Saturday, July 18, 2015

The GOP's War Mongering

Having apparently learned absolutely nothing from the fiascoes in Afghanistan and Iraq launched by a similar detachment from reality and insane belief that America can impose its will on other nations, the Republicans are lamenting the agreement negotiated with Iran and condemning it as appeasement and all sorts of other negative descriptions.  Their alternative?  There is none other that ultimately war.  A war that anyone sane ought to know America cannot win based on the examples of the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Is the Iran deal perfect?  Of course not, but again, what is the alternative?   A column in the New York Times looks at the GOP's insane war mongering.  Here are excerpts:
So what do the critics, from Republican presidential hopefuls to the Israeli government, seek in place of the deal with Iran that verifiably blocks Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years? Presumably, they want what would have happened if negotiations had collapsed. That would be renewed war talk as an unconstrained Iran installs sophisticated centrifuges, its stockpile of enriched uranium grows, Russia and China abandon the sanctions regime, moderates in Iran like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are sidelined, and a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic draws closer.
To favor such peril, when a constructive alternative exists that engages one of the most highly educated societies in the Middle East, amounts to foolishness dressed up as machismo.

The Iran nuclear deal is not perfect, nor was it ever intended to address the long list of American-Iranian grievances, which will persist. It must be judged on what it set out to do — stop Iran going nuclear — not on whether Iran has a likeable regime (it does not) or does bad things (it does). President Obama did not set out to change Iran but he has created a framework that, over a decade, might.
If implemented, the agreement constitutes the most remarkable American diplomatic achievement since the Dayton Accords put an end to the Bosnian war two decades ago. It increases the distance between Iran and a bomb as it reduces the distance between Iran and the world. It makes the Middle East less dangerous by forestalling proliferation. In a cacophonous age of short-termism, it offers a lesson of stubborn leadership in pursuit of a long-term goal.

Iran had been increasing its operating centrifuges and the size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile. Now, the number of centrifuges is to be slashed by two-thirds to 5,060; the stockpile is to be all but eliminated; enrichment levels are capped at 3.7 percent, a long way from bomb grade; the potential route to weapons-grade plutonium at Arak is disabled; international inspection is redoubled and, in Obama’s words, will extend “where necessary,” “when necessary.” In return, Iran gets the phased elimination of most sanctions, the end to its pariah status, and a windfall that will alleviate its economic crisis.

And this is “one of the darkest days in world history”? No, it is a moment for guarded hope.

Iran is finely poised between a tough old guard forged in revolution and its aspirational, Westward-looking youth. A decade is a long time in societies in transition. It is far better to have deep American-Iranian differences — over Hezbollah, over Syria, over regional Shiite irredentism, over Iran’s vile anti-Israel outbursts — addressed through dialogue rather than have Iran do its worst as pariah.

This accord has the merit of condemning the United States and Tehran to a relationship — however hostile — over the next 15 years. The Middle East, several of its states irremediably fractured, needs a new security framework. This will take years. But to imagine it could ever be fashioned without Iran’s involvement is fantasy. Meanwhile, the West and Iran have a common enemy: the medieval slaughterers of Islamic State.

Strict verification is imperative. But Congress should think twice before the feel-good, reckless adoption of a resolution condemning a deal that advances American interests. Obama would veto it, and almost certainly has the votes to resist an override, but this would be a regrettable way for the nation to assume such a ground-shifting agreement. 

Israel, too, should ask the hard questions rather than dismiss a deal that puts Iran much further from a bomb, empowers Iranian reformists, locks in American-Iranian dialogue and will be leveraged by Netanyahu to secure more advanced American weapons systems. The darkest days in history for the Jewish people were of an altogether different order. They should never be trivialized.
The Republicans ranting against the Iran agreement need to study some history and demographic facts.  Unlike Iraq which was a made up nation thanks to the French and British in the aftermath of World War I, Iran is an ancient nation/culture that had a glorious past many centuries before America was even discovered.  It has more than twice the population of Afghanistan and Iraq combined.  Moreover, much of the population is well educated.  These aren't the ignorant "rag heads" that the Christofascists like to see slaughtered. Short of decades of war and a full blown occupation - and we've seen how well that worked in Iraq - with trillions of dollars spent and god knows how many American lives lost, America cannot impose its will on Iran.  We need to realize that there are very real limits to what our military power can do.  This agreement deserves a chance to succeed.  The GOP's embrace of ignorance and military fantasies need to be rejected.

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