He argued that no better option exists, given how close the Iranians are already to developing a nuclear bomb. He said that even though U.S. and Iranian negotiators failed to reach a final deal, they have agreed to a “framework” with terms that will at least appear agreeable to the layman, and which will supposedly become a final deal by June 30.
Has Obama’s concession of ground to the weaker party in negotiations ultimately been rewarded with cooperation? Has his decision to let Iran have four times as many centrifuges as originally envisioned, and to allow centrifuges to be installed in Iran’s underground facility at Fordo, produced a new era of Iranian-American friendship? Continue reading
*Details to be disclosed, and even negotiated, later.
The fundamental question posed by President Obama’s Iran diplomacy has always been whether it can prevent a nuclear-armed Middle East—in Iran as well as Turkey and the Sunni Arab states. Mr. Obama unveiled a “framework” accord on Thursday that he said did precisely that, but the claims warrant great skepticism, not least because they come with so many asterisks.
The framework is only an “understanding” among Iran and the six powers because many of the specifics are still being negotiated. But Mr. Obama wanted to announce some agreement near his self-imposed March 31 deadline, lest Congress ratchet up sanctions on Iran, and now Secretary of State John Kerry will go back to negotiate the crucial fine print.
The general outline of the accord includes some useful limits on Iran, if it chooses to abide by them. Tehran will be allowed to operate a little more than 5,000 of its first-generation centrifuges at its Natanz facility, and only there. It will not enrich uranium above civilian-grade levels for at least 15 years, though it will retain some of its unnecessary current stockpile. Continue reading
The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one.
By Peggy Noonan • Wall Street Journal
Barack Obama, six years into his presidency, does not have a foreign-policy legacy—or, rather, he does and it’s bad. He has a visceral and understandable reluctance to extend and overextend U.S. power, but where that power has been absent, violence and instability have filled the void. When he overcomes his reluctance to get involved, he picks the wrong place, such as Libya, where the tyrant we toppled was better than many of those attempting to take his place.
Syria, red lines, an exploding Mideast, a Russian president who took the American’s measure and made a move, upsetting a hard-built order that had maintained for a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union—what a mess.
In late February, at a Washington meeting of foreign-policy intellectuals, Henry Kissinger summed up part of the past six years: “Ukraine has lost Crimea; Russia has lost Ukraine; the U.S. has lost Russia; the world has lost stability.” Continue reading
Day after Obama urges Iran to seize ‘historic opportunity,’ supreme leader says US seeks to create insecurity
by Times of Israel Staff • The Times of Israel
Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.
Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.
“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy,” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,” he said. “The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region. Continue reading
Introduction by Peter Huessy • National Security Roundtable
Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator in nuclear talks with the West declared victory for his country, stating that no matter how the negotiations end, Tehran has come out “the winner,” according to remarks made on Tuesday (see below).
While some may dismiss this as typical Iranian bluster, we (NSR) would venture to say it’s one of those rare moments where Iran is actually telling the TRUTH.
As we and others have been saying from day one, Iran’s main goal in its negotiations with the West has been to gain TIME. Time to complete its nuclear weapons program and delivery systems, and operate freely, while under relaxed sanctions.
But the truth is Iran is doing much more. Its Revolutionary Guards have taken over and are leading the Iraqi military and Iraqi Shia militias in the fight against ISIS. That would explain the recent sightings of General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force (a division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) in places like Tikrit, Iraq and even in Amman, Jordan. Continue reading
Like all theocracies throughout history, Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini’s doctrine of Velayat-i-Faghih, the absolute power of guardianship of divinely qualified Jurists over all Muslims, attempted to blend political expediency and religious utilitarianism. By declaring the regime Islamic, he granted himself divine power, and thus freed himself of any control that the Shi’ite Grand Ayatollahs within and outside Iran might have exercised on his policies. Simultaneously, by designating the form of government Republican, he seemed to suggest that the theocracy, at least to a certain extent, would share power with the people. In reality, Khomeini’s scheme had resulted in a Mullahcracy that could be neither legitimized by free elections nor could be justified by the religious tenets of Islam. The result had been a deformed medieval autocracy characterized by a deceptive religious ideology based on lies. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy • Gatestone
What the Ploughshares Fund is actually doing with its proposed budget cuts, it appears, is trying to camouflage the objectives of permanently disarming America of key parts of its nuclear capability.
Describing the U.S. nuclear force structure as a “Cold War relic” says nothing about whether the force is still needed. Oddly, the nuclear cuts being proposed do not require any reciprocal Russian reductions.
Cutting $20 billion a year from the current U.S. nuclear deterrent would require killing all modernization, plus all the work of extending the life of nuclear warheads. In 20 years, the U.S. would be left with no effective nuclear deterrent, while China, Russia and North Korea are modernizing their nuclear deterrents across the board.
“You have to invent a ‘Dragon’ to slay.” — U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, explaining how to kill defense programs.
In Washington, a delay often has the same impact as killing a program.
It has been 33 years since the U.S. last embarked on a nuclear modernization program. Continue reading
From domestic politics to foreign policy, Obama and his aides frequently appear overtaken or overwhelmed by events.
by James Oliphant, White House Correspondent • National Journal
A report in The New York Times over the weekend portrayed the president as a frustrated chief executive, directing federal officials to be more “hands on” and to be more on top of events rather than reacting to them.
If this feels familiar, it’s because that has been the go-to White House play for some time when bad news arrives—always unexpectedly—as Obama’s presidency seems overwhelmed by the sense that things aren’t quite under control either within the administration or beyond it, in places overseas such as Iraq and Ukraine.
The president and his staff have seemed flat-footed, reactive, surprised, and at the mercy of outside events rather than in command of them. That has contributed to an abject feeling of powerlessness emanating from the West Wing—one augmented by the administration’s own insistence at times that its reach is limited, that there was little it could to do to ease this summer’s border crisis, or push Vladimir Putin back into Russia, or protect towns under threat from Islamic State forces.
So Obama was “madder than hell” when he learned about the patient backlogs at the Veterans Administration, aides said. He was angry when he was told about the problems with the federal health care website. He was mad when he found out that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting nonprofit political-advocacy groups. [Editor’s Note: Obama later labeled the very IRS scandal that had once made him “mad,” a “phony scandal” when it suited him to do so. Thus, he may also have claimed he was angry when it was politically expedient to do so. This may explain the low trust polling numbers that he has received of late.] Continue reading
Despite Ukraine’s September 5 cease-fire, a “protracted conflict” continues in the East, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights warned Wednesday. Over 3,600 people have been killed in fighting since April, with nearly 10% of those fatalities occurring since the cease-fire. Rebels continue to fight for control of key sites, including the Donetsk airport, while Russian forces have increased their presence east of Mariupol, raising concern that rebels plan to launch a new offensive against that strategic port city or even to establish a land bridge to Crimea. Meanwhile, the separatists are using the relative lull to solidify their hold over their self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, replete with their own nascent KGB. As the U.N. noted, “Armed groups continued to terrorize the population in areas under their control, pursuing killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights abuses.” Continue reading
by Brent Budowsky • The Hill
When President Obama and European leaders meet at the NATO summit meeting in Wales on Thursday, they will have one last chance to address the grave dangers to Western security from the mass murder committed by ISIS terrorists and the aggression against Europe and Ukraine by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
The president and European leaders must understand why their lack of clarity and resolve on vital matters of national security endangers American and Western security. Halfway sanctions against Russia, a halfway NATO rapid response force in Europe and a halfway war to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will not suffice when European security is threatened by an imperial dictator who seeks to destroy borders and genocidal terrorists who target our shores.
The demented beheading by ISIS of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, following the killing last month of James Foley, dramatizes again the urgency for America, Europe and decent people of all faiths to unite to destroy ISIS. Let’s pray for Mr. Sotloff and his family, and resolve to eliminate this murderous scourge from the face of the earth.
Obama would be well advised to read the diaries of former President Reagan, probably the best book by a president about how to be president. Continue reading
by David Rutz • Free Beacon
It was a quote striking for its flippant tone even in January, as President Obama compared the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to a wannabe junior varsity basketball team.
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told The New Yorker. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
ISIL, now in control of large portions of Iraq and Syria, has the full attention of the U.S. now. Continue reading
Based on the bilateral agreement President George W. Bush signed in 2008, the last contingent of the United States military left Iraq on December 18, 2011. The departure was swiftly followed by a resurgence of sectarian violence. On December 22, 2011, more than a dozen car bombs exploded throughout Baghdad, leaving behind more than sixty dead and another two hundred injured Iraqis. Using these incidents to rid his governments from the two leading Sunni politicians, Tariq al-Hashimi, the Vice President, and Saleh Al-Mutlaq, the Deputy Prime Minister, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia, ordered their arrests. Immediately following Maliki’s authoritarian actions to undermine Iraq’s fledgling democracy, he went on national television to celebrate the end of the American military presence. In his speech, rather hypocritically, he called on the country’s political leaders to work together to the benefit of a sovereign, democratic and united Iraq. Thus had began Iraq’s violent descent into its most recent national catastrophe. Continue reading
Until last week, some had hoped that, having failed to develop a credible foreign policy, President Obama may at least be capable of engaging in serious debate with his critics.
Obama’s West Point address dashed that hope.
In it, he showed that he has become prisoner of a narrative in which his critics are cast as warmongers who need to be restrained by level-headed statesmen like him. In other words: he just doesn’t get it.
What is at issue now is limiting the damage that Obama has already done to US foreign policy across the board. Continue reading
by Charles Krauthammer
It is fitting that the day before President Obama gives his grand West Point address defending the wisdom and prudence of his foreign policy, his government should be urging Americans to evacuate Libya.
Libya, of course, was once the model Obama intervention — the exquisitely calibrated military engagement wrapped in the rhetorical extravagance of a nationally televised address proclaiming his newest foreign-policy doctrine (they change to fit the latest ad hoc decision): the responsibility to protect, or R2P.
You don’t hear R2P bandied about much anymore. Not with more than 50,000 civilians having been slaughtered in Syria’s civil war, unprotected in any way by the United States. Nor for that matter do you hear much about Libya, now so dangerously chaotic and jihadi-infested that the State Department is telling Americans to get out. Continue reading