The Weiner Component #123 Part 4: Iran and the West

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In the United States there seems to be a problem, particularly among the Republican Party, realizing with whom Iran is negotiating.  By actions that have come from the U.S. Senate it would seem to be between President Barak Obama and the current government of Iran. This is not only nonsense, it is also blatant ignorance or stupidity.

 

For a number of years Iran claimed that she has been attempting to develop atomic energy as a form of electric power.  While the country has a goodly percentage of the world’s oil and gas deposits she also has a high level of pollution.  While the use of atomic energy has problems it is also free of the blatant pollution caused by excessive use of oil and or natural gas.

 

Is this explanation true or is Iran also secretly attempting to develop her own atomic bomb.  There is a lot of low grade uranium present among Iran’s natural resources. Some evidence has emerged of high grade or refined uranium being present in that country.  The Iranians have claimed that these few samples were present in the atomic equipment purchased overseas.  Are they telling the truth or have they been secretly attempting to refine uranium to the fine quality that is needed to produce an atomic bomb.

 

According to the United Nations, with whom Iran and numerous other nations have signed a non-proliferation treaty and has refused to allow total inspection of all its sites, Iran is in violation of the non-proliferation agreement.  The other U.N. members have passed innumerable sanctions against her.

 

P5+1 are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.  They are the specific nations that are currently negotiating with Iran: China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany.

 

These nations are attempting to negotiate an agreement over Iran’s development of atomic energy and missiles.  In June 2006 China, Russia, and the United States joined the other 3 permanent members of the Security Council, which had been negotiating with Iran since 2003.

 

Up to that point in time the U.N. Security Council had adopted six resolutions in response to Iran’s nuclear policy. The first resolution (July 2006) imposed gradual sanctions upon Iranian individuals and entities believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile program.  The last Security Council resolution (June 2013) expanded sanctions on Iran for its lack of cooperation and its continued uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

 

Germany’s dealings with Iran were different from that of the other Western nations. Iran’s nuclear program originally depended mainly upon German companies.  The thousands of centrifuges that were used to enrich the uranium were controlled by German firms.  Actually about 50 German Corporations had branch offices in Iran. About 12,000 firms had trade representatives in that country.  The value of Trade between the two countries in 2010 was 4.7 billion euros.  It was estimated that the sanctions cost Germany about 10,000 jobs and had a negative impact upon the economic growth of Germany.

 

On November 24, 2013, an interim agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran came about  in Geneva, Switzerland.  A six month freeze and partial rollback of portions of Iran’s nuclear program was traded for decreased economic sanctions.

 

Early in 2014 the United States’ under-Secretary of State stated at a Senate hearing that Iran’s missile program would be dealt with as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal. On February 14th of that year Iran’s Defense Minister announced that they had successfully tested two new domestically made missiles.  During February 18 – 20, 2014 senior officials of P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna and agreed to a framework for future negotiations.

 

A former Israeli ambassador claimed that the comprehensive agreement being negotiated focused on increased transparency instead of reduction of nuclear capacity. A former U.S. State Department official stated that such an agreement would need  both increased transparency and lengthen Iran’s timeline for nuclear development.

 

Currently, after all sorts of drama or trauma by different nations, the negotiators from P5+1 and Iran are continuing to meet.  They are in the process of attempting to reach a long term comprehensive agreement that would insure Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and the broad outlines of a final treaty.

 

President Barak Obama has stated in some of his public remarks that the final treaty would be more comprehensive than any earlier treaty signed with any nation and that it would allow for constant inspection of all Iran’s facilities.  He also said that the various sanctions would be lifted in stages as Iran complied with the agreement.

 

Assorted public remarks have been made by people on both sides who are not directly involved in the negotiations.  Both the U.S. Senate and House have passed totally separate and different bills increasing the sanctions against Iran even though Iranian religious leaders have stated that an increase in sanctions would end the negotiations. 46 Republican Senators signed a letter by young Senator Tom Cotton addressed to the Iranian Ayatollah stating that any agreement reached would function only during the presidency of Barak Obama which ends in 2016.

 

Some of the Senators were embarrassed by what they did.  Senator John McCain explained that he signed the letter without reading it because he was in a hurry to catch a plane out of Washington D.C. that Friday before an approaching snow-storm grounded all airplanes.  Other Senators had equally inane explanations.  Interestingly someone stated publically that the name Tom Cotton sounded like a character in a Disney cartoon.  My wife commented that they could or should rename him Tom Cottontail.  The Senator, who is a Tea Party Republican, was elected in 2014. He also later commented as a military expert, who had previously served for four years in the armed forces and attained the rank of captain, that a war with Iran would be a short and simple operation lasting only a few days. That reminded me of Bush and Chaney’s war in Iraq. They said the same thing.  We still have forces in Iraq even though officially our war there is over.

 

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The final agreement would include practical limits and transparency measures for Iran’s enrichment program.  It would lift sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program which were imposed by individual countries, the European Union, the U.N. Security Council and would provide for international cooperation on civilian nuclear projects.

 

Each side seems to want a successful resolution of these negotiations; but each side carries a load of baggage or attitudes that it is very difficult to work through.  Listening to Lindsey Graham and other Republican Senators and Congressmen one get the impression that they want Iran to bend to the U.S. will and desires as the colonies did in the late 19th and for most of the 20th Centuries.  After the Ayatollah returned to Iran in 1979 the country underwent a Revolution and among other things determined that she would never return to a colonial status which many felt had existed up through the reign of the shah.

 

The position that seems to be accepted by both sides is that Iran like any other sovereign nation has a right to use nuclear energy to generate electricity but does not have the right to enrich uranium to the point where it can be used to make atomic bombs.  It has been argued by conservatives in the United States and by the current Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, that this agreement will allow Iran to produce an atomic bomb in ten years.  Of course, without any kind of agreement, and with continued and possibly greater sanctions Iran may be able to produce an atomic bomb in five years or less.  If this situation prevails the Iranian people will pay a tremendous economic price in terms of their standard of living.  They may pay another tremendous price in terms of war.

 

The Israeli government wants war with Iran; but a war fought by someone else.  The Conservative Right in the U.S. seems to want a similar solution; but they will be stuck with fighting the war.  Senator Tom Cotton has stated that it will be a short easy war. I would imagine he has the same advisors that George W. Bush had before he declared war on Iraq. The situation is totally irrational.  Does P5+1 go for a diplomatic solution or is another war the answer?

 

There is another factor which nobody seems to have considered. That is time; conditions change with the passage of time.  None of us can predict our condition ten years from now.

 

If a diplomatic solution is worked out and the economic sanctions are gradually reduced to the point where they cease to exist then the condition of the Iranian people will improve to a large or even to a phenomenal extent.  Will the religious right be able to maintain the control it has had in the recent past?  In fact does it have that control now? Will the basic values of a successful country be the same as they are now?  Will Iran still be the backbone of Shiite terrorism throughout the Islamic world?

 

None of these questions can be answered at this point but they are well worth considering.  Nothing remains the same over time.  If, nothing else, the last ten years of my life have slowed me down considerably.  The capital of Viet Nam, where the United States lost a war in the 1970s, now sports a Hanoi Hilton hotel that caters to American tourists looking for an exotic but relatively inexpensive vacation.

 

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Let us now consider the prospect of Iran having its own atomic bomb.  Pakistan has the bomb and India also has the atomic bomb.  It seems to be an open secret that Israel has it.  North Korea, with its irresponsible leader, Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the original founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), who assumed leadership after the demise of his father and considers anyone disagreeing with him guilty of a crime meriting the death penalty.  He had his uncle, who was considered the second most powerful person in the country, executed, as well as a number of other officials in his government.

 

Virtually all the major industrial nations not only have the bomb but they have an advanced version of it that can be a hundred times more powerful than the one these nations have.  India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea have a bomb similar to the ones dropped upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 that ended World War II.  The Industrial Western nations have bombs far more powerful than those.

 

These countries have had such bombs for a number of years. Some of the former colonial nations may bluster a bit but none of them have really been ready to use their atomic weapon.  The reason being that if they were to use the bomb other nations would use a more powerful version of the atomic bomb against them.  It would seem that having the weapon increases your power but in such a way that this new power cannot be used.  Iran being able to create an atomic bomb would not be the end of the world.

 

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Another consideration is that if Iran and P5+1 does work out an agreement and the current negotiating deadline is in of June of 2015, and then the United States Republican dominated Congress is successfully able to keep the U.S. from joining in the agreement, then what are the possible results?  First off the only country thereafter to have sanctions against Iran would be the United States.  It would work to isolate America from the rest of the world and throw it back into a period of isolation such as existed after World War I.  The overall economic effect would be devastating to U.S. trade with the rest of the world and it would also considerably limit the nation as a leader in the world today.  Isn’t it time the Republicans came into the 21st Century and stopped playing politics against President Barak Obama?

 

Since I began working on this blog the United States Senate has passed a Bill giving Congress a say on the results of negotiations with Iran. Since the Bill was passed with no amendment both Democrats and Republicans voted for it. The one dissenting vote was by Tom Cotton who apparently would prefer war.  The bill was taken up by the House of Representatives which also passed it with no amendments.  From what I understand the President has or will sign the bill.  Congress can take the results of the negotiating up in each House and debate it but they cannot change it in any way. However, since the U.S. sanctions against Iran were passed as a law it will take an act of Congress to reduce or remove them.

English: The logo of the Atomic Enery Organiza...
English: The logo of the Atomic Enery Organization of Iran. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Map of the world showing the Permanent members...

Map of the world showing the Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the G4 nations. Permanent member G4 nations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

The Weiner Component #123 – Part III: Iran Today

On June 14, 2013 Iran held its Presidential Election and choose a new president, Hassan Rouhani. He was one out of six candidates receiving 50.88 percent of the popular vote, 18,692,500 people cast a ballot for him. The second of the candidates received 16.46 percent of the vote, 6,077,292 chose him, while the other four had lower percentages and numbers. The prior president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not able to run as he was limited to two terms as president by the Iranian Constitution.

The six candidates who ran for this office all had to be approved by the Guardian Council.  Eight candidates were initially approved for placemen on the ballot.  Two withdrew before the election.  Other candidates applied but were rejected.  Women also applied for some of the offices but were immediately rejected.

Each of the candidates had an impressive political background.  Hassan Rouhani had been a member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999 and head of the Center for Strategic Research since 1992.  He had also served on the Supreme National Security Council since 1989 and he was secretary of the council and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator from 1989 to 2005.  Rouhani was a member of Iran’s Parliament from 1980 to 2000, serving as Deputy Speaker of the Parliament from 1992 to 2000.

There are innumerable political parties in Iran.  Rouhani was supported in the election by the Modernist and Reformist parties such as the Moderation & Development Party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Iranian Reform Movement.  His motto for the election was “Moderation.”  Rouhani is described as a moderate politician by some western sources.

After the election the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, publically stated that he hoped that this election by the people of Iran would lead to positive talks regarding the country’s nuclear program.  The White House congratulated the people of Iran for their “courage” in electing moderate candidate, Hassan Rouhani.  President Obama stated that the election is a sign of change in Iran.

Dr. Hassan Rouhani is a bit of an enigma. During the time of the Shah he, as a young cleric, was sent to jail by SAVAK innumerable times for making speeches against the government and was banned from delivering public speeches.  He was a follower of the Ayatollah Khomeini and joined him in France.  By 1979, shortly after the Iranian Revolution, Rouhani had been engaged in the struggle for about twenty years.  In 1980 he was elected to the Parliament of Iran.

Rouhani was born in November of 1948. Today in 2015 he is 67 years old.  He has a doctorate of law and has been an important instrument in the development of the Iranian state being actively involved with it since its inception.  Dr. Rouhani promised if he were elected he would “prepare a civil rights charter,” restore the economy, and improve essentially non-existing relations with Western nations.  He has also expressed official support for upholding the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.  Although Rouhani is a cleric he is viewed as a political moderate.

Dr. Hassan Rouhani took office on August 4, 2013.  He replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard liner, as president.  Iran is currently involved in delicate negotiations with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) over the issue of developing or not developing atomic weapons. The United States recently sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf off of Yemen to presumably prevent Iranian ships from unloading arms to the Shia rebel forces there. The Iranian ships never landed or were inspected; they turned back.  Were they carrying arms to further the Civil War in Yemen? A good question which will never be answered.

Is Iran negotiating in good faith? Can they be trusted to carry- on this process? The former leaders of Iran have sworn to work toward the destruction of Israel. They have systematically supported Shiite rebellion in Sunni countries within the Middle East. Rouhani presumably can be overridden by Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, at any time.

Iran currently is a poor country bound, on all sides, by economic restrictions imposed by the Western nations, generally in the name of the United Nations.  From the few sparse views we’ve had of the people of Iran they seem to strongly support the current negotiation, wanting them to succeed, and the sanctions to end.  How much of a force are they on the will of the religious leadership?  Can the President easily be over ridden if the religious leadership decides he is too liberal?  What currently is the position of the religious leadership?  How important is atomic development as opposed to getting rid of the economic restrictions?  Several interesting questions.

The economic policy of Dr. Hassan Rouhani deals with both short and long term changes in Iran.  He wants to increase the purchasing power of the public, enhance economic growth, significantly increase the national cash flow, and improve the business environment.  Actually raise the standard of living for the entire population of the country. Improving economic conditions would be accomplished by boosting the purchasing power of the people and by reducing the wealth gap.  An equitable distribution of national wealth and economic growth will bring this condition about.  He plans to increase direct and indirect assistance to low income groups.  He plans to have the government control high inflation, increasing people’s purchasing power, if necessary through subsidies, and on cutting down high unemployment.

Rouhani is a supporter of women’s rights.  In a speech he stated: “There must be equal opportunities for women.  There is no difference between man and woman in their creation, in their humanity, in their pursuit of knowledge, in their understanding, in their intelligence, in their religious piety, in serving God and in serving people.”  He has appointed the first woman spokesperson to the foreign ministry.

The enigma dealing with Iran’s current President is two-fold: to what extent is he telling the truth, and to what extent can he exercise his power with the existence of veto power by the religious right?  Can the Five Permanent members of the U.N. plus Germany (P5+1) honestly negotiate with that country?

Dr. Rouhani has communicated with each of the Five Permanent Nations on the U.N. Security Council plus with Germany.  He has stated to President Obama that Iran is ready to hold talks with the U.S. after 32 years.

Publically he has stated that “the ultimate responsibility to resolve the Syrian civil war should be in the hands of the Syrian people.”  But it is believed that Iran supports al Assad, Syria’s president in the civil war and that Iran is “strengthening the Shia crescent” that runs from southern Lebanon through Syria, Iraq, and into Iran.

In terms of Israel Rouhani, unlike his predecessor, believes in and deplores the Nazi Holocaust, but describes the Jewish state as “an occupier and usurper government” which “has brought instability to the region with its warmongering policies.”

Generally he is considered to be a moderate and pragmatic politician who will work to improve conditions for his people.

English: Iran فارسی: ایران

English: Iran فارسی: ایران (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Weiner Component #123 – Part II: The U.S., Iran & the Middle East

Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 14 ye...

Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 14 years exile on February 1, 1979. He is helped off the plane by one of the Air France pilots. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ayatollah Khomeini (L) with the provisional go...

Ayatollah Khomeini (L) with the provisional goverment’s new Prime Minister Medhi Bazargan after the Iranian Revolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1953 Dwight David Eisenhower became President of the United States.  This was the Era of the Cold War. His Secretary of State was John Foster Dulles, whose philosophy of fighting the Cold War was Brinksmanship; that is, taking every international political situation up to the brink and then threatening to use atomic warfare.  In the U.S. there was a fear of the spreading “Iron Curtain” of communism gradually enveloping the rest of the world.  On March 29, 1951 the two Rosenberg’s, husband and wife, were convicted of espionage, giving secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.  They were executed on June 19, 1953.   Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Congressional Un-American Committee were investigating and accusing assorted celebrities of being communists or communist sympathizers.  One of the jurors in the Rosenberg case spoke of “communist slave states,” which at that time was a fairly popular belief.

In Iran in 1951 the Iranian Parliament voted to nationalize the oil industry which was controlled by Great Britain.  The very popular Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Mossaddeq, led this movement.

The British were able to convince President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State that this was part of a communist plot.  The head of the CIA at that time was Alan Dulles, the younger brother of the Secretary of State.  Under his leadership a plot was developed to overthrow the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossaddeq.  An Iranian general offered to help overthrow him and CIA agents brought about the coup with the help of part of the Iranian army.  The effect of this coup was to unite Iranian communists, nationalists, and Shia clericalists against foreign meddling.

From this point on the Shah, Reza Shah Pahlavi, established himself as a close ally of the United States and Israel.  The United States supplied the country with most of its weapons and Israel helped them organize and maintain their secret police, the SAVAK.

The Shah, Reza Shah Pahlavi, advocated reform policies that included land reform, extension of voting rights for women, and the elimination of illiteracy.  These measures and the ever increasing arbitrariness of the Shah’s rule provoked both religious leaders and those seeking democratic reform. The clerics feared they would lose their traditional authority and the others wanted a further extension of civil rights.  Many were also angry about the Shah’s subservience to the United States.

The Shah saw himself as the heir to the Kings of Ancient Persia.  In 1967 he staged an elaborate coronation ceremony stating that he was the “Shah en Shah, ” the “King of Kings.”  A few years later he held an elaborate celebration commemorating 2,500 years of Persian monarchy.

In 1976 the Shah replaced the Islamic calendar with an imperial one which began with the foundation of the Persian Empire.  Since this sidelined the Islamic religion it was seen as a threat to the clerics by minimizing Islamic beliefs causing many Muslim groups to rally around the Ayatollah Khomeini.

By using the SAVAK the Shah suppressed his opponents with arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, exile, and torture.  This, in turn, further spread profound discontent.  The Ayatollah Khomeini, who had been earlier exiled from Iran, developed this discontent into a populist Islamic ideology of absolute theocratic rule, which was spread throughout Iran by smuggled books and cassettes.  Riots erupted in Iran.

Suffering from ill health the Shah left Iran in January 1979.  He announced that he was taking an eighteen month leave of absence.  The Shah died of cancer at the end of July in 1980.

Before leaving Iran the Shah appointed Shapour Bakhtiar as Prime Minister.  He was unable to keep order and publically and foolishly invited Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran.  The Ayatollah’s return sparked a revolution and the prime minister, Bakhtiar went into hiding.  He was eventually exiled to France, where he was assassinated in 1991.

With Khomeini’s return Revolutionary Tribunals were set up and mass purges of the Shah’s supporters began.  There were executions of generals, military and police forces, SAVAK agents, cabinet ministers, and officials of the Shah’s regime.

A referendum was held in March of 1979 establishing an Islamic Regime.  Ninety-eight percent of the public approved it in a non-secret ballot.

Mehdi Bazargan was appointed Prime Minister.  At the same time anarchy gripped Iran. There was mass confusion from this point on; sometimes with horrific results. Revolutionary committees, generally not answerable to anyone took over many government tasks.  Members of the general public, from students to factory workers or civil servants, were often in control demanding a say in running the government. Officials appointed by the Prime Minister were often rejected by the lower ranks.

Meanwhile Ayatollah Khomeini, who headed the Revolutionary Council, organized his own version of the government trying to set up an Islamic Theocracy.  He mobilized street mobs to foster their version of rule upon the government.   Also minority groups like the Kurds, Arabs, and others demanded varying degrees of autonomy.  From August 1979 the Revolutionary Courts tried and passed death sentences upon members of ethnic minorities and others who caused disturbances.

In May of 1979 the Ayatollah created Pasdaran which was conceived as a force loyal to the Revolution and the clerical leaders.  This was in addition to the regular army.  Shortly afterwards Khomeini brought about the creation of the Basil Volunteers.  The two groups functioned both as internal police and as a politically reliable army for the clerics.   Later they would be the main force against Iraq when the two countries went to war.  The Ayatollah used them rather than the army whose loyalty he did not trust.

The revolutionary government gradually turned to the right as power became concentrated in the hands of the clerics.  Critics, like leftist newspapers were shut down.   The National Democratic Front was broken up.  Opposition leaders were arrested.  The power of the clerics grew.   Those who wanted democracy and thought that by eliminating the Shah they could achieve it found themselves under the thumb of a Theocracy.

The Ayatollah Khomeini and other clerics delivered extremist and threatening speeches against the United States, calling it “The Great Satan.”  They also verbally attacked its Persian Gulf allies.  But at the same time the Prime Minister, Bazargan, attempted to maintain good relations with the U.S.  This was important because a U.S. supply of spare parts was needed for the military weapons and for the oil industry.

On November 1, 1979 Prime Minister Bazargan met with President Carter’s security advisor in Algeria.  The Shah, who had cancer, had been admitted to medical treatment in the U.S.  The Iranians believed that this was part of a plot to overthrow their government.  In Iran there were demonstrations against this action.  On November 4, 1979 Islamic Iranians stormed the U.S. embassy taking 66 hostages.

The Iranian Prime Minister resigned and no one was named at that time to replace him.  The radical Revolutionary Council took over the functions of the Prime Minister.   The hostage crisis deepened.  President Carter froze several billion dollars in Iranian assets.

In April 1980 the U.S. tried to rescue the hostages but several of the helicopters failed to function over the desert sands and the mission was aborted.

Negotiations were begun to gain the release of the prisoners on November 1980.  The Embassy prisoners were not released until January 20, 1981, after the new President, Ronald Reagan, took office.

What followed the Hostage Crisis was war with Iraq.  Iran was Shiite and Iraq and most of the Middle East had Sunni majorities.  Apparently the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, saw this as an opportunity to make territorial gain at the expense of Iran.  Also, at this point, Iran had alienated most Western nations and was propagandizing rebellion throughout the Middle East.

On September 22, 1980 Iraq began a massive invasion of Iran.  Both prior to and during the war Iran encouraged discontent among the Middle Eastern nations.  In Saudi Arabia it instigated riots among some Shiite communities.  In Lebanon Iran backed and armed terrorists who kidnapped U.S. and British citizens.

The war would cause about a million casualties on both sides.  Iraq used gas and chemical weapons during the war; Iran did not.  Both countries agreed to a compromise peace after Iraq had made some territorial gains.

After the war the government of Iran moved farther to the right, imposing an Islamic legal system and an Islamic code of social and moral behavior.  This sparked a rebellion from opposition elements within the country.  The government responded with heavy repression. 50 to 100 people were tried before revolutionary courts daily and sentenced to death.  Eventually widespread revulsion caused the government to slowly terminate this policy of repression.  By then almost all opposition parties had been done away with.

Beginning in 1985, the Reagan Administration violated its own laws in the Iran-Contra deal.  Israel and other intermediaries sold military hardware to Iran in return for cash and the release of one or more U.S. hostages.  The Reagan Administration used the money to finance an illegal war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

On June 3 1989 the Ayatollah Khomeini died of a heart attack.  He was replaced by the president, Ali Khamenei, as the Supreme spiritual leader.   At this time the Iranian economy was devastated by the war, the Western trade boycotts, and the erratic economic policies of the government.

In 1997, Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami was elected president.  He pursued political reform and modernization, with the support of broad sections of the society.  Many of his efforts toward democracy were frustrated by the veto power of the Supreme Council which was controlled by the new Ayatollah.   Shia Iran does not support terrorist groups like the Sunni Al-Qaeda terrorist network. She has cooperated in arresting Al-Qaeda members.  But she does support terrorist Shiite groups like the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad in Gaza and the West Bank, and other similar groups throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Early in the 21st Century Iran began a program of nuclear development, claiming that she wanted to develop nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel.  Teheran is highly polluted because of vehicle and refinery emissions.

Through reports of informants it was discovered that Iran was also developing high grade uranium that could be used in the manufacture of atomic bombs.  Traces of highly enriched uranium have been found at Iranian nuclear sites.  The Iranians claim that these traces were present in the machinery shipped to them from abroad.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardliner, was elected president of Iran in 2005.  At home he instituted strict dress codes and the persecution of minorities.  He refused to stop the enrichment of uranium that was demanded by the United Nations.  He conducted a racist campaign of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

In the 2009 Presidential Elections Mahmoud had an overly large victory.  Opponents claimed fraud and many rioted to protest the election.  The government supported him and killed and arrested a number of protesters.  The 2013 Presidential Election tended to be more honest and Ahmadinejad was disqualified as he had already held the office for two terms.

Throughout recent history there has been a dichotomy running through Iranian history. On the far right are the clerics, headed by an Ayatollah with an absolute veto over any civil law, while on the center vying to the left there has been the civil government. Meanwhile the country has been under economic sanction from the Western world.  In addition the United States and the other Western nations have essentially frozen their bank accounts to the sum of many billions of dollars, euros, etc.  The people of Iran have undergone all sorts of misery, economic and otherwise, having far lower standards of living than they should have.  How far can the clerics go against the will of their people before the people rise up against them?  It’s an interesting question.  They may  reach a compromise position with the current P5+1 negotiations.

The Weiner Component #123 – Part 1: A History of Iran and the Middle East

Long before Jesus Christ was born, Persia (Iran) had conquered most of what is today the Middle East.  In 539 B.C. they captured Ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia.  During the 5th Century B.C. Darius, their ruler, invaded the Greek mainland.  His armies were defeated in the Battle of Marathon.  The following century, in 330 B.C., Alexander the Great of Macedon conquered Persia and Mesopotamia.  With the death of Alexander his empire passed to his generals and the region came under the control of the Seleucids, who would rule until the Romans conquered them.         *******************************

In the late 6th Century Muhammad was born in the city of Medina in what is today Saudi Arabia.  He was considered by Muslims to be the last profit of God sent to restore the original monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.  To people of the West he is considered the founder of Islam.

During the early 7th Century Muhammad unified most of the Arabian Peninsula through religious warfare.  He destroyed all the pagan symbols that existed and declared that there is only one God and Allah is his name.  He died in 632 and was succeeded by Abu Bakr as the first Rashidun caliph.

With Muhammad’s death there also occurred the first major split in Islam with two major denominations coming into being: the Shia and the Sunni.   Approximately 90 to 96% of all Muslims are Sunni and 6 to 10% are Shia.  Sunnis are the majority in most Muslim communities.  Shia make up the majority population in Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain, as well as being a large minority in Lebanon.

The split between the two occurred in 632, when the prophet Muhammad died, over his succession as caliph.  Today there are differences in religious practices, traditions, and customs.  Both groups consider the Quran to be divine.

Over the years Sunni-Shia relations have been both cooperative at times and marked by conflict at other times.  Sectarian violence exists from Pakistan to Yemen and is a major element of friction throughout the Middle East.  The tensions between communities have intensified during power struggles, such as the Iraqi War and recently during the Syrian Civil War.  The formation of ISIS and its advancement into Syria and Iraq have added to these tensions.

After Muhammad’s death Islam spread generally by conquest westward through North Africa to Spain and also Northward through the Middle East and then Westward toward Europe.

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In 1299 A.D. the Ottoman Turkish Sunni Islamic Empire was established.  By 1389 it was transformed by further conquests into a transcontinental nation and claimant to the Islamic Caliphate.  In 1453 they overthrew the remnants of the Eastern Roman Empire and conquered Constantinople, which became their capital and thereafter was called Istanbul.

During the 16th and 17th Centuries the Ottoman Empire reached its height, controlling much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, and North Africa.  By the year 1600 the Empire had 32 provinces and numerous vassal states.  It was the center of interactions between Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries.  Afterward it went into a period of gradual decline and was dissolved after World War I, where it supported the losing side.  It emerged after 1918 as the State of Turkey.

It’s Middle East and other possessions became spoils of war, which were taken over by the European victors of WWI as colonies under the term issued by the World War I Versailles Peace Conference as “mandates.”  The theory then being that since these states had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire they were not ready in 1918 to rule themselves; consequently they needed guidance by the victorious European nations.

After World War II many of these “mandates” were entitled “Trust Territories” by the United Nations and given or returned to their former colonizers.  But after World War II many of these “Trust Territories” revolted against their European colonizing countries and when it became too expensive to hold onto these colonies it was discovered that they had reached a state where they were ready for self-government.  Many, like Persia (Iran), became fully independent with ties to their former European elder relative (England).

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This, of course, is a very thumb-nail sketch of several thousand years of history but it makes the relevant point that the European Industrial Nations colonized much of the non-industrial world well into the 20th Century and gave up those possessions only when they became too expensive to hold.  What I have not gone into but is equally relevant is that the citizens of these Mandate-Trust Territories were treated as second class citizens by their European masters and exploited by them for profit.  There is an historic chain of resentment that still exists from this behavior.

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While Persia was separate from the Ottoman Empire prior to WWI it still came under European influences by Russia in the north and Great Britain in the south and east.  In 1901 oil was discovered in the country.  By 1907 there was an Anglo Russian agreement dividing Persia into two Spheres of Influence.  During WWI (1914-1918) Persia was occupied by Russian, British, and Ottoman troops.

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While the countries surrounding Iran were eager for more land there were other important reasons for European nations wanting control in Iran.  These go back to a change that occurred in England around 1800.  It was called the Industrial Revolution. Manufacturing changed from hand-made items to machine-made products; when industrial production went from handicrafts to machine manufacture.  This process began in Great Britain in the cotton production industry and gradually spread to the rest of the world.  It required a constant, ever increasing supply of markets and a constant, ever increasing, supply of raw materials.  It set up a competitive race for colonies.  And it also ushered in the Age of Imperialism, which essentially lasted until after WWII.

The terminology underwent gradual changes, as we’ve seen, beginning with the term colonies and colonial empires, to Mandates, Trust Territories, and Spheres of Influence. Industrial nations ruling non-industrial countries.  Those that also manufactured guns and cannon against those who did not have the technology.  The English utilized such phrases as “The sun never set upon the British Empire.”

In some cases they were protective areas, supposedly independent states but run by European advisors.  The French had the French Foreign Legion to keep order; King Leopold II of Belgium owned and criminally exploited the Congo Free State; England used the locals as soldiers, officered by the British.  The Germans, when they began colonization in Africa, used their own military against the non-industrial peoples.

Each nation had a variation of the above. The United States, which came into this shortly before World War I, used its own military.  Whatever euphemism was used it all meant the same, these were colonies belonging to a better armed industrial nation with economic needs.

As we’ve seen after WWI the term colonies disappeared, all the possessions became “mandates.”  The term implies that these former colonies were the children being protected by adults, the mother countries, their former masters.  The term “Spheres of Influence,” which had existed earlier, also became dominant at this time.

Also, as stated earlier, after WWII the term was changed to “Trust Territories,” giving the process a slightly religious overtone.  But after W.W.II most of the so-called backward nations had had it with their colonial masters.  They revolted against them.  Most of the Trust Territories had their own independence movements.  And when it became more expensive for these industrial nations to keep their colonies than they could earn from having them, the colonizing countries discovered that their “Trust Territories” had reached the point where they could rule themselves as independent states, that it was more profitable to trade with them than to continue to exploit and rule them.

French Indo China became Vietnam and when the French Foreign Legion was finally defeated at the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu the United States replaced the French in Vietnam because of a fear of the spread of Communism and much later lost that war in 1975, and today, interestingly, the United States trades freely with Vietnam and Conrad Hilton has a hotel in Hanoi largely for American tourists who can have a very pleasant inexpensive vacation there.

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In 1901 oil was discovered in Persia (Iran).  Today the oil discovery there is estimated to be nearly ten percent of the world’s oil reserves.  Great Britain early took control of the oil through the Anglo Persian (Iranian) Oil Company.  It is interesting to note that the taxes paid to the British government in the early 20th Century was greater than the royalties Persia/Iran received from the Anglo Iranian Oil Company.

In Persia (Iran) there was in the 20th Century a series of Shahs (rulers) with Reza Shah Pahlavi ruling from 1921 to 1941.  In 1925, after suppressing several rebellions, he became Shah ruling the country until 1941, modernizing it.  In 1935 the name of the nation was changed to Iran.  Reza Shah transformed Iran into an industrial and urbanized nation.

From 1949 on the movement for nationalization of Iran’s oil industry grew.  Many Iranians were well aware that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) was paying more in taxes to Great Britain than the Iranian Government got from royalties.  By February of 1951, when AIOC finally offered fifty-fifty profit sharing, it was too late.  Sentiment for nationalization had become widespread throughout the country.  On March 15th of that year the legislature voted to nationalize the oil industry.

Oil production came to a halt as the British left the country.  Great Britain imposed a world-wide embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil and froze Iran’s assets banked in their country.  It also banned the export of goods to Iran.

The British then questioned the legality of the nationalization and brought their case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.  The Court’s verdict was in favor of Iran.  Still the dispute between Iran and the AIOC remained unsettled.   Iran’s economy underwent suffering from the loss of foreign exchange and oil revenues.

The 1950s was the time of the Cold War and the fear of the spread of communism.  Iran had a ruler, the Shah, an elected prime minister and a legislative body.

In 1953 the Eisenhower Administration approved a British plan for a joint Anglo-American operation to overthrow the popular Prime Minister who was at odds with the Shah.  A member of the U.S. CIA traveled secretly to Iran to coordinate plans with the Shah and the Iranian military.  On August 19th pro Shah Army units and street crowds defeated the forces of the Prime Minister and the plan was successfully carried out.

The coup earned the U.S. and Great Britain the lasting enmity of a large section of the Iranian population.  It united communists, nationalists, and Shia clerics against foreign meddling in Iran’s affairs.  The former Prime minister became a folk hero of Iranian nationalism.

One of the points that should have emerged is that the Iranian view of the Western nations, including the United States, is negatively tinged by the imperialistic practices which these nations practiced in exploiting them, particularly from the 20th Century on, actually with the lifetime of many Iranians still living..

They also have been caught between religious rule, traditional absolutistic rule, and an urge for democratic rule. Unfortunately the power has rested with both religious and absolute rule..  In addition the role of women varies throughout the Middle East nations. It is still in the process of being defined.

The Weiner Component #122A – Responding To Your Enquiries

This article originally appeared as #114.  It was and is an attempt to respond to all the comments I get asking for a reply.

You must forgive me for not responding to the many enquiries I receive from you. Generally I get from 300 to 500 or more responses to my blogs every day, with about 200 to 300 being specific messages and the rest being ads.  Of the messages probably 50 or more are requesting some sort of reply.  If I answered all of them I wouldn’t have time to write a blog.  My purpose here is to respond to most of your enquiries.

The blog system I am using is WordPress.  Several years ago I finished an EBook that is currently available on “Amazon.com” for a small fee.  Some of you have berated the fact that I do not have a contribution box on my blog.  If anyone wishes to contribute some money to me they can download my book, “Economics in the 21st Century.”  It is priced under $10.00 and it is an analysis of economic conditions and possibilities in the 21st Century.

Many of you have asked if I do a newsletter.  The answer is no.  I publish generally one blog a week, usually on Sunday.  If anyone wishes to get in touch with me my email address is: “bernardweiner@att.net.”  As much as possible I will attempt to answer your emails but I cannot guarantee how soon this will be as writing a blog takes quite a bit of time and energy.  Making an article look simple and natural requires quite a bit of revising.

Occasionally I get comments that there are numerous spelling errors in the blog.  The articles when published have none.  If they do exist then hackers have gotten into the article.  I am also continually asked about spam, how to get rid of it.  Within the last month advertisers seem to have temporarily dropped me.  I would suspect that eventually if you persist with your blogs most advertisers will get tired of sending you their ads.

I am not overly sophisticated in computer technology.  After I had completed my EBook I hired someone for a moderate fee to prepare and publish the book on Amazon.com and to set me up with a blog.  If you wish to set up your own blog or otherwise need technical aid he can be reached at: ”author19@gmail.com.”  For a reasonable fee he can set you up with your own blog or whatever.

Some of you have commented that the blog loads quickly and a few have stated that it does this slowly.  I would assume that in the latter case it has to do with whatever program you’re down loading onto. I’ve also gotten a number of comments that it loads badly onto Internet Explorer, running off the page.  I would recommend that you use other programs.

Some of you have asked about a plug-in which you would like to use to avoid hackers. If anyone finds one I’m sure he can sell it for a great deal of money to Sony and probably also to the U.S. Government.  If you’ve lost text or whatever on your blogs I would suggest you initially use a program like “word” and then copy it onto your blog. That way you always have a copy of what you’ve produced.

I have received at least several hundred offers to either guest write blogs or offers from those who would like to guest write articles for my blog.  While, I’m sure, these are well intended it would take too much time to deal with.  Also I am not an editor but an author. I write about with what strikes me as pertinent at any particular time.

Some of you have complained that when requesting an Email you get four similar responses.  I have had the same problem in other instances.  I am not technically savvy to know how to solve it.

I understand my blog can be found on Google, Yahoo News, Twitter, and other services.  I assume these people pick up and transmit articles they believe will be of use to their readers.

I can always be contacted through the “Comment Section” at the bottom of the blog. WordPress lists all Comments and I also receive the message as an Email.

You should easily be able to get to my blogs by typing in: “bernardweiner.com”.  A number of Bernard Weiner will come up. I am the one that’s listed as: author, historian, and economist.  That should bring up my latest blog.  If you then click “Home” toward the top of the page you will go to the current article followed by a number of recent blogs that can be read at the same time.

On the top of the first page there is a short biography in the “About Me” section and a quick synopsis of my book, “Economics in the 21st Century.”  In the “My Book” section in addition there are a number of recent blogs listed.  At this point I’ve published well over 100 articles during the last three years.  The last ten are listed in reverse order on this page.

A number of enquiries ask for permission to quote articles or sections of articles. Nothing here is copyrighted.  The articles are written to present my interpretation of much of society.  Feel free to use any blog(s) or part(s) of any blog that you feel would be useful to you or your friends.

Writing is work.  It requires thought and time.  The article must be written and generally revised.  I find the process very worthwhile because it requires thinking a subject through from different aspects.  It generally gives the author a level of understanding that he did not have before he wrote the article.

I generally tend to be about two or three weeks ahead with my blog articles and usually publish them in the order in which they are written.

I have been asked about Message Boards where numerous people can respond to a particular issue.  If any of you is interested he/she can start one up.  I’m sure the person I’ve listed above can set one up for you

Many people have complained that the articles are too short and would like me to write more on the topic.  If anyone wants more information on any particular topic they can easily look it up on the internet.  There is here endless information that can be picked up.

An occasional comment mentions videos that some of the blogs contain.  I have never included any videos in my blogs.  These would be the result of hackers who are attempting to improve or do otherwise to a blog.

I have been asked numerous times if I could recommend other similar blogs.  I am sure there are some out there but I have not spent any time looking.  Most of my information come from synthesizing information from the local news media and from some research on the internet.  Lot of information is out there but in many cases it has to be pieced together.

Next week we will deal with the Iran atomic-bomb negotiation in a series of four blogs..

English: Blogs on JoopeA

The Weiner Component #122 – Jobs: A Successful United States

n the United States today we have about 5.5% known unemployment plus, at least, if not more than 5 percent hidden unemployment. That is much too much in a country as wealthy as the U.S.  The known unemployed, register and are actively looking for work; the unknown unemployed have given up, feeling ultimate defeat they are no longer looking for jobs.

 

The existence of both these groups is a sad comment upon this country.  For a nation as rich as ours, with all the needs it has for constantly improved infrastructure there is no excuse for this situation.  We are a modern nation that is still living largely in the last century when most of our infrastructure was created.  In a manner of speaking we are like the young man who has just acquired his first automobile and expects it to last forever without any real care or maintenance.

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In late 2008, under a Republican Administration, after thirty some years of at first gradual and then accelerated economic growth in the Housing Market, the Real Estate Bubble burst and the entire economy of the United States was about to crash, beginning with the major banking houses within the country.  The Treasury Department, under a Republican Administration, extended hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to these banks to keep them solvent and functioning.

In Europe and Asia, on a smaller scale, the nations there underwent the same crisis with similar solutions.  Some of the nations of Europe like Greece and Spain, had lived richer than others on this new wealth that the banking houses had created and were far more in the red than others countries.  This was particularly true in the Eurozone.  Some of those nations underwent extreme austerity measures in order to be bailed out by the European Central Bank or the other nations in the Eurozone.  This was done in 2009. They are still in extreme economic troubles.

In the United States we went from at least 12% unemployment in 2009 to 5.5% by 2015. What saved the country from falling into a deep depression, deeper than that of 1929, was the Federal Government bailouts of the banks and the auto industries, plus innovative use of Monetary Policy by the Obama Administration.

Unemployment today, in early 2015, is still a problem in the U.S., particularly for the young and unskilled.  Another problem tends to be rates of pay.  The Federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour before social security, assorted taxes, and unemployment insurance are taken out.  While many states have a higher minimum wage the Republicans in Congress refuse to raise the National minimum wage.  It has existed for several years now while prices have gradually increased.

What’s interesting or odd here is that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is attempting to gain the Republican presidential nomination on a platform of “right to work” laws.  These laws mean that no business can have a closed union shop; no worker has to join a union where ever he works.  The object of these laws is to break the power of the unions across the U.S. and he probably would like to get rid of the minimum wage, as was suggested during the Reagan Administration.

Henry Ford, in his early factories, discovered or realized that if you pay your workers enough they will buy the product they are producing.  The same premise holds true today: if workers earn more they will spend more.  In essence increased spending equals increased production, and consequently more profit for everybody. Growing productivity creates jobs and raises the standards of living within the country.  And conversely the lower the national income distribution the lower the productivity and the higher the unemployment.

No one can buy goods and services with money they don’t have.  Somehow the Republican understanding of the situation throughout the country is backward; their goal, regardless of what they say or believe, is actually to reduce productivity throughout the nation and increase unemployment.  This they have very effectively done since 2011 when they achieved dominance in the House of Representatives.

If we look at their current goal of keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.  Working at that rate for 40 hours a week allows an individual to earn $290.00 a week, which works out to about $1,160 a month, and $15,080.00 for a 52 week year before assorted government withholdings.  This puts this person living alone slightly above the poverty line, which is $12,300 for one adult, $15,853 for two adults is slightly below the poverty line, $19,055 for two adults and one child is well below the poverty line, and $24,008 for two adults and two children.  If that amount is doubled by both adults working full time at that rate of pay then their condition improves but who will take care of the child or children.  It’s a sad comment upon a society that will not pay a goodly percentage of its workers enough to not live in poverty or to live just above the poverty level when they are fully employed.  We are a nation with a good percentage of employed being working poor.

There is an interesting note of irony here.  The working poor person earning the $7.25 an hour is almost below the legal poverty level.  In most states this person qualifies for food stamps and government medical aid, as well as other programs.  All these aid programs are paid for by tax dollars.  Ultimately, then, the tax payers in the country are subsidizing those businesses or industries that pay the minimum legal wage.  Consequently a good percentage of these companies’ profits are being paid indirectly by the American taxpayer.

In the April 16, 2015 issue of the L.A. Times there was an article dealing with this subject which cited a UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research study.  They reported that 56% of all state and public assistance in the United States now goes to working families.  That adds up to 153 billion a year, including 25 billion in state funding.  Individually California spends 3.7 billion, New York 3.3 billion, and Texas 2 billion on public assistance programs.  These go to, among others, fast food employees, child and home care workers, and part-time college faculty.

To quote the L.A. Times: “Last week the Colorado Fiscal Institute said 600,000 Colorado employees, or a quarter of the state’s working force earned less than $12 an hour. As a result taxpayers ante up about 304 million a year to cover their healthcare costs… It’s clear these big employers are shifting their costs to the taxpayers.”

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George W. Bush’s presidency ended in 2008 and Barak Obama became president in 2009.  Most of his early efforts were aimed at keeping a deep depression from happening.  Unemployment still increased but it was minor compared to what it might have been.

Today are there enough jobs in the society to keep everyone who wants to work fully employed?  There were jobs for everyone up until the end of 2008 before the Real Estate Bubble burst.  At that time the banking houses in the United States were encouraging people to use their homes as bank accounts and constantly withdraw their equity from their homes and spend it.  The society was flowing with money.  Once the Bubble Burst there was an intense shortage of funds and unemployment was well over 12% overnight.

There has been a large percentage of recovery since 2009 but the bulk of the National Income has gone to the upper echelon of society with very little going to the middle class and even less than that going to the bottom of society.  The distribution of the National Income is completely out of kilter.  It is encouraging, with Republican help, a shrinkage of economic prosperity.  If it were not for the creative Monetary Policy the Federal Reserve used this country would now be in the doldrums with everyone, all Republicans and Democrats, currently well off and otherwise, suffering considerably.

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The odd part of all this is that the country could easily be well off with full employment and everybody having at least a decent standard of living.  The key here is expending money in Fiscal Policy which Congress controls.  The Republicans are loath to spend money on things other than the military.  They are very conscious of the National Debt that they have mushroomed since Reagan took office but for which they claim no credit.

Interestingly the Federal Government currently owns well over 50% of its own debt. Legally, it seems, no one, with the exception of the Federal Government, can owe itself money.

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The infrastructure of the United States is still in the 20th Century.  Some of it was installed over a hundred years ago.  Underground pipes and sewers are continually breaking down and being repaired to the level where they are just usable again.  It’s currently a Band-Aid approach; barely maintaining but no really improving anything.

President Obama had a plan in 2011 to drop unemployment that the Republican House of Representatives chose to ignore for two reasons: one, He presented it and two, it cost money, which they are loath to spend on anything except the military and business expansion like the Keystone project.

The prime example of Fiscal Policy is the New Deal that Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated in 1933 when he became President during the Great Depression.  While the Republican, Herbert Hoover was President when the Great Depression broke in 1929, he was incapable of such massive spending Roosevelt began in 1933.

Roosevelt was able to fund the New Deal by doubling the money supply in the nation.  He had government officials collect all the gold coins in circulation and replace them with paper money. The value of the gold was then doubled from $18 an ounce to $36. And suddenly the money supply doubled; there was twice as much money in circulation.

While this did not get the country out of the depression it did significantly improve economic conditions.  In order to end the Great Depression the Roosevelt Administration would have had to, at least, quadruple the money supply beyond that level. That situation occurred during the 1940s when World War II broke out.

The New Deal was a series of domestic programs encompassing Relief, Recovery, and Reform and enacted from 1933 on.  It included laws passed by Congress and executive orders issued by the President.  Programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Core (CCC) made the government the largest employer in the nation.  Others like Social Security, the Fair Labor Standards Act that set maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are with us today.  Banking reform was reconstituted after the 2008 Banking Debacle.  There were a myriad of other agencies mostly denoted by the letters; all of which created jobs, upgraded whole sections of the nation, and brought about

Did the government have to do this?  Obviously not; but in so doing the Federal Government took on the responsibility of providing for the common man (forgotten man) where he could not then provide for himself.  It was in the mind of Roosevelt and his administration necessary in order to save our free capitalistic society.

This is what the current Republican Congress seems to be incapable of doing. They feel this country cannot afford this luxury today.  I suspect they also feel that the unemployed are really themselves responsible for being in that condition.  Whether there are jobs available or not is immaterial.

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Fiscal Policy is something the Federal Government is going to have to get involved with sooner or later whether they want to or not.  The infrastructure of the United States was built during our period of urbanization and industrial development, from the late 19th Century through the 20th Century.  Our growing needs then were a lot smaller than they are now.  We grew then from a country of 140 plus million to over 350 million people today.  Some of the sewerage pipes in many cities are over 100 years old.  Roads, freeways, and interstate highways have to be maintained and improved.  The electric grid that runs throughout the nation has to be upgraded.  Many schools are antiquated and should be replaced or upgraded.

All of this is mentioning only a small portion of what needs to be done.  We can take a piece-meal approach, fixing things as they break down and wait until a point comes when much of the infrastructure can no longer be repaired or the Congress can begin a process of bringing the infrastructure into the 21st Century, rebuilding for today’s population..

Money is not really the problem for the Federal Government since it owns most of its own debt.  Actually spending money would increase government tax receipts.  In fact it would significantly increase the amount of taxes received on all levels of government, city, state, and federal.

What the Republican Congress is doing by refusing to even consider fiscal policy is exacerbating unemployment, encouraging the growing wealth of the upper ten percent, working to shrink the middle class, and radically increase the lower classes.  They are working to bring back the conditions of the 1880s and 1890s when there were massive divisions between the different classes within society.

Interestingly Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, who has successfully gotten the Republican members of Congress to sign a pledge that they will, under no circumstances, raise taxes, has stated that his favorite period in U.S. history was the last two decades before the 20th Century.  It would seem he has been working very hard to bring us back to that period of inequality.

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More jobs are needed.  The current Congress will do nothing to alleviate the problem; instead they will by their actions increase it.  What will determine our future direction will be decided by the 2016 Presidential Election.  If we reelect a Republican Congress and also vote for a Republican President then conditions will continue as they are now, probably getting far worse.  If, on the other hand, both Houses of Congress are Democratic, then fiscal policy should bring about a radical lowering of unemployment and an overall return of prosperity for all levels of society.

It will be all in the hands of the voting public.  If they all vote their interests then the problem can be solved or, at least, move in the direction of a solution.  If enough people vote their beliefs or prejudices or stay at home and refuse to vote then the country will continue as we are now and probably go downhill economically.

To me the unemployment problem is ridiculous.  It can so easily be solved.  We can have full scale employment and solve our infrastructure problems at the same time.

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #121 – Nepotism & the Los Angeles Fire Department

One of the major problem plaguing the Los Angeles Fire Department for a good period of years has been nepotism. This has been an insipid problem with the LAFD.  As of January 2014 sixty percent of the LAPD recruits were white males with the exception of only one woman.  At that time thirty percent of the LAPD’s recruits had relatives who were already on the force.  Most of the thousands of applicants were immediately disqualified from the hiring process when they failed to submit their paperwork within the first 60 seconds of the application period.  Those with insider knowledge about the procedure had a significant advantage. In addition questions that were to be asked in interviews were given to insiders and practice seminars were held for many of these people. The relatives of LAFD had immense advantages over all the other people applying for these positions.

Toward the end of March, 2014 L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti suspended the city’s firefighter recruitment program. “I have determined that the Fire Department’s recruiting process is fatally flawed,” the mayor stated.  This action followed a Times report a month earlier that thousands of candidates who passed a written test were excluded from consideration for a new training class because some of their paperwork was not received in the first 60 seconds of the filing period.

The mayor had drawn links between the department’s nepotism, its lack of diversity, and its low morale.  L.A. officials have stated that they want the department to resemble the overall population of the city which contains 29 percent Hispanic and a smaller Black population.

That was a year ago.  Has the problem been resolved?  I doubt it.  It will take years of new recruiting to bring about a fire department staff in balance with the city’s population.

Meanwhile on Saturday, February 28, 2015, there was an article in the California Section of the Los Angeles Times entitled “State faults LAFD inspections.”  The lead paragraph stated that: “Study finds city Fire Department failed to regularly check hundreds of hazardous sites across city.”

It seems that the LAFD is too busy or too lazy to bother carrying out any activity other than putting out fires and rescuing people trapped in fires.  The same criticism occurred in 2011 when an earlier review criticized the LAFD.  That evaluation apparently was ignored.

The current 24 page California Environmental Protection Agency study found that the LAFD’s monitoring of chemical factories, laboratories and other storage facilities that deal with dangerous substances largely does not exist. The LAFD is failing in environmental management.  The fire department is charged with keeping the groundwater, bays, and soils free of dangerous contaminants.  This is particularly true in area near urban dwellings.

City fire inspectors were cited for 19 deficiencies. Among these they failed for years to visit facilities that were required by law to be inspected on a regular basis. One of these would be the Exide Battery Recycling Plant in Vernon, L.A.  It was cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after innumerable complaints and largely closed down in 2014.  As of early March, 2015 it has agreed to permanently close down and clean the areas that it had polluted.  The L.A. Fire Department apparently never bothered inspecting it.

Jim Bohon, the head of the state unit that conducted the review stated that: “They (the Fire Department) are failing in environmental management in a very gross way.”  This to me means that they are allowing dangerous situations to develop and persist within the city.

Bohon further commented that he did not have a complete count of the hazardous sites in the city. The state study found several hundred that had not been inspected as required, he stated. Apparently many or most of them have never been inspected.

He further said that if a plan to correct the problems isn’t in place in thirty days then the state could strip the LAFD of its inspection duties and assign them elsewhere.  The L.A. Fire Chief promised immediate reforms.  What will happen?  That is an interesting question.

On its internet web page the L.A. Fire Department calls itself one of the best in the country. (If this is true then I’d hate to think what all the others are like.) They define themselves “as a full-spectrum life safety agency protecting more than four million people…Every day the LAFD responds to more than 1,112 calls. Department Rescue Ambulances transport more than 571 people to area hospitals every day.  The firefighters in 106 fire stations respond to traffic accidents, strokes, heart attacks and, without question, fire…The LAFD 3,246 uniformed fire personnel, including 270 Firefighter/Paramedics, protect life, property and the environment in fire prevention, firefighting, emergency medical care, technical rescue, hazardous materials mitigation, disaster response, public education and community service.”

Are these figures accurate?  Does the Fire Department actually successfully carry out all these functions?  Are they too busy to actually carry out all their legal prescribed jobs?  Is the occupation one that requires very little from its members – a sort of working retirement that pays well and actually requires almost nothing from its members? These are other interesting questions.

One gets the impression that a firefighting job in Los Angeles is a plum devoutly to be desired.  It would seem that once someone is hired he is set for life with a comfortable salary, good insurance coverage, and a positive retirement plan.  The competition for these jobs are so great that, as we’ve seen, the department will not accept applications after the first 60 seconds of officially receiving them.  Was that rule set up to limit the number of applications or to insure that mainly the relatives of LAFD employees would be hired?

To read their posted materials one get the impression that they are a very hardworking dedicated group. They may be, in their own thinking, hardworking, but if so, then they are largely disorganized.  They have not been able to function properly since before their 2011 inadequacy report.

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Nepotism, particularly large scale nepotism, as was and possibly still is practiced by the Los Angeles Fire Department, can be a serious problem.  It tends to create a hostile environment.   People see all the working members of their families employed by the LAFD, sometimes for generations, with their fathers, sons, uncles, cousins, and brothers all working for the Fire department.  This is a large elite group and then there is everyone else.  Advancement, promotions would go to this special group.  They, in turn, would feel superior to the rest of the fire fighters.  The others would feel like second class members of the work force and certainly resent it.  All this leads to low moral throughout the department.  Some of the people at work spend their time feeling superior and the others have a negative feeling at work.

Not only does this not lead to a healthy department it can also explain why the LAFD has failed to carry out all its legal functions.  One group redefined its function and the other didn’t care.

Will the department now fulfill all its functions and monitor all the unsafe sites in the city?  That’s a good question. It didn’t after the 2011 evaluation.

On Thursday, March 19, 2015, the L.A. Times on its front page ran an article entitled “Fire Dept. cracks down on cheaters.”  It stated that “a number of Los Angeles Fire Department employees could lose their jobs or face lesser punishment as part of a crackdown on cheating in the agency’s hiring process.  The number of employees who will undergo this process is less than 50.  These employees improperly obtained and shared confidential testing information used in hiring.  A day earlier the department began testing over 4,500 applicants.  The test were given under tight security in order to avoid “favoritism and dishonesty.”

All this is commendable if it continues. But less than 50 cheaters on a staff of well over 2,000 employees seems a fraction of those guilty of nepotism.  And how many years should this process take to match the populations of Los Angeles County?

As a footnote early in April of 2015 members of the LAFD held a picnic in which they lauded the fact that families had multiple employees of the Los Angeles Fire Department.  They were cheering the fact that nepotism existed in their place of employment.

Rescue Ambulance 104

Rescue Ambulance 104 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #120 – The Shrinking Economic World: Interdependence

Seal of the United States Federal Reserve Syst...

English: Clockwise from top-left: Federal Rese...

English: Clockwise from top-left: Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, Bank of Canada (Note: Uploaded for use on Wikinews) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Logo of the United States Tennessee Valley Aut...

On the one hand each nation today tends to be strongly nationalistic seeing itself as a unique entity while on the other hand each of the national and regional groups are also strongly interdependent. When any one nation is adversely affected economically then all the others are also negatively impacted. A prime example of this would be the late 2008 bursting of the U.S. Real Estate Bubble whose effect was felt throughout the major industrial nations for at least seven years.

We are today in the 21st Century and interdependent; either we all prosper or we are all undergoing stages of recovery from different levels of recessions. This situation seems to be intensified in some of the 19 nations that make up the Eurozone, which is actually a smaller version of the overall economic world. Whether they survive as an economic unit or not depends upon decisions they will make in the next few months

Most countries have a central government bank like the Federal Reserve in the United States or the European Central Bank for the Eurozone but there is a wild card in all these countries or regions and that is the private banks. To some extent they are limited by the National Banking House but mainly they operate for profit in a Market Economy environment. These banks are motivated by profit and their lending policies can create money or shrink the expenditure of funds within an economy.

An example of this would be in the U.S. after the Real Estate Bubble burst in late 2008. The major banks had recently been bailed out of bankruptcy by the Federal Government with loans and were expected to have a loose money policy to enhance economic recovery. The private banks, however, became ultra-conservative, essentially hording their monies and considerably slowing down the rate of economic recovery.

These banks as they exist today are necessary for the functioning of any National economy.  But, mainly, they exist for profit through fees or the interest rate they charge on their depositor’s savings and checking accounts.  The banks are responsible for the flow of money through the entire economy. Their CEO’s or presidents take home salaries in the millions of dollars while the government banking houses like the FED or ECB take home salaries that are in the thousands of dollars. These private banks are necessary, yet they pose a contradiction within the Free Market system.

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The economic system of a nation works simply. It always seems to follow the following

model.

IMG

                                  THE NATIONAL BUSINESS CYCLE MODEL

 

The above model is continuous.  The duration of each cycle can vary from a relatively short period of one to several months to a number of years.  The Great Depression of 1929 lasted until the Second World War, ten to twelve years before recovery was completed.

All of this operates in a Market Economy where the forces of the Market or Free Enterprise determine what is happening.   And what causes the Market to operate is the goal of profit.  During a period of prosperity many businesses that are doing well want to expand and do better.  They generally borrow money from the banks in order to do this. There may in addition be a shortage of labor and wages will be bid up raising the costs of production. Eventually more is produced than can be sold, be it manufactured items or food products; prices drop, there is overproduction, people are laid off, unemployment rises.  The economy moves into a recession which can lead into a depression or if it misses that then directly into the recovery stage, and the cycle eventually begins again with a level of recovery.  This pattern has been endless lasting at times for months and at other times for years, or for some period between the two. And always it has been propelled by profit

This is, of course, a simplification of the many forces at work within each economy during the business cycle but it is essentially the root that powers the economies, the wild card that the Central Banks can never really totally control.  And when one country is affected it is like a virus that then spreads and in different degrees affects other nations.

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It can be and has been argued that a planned economy controlled by central planners in the government, as it was in the Soviet Union, never worked. They were always beset by bottlenecks when production stopped while the factory waited for some necessary part to be produced and shipped to them before they could finish their product. This did occur prior to World War II when the Soviet Union was undergoing its 5 Year Plans that were to turn it into an industrial nation.  And if we check carefully we will find that it did also occur in countries with the Market System.

It can also be argued that this is a form of socialism which is by definition bad and has never worked.  But if one examines the history of socialism he or she finds that it is a late 19th and early 20th century form of utopianism, which in many cases also had religious overtones. They were reaching for a state of being in an early industrial society where everyone could live happily and fairly ever after.  We are looking at a state of being that could not, with the limited resources that existed then, really exist at that time in history.

What we are considering now is a state of being that is utilitarian; that is a possible and logical outcome to what is the most efficient course of action today. Most industrial nations have from some to many aspects of the society that are operated by the government for the public good.

In the United States, for example, there is Social Security, Medicare, and Affordable Health Care to name some social programs.  One can even quote the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) which serves only a section of the country supplying water and electricity sold by the Federal Government.  Even some municipalities will sell water and/or electricity to their residents.  These are all social programs run for the public good rather than for profit.

Most industrial nations have many more social and industrial programs that cover their citizens from the cradle to the grave. Their taxes are high but their protections for their citizens are far more extensive than those in the United States where many of these programs cost the citizens far more than these other industrial nation’s people pay for them in taxes.

The problem as it exists in the United States and many other industrial nations is that most of the major banking houses are too big to fail.  They keep a goodly percentage of the cash flowing through the economy.  If they were to disappear by going bankrupt through bad speculation or otherwise then the nation or nations would go into a deep depression.  The banks are in the business of making large profits with their depositor’s money, which generally is insured by the Central or National Government, but their executives make decisions that could lose that money as happened toward the end of 2008 when the Real Estate Bubble burst.  The governments bailed out most of the banking houses like the Bank of America.  The banks were needed for the economy to keep functioning.

If we, as individuals, invest money foolishly we can lose our investment but if the banking houses do it the National Government using taxpayer money will have to pay for the loses. They seem to have an advantage over the rest of the society, a very unfair advantage.

In the March 4, 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Times there was a short article dealing with the J.P. Morgan Chase bank.  They were to pay 25,000 thousand homeowners $50 million for failing to properly review payment-charge notices sent to these homeowners in bankruptcy.  The bank acknowledged that it filed about 25,000 payment change notices without a proper review.  They were signed in the names of employees who no longer worked for the company or who hadn’t reviewed the filings.

If we do a review of the major banking houses from 2009 to the present we find that all of these banks paid fines to the Federal Government of multimillions of dollars for various nefarious and outright dishonest practices with virtually no one going to prison for any of the illegal activities.  Outside of a fine there has been no legal penalty for banking houses instigating illegal activities.  In fact even after the fines were paid the banks, in most cases, still made a profit on these activities.

Are there solutions to these problems?  The banking practices as they now work are completely out of kilter with the needs of society.  In fact in many instances they seem to go against the interests of the general public.  A simple solution to this would be in the United States to expand the powers of the Federal Reserve which would allow them to deal directly with the general public.

The Federal Reserve divides the United States into twelve Federal Reserve Zones. Each has a main Federal Reserve Bank and ancillary banks.  The zones could be expanded to also include Federal Commercial Banks that would deal directly with the public

There are many advantages to this. The Federal Reserve can exercise its power more rapidly over the overall economy as it continually adjusts the business cycle and national cash flow, keeping the economy in a healthier state.  The contradictions in the system disappear with the Federal Banks serving the people for their benefit and not for profit.  It makes for a far healthier economy and the negative shifts in the business cycle should be massively reduced in a positive direction.

As to the concept of interdependence we need a consortium of the heads or leaders from each of the National Banks who would meet regularly and have the power to deal with the problems that affect all the member nations.  They can work toward international levels of prosperity for all the member nations.

Is all of this possible in today’s world?  The major nations are presently cooperating in the direction of ending national flare-ups.  They are cooperating in attempting to wipe out the terrorist group ISIS and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa.

Setting up an international economic consortium would just be another step in this direction.  Currently there is the G-20, an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major nations.  It attempts to address issues that are international in content.  Collectively the G20’s nations account for around 85% of the gross world products, 80% of world trade, and 2/3ds of the world’s population.

They have been meeting annually since 1999.  Actually under other names they have been meeting since the end of World War II.  The leaders of these nations confer together and can bring home recommendations to their individual governments.  If the individual nations were to give up a percentage of their sovereignty the group’s representatives could meet more often and they could be given power to implement their economic recommendations as acts of international law.

In addition there is the United Nations which has operated on various levels since 1945, the end of the Second World War.  In part it has been politicalized but that can be changed and it can be brought to operate as a world union

The tools for all these changes already exist. All that is required is that they are positively developed.

German Logo of the ECB.

German Logo of the ECB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #119 – The Killing of Two Policemen in Brooklyn, New York

Picture of Rudy Giuliani

Most of the news media have been rapped up examining the murder of two policemen on the morning of December 21st in Brooklyn, New York.  Former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association both stated that there was “blood on the hands” of demonstrators and elected officials who criticized police tactics. Apparently they saw the response to the killing of 18 year old unarmed Michael Brown and the suffocation Eric Garner, in addition to the constant killing of essentially Black teenagers and young adults, as well as a twelve year old playing in a park near his home, as the cause of this murder.

I have a problem with these idiot comments by men like the two above who should know better but insist upon taking a simplistic and political approach to life, going ballistic over an unfortunate event and attempting to gain political points for themselves in the process.

The murder of the two police officers in Brooklyn, New York by a lone assailant, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who happened to be a Black man that had a history of mental illness and police arrests going back over a number of years; who after he shot the police officers ran a block to a subway station and there shot himself through the head.   If we ask why he did it?  The answer would put him on a level with Giuliani and Lynch except that his reasoning was dark and irrational while the other two thinking would be aimed at political gain for themselves.

There is a protest movement going on in the United States about the killing of unarmed young Black males by police and others. This currently seems to be at least a weekly event if not more often and in practically all cases is ruled, generally by a Grand Jury or District Attorney, as justifiable homicide.  Strangely, in a society that is mostly white, I don’t find any cases of young white males or Caucasian children, while playing with toy guns, being shot by officials or others justifiably when unarmed.  Something seems to be out of kilter.

The protest movement seems to have temporarily quieted down while the memorial and funeral for these two police officers was taking place. Meanwhile a number of policemen have gone ballistic in frustration denouncing anyone who refused to absolutely blame the protest movement and any liberals like the President and Attorney General for this heinous crime.  One of the leading Fox News commentators, who likes to make God-like comments which have no basis in reality, Bill Reilly, has called upon the major of New York City, Bill de Blasio, to resign.  I’m surprised he didn’t call upon the President and Attorney General to do likewise.

None of these officials or the police seems to be concerned with the endless number of deaths of unarmed black men caused in many cases by armed policemen. They don’t seem to matter compared to two murdered police officers.

In Milwaukee, a policeman who killed a Black man on April 30, 2014 will not have to face charges. The District Attorney called the case “justified self-defense.” The police officer, Christopher Manney, encountered the black man while he was sleeping in a park. He patted him down. The man, Dontre Hamilton awoke. A physical encounter occurred.  Hamilton got hold of Manney’s baton and began beating the officer with it. Manney fired 14 times killing Hamilton with shots to the chest.  Hamilton was 31 years old; his family stated that he suffered from mental illness. The police officer was fired for treating Hamilton as a criminal when he had known he had mental problems.

The issue that emerges here is firing 14 bullets. One shot should have been sufficient to stop him. Firing 14 times indicates a man who has lost control of himself and is blindly responding.  In Ferguson the police officer fired even more shots at the18 year old, Michael Brown. Before the Grand Jury the police officer spoke of seeing the teenager as a living demon. The issue here is: Who hires these people?  They seem to have a secret fear of all Black males.  They certainly don’t have enough emotional stability to be police officers.  Isn’t there or shouldn’t there be a battery of tests, written and otherwise, that can at least determine if the individual is stable enough to be a police officer?

The issue here deals with the value of a human life, of all human beings.  Are the police officers lives worth that much more than the Black youngsters that are killed?  Is the implication in the United States that white lives are very valuable but black ones are almost without any real value? What is happening throughout the country would seem to indicate this.  And if this is true it is a definite breach of the Constitution which states that all men are equal.  The whole system of values seems to be out of kilter.

A human life is a wondrous thing. Each and every individual has a potential for some great achievement.  To deprive anyone of his life goes against what this country stands for.  Even the perpetrators who are taking these lives diminish themselves in the process.  Whatever they feel they are accomplishing they are actually diminished by their act of mayhem, be it legally justified or not.

In the case of the two police officers who were virtually ambushed the question that comes up before me is: How did the shooter get hold of a gun?  To my knowledge no one has asked this question. The man had a criminal record and was mentally disturbed.  By what process could he legally or otherwise acquire a pistol?

I understand that the National Rifle Association, with its influence in Congress and the state legislatures, scores every lawmaker continually on his position toward guns, their sale and use and will financially support those who favor their position, with contributions.  I also understand that they are against gun checks of persons securing weapons as, I imagine, this would lessen the amount of pistols and ammunition sold.  To what extent are they responsible for the current gun culture in the United States? There are more concealed weapons being carried around today than there were in the wildest days of the wild-west in this country.

Are guns so easy to acquire on the East Coast of the United States that anyone, regardless of his background, can get one at will?  Has the NRA been successful in making the laws so inept that anyone can easily and legally acquire a pistol?  There’s certainly something wrong with the laws on the East Coast of the United States when a crazy with a history of mental illness and a criminal record can show up at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and threaten to shoot himself and then shoot her the day before he goes to New York City and arbitrarily murders two policemen.

If responsibility has to be placed at someone’s doorstep in this case it should rest at the door of the NRA whose goal seems to be to put a weapon in the hands of everyone regardless of their mental state or their criminal history.  Who is responsible for this outrage?  Mostly the National Rifle Association and their continuing lobbying policies are.  Unfortunately this episode will play out otherwise.

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A tragic incident has occurred.  No one will question that. Will we continue to have reenactments of these tragedies?  Isn’t it time for legislation both on the state and federal levels to bring about sensible laws concerning gun culture in the United States for both the perpetrators of these tragedies and for their victims?

I am reminded of John Donne’s 17th Century poem which is as valid today as it was when it was first written.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod is washed away by the sea,

Europe is less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thine own

Or of thine friend’s were.

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

The Weiner Component #118A – Undermining the President

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Never in moments of intense fantasizing could I conceive of anyone or any one group in Congress attempting to disrupt the President in foreign policy negotiations. For that matter neither could I visualize the Speaker of the House of Representatives inviting a foreign leader to address a joint session of Congress on a policy directly opposed to that of the President of the United States.

What we have here is a question of Why did these actions occur? What caused the Speaker and 47 out of the 54 Republican members of the Senate to act in this fashion, to go against the policies of the President, who constitutionally is our chief negotiator in dealing with foreign powers? And to do this in the midst of delegate negotiations without knowing anything specific about them except that they are at a critical point.

To what are all these Republicans really objecting? The probability is that if these negotiations fail there will eventually be war with Iran to keep Iran from developing an atomic bomb. If there is a war it will be far bloodier than that fought in Iraq. Iran has four times the population of Iraq and a well-developed military. None of these 47 Senators are or will be volunteering their children to serve in the military.

What strikes me, and does so very sadly, is that these people are basically reacting to their conscious or unconscious feelings about a Black man being President of the United States; they are reacting to their inner prejudices, probably to their feelings of superiority and/or inadequacy. They resent and, in some cases, hate the current President of the United States. They would actually prefer war to having the President achieve a diplomatic victory.  I would suspect that most of them aren’t even aware that these negotiations are not just between the United States and Iran but actually between Iran and the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. In point of fact most of the economic sanctions against Iran are being leveled by our allies or fellow negotiators.

The basic objective is to keep Iran from being able to build an atomic bomb.  If Iran were to have its own atomic bomb would she be able to use it? The answer to that is in the negative. If she were to threaten to use it against Israel then Israel could threaten to use a similar weapon against Iran. They would be able to totally destroy each other.

North Korea, which has a totally irrational government, has developed its own atomic bomb. This allows it to bluster a lot against its neighbors and run assorted missile tests into the ocean but there is no way it will use the bomb because it would be an act of suicide. North Korea has an atomic bomb but its enemies like the United States and Russia have much larger atomic weapons.  It would be like someone with a firecracker attacking someone with a stick of dynamite.

Iran, which is far less irrational than North Korea, would be even less inclined to use her weapon.  Also the major reason for the negotiations from Iran’s prospective is to end all the sanctions that have been applied against her, most of which have been placed by United States allies.

If Iran can come to terms with her enemies and openly trade with the rest of the world then the standard of living will rise significantly for all her citizens.  It is greatly to her advantage to become an equal member with all the other nations of the world.

She wants to be free to develop the use of atomic energy in her country.  A proper compromise would be to allow her to do this without her being able to produce enriched material that could be used in making a bomb.  And, at the same time, have the sanctions against her dropped.  Can this be done to everyone’s satisfaction?  That is what the negotiations are about.

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Under the staunch leadership of Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a junior senator, who has taken his seat in the Senate two whole months earlier, the GOP (Grand Old Party) sent a letter to the Ayatollah of Iran trying to undercut the international negotiating currently going on between Irans and P5+1.  This group consists of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France. The plus one is Germany.

When Tom Cotton was first interviewed after the announcement of sending the letter to the leaders in Iran he acted as though he had just discovered the wheel, the mechanism that would put him in charge of future dealings with Iran.  He seemed to have the impression he was ready to negotiate between both Republicans and Democrats for future outcomes with Iran.  Forty-six other Republican Senators signed the letter, the remaining seven did not

Whether he understood it or not this was an attempt to undermine the Constitutional powers of the President of the United States.  On the internet there is currently a petition to the President being organized, which currently has over 150,000 signatures, requesting that these 47 Senators be tried for treason.  The Republicans have made an international negotiation aimed at limiting Iran’s atomic ambitions into a political party partisan issue not only against the President of the United States but also against five of their allies.. The majority of Republican Senators have lined up with the Iranian hardliners who want no negotiations, interesting bedfellows.

Cotton and his fellow Republicans offer no alternative plan. Statements made indicate that they eventually expect complete capitulation by the Iranians.  The image of their ability that they have given to the rest of the world is pathetic.  In fact both liberal and conservative newspapers denounced their action in the harshest terms.

Imagine attempting to make an agreement with your enemy against the leader of your country. The Iranian leaders have denounced this as a propaganda attempt. The majority of the 47 Senators have come out with lame excuses for what they did.  Senator John McCain blamed it on a snowstorm and wanting to catch a plane out of Washington, D.C. Friday night before the storm struck. He didn’t have time to read the letter; he just signed it.  Others stated it was a joke and President Obama didn’t have a sense of humor by not seeing it.  President Obama said he was “embarrassed” for the Iran letter signers.

Tom Cotton sees nothing wrong with what he did.  For the first time in the history of the United States he has made negotiating with a foreign country a political partisan issue, something that was inconceivable the day before it happened.

If this is an example of Republican dominance in Congress, then God help us for the remaining two years until the next election. For there is no one else that can.

To site Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher of the 1920s and 1930s, the children (Congress) were loose in the China Shop and they were all swinging their little hammers freely. Hopefully the destruction will not be too extensive.

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As a footnote it should also be remarked that there is an interesting level of irony occurring between the United States and Iran.  Both countries consider ISIS a threat to the Middle East and both countries are presently at war with ISIS.  The U.S. is conducting an air war continually bombing the ISIS military and facilities on the ground and Iran is involved in military ground operations against them.  The two countries are currently engaged separately on the same side in a war.

Currently the Iraqi military with Iranian forces and generals are fighting against the ISIS extremists in a hard fought battle to retake the city of Tikrit in the northwest section of the country, which they are expected to win, the first major victory against ISIS by Iraqi and it allies troops.

Interestingly, the article that stated this fact in the L.A. Times on Wednesday, March 12, 2015, made no mention of the Iranian participation; they just called them allied militiamen.  From what I understand most newspapers and TV commentators have made no mention of the Iranian military participating in this war.  For some strange reason this seems to complicate the War against ISIS.  It makes it an anomaly for most Republicans.  How can they accept Iran as an ally in the war against ISIS?

If we go back before the present government existed in Iran, when it was ruled by the Shah, then the U.S. was close allies with that country. We could move in that direction again.

If we think back to the Vietnam War, the longest war in U.S. history, which we eventually lost, then consider that today there is a Hanoi Hilton where Americans stay when visiting that country as tourists and the country, Vietnam, does advertise for tourists to visit their friendly shores.

Many of our enemies of yesterday are our friends of today, for example take one of our closest allies, the British, originally we went to war with them, twice.  The first one was called the American Revolution and the second The War of 1812.  Is this pattern of eventual friendship suddenly likely to change in this instance? After all we are allies with them in the fight against ISIS.

(Footnote: I’m averaging about 250 to 350 comments each day.  Among these I get numerous requests for information.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of these are answered in The Weiner Component #114 – Responding to Your Enquires.)