Withdrawing from the Iran Deal Sent the Right Message to North Korea

Defenders of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—as the nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic is formally known—have insisted that President Trump’s decision to withdraw has undermined Washington’s credibility when it comes to negotiations with Pyongyang. But they have it backward, argues Elliott Abrams, as demonstrated by the collapse and still-uncertain fate of the U.S.-North Korea summit:

Logic suggests that what Kim Jong-Un really wanted from the new administration was a JCPOA of his own. That is, he wanted a nuclear deal that was time-limited by sunset provisions, that permitted him to keep on developing better and better missiles, and that required only that he suspend his nuclear work for a short period of years. Such a deal would legitimize the North Korean nuclear program and Kim would see sanctions lifted and major economic benefits.

No wonder he wanted such a deal. . . . President Trump’s decision to exit the JCPOA was a critical prelude to the summit from the American point of view. Kim had to be fully disabused of the notion that such a deal was even remotely available. The best he could hope for was a step-by-step agreement, in which he was not required to end his nuclear program entirely on day one, and instead was rewarded for each serious step he took.

When the Libya example was mentioned [by members of the administration], I do not think Kim really believed that . . . American officials hoped to see him dragged through the streets and killed while his country underwent terrible violence and divisions, [as some commentators suggested, having in mind the fate of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011]. Rather, the “Libya model,” [a reference to Qaddafi’s dismantling of his nuclear program in 2003 and 2004], calls for complete denuclearization at the inception; it was not a long, step-by-step process. For Kim, that was bad enough. . . .

No one who has ever worked on North Korea negotiations could be surprised by what North Korea did [last week]. The surprise might be that U.S. policy was tougher and more realistic than it has been under the last several administrations.

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More about: Donald Trump, Iran nuclear program, North Korea, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times