing of sanctions on the petrochemical and gold sectors, an easing of sanctions on replacement parts for planes, and a loosening of restrictions in the Iranian car industry.
One source quoted by the JPost called this "very grave" -- a situation that might lead to the collapse of all sanctions. It would not stop the Iranian nuclear project, but merely give the Iranians "breathing space."
As the JPost explained, "Once major international transactions begin, a dynamic will kick in that will lead to a collapse of sanctions."
"The Americans folded," said the source, "maybe because they very much want to reach an agreement and be done with this."
"...The Iranians are the ones who came crawling to the negotiations, begging for an easing of sanctions, otherwise their regime will fall, and what's incredible is that it seems that the Americans are more eager than them (sic) to reach an agreement." (Emphasis added here and above)
What has to be emphasized here is that this was to be an "interim" agreement: it was not intended to dismantle Iran's ability to make a bomb. It involved only a "freeze." As all enrichment facilities and equipment would stay in place, the Iranians could start up again whenever they pleased. And it would be too late to re-start the sanctions program that would prevent them from taking this step.
Needless to say, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went ballistic over this. Israel has again and again advised the international community that only if Iran no longer has the capacity to develop a bomb could a deal be considered a success. Aside from the enrichment facilities, there is also the heavy water plant at Arak.
On Friday morning, he met on this issue at the airport with Secretary of State Kerry, who was leaving for Geneva. This was a suddenly announced trip and it is widely thought that Kerry took himself there to secure credit for the deal he anticipated would be finalized shortly.
Then, later, on learning more about what was transpiring in Geneva, Netanyahu met with reporters, and said (emphasis added):
"I understand that the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva -- as well they should be because they got everything and paid nothing. Everything they wanted; they wanted relief of sanctions after years of a grueling sanctions regime, they got that. They are paying nothing because they are not reducing in any way their nuclear enrichment capability."
He explained that, "the international community got a bad deal, a very bad deal" while Iran "got the deal of the century."
And then he made it clear that, "Israel utterly rejects [the deal] and what I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they express that publicly. Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."
On the cite above you will find a video clip in addition to Netanyahu's words in print. Please notice how agitated and drawn he looks.
With this statement, the prime minister has put the world on notice. No one can ever say he/she didn't know that Israel was going to/on the cusp of deciding to hit Iran.
I am keenly aware of the balancing act Netanyahu is engaged in, with regard to hitting Iran. If negotiations fail (and more on this below), this becomes an appropriate time. If a bad deal is struck, then he must face the ire of the international community, which will claim it had been on the edge of securing a peaceful situation, when he, a warmonger, upset the dynamic. That doesn't mean that he wouldn't do it anyway. Not at all.
But I have the sense of his weighing various options with the utmost seriousness possible. And I also have a vivid and painful awareness of the fact that the window of opportunity for Israel to act is going to close very very soon.
I make no secret of my conviction that, as matters stand, he must hit. But there is no certainty yet. In fact, there will be no certainty until it's been done.
Netanyahu has spoken repeatedly about the need to tighten the screws on Iran with regard to the sanctions. This is apparently in the hope that it might yet cause the implosion of the current regime, or, far more likely, weaken it sufficiently so that the mullahs hold off on crossing that red line -- especially as Israel presents a credible threat.
Yet, as matters have transpired in the last days, this is an unlikely prospect.
When Netanyahu made his statement on Friday, he believed the deal was about to be finalized. What happened yesterday, however, is that France - as I understand it, and astonishingly - took Netanyahu's warnings seriously and pulled back from agreement. The French referred to the prospective arrangement as a "sucker's deal," and so at present there is no deal.
Some reports have the other P5 + 1 parties that are involved - apparently still eager to finalize that deal - minimizing French objections: No no, everyone is on board, France is just addressing some technicalities. Whether France will hold out remains to be seen.
As matters currently stand, there will be a short break, before negotiations are resumed on November 20. In the meantime, Netanyahu intends to do a great deal of lobbying. Yet, again.
Whether this deal goes through or not, whether France holds out or not, whether Netanyahu convinces some other nations to take a more careful look at what they are doing or not, I hold the Obama administration culpable at the most basic levels.
Once, not so long ago, the US was the leader of the free world, and demonstrated strength and perseverance. Now, from all indications, the US was terribly eager to sign a very bad deal. This after Kerry had pontificated that no deal is better than a bad one.
How shameful is it, that it could be said that America was more eager for a deal than Iran. What does this tell us?
And what an indictment, that perhaps the Americans caved because they want to be done with it already. What a gross and shocking dereliction of Obama's basic responsibility to his nation, and to the international community this would be.
It seems to have been the case that the US stance softened in the course of these recent negotiations. What is still speculative is the reason why. A desire to "be done with it already" is only one possible reason. There are other perspectives being advanced.
The Netanyahu government is especially incensed that the degree of reduction in sanctions the US was prepared to agree to was greater than Israel had been told it was. Reportedly early on Friday, before the negotiations for the day began in Geneva, Kerry told Netanyahu that there would be "minor" sanctions relief offered to Iran that would "not be significant."
And so there have been suggestions of deliberate deception. Jonathan Tobin of Commentary wrote that "Obama is Lying About Iran Sanctions."
The Daily Beast ran an exclusive two days ago regarding "Obama's Secret Iran Detente":As might be expected, Israeli-US relations are in a state of considerable tension right now. And there is a way in which I consider this healthy. For Netanyahu can harbor no illusions about a quid pro quo if Israel makes concessions, or about trusting the US to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, or about the US having Israel's back.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced onlywith proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.