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 #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.)