How America Bamboozled Itself on Iran

March 13 2015

After dragging on for over a decade, negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program seem to be approaching a final agreement in which the U.S. will concede much in exchange for very little. Jordan Chandler Hirsch explains how American diplomats backed themselves into a corner, dismantles their excuses, and suggests alternatives:

The issue [at hand] isn’t so much how to use force but how best to threaten using it. . . . Sending troops into Iran isn’t wise or viable—and therefore not particularly credible. A surgical strike, on the other hand, is a perfectly credible approach. Israel has demonstrated that twice, with strikes on Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities. . . . In dismissing the surgical approach, members of the Obama administration have distorted the debate about military action and taken the most credible threat—the only one that gives the negotiations real teeth—off the table. . . .

Even as several former Obama officials I spoke with insisted that they had no illusions about the character of the regime, they still predicted that a deal would magically lead to reform. “If you get a deal, hopefully relations begin to improve,” a former staffer explained, “and then Khamenei will die and we can get a different Supreme Leader, a more moderate leader” who might cooperate with the United States. Hoping that a seventy-five-year-old man will die soon is not exactly a sound strategy. . . .

A successful negotiation, in the Obama administration’s terms, now risks allowing Iran the legal right to establish an industrial-scale nuclear program a decade from now and still be dominated by the same brutal, expansionist leadership. The world has little reason other than hope to think that Iran will stop short from going nuclear over the next decade if at any moment it believes it can do so at little or no cost. At which point our diplomatic failure will become a global disaster that might force the United States to fight—under far worse and far more dangerous circumstances—the very battles it has spent years trying to avoid.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iranian nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, Strategy, U.S. Foreign policy

President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process