Monday, February 29, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Rubio, Trump spar over Israel, peace process

by Jacob Kornbluh, Jewish Insider

Donald Trump’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “anti-Israel,” Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio charged during a live televised presidential debate on Thursday.

“You might not know this but the position you are taking is an anti-Israel position,” Rubio told Trump, referring to his comments during a town hall event last week, in which he suggested that he would take a ‘neutral’ approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “A deal between Israel and the Palestinians, given the current makeup of the Palestinians, is not possible.”

“I will be on Israel’s side every day,” the Florida Senator pledged.

Trump countered the charge by explaining that the approach he took is an effort to broker a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. “It serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy. I am very pro-Israel but it doesn’t do any good to be demeaning the neighbors,” he said. “I would love to do something to negotiate peace for Israel and the neighbors.”

“As president there is nothing that I would rather do than to bring peace to Israel and it’s neighbors generally,” he continued. “Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest ‘negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors. And I can’t do that as well — as a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.”

“Donald might able to build condos in the Palestinian areas, but this is not a real estate deal,” Rubio hit back.

Cruz, on his part, slammed Trump for contributing to candidates who were not strongly pro-Israel throughout his business career. “If you care about Israel, you don’t write checks to politicians that are undermining Israel,” Cruz said. “If I’m president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”

“There is nobody on this stage that has done more for Israel than I have. You are all talk and no action,” Trump responded.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson also chimed in on the subject after whining, “I didn’t get asked about Israel.”

“When I was there several months ago, I talked to a lot of people. I couldn’t find a single one who didn’t think that we had turned our backs on Israel,” said Carson. “You know, they are a strategic partner for us but also recognize that we have a Judeo Christian foundation, and the last thing we need to do is to reject Israel. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be fair to other people. We can always be fair to other people, but, you know, it’s like when you have a child, you know, you want to be fair to all the children around but you have a special attention for your own child.”

Read a full transcript of the exchange on Israel below:

Trump: I was the Grand Marshall down 5th Avenue a number of years ago for the Israeli Day Parade, I have very close ties to Israel. I’ve received the Tree of Life Award and many of the greatest awards given by Israel.

As president, however, there’s nothing that I would rather do to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors generally. And I think it serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy.
Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. OK? But it doesn’t help if I start saying, “I am very pro-Israel, very pro, more than anybody on this stage.” But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors, because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors.

And I can’t do that as well — as a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.

Cruz: Well, this is another area on which Donald agrees with Hillary Clinton and on which I disagree with them both strongly. Both Donald and Hillary Clinton want to be neutral, to use Donald’s word, between Israel and the Palestinians.

Let me be clear. If I’m president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.
And the notion of neutrality is based upon the left buying into this moral relativism that is often pitched in the media. Listen, it is not equivalent. When you have terrorist strapping dynamite around their chest, exploding and murdering innocent women and children, they are not equivalent to the IDF officers protecting Israel. And I will not pretend that they are.

Just today, Iran announced they’re going to pay $7,000 to each suicide bomber. And I would note, missing from Donald’s answer was anything he has done in his nearly 70 years of living defending Israel. I have over and over again led the fight to defend Israel, to fight for Israel. And this — if you want to know who will stand with Israel, we ought to start with who has stood with Israel when the heat was on.

Trump: Well, I can only say — look, I can only say I’ve been a big contributor to Israel over the years. I’ve received many, many awards from Israel, as I’ve said before. I have a great relationship with Israel. And I’m going to keep it that way. And if I could bring peace, that would be a fantastic thing. It would be one of my greatest achievements as president.

Kasich: Well, I mean, well, I was in Congress for 18 years on the Defense Committee. And then, you know, after 9/11, the secretary of defense called me in to help out with some things. And I’ve been a supporter of Israel — a strong supporter of Israel longer than anybody on this stage. I didn’t give as much money as Donald gave, but I’ve been standing with the Israelis for a very long time.

And frankly, I think the problem we have in foreign policy right now, Wolf, is that we are not certain with who we stand with. Our allies are not sure what to make of us, and our enemies are moving. And one — are moving because they’re not sure what we will do.

It’s a very interesting development here within the 24 hours. We said to the South Koreans that we would give them the high altitude defense system. It really rattled the Chinese, and for the first time since we took positive action, the Chinese are beginning to take action against North Korea.
When we stand firm and we let the world know who we’re with, who we stand for, and we bring our allies together, that is the road forward.

Rubio: I don’t know if Donald realizes this. I’m sure it’s not his intent perhaps. But the position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position. And here’s why. Because you cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith. The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace, very generous offers from the Israels. Instead, here’s what the Palestinians do. They teach their four- year-old children that killing Jews is a glorious thing. Here’s what Hamas does. They launch rockets and terrorist attacks again Israel on an ongoing basis. The bottom line is, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, given the current makeup of the Palestinians, is not possible.

And so the next president of the United States needs to be someone like me who will stand firmly on the side of Israel. I’m not — I’m not going to sit here and say, “Oh, I’m not on either side.” I will be on a side. I will be on Israel’s side every single day because they are the only pro-American, free enterprise democracy in the entire Middle East.

Trump: I’m a negotiator. I’ve done very well over the years through negotiation. It’s very important that we do that. In all fairness, Marco is not a negotiator. I watched him melt down and I’ll tell you, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. He’s not going down — excuse me…

Rubio: He thinks a Palestinian is a real estate deal.

Trump: Wait a minute, and these people may even be tougher than Chris Christie. OK?

Rubio: The Palestinians are not a real estate deal, Donald.

Trump: OK, no, no, no — a deal is a deal. Let me tell you that. I learned a long time ago.

Rubio: A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing with terrorists. Have you ever negotiated with terrorists?

Trump: You are not a negotiator. You are not a negotiator. And, with your thinking, you will never bring peace. You will never bring peace…

Rubio: Donald, might be able to build condos for Palestinians and Arabs, but it’s not a real estate deal…

Trump: Excuse me, I want to be able to bring peace. He will never be able to do it. I think I may be able
to do it, although I will say this. Probably the toughest deal of any kind is that particular deal.

Carson: As far as Israel is concerned, you know, when I was there several months ago, I talked to a lot of people. I couldn’t find a single one who didn’t think that we had turned our backs on Israel. You know, they are a strategic partner for us but also recognize that we have a Judeo Christian foundation, and the last thing we need to do is to reject Israel. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be fair to other people. We can always be fair to other people, but, you know, it’s like when you have a child, you know, you want to be fair to all the children around but you have a special attention for your own child.

Another exchange took place over Israel further on in the debate:

Cruz: Another example is John Kerry. John Kerry — Senator Rubio voted to confirm John Kerry as secretary of State. I voted against him. And Donald Trump supported John Kerry against George W. Bush in 2004, gave him a check. And John Kerry has been the most anti-Israel secretary of State this country has ever seen.

Trump: As far as John Kerry is concerned, there has been no tougher critic of this man, I think he negotiated one of the worst deals in the history of our country, the Iran deal, where they get their $150 billion and all of the other things that take place.

It is a disaster for this country, and speaking of Israel, it’s a disaster for Israel. I’m no fan of John Kerry.

Cruz: I’ll give one more example on Israel. When the Obama administration canceled civilian air flights into the national of Israel, when Hamas was raining rockets down on them, I publicly asked, is this an economic boycott against Israel?

The next day Michael Bloomberg, another New York billionaire, got on a plane, a commercial flight, and flew to Israel from London. Together the heat and light that was put on the State Department was so great that within 36 hours they lifted the ban on air flights into Israel.

During that entire battle, and indeed during every battle on Israel the natural question is, where was Donald? If this is something he cares about, why has he supported anti-Israel politicians from Jimmy Carter to Hillary Clinton to John Kerry for four decades?

If you care about Israel, you don’t write checks to politicians who are undermining Israel. Instead you stand and support the national security of America and the alliance with Israel.

Trump: There is nobody on this stage that has done more for Israel than I have. Nobody. You might say, you might talk, you’re politicians, all talk, no action.
I’ve been watching it all my life. You are all talk and no action.

Marco Rubio continues to fight Trump through ridicule

Then he asked for a full length mirror. I do not know why because the podium goes up to here, but he  wanted a full length mirror, maybe to make sure his pants weren’t  wet,  I don’t know.

So how does a guy not once but in three tweets misspell words   so badly?  And I only reached two conclusions - # 1. that’s  how they spell those words at the Wharton School  of  Business where he went, or #2,  just like Trump Tower, he must have  hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets 

Friday, February 26, 2016

WSJ Podcast: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Take on Donald Trump

  From the transcript, probably, Joe Rago who says this:

 "or when Donald Trump says ... we can't build a wall on the Canadian border because is so much longer than the Mexican border ... in fact the Mexican border is longer than the Canadian border ..."

  Well, Trump is right on this one:

 Length of U.S.-Canada Land and and Water Boundary   5,525  miles (3987 miles  without Alaska)

 Length of U.S.-Mexico Land and Water Boundary  1,933.4 miles

Opposition bazooka that Marco Rubio fired at Donald Trump

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Marco Rubio lays out his policies

I listen to Rubio and I wonder what is wrong with Americans. Here we have, as Bret Stephens put it , “the non-jerk of the season who could actually win in November” and yet Americans do not seem to care. Can any of the other candidates match Rubio’s sophisticated knowledge of foreign affairs? I do not think so.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The West Is Repeating the Mistakes of the 1930s



World War II broke out when Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. A once preventable war had become inevitable — and would soon become global — due to three fatal decisions.

 Most infamously, the Western European democracies had appeased Hitler during the late 1930s in hopes that he would quit gobbling up his neighbors. Unfortunately, the Nazis considered Western appeasement as weakness to be manipulated rather than magnanimity to be reciprocated.

After the bloodless annexation of Austria and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, Hitler assumed that Britain and France would not go to war at all if he went into Poland. Or, if they did, that they would not fight very seriously.

Yet Western appeasement did not alone guarantee the outbreak of World War II.

The Germans invaded Poland only after a guarantee from Josef Stalin that the Soviet Union would soon join in attacking the Poles from the east. The two dictatorships could then divvy up the country.

Stalin’s Communist Russia had foolishly gambled that by making a deal with Nazi Germany, Hitler would leave the Soviets alone. At first, Stalin hoped that Germany would turn its war machine loose only on the Western European democracies.

Yet Stalin’s collaboration with Hitler eventually guaranteed that Russia also would be double-crossed — less than two years after signing an agreement with the Third Reich, Germany surprise-attacked the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941. Due to Stalin’s collaboration, almost 30 million Russians would die on the Eastern Front over the next four years.

But it was more than Western appeasement of Hitler and Soviet collaboration that made World War II inevitable. Nazi Germany still remained relatively weak in 1939. The populations, economies, and territories of its likely enemies were collectively far greater than those of the Third Reich and its allies.

A third, fatal decision was necessary to ensure a war. The United States had entered World War I late in April 1917, and it revived the sagging Allied effort, helping to crush the Germany army and win the war by November 1918.

But by 1919, America had rapidly disarmed and forgotten its key role in World War I. Americans had tired of the Europeans. They were sick of the endless horse-trading that had led to the postwar Versailles Treaty.

By the start of the Great Depression in 1929, America was mostly unarmed and determined never to get involved in European feuding again. Most Americans complained that the huge death toll of World War I had led to neither perpetual peace nor even a peaceful Germany.

America’s isolationism and disarmament also helped prompt another global war. Had the U.S. kept its military strong after World War I, and had it entered into a formal alliance with its former World War I partners, Germany never would have risked a second war against the combined strength of a fully armed Britain, France, and United States. Instead, Hitler assumed the U.S. either could not or would not offer much military help to his intended European targets.

Why, then, did a relatively weak Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941 believe that it could take on much of the world, and inspire Axis partners such as Italy and Japan to follow its suicidal lead?

 The answer is obvious. British and French appeasement, Soviet collaboration, and American isolation had together convinced Hitler and his Axis allies that the victors of World War I were more eager to grant concessions at any cost than were the defeated.

The world of 2016 is eerily beginning to resemble the powder keg of 1939 Europe.

Iran, China, and North Korea, along with radical Islamic terrorist groups, all have particular contempt for Western democracies. Almost daily, various aggressive nations or organizations seek provocation by shooting off intercontinental missiles, boarding American boats, sending millions of young male Middle Easterners into the West, and issuing unending threats. China is creating new artificial islands to control commercial routes to and from Asia.

The European Union is largely unarmed. Yet it still trusts that it can use its vaunted “smart diplomacy” to reason with its enemies.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s Russia cuts deals with Iran, Syria, and most of the enemies of the West. Like Stalin before, Putin cynically assumes that his triangulations will turn aggressive powers exclusively against the West. Recently, he warned the West of a “new world war” starting in the Middle East.

America is slowly withdrawing from involvement abroad, using the same isolationist arguments heard in the 1920s.

Past interventions in the Middle East have worn on the nation. Ingrate nations did not appreciate American sacrifices. In tough economic times, some contend that defense spending should be diverted to more social programs.

Appeasement, collaboration, and isolationism always prove a lethal mix — past and present.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals. You can reach him by e-mailing © 2016 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


Victor Davis Hanson ‘s  excellent analysis gives the three components for the lethal mix. But how come the West is repeating the mistakes of the 1930s when they surely remember the past?  I would add one more component - ignorance about what their enemy believes in. In contrast to Churchill the present world leaders do not know what their enemy believes in. They have no clue. They have never read the Koran or the hadith. They have no idea whom they are negotiating with

The Hamas Charter asks for the killing of Jews - Trump would be neutral. Saying whose fault it is does not help, he says.

“Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” Trump said. “I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think that helps.”

Well, this is the whole problem. You cannot be "neutral" when you have one side being a totalitarian theocracy with its Charter calling for the killing of Jews and the other side being a democracy where you have all the minority rights protected. Would Trump be neutral in judging the conflict between ISIS and the US?

Article 7 of the Hamas Charter reads:

"The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews."

Article 7 is taken from Hadith Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52 Number 177 and quotes the Prophet Muhammad:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

So here we have Trump who is supposedly against political correctness being politically correct. Probably out of sheer ignorance. He probably never read the Hamas Charter let alone the hadith Article 7 was taken from. When will political leaders in the West stop being lazy and sit down and do their homework?

Has anybody noticed that Trump is just inconsistent -  how come he is "neutral" on the Palestinians and Israel and not "neutral" on Muslim immigration into the US?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Israel Looks Beyond America

  The Wall Street Journal

How many allies does President Obama think the U.S. can afford to squander?

       Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (right) shakes hands 
       with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at     

       the Munich Security Conference, Feb. 14.  



Talk to Israelis about the United States these days and you will provoke a physical reaction. Barack Obama is an eye roll. John Kerry is a grimace. The administration’s conduct of regional policy is a slow, sad shake of the head. The current state of the presidential race makes for a full-blown shudder. The Israeli rundown of the candidates goes roughly as follows: “Hillary—she doesn’t like us.” “Cruz—I don’t like him.” “Rubio—is he done for?” “Sanders—oy vey.” “Trump—omigod.”

As for Israel’s own troubles—a continuing Palestinian campaign of stabbings; evidence that Hamas is rebuilding its network of terror tunnels under the Gaza border and wants to restart the 2014 war; more than 100,000 rockets and guided missiles in the hands of Hezbollah—that’s just the Middle East being itself. It’s the U.S. not being itself that is the real novelty, and is forcing Israel to adjust.

I’ve spent the better part of a week talking to senior officials, journalists, intellectuals and politicians from across Israel’s political spectrum. None of it was on the record, but the consistent theme is that, while the Jewish state still needs the U.S., especially in the form of military aid, it also needs to diversify its strategic partnerships. This may yet turn out to be the historic achievement of Benjamin Netanyahu’s long reign as prime minister.

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly shook hands with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at the Munich Security Conference. In January, Israeli cabinet memberYuval Steinitz made a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Israel is opening an office at a renewable-energy association. Turkey is patching up ties with Israel. In June, Jerusalem and Riyadh went public with the strategic talks between them. In March, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told the Washington Post that he speaks to Mr. Netanyahu “a lot.”

This de facto Sunni-Jewish alliance amounts to what might be called the coalition of the disenchanted; states that have lost faith in America’s promises. Israel is also reinventing its ties to the aspiring Startup Nations, countries that want to develop their own innovation cultures.

In October, Israel hosted Indian President Pranab Mukherjee for a three-day state visit; New Delhi, once a paragon of the nonaligned movement that didn’t have diplomatic ties to Israel for four decades, is about to spend $3 billion on Israeli arms. Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abe, who is personally close to Mr. Netanyahu, sees Israel as a model for economic reinvention. Chinese investment in Israel hit $2.7 billion last year, up from $70 million in 2010. In 2014, Israel’s exports to the Far East for the first time exceeded those to the U.S.

Then there is Europe—at least the part of it that is starting to grasp that it can’t purchase its security in the coin of Israeli insecurity. Greece’s left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used to lead anti-Israel protests. But Greece needs Israeli gas, so he urges cooperation on terrorism and calls Jerusalem Israel’s “historic capital.” In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is moving to prevent local councils from passing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) measures against Israel.

All this amounts to another Obama administration prediction proved wrong. “You see for Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” Mr. Kerry warned grimly in 2014. “There are talks of boycotts and other kinds of things. Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100%, cannot be maintained.”

Except when the likely alternatives to the lousy status quo are worse. Over the weekend, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power came to Jerusalem to preach the virtues of a two-state solution. Her case would be unarguable if the Palestinian state to be created alongside Israel were modeled on Costa Rica—democratic, demilitarized, developing, friendly to outsiders.

But the likelier model is Gaza, or Syria. Why should Israelis be expected to live next to that? How would that help actual living Palestinians, as opposed to the perpetual martyrs of left-wing imagination? And why doesn’t the U.S. insist that Palestinian leaders prove they are capable of decently governing a state before being granted one?

Those are questions Mr. Obama has been incapable of asking himself, lest a recognition of facts intrude on the narrative of a redemptive presidency. But a great power that cannot recognize the dilemmas of its allies soon becomes useless as an ally, and it becomes intolerable if it then turns its strategic ignorance into a moral sermon.

More than one Israeli official I spoke with recalled that the country managed to survive the years before 1967 without America’s strategic backing, and if necessary it could do so again. Nations that must survive typically do. The more important question is how much credibility the U.S. can afford to squander before the loss becomes irrecoverable.


“Rubio—is he done for?” But Rubio won the last CBS debate and he is the only reasonable choice between “Sanders—oy vey.”  and “Trump—omigod.” who Israelis hope will prevail and take office in 339 days 11 hours and 21 minutes

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Krauthammer: CBS Republican Debate Was "Thermonuclear War"

How to Unwind the Iran Nuclear Deal

There’s only one way to prevent, not just delay, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons: reapply pressure.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal, will likely be the most controversial foreign policy issue of the 2016 general election campaign for President of the United States. President Obama considers the deal to be among his foremost foreign policy accomplishments and leading contenders for the Democratic Party’s nomination have publicly backed the deal. In stark contrast, all the major Republican presidential candidates have opposed the accord and several have vowed to scrap it if elected. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, for example, has promised “on my first day in office . . . I am going to cancel this ridiculous deal [Obama] has struck with Iran.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz has echoed this position stating, “You better believe it. If I am elected President, on the very first day in office I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”

Many others, including within the Republican Party, believe that this tough talk is merely campaign rhetoric, and that it would be unrealistic to suggest that this agreement, negotiated with our closest international partners and consecrated in a United Nations Security Council Resolution, can be easily or even ever undone. Moreover, now that the deal has formally gone into effect, many believe either that the value of the agreement has already been demonstrated, or at least that it is now too established to overturn in the absence of undeniable demonstrations of Iranian bad faith.

On both points, however, they are mistaken. The Iran nuclear deal undermines many of America’s most important national security objectives and will not stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The next President of the United States, therefore, should work to unwind it. But he or she must do so carefully, with a clear sense of the desired end state and a realistic plan to achieve it. By following the strategy outlined below, the next U.S. President can responsibly unwind the Iran deal and work toward a better agreement, one that prevents, not merely delays, Iran from building the bomb. And even if a better agreement proves unattainable, on balance U.S. interests are better served by the absence of an agreement than by the continuation of the one we have.

Why Undo the Deal
The primary purpose of the P5+1/Iran nuclear negotiations was to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and, while the current deal seems certain to buy some time (but not necessarily 10-15 years of it), it also creates two new pathways by which Iran can go nuclear. First, by allowing Iran to keep a significant enrichment program and providing sanctions relief upfront, the deal is structured in a way that will tempt Iran to cheat. It can pocket the sanctions relief and then resume its march to the bomb whenever it decides to invoke paragraph 36’s open-ended right to exit the agreement. Second, the deal contains sunset clauses, which means that Iran can simply be patient, wait for the nuclear restrictions to expire over the next 15 years, and then build up its nuclear program until its breakout time shrinks, in the words of Obama, “almost down to zero.” Consistent with the terms of the deal, at that point it can build an enrichment program so large and sophisticated that no outside power could ever realistically intervene to stop it from assembling nuclear weapons.

Proponents of the deal argue that if these scenarios come to pass we can simply reapply pressure, but this overlooks the fact that our means of doing so are also eroded by the terms of the deal. 

 As other countries increase trade ties with Iran, they will be less willing to impose new sanctions. Moreover, as Iran’s economy recovers, it will become less vulnerable to economic pressure. If Iran makes a concerted push for the bomb, therefore, it is unrealistic to expect multilateral “snap back” sanctions to stop it in sufficient time.

This leaves only the military option, which, admittedly, the Obama Administration has not formally taken off the table against unpredictable future contingencies. The President has stated clearly that any U.S. president in future would have to consider using force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, if it came to that. However, the military option is also rendered less effective the longer the deal remains in place. By providing Iran with over $100 billion in upfront sanctions relief and lifting the UN embargoes on Iranian trade in advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, the deal will enable Iran to improve its defenses and its retaliatory capabilities. Even if Iran simply waits for the nuclear restrictions to expire, it will be extremely difficult for any U.S. Administration to build domestic and international support for military action against an Iran that has abided by the terms of an agreement designed in Washington for over a decade. Iran could follow the terms of this deal almost to the letter, and the deal would still not achieve its stated objective of stopping Iran from proliferating.

There are other problems, as well. By granting Iran, a country that has routinely defied international law and its own past nonproliferation commitments under the NPT, a de facto right to enrich, the deal sets a dangerous precedent. Indeed, other countries in the Middle East and Asia are already claiming that if Iran can enrich uranium, then they can, too. Governments want to know why, when the U.S. government signs civil nuclear deals with a country—the UAE comes to mind as a recent example—it insists that its counterpart foreswear enrichment . . . after effectively blessing Iran’s right to enrich. One can hardly blame them for asking.

Beyond the realm of nonproliferation, by providing Iran with an influx of cash and making Washington more hesitant to push back against Iran’s activities elsewhere for fear of upsetting the agreement, the deal has already strengthened Iran’s hand in the region and unsettled traditional U.S. regional partners. This has added fuel to ongoing regional proxy wars, as in Yemen, where Saudi policy takes the form of self-help in the perceived vacuum of U.S. engagement. This perception has also obstructed the U.S. ability to effectively combat ISIS.

Many supporters of the deal argue that it is a step toward a new, more normalized relationship with Iran that could alter Iranian politics and make Tehran a more responsible international actor. But it is possible that Iran’s reigning theocracy will use the deal to strengthen its rule and to step up its destabilizing activities in the region. Authoritarian regimes can be stubbornly durable, as for example in Cuba, where U.S. policy has also probably aided rather than undermined an authoritarian status quo. For this reason, perhaps, the Obama Administration was unwilling to explicitly sell the deal as part of a broader rapprochement, but within its own counsels it is likely that such a prospect played a role in its assessments. It is of course possible that a nuclear pact will fundamentally transform Iranian politics and policies, but no one can know that from the present vantage point. It therefore seems a risky bet on which to justify an agreement of this magnitude.

In sum, while reasonable people disagree on the value of the Iran deal, there is a case to be made that it weakens, rather than strengthens, U.S. and global security. Most importantly, several people who might be sworn in as President next January find the argument persuasive. What, then, is the alternative to the present deal?

A Framework for a Better Deal
The first step to unwinding the Iran nuclear deal in a responsible manner is to establish a clear objective. That objective cannot be merely to punish Iran. The goal must be to reach a better deal, one that actually prevents Iran from building nuclear weapons.

The Obama Administration has consistently argued that the deal’s critics will accept nothing less than Iran’s complete capitulation, but this is not true. A deal based on the principles that have guided U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy for decades, and a framework that has been acceptable to many other countries with truly peaceful nuclear programs, can in no way be fairly characterized as a punishment.

For years, the United States has allowed, and even encouraged, countries to operate nuclear reactors for research or energy purposes, but it simultaneously worked to restrict the spread of nuclear fuel-making capabilities: uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. Once a country has the ability to make its own fuel for nuclear reactors it also has the ability to make fuel for nuclear weapons.

The vast majority of countries with peaceful nuclear programs, such as Mexico, South Korea, and the aforementioned United Arab Emirates, do not enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium. Rather, they have nuclear fuel for their reactors provided to them by other nuclear states. This is the preferred arrangement for a peaceful nuclear program and one that Washington has promoted since the 1953 Atoms for Peace initiative, including with its own allies. There is no good reason, therefore, to make an exception for Iran, a U.S. adversary that has continually failed to live up to its international commitments.

Iran should be allowed to retain a truly peaceful nuclear program. While the details must be worked out in negotiations, this means that Iran may be allowed in principle to maintain nuclear reactors for research and the production of energy, such as the Tehran Research Reactor and its light-water reactors at Bushehr. There is no compelling reason, however, for Iran to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium. Iran must therefore completely dismantle its sensitive nuclear facilities—those that can be used for the production of fuel for nuclear weapons. That would include its uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom. Furthermore, in addition to dismantling current facilities, Iran must forswear future enrichment and reprocessing.

This is a reasonable compromise that, unlike the current deal, prevents Iran from building nuclear weapons forever. Indeed, eliminating Iran’s enrichment capability was the Administration’s original goal of negotiations with Iran, one that was enshrined in multiple UNSC resolutions, before it was abandoned in a desperate search for an accord.

Critics will argue that Iran would never agree to such limitations, having already concluded an agreement without them. But how can they be sure? Few predicted that Muamar Qaddafi would give up Libya’s enrichment program just days before he did so in 2003. And several years ago many serious analysts did not believe that the current Iran nuclear deal was in the cards. Occasionally, international diplomacy makes the seemingly impossible possible. But for that to happen in this case, we must first set the appropriate conditions.

Returning International Pressure on Iran
It is highly unlikely that Tehran would quickly agree to these renegotiated terms. If it is unwilling to do so, the United States must work to return international pressure against Iran. Time and time again—from its agreement to a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, to its suspension of enrichment following the U.S. invasion of Iraq (due to fears that it might be next), to its acceptance of restrictions on its nuclear program in the face of tough international sanctions—we have seen that Iran only responds to pressure.

Over the past decade, the U.S. government has orchestrated against Iran the most intensive international sanctions regime in history. This economic pressure brought Iran to the negotiating table, but we erred by letting up too soon. To compel Iran to make the concessions necessary for a good deal, Washington must work to re-impose crippling international sanctions. To be sure, this will be much more difficult now that the deal has already gone into effect, but, if it is a foremost foreign policy priority of the next President, it can be done.

Indeed, the process actually began several months ago when the Republican candidates announced their intention to tear up the Iran deal. As a result, many international business interests are reluctant to make major investments in Iran, knowing that, depending on the outcome of the American presidential election, there is a good chance that international sanctions against Iran may return in a few short months. As Rubio said, “this should have a chilling effect for any business thinking about investing in Iran. . . . This deal will not outlive this Administration, and international businesses that move into Iran in the coming months need to know they will lose everything.” Republican candidates should reinforce this message. By making it clear that Obama’s deal with Iran may last no longer than 12 months, they can deter the international business community from rushing into Iran.

Next, on day one of his or her term, the new President can reinstate by executive order any sanctions that were suspended by the Obama Administration. He or she can also put an immediate halt to the unfreezing of any still-frozen Iranian assets. Finally, he or she can cease the use of executive waiver authority in order to effectively re-instate past Congressional sanctions on Iran.

The next and most difficult step will be working with allies and partners to reinstate international and multilateral sanctions against Iran. Critics of this approach have argued that the rest of the world will not support continued sanctions against Iran, but this is incorrect. 

It takes the United States, a global superpower, to lead on issues of nuclear nonproliferation.1 Other, smaller nations understandably focus on their narrower, often economic, interests. This was true in 2003 when the United States began its unsuccessful, years-long struggle to win international approval for UNSC sanctions against Iran. But Washington demonstrated persistent leadership across two administrations and was able eventually to win international consensus and erect the toughest sanctions regime in history.

Now, some international business interests are eager to rush back into Iran, but only because the White House has in effect announced that Iran is once again open for business. To be sure, it will require substantial political capital, but if a new President were to reverse course and present a new plan to permanently resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis through sanctions, the world’s other key governments will again reluctantly follow. In part, they will do so for the same reason they signed on in the first place: America’s so-called secondary sanctions threaten to penalize foreign firms that do business in Iran.

In my travels to many foreign capitals in Europe and Asia in the past year, I have been told repeatedly that if the U.S. government were to demand new sanctions on Iran, these governments would again grudgingly comply. U.S. sanctions force them to choose between doing business with Iran and doing business with the United States, and that is really no choice at all. It is perhaps not widely known, but in building the sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table, the U.S. approach was to target major companies first, not governments. Most of the relevant governments were not happy with this approach, but in the end they found it irresistible. They came around because their own private sectors did not want to lose access to the much larger U.S. market and beseeched them to do so.

To be sure, a reconstituted sanctions regime may not be as comprehensive as that which existed in 2013—at least not immediately—but it could be enough to seriously damage Iran’s economy. By reinstating sanctions, Washington can once again attempt to convince Iran’s leaders that they can have a healthy economy or (if we don’t preempt it with military force) a nuclear weapons capability, but not both.

All Options Are Still on the Table
This approach raises the risk that Iran will use the re-imposition of sanctions as a pretext for expanding its nuclear program. Indeed, some movement in this direction may be inevitable, but so long as Iran stops short of crossing red lines, the risk is manageable. To deter Iran from dashing to a nuclear weapons breakout as we wait for the economic pressure to build, Washington must keep all options to the table—and seem credible as it does so.

The United States should establish clear red lines, affirming that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from producing sufficient fissile material for even a single nuclear weapon, and that the United States will use all means necessary, including military force, to prevent this. The new President should declare this to be U.S. policy and ask Congress to formally endorse it. Of course, Iran may make a reckless dash for a nuclear weapon anyway and, if so, Washington must be fully prepared to use force to stop it. In all likelihood, however, Iran’s leaders will be deterred. These stated red lines will box Iran in, allowing time for the economic pressure to mount.

At the end of the day, this plan will give Iran’s leaders a simple choice. They can stubbornly insist on maintaining an enrichment program, but as long as they do so, they will meet with credible military threats, their economy will be decimated by international sanctions, and their country will remain an international pariah. In the short- to medium-term, Iran’s leaders may choose this course. If so, we will find ourselves in another enduring stalemate. The lack of immediate resolution may make some people uncomfortable, but it is preferable to the status quo, in which Iran still possesses a dangerous enrichment capability that now comes with the international community’s stamp of approval, while the United States gives up viable options for rolling back that capability.

A return to the pressure track will remind the international community that Iran’s enrichment program is in fact still a problem, and re-enlist its help in actively working toward eliminating that program. Over time, therefore, Iran’s leaders will grow increasingly inclined to accept the new deal Washington is prepared to offer. As the economic pressure builds again, Iran’s leaders will return to the negotiating table looking for relief. And they will know that in order to receive it, they must take one simple step: dismantle their sensitive nuclear infrastructure. Only when this is accomplished will the international community have achieved its longstanding goal of preventing, not merely delaying, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

1Matthew Kroenig, “Force or Friendship: Explaining Great Power Nonproliferation Policy,”Security Studies (2014), pp. 1-32.

Matthew Kroenig is an associate professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University and a senior fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at The Atlantic Council. He formerly served as an adviser on Iran policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sanders and Trump: Magic sells


The New Hampshire results have solidified the reigning cliche that the 2016 campaign is an anti-establishment revolt of both the left and the right. Largely overlooked, however, is the role played in setting the national mood by the seven-year legacy of the Obama presidency.

Yes, you hear constant denunciations of institutions, parties, leaders, donors, lobbyists, influence peddlers. But the starting point of the bipartisan critique is the social, economic and geopolitical wreckage all around us. Bernie Sanders is careful never to blame President Obama directly, but his description of the America Obama leaves behind is devastating — a wasteland of stagnant wages, rising inequality, a sinking middle class, young people crushed by debt, the American Dream dying.

Take away the Brooklyn accent and the Larry David mannerisms and you would have thought you were listening to a Republican candidate. After all, who’s been in charge for the last seven years?

Donald Trump is even more colorful in describing the current “mess” and more direct in attributing it to the country’s leadership — most pungently, its stupidity and incompetence. Both candidates are not just anti-establishment but anti-status quo. The revolt is as much about the Obama legacy as it is about institutions.

Look at New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton had made a strategic decision, as highlighted in the debates, to wrap herself in the mantle of the Obama presidency. She lost New Hampshire by three touchdowns.

Beyond railing against the wreckage, the other commonality between the two big New Hampshire winners is in the nature of the cure they offer. Let the others propose carefully budgeted five-point plans. Sanders and Trump offer magic.

Take Sanders’ New Hampshire victory speech. It promised the moon: college education, free; universal health care, free; world peace, also free because we won’t be “the policeman of the world” (mythical Sunni armies will presumably be doing that for us). Plus a guaranteed $15 minimum wage. All to be achieved by taxing the rich. Who can be against a “speculation” tax (whatever that means)?

So with Trump. Leave it to him. Jobs will flow back in a rush from China, from Japan, from Mexico, from everywhere. Universal health care, with Obamacare replaced by “something terrific.” Veterans finally taken care of. Drugs stopped cold at the border. Indeed, an end to drug addiction itself. Victory upon victory of every kind.

How? That question never comes up anymore. No one expects an answer. His will be done, on Earth if not yet in heaven. Yes, people love Trump’s contempt for the “establishment” — which as far as I can tell means anything not Trump — but what is truly thrilling is the promise of a near-biblical restoration. As painless as Sanders’.

In truth, Trump and Sanders are soaring not just by defying the establishment, but by defying logic and history. Sanders’ magic potion is socialism; Trump’s is Trump.

The young Democrats swooning for Sanders appear unfamiliar with socialism’s century-long career, a dismal tale of ruination from Russia to Cuba to Venezuela. Indeed, are they even aware that China’s greatest reduction in poverty in human history correlates precisely with the degree to which it has given up socialism?

Trump’s magic is toughness — toughness in a world of losers. The power and will of the caudillo will make everything right.

Apart from the fact that strongman rule contradicts the American constitutional tradition of limited and constrained government, caudillo populism simply doesn’t work. For example, it accounts in large part for the relative backwardness of Africa and Latin America. In 1900, Argentina had a per capita income fully 70percent of ours. After a 20th century wallowing in Peronism and its imitators, Argentina is a basket case, its per capita income now 23 percent of ours.

There certainly is a crisis of confidence in our country’s institutions. But that’s hardly new. The current run of endemic distrust began with Vietnam and Watergate. Yet not in our lifetimes have the left and right populism of the Sanders and Trump variety enjoyed such massive support.

The added factor is the Obama effect, the depressed and anxious mood of a nation experiencing its worst economic recovery since World War II and watching its power and influence abroad decline amid a willed global retreat. 

The result is a politics of high fantasy. Things can’t get any worse, we hear, so why not shake things to their foundation? Anyone who thinks things can’t get any worse knows nothing. And risks everything.


‘The  dismal tale of ruination from Russia to Cuba to Venezuela.

It would be interesting to find out how much these young Democrats know  about the  Kronstadt  rebellion, the collectivization, the Ukrainian famine, the Kirov murder, the great Purge of the thirties, the Gulags, the Katyn massacre, the Doctors’ Plot, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and how many people Che Guevara executed as Castro’s executioner?