The Framework Agreement on Iranian Nuclear Everything: Questions

Today, the day after President Obama announced in the Rose Garden a “framework agreement” intended to limit the Islamic Republic of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, I read the Wall Street Journal account carefully but it did not help. I don’t understand it. It may just be too early for a good analysis. In the meantime several questions loom large in my mind.

  1. If I don’t understand the details, do I believe in an agreement with a hostile country described by a man who promised that “you could keep your doctor”?
  2. Do I believe that this agreement is to the advantage of the United States? The question arises because it was negotiated principally by two men with a track record. The first, Pres. Obama, succeeded in exchanging five terrorist generals for a single American soldiers who is a deserter according to those who were on the battlefield with him. The second, the current Secretary of State, demonstrated that you could leave the Palestinian/Israeli relationship in an even worse state than you found it.
  3. The President and the Secretary of State did not manage, as a part of this supposedly momentous agreement, to get three Americans held by Iran released. One of them is a former Marine. It should have been a tiny footnote to the main text. Ah, well, there is no text, just an oral argument! Frankly, in the bigger picture the freeing of three people is a small, symbolic thing. Symbols matter a lot though when you don’t have access to the hard facts. I don’t, you don’t.
  4. Is the mullahs’ government – that always cheated in the past – going to abstain from lying, this time? If it does not, is this agreement going to be the cause of the death of thousands of innocent Iranians (as collateral damage)? I ask because, the next administration may not have the current administration’s difficult-to-believe indulgence. It may just decide to take care once for all of a sore festering for twenty years. If an American administration does no such thing, what is the likelihood that a future (future) government of Israel will take the chance to see millions of Jews murdered? This is not gratuitous fear mongering. Two days before the announcement, an Iranian general was on TV affirming that Israel has no right to exists.
  5. Do I believe that our European partners will stand firm and renew their sanctions if Iran is caught cheating? The question arises because they were salivating on all their national TV at the prospect of selling, selling anything in Iran once the sanction were lifted.

On the bright side, the lifting of some sanctions will unleash a torrent of Iranian oil on the world market. This will further depress of global oil prices. One more thorn in the foot of the gangster Putin.

61 thoughts on “The Framework Agreement on Iranian Nuclear Everything: Questions

  1. I don’t see how this could be anything but an improvement over the status quo. The fact that sanctions will end means that everyday Iranians will once again have choices, and the fact that the Iranian government limits these choices will once again become prominent in the minds of Iranians (as opposed to the prominence of Western sanctions being the cause of everyday Iranian misery).

  2. I thought about a point-by-point rebuttal to Jacques’ blitherings but why bother. Jacques still thinks that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea, it’s no surprise that he and the other chickenhawks think that war with Iran is a Wonderful idea.

    @Brandon. It looks promising but still too early for relief. The reason Jacques still doesn’t understand the details is not just that he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed; there are no details yet. We’re not out of the woods till we see the agreement at the end of June.

    PS Will someone with more patience with Jacques than I have explain to him that China is not in Europe?

    • I thought about a point-by-point rebuttal to Jacques’ blitherings but why bother. Jacques still thinks that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea

      I went through the exact same thought process.

      I agree it’s too early, and I still don’t trust Iran.

      We’re fighting with them in Iraq (and in Afghanistan, or at least we were in Afghanistan). The situation seems insane, just insane, but my biggest worry is that nothing will be learned. If the Middle East adds more states in the course of the next 20 years I’ll die a happy man.

    • I’m not a fan of adding more states. Experience has shown adding more states will make situations worse. That’s not a Solution of ME problems. That’s just a theory that even in Balkan made everything worse. It caused a long war and countries that even now don’t have good relations. The problem of ME is simple. It’s fundamentalism (except foe the case of Israel and Palestine). Islamic fundamentalism is a religious Ideology which will exist, no matter if there are many small countries or less big countries. The idea is the problem. The solution is simple too. The solution is development and economical growth. With that the culture will grow and hegemony over the religious fundamentalism. Trying to build more states will generate more dissension and division and so more WAR!

    • @Siamak

      Experience on more states is muddled, at best. The European experience within the EU, for example, has shown that more states are a solution to a problem. The Balkans shows that there is a right way and wrong way to decentralize. Slovenia – a member of the EU now – is a good example of the right way to devolve.

      The butchering of human beings done by Saddam Hussein (with American weapons) in parts of Iraq suggests that more states would have solved the “strong man” problem endemic in post-colonial states. If the Kurds or the Shia Arabs in the south had had some sort of option to opt-out of Iraq the bloodshed could have tempered.

      If the Balochs of Iran and Pakistan want to break away from Iran, should they not be free to do so?

      More states might create more conflict, but such a situation would definitely decrease the amount of violent deaths that organized violence is responsible for. South Sudan is a good example of this. Prior to independence, South Sudanese were treated as terrorists by Khartoum and dealt with – and viewed by the international community – as an internal threat, which is a nice way of saying that Khartoum had a free hand in dealing with its “rebels.”

      Now that South Sudan is independent, the violence between Khartoum and Juba is decidedly less worse (especially when you think about the situation of Darfur, a province in Sudan that has not been able to attain independence). The violence is less worse because the South Sudanese now have another outlet, in the form of the international community, that they can utilize to counter Khartoum’s authoritarianism. (They’ve also begun directing their organized violence at each other, but this only proves my point that decentralization tempers large-scale, organized violence.)

      Authoritarians don’t like decentralization, by the way. They don’t like the fact that decentralization messes with their (completely imaginary) nationalist narratives. This hard fact, coupled with the benefits that come from decentralized but interconnected polities, is what drives me to support the aspirations of separatist movements everywhere.

  3. I see something in Jacques’ questions. He keeps saying that Iran’s government may cheat just like before. That’s because he has written a journalistic article that its sources are newspapers and websites. These questions are not based on historical facts between two countries. Last night Javad Zarif on national TV of Iran told that Iran-USA relation is a disaster. He called the untrustworthy between two countries a disaster. If Jacques had a historical vision in Iran-US relations he wouldn’t ask “Is the mullahs’ government – that always cheated in the past – going to abstain from lying, this time?”
    Iran has cheated the world in the time of Ahmadinejad presidency who was elected because of the harsh policies of George W Bush against Iran. Iran’s government has not been trustful, but what about the US government? I’ll give you some exmples. There are many more If I go to 20 or even 70 years ago but I will tell you some of the recent cheatings of US government. In the Afghanistan war, Iean’s government as the old enemy of Taliban and AlQaida helped the US airforce to use Iran sky to go to Afghanistan. There were nuclear talks going and Iran’s reformist government in that time had not violated the agreements. Suddenly George Bush calls Iran “axis of evil” and against the nuclear agreements proposes sanctions against Iran. What you call that? I call it cheating! This was the main reason that after Khatami’ reformist gorernment, Ahmadinejad (a shame in the history of Iran) became president. Khatami had begun talks with Clinton to make the relations between two countries better. Bou when Bush became president everything was ruined. Obama tried to heal the relations too but it was too late because Ahmadinejad wasn’t the right person to talk to. Now this is a great time for a better future between two countries. Good time to talk. I see the will to make relations better in both sides. Yesterday president Rouhani told that Iran wants good relations with all countries. Specially those whom we had tense relations in the past. But I fear of one thing. I fear the history is repeated. I fear before the agreements have developed enough, a new neocon president is elected in the US and again everything is ruined

  4. @Siamak
    Your worry is justified but misplaced. The chance of a neocon president in 2016 is trivially small. The Republikan Klown Kar of presidential hopefuls will crash and burn in a very entertaining fashion. The Cruz/Huckabee/Perry wing can’t win but they will force the Bush/Walker/Rubio wing so far to the right in order to win primaries that they will be toast in the general election.

    Longer term things look even better. Demography is against the neocon insanity among Republicans. There aren’t enough old angry white guys now to win a national election. Pretty soon it’ll just be Jacques and some other old crank shaking their canes at each other.

    IMO, the worry is that some ‘moderate’ Democratic senators will join the neocon chickenhawks for short term local political gain. There has to be enough Democratic votes in the senate to support a veto. Cross your fingers in the short term, the longer term will take care of itself.

  5. Both Terry and Brandon kind of agree with me but their reputation requires that they appear to disagree with me, I suspect: The so-called “framework,” as presented by mainstream press, including the Wall Street Journal and NPR, does not give me enough information for me to form a judgment. (Shoot me!) I add viciously that when Attila the Hun, Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler sit together to construct a peace formula, I am skeptical. (No, no, this is just a metaphor, not a literal statement! I don’t think Mr Obama is Adolph Hitler, or Joseph Stalin, or Attila the Hun. He is more like Juan Peron as I have said repeatedly and recently: https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/facts-vs-narrative-american-peronismo.) I even agree with Brandon’s statement about the future number of states in the Middle East. The default position of rationalists should be in favor of secessions.

    Terry, like almost all liberals, never has anything new to say. So, he wants me to scratch his old itch about the 2003 invasion of Iraq lead by the second Bush administration. I make it a personal policy once on a while to oblige a liberal, (to give him false hopes; it’s a sick game, I agree.) Easter is a good time to do a good deed.

    Yes, it’s true, that I cannot make myself miss Saddam Hussein, his mass graves and his chemical bombing of villages. I was always skeptical of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) reason to go to war. I think that that single excuse was superfluous. There were 20 other separate indictments of the Hussein regime that would have served the purpose, including violations of United Nations resolutions (about which I do not, myself, give a fig but which many liberals think is a kind of legitimate world government). The Bush administration tried to simplify the matter for the great unwashed masses. I think it’s always a mistake, both from the standpoints of reason and of morality.

    Instead of listening to me, the administration listened to the reports of nearly all intelligence services in the world which affirmed that Hussein did possess WMDs. I mean, not only the Britains’ and Israel’s but also the French services although France was against the invasion. (It was against in some part because prominent French politicians were getting fat from bribes dispensed by Hussein under the ill-named “oil for food program,” itslef based on mendacious allegation : http://www.iraqwatch.org/perspectives/meria-rubin-sanctions-1201.htmfood. The tale of French high-level corruption is another story, obviously.) Incidentally, significant amounts of obsolete, non-operational WMDs were found after the invasion (“Stubborn Myths About the Iraq War,” Judith Miller, April 4-5th Wall Street Journal), not enough to justify the invasion probably but enough to mislead UN weapons inspectors. A young FBI agent got to spend many hours with Hussein before the latter went to get his just reward. He concluded that Hussein was deliberately lying about giving the impression that he had WMDs in order to deceive …Iran. He also speculated that most Iraqi generals believed that Iraq had WMDs until well into the invasion which would explain the weak military resistance opposed to the same invasion. The WMDs issue is not an open and shut case of veracity and never was.

    The additional Bush Administration affirmation that Saddam Hussein had connections to Al Qaida sounded absurd to me from the start. I can’t account for it except that one is seldom wrong when one first blames incompetence.

    Contrary to the liberal collective recollection, the invasion of Iraq did not happen through say, “executive action,” but under the authority of the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq” passed by Congress, 297 to 133 in the House, 77 to 23 in the Senate. Of course, these figures imply a strong Democrat participation in the decision to start “Bush’s War.” (Those who voted for must all have been right-wing Democrats!)

    I thought, without thinking it through that the US would follow the war undoubtedly win with the same mastery it applied to the institutional reconstruction of Japan and of Germany. Of course, I was astonished by the amateurishness and the frivolousness that the Bush administration, followed by the Clinton administration, followed by the Obama administration applied to the concrete problem of rebuilding Iraq in every way, including political.

    What’s left that is positive of the invasion in the free fall that is the Middle East as I write? Two things: Many Iraqis got to vote a couple of times in meaningful elections. They are not about to forget this experience. Other Middle Easterners also noticed. Second, Iraqis had the salutary experience of executing a despot, an experience which served well first the English and then the French, in their pursuit of democracy. It’s a good way to shake off centuries of resignation and submissiveness, I think (I, and Thomas Jefferson).

    I am still using my mind on my own. I don’t see any other option. I can’t well duplicate the striking collective memory loss of Democrats nor the absurdity of what I think is still the current libertarian party line, like this:

    Terrorists who explicitly call themselves jihadists selectively assassinate 147 Christians in East Africa. Islam has nothing to do with it. It’s America’s fault.

    Yes, Brandon: The framework announced by the president a few days ago can be much worse than the status quo: 1 It resets the clocks to the benefit of Iran’s never-ending progress toward nuclear weapons; 2 It will set new, weaker standards among the many who want to avoid confrontation at any price: “No worry about Iran, the Obama Agreement took care of the problem – if there ever was one. That’s just like Obama Care ended the scandal of health care being denied to Americans.”

    As said in the essay, I fear that the Obama Agreement – when there is one – will end up being responsible for the deaths of many innocent Iranians, just like the Munich accord was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Germans.

  6. Siamak: There is a lot in your response. Let me try to respond partially.

    One (ONE) of the things you seem to say is that I am wrong to suspect that Iran will cheat on the next agreement because it cheated on past agreements since the US also cheats and cheated in the past. Excuse me: When John lies and Peter also lies, John’s lie does not make Peter’s lie any less of a lie. John is still a liar, whatever Peter does. Others, including Peter himself, should remember that they are dealing with a liar.

    Don’t blame us for Ahmedinajad. He was produced by Iran’s representational system, just like President Obama was produced by the American representational system. I cannot declare Mr Obama illegitimate because he was produced by an institutional system I respect, in general. The fact that I think he is incompetent, anti-American, a habitual liar, and all fucked up does not in any way mean that he is illegitimate. You have to decide whether the system that produced Ahmedi is legitimate. I would not want to be in your place. Again, don’t blame us. Argentinians have been blaming Americans for their repeatable poverty for two hundred years. It did not do them any good (See: https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/facts-vs-narrative-american-peronismo.)

    You regret that I rely on journalistic sources. Of course, I do; the CIA does not often talk to me. Are there others I should consult? Reading between the lines of your essay, you may be regretting that I am not informed from sources in Farsi. I have two reactions. First, I have no interest in the declarations of a gang of self-perpetuating insane old men and not much more in what their domestic servants – such as Khatami – have to say. There is no reason to believe anything they say. I trust the CIA and other intelligence agencies are listening because it’s good to know your enemies.

    Now, I would be interested in what opponents of the regime have to say in Farsi. But then, I wonder why they seldom reach the Western Press, Right to Left. It’s not as if no one were interested. You would do many people a significant favor if you wrote about these here, on this blog. (If you are timid about your English grammar, I would guess Brandon would be willing to correct it.)

    Again, perhaps reading between the lines, I see a preoccupation in your comment about something like friendship between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran. I suspect there is not much American sentiment in favor of such friendship. I, for one, could easily be friends with individual Iranians (and I was) who are often delightful. I wish for no attachment to a political, entity where death by stoning is the punishment for adultery. By the current Iranian standard, many or most of my female friends in Santa, Cruz California deserve death. That’s not good. I am also cool to the idea of the death penalty for apostasy. Avoiding war does not require friendship, I think.

    Terry is right (for once): I am the neo-Con most likely to be elected president next time around. It’s a long shot!

    • In my response to Brandon and to Terry, I was not able to resist the little devil in me and I mentioned “right-wing Democrats.” The devil is acting up again, here is one:

      “When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region.” (John Kerry, Congressional Record,volume 148, No 132, October 9th 2002.)

      The current Secretary of State did not declare on whether there actually were such weapons in the hands of Hussein, he voted for the resolution, either just in case, or because he thought the answer so obvious that the question was superfluous.

  7. Dr J: I hardly understood a word you wrote.

    Just to be clear: You still support the Bush administration’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, correct?

    (This is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.)

    Siamak: History is not a strong suit of the neoconservative’s ideology. All he cares about is tomorrow. That is to say, all he cares about is the world inside his head.

    Terry: Interesting political analysis. Do you know where the ‘neo’ in neoconservative comes from? These guys were ‘moderate’ Democrats before the Vietnam War pushed them into the GOP camp. Looks like the neocons are starting to migrate back to where they initially began.

    • The historical leaders of the neo-Con movements were, I think repentant leftists ( like me).

      Brandon: I am sorry you did not understand. Others did.

      I don’t need to answer by “yes,” or “no” anymore than you did. Here is one for you: Do you wish Saddam Hussein were still in power and his brand of peace still reigned in the Middle East? Here is another one: Do you think that if the US had not invaded Iraq none of the ISIS horrors would have happened? Third and last: Is Bush also responsible for the Syrian insurrection and therefore for its fierce repression?

    • Amazing! You still refuse to answer clearly and directly. Here is the question again (again): Do you still support the Bush administration’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq?

      How hard can this be? Please, stop changing the subject and answer the simple question.

  8. “Dr J: I hardly understood a word you wrote.
    Just to be clear: You still support the Bush administration’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, correct?
    (This is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.)”

    Jacques never uses 1 word when he can generate 995. He never says anything new so he can cut & paste the same ‘ole crap and voila.

    Personally, I think the migration accelerated with Pres. Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council. From my point of view one of the silver linings of recent elections is the decline of ‘blue-dog’ democrats.

    It’s not just the DLC democrats though. Kerry wasn’t the only Democratic senator to fall for the Bush administration line of sh1t; Sec. Clinton still gets flack about it in progressive circles for her vote.

    @Siamak

    Remember to never take Jacques seriously. When he disparages Iranian jurisprudence he does so from a position of ignorance not only of Iran but also the United States. Just for fun ask him how many Iranians were stoned for adultery in the last 5 years. Then ask him how many black men were killed while ‘resisting arrest’ in the US in the last 5 years.

    • Woah, woah, Professor A. Slow down. Light up a doobie. Grab a beer, bro. Jacques often argues from bad faith when it comes to foreign policy and the policies of the Democratic Party. Therefore, you should do the same?

      Here is what I have been trying to do lately (so as to better avoid the fate of places like Facts Matter): I try to take every argument I don’t like on the best terms possible. With that in mind, here is what I see Jacques (and, by extension, the interventionist wings of both American parties) arguing for. They see a world where factions in the poor parts are deliberately keeping large swathes of their populations poor in order to hold on to power. I think this is something we can all agree on. Instead of advocating for colonialism or imperialism, as Jacques and other hawks do, I advocate instead for some kind of (con)federal arrangement whereby all parties have an equal-ish say not only economically and socially, but politically as well.

      The bad faith of the interventionist factions only makes their case weaker, and more so in a public sphere like this one.

      While I’m on the subject of fairness, I have to point out that Dr J has been advocating for reforms in regards to the despicable (unionized) police shootings of American blacks. He caught an awful lot of flack for it from all three of his hillbilly readers at Facts Matter for his stance.

      On the subject of changing coalitions in American politics, I have to ask: Why are you so bullish on the American Left? From my humble perch, I see the Right as the current home of ideological and sociopolitical ideas (mostly thanks to the libertarian wing of the Right, but of course it can be argued that libertarians are not exactly rightists; gay marriage and drug reform, for example, are being pushed through the courts and through popular plebiscites, and these are issues that libertarians have been working on since LBJ was murdering innocent Vietnamese and American farmers in the late 1960s).

      In contrast to the party of ideas, currently situated on the Right, the respectable Democrats have only offered up protectionism and increases in taxes on capital to shore up an obviously failing welfare state that owes its blueprints to an American society that disappeared in the 1970s.

    • @Brandon
      “On the subject of changing coalitions in American politics, I have to ask: Why are you so bullish on the American Left?”

      I’m not, I’m just less bearish about Democrats than I am about Republicans. The future is truly bleak for Republicans which makes me happy. That doesn’t mean that the future is rosy for Democrats. Do you see a groundswell of Democrats coming in the 25-35 age cohort? I don’t. The progressive echo chamber says that they won’t be republicans and assumes that they will be democrats. Pffft.

      “While I’m on the subject of fairness, I have to point out that Dr J has been advocating for reforms in regards to the despicable (unionized) police shootings of American blacks. He caught an awful lot of flack for it from all three of his hillbilly readers at Facts Matter for his stance.”

      Reblog it or have him reblog it, I don’t go to Facts Matter.

  9. @Jacques @Terry @Brandon

    In the first place, When you wrote the this article I had just some criticism on your vision to the problem. Terry told me that in short time I should be worrying about someone like Hilary Clinton! But now I’m worried more about people like you Jacques!

    1. About cheating and lying to the world, I never want to defend Iranian government (I’m a big criticizer), I never blamed Americans for Ahmadinejad and I never told Iran or US will cheat in the future. I just said in the beginning of nuclear talks in 2000, everything was going well until George Bush cheated and was unfaithful to the agreements. This was a good reason for radical part of Iran’s government who really like to be enemies with USA (I could map them to people like you in US!) to take the power and so Ahmadinejad got elected (did I blame some other countries that I don’t know?). All I was saying was that it was George Bush who in the first place cheated and made the trustfulness between two countries.

    2. You don’t have any will to have good relations with Iran (which you call it ENEMY). Believe me Jacques, After Shah, this was US that made Iran an enemy! Let’s have a look backward:

    A) Iran Air 655: Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai. On 3 July 1988, the aircraft operating this route was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes.

    C) Saddam, Chemical weapons & US supporting him: Saddam Hussein used Chemical weapons against Iran. I know many people in my family and my friends who are sick until now. They’re waiting for the day that they know they got cancer and then die peacefully. It was the longest war of the 20th century. Iran hadn’t attacked Iraq. Actually Iran hasn’t attacked any country in recent 200 years! Anyway Saddam used chemical weapon against Iran and US and EU supported him… And you are talking to me about stoning which I have never seen in my life!

    D) US Supporting Taliban against Mujahedin in Afghanistan: Iran was supporting Mujahedin and Ahmad Shah Masoud. Everybody knows they weren’t fundamentalist. They were against communism and against Islamic fundamentalists. US supported Taliban, not Mujahedin just because Iran was backing them! US didn’t want to be in Iran’s side. And we saw the result of this policy. So please please don’t tell me you don’t have interest in what happens in Iran and what Mullahs say! Because I don’t even want to know which Dinosaur got the policy of supporting Taliban!

    I should also say that Iran has done some really critical deeds against US that I again repeat I don’t want to defend. Deeds like taking American hostages after revolution and…
    All I’m trying to do is to show the part of US deeds that made two countries enemies, which I couldn’t see in Jacques Article!

    3. I criticize you of Journalistic vision on this matter again. There are really better sources in English to study about the Iran-US nuclear talks from the past till now. You should study deeper and then talk about it. Some journalistic resources aren’t enough. Also I never asked you to read sources in Farsi. It’s really stupid that you think newspapers in Iran are published by a gang of self-perpetuating insane old men and not much more in what their domestic servants! :-)))
    I can’t stop laughing. Look! I have asked Brandon to come to Iran and have some fun. He has told me he will come one day. This is official. I’m inviting you to visit my country too and you will be my guest. I know you like mid-eastern chicks. I will find you some gooood chicks! 🙂 They love foreigners! Please come and visit around. I’m pretty sure this stupid vision about Iran in your mind will change completely. I don’t know which stupid has told you this but here I read the newspapers who are criticizing government everyday! They aren’t Mullahs and they aren’t self-propagating. Actually some of them are in Jail right now? How can someone be a self-propagating Mullah and be in the Jails of Mullahs in the same time?!!! It’s so stupid!

    4. If the people like you are a lot in US, I have another worry for the future of talks too! You see Iran Regime as an eternal Enemy. I have seen radical people in Iran who exactly think Like you. Death by stoning?! You got to be kidding me. I have never seen such thing. Even government is against this. It’s a statement of Islam and in the past in some outland villages used to do this stupid statement without knowing of government. When Ahmadinejad was president, government ran this statement two times which was anti-human and big campaigns in Iran were established against that. I’ll leave you and Terry alone: “Just for fun ask him how many Iranians were stoned for adultery in the last 5 years. Then ask him how many black men were killed while ‘resisting arrest’ in the US in the last 5 years.”

    5. Jacques said: “I suspect there is not much American sentiment in favor of such friendship.”
    But my friend I completely disagree with that based on the behavior of all the American companies! You could say that because you just say it based on what you read on WSJ or Post. But behind the curtains American companies were active in Iran even in the time of Sanctions. They beg to be friend with Iran and have official activities here. Iran is a bif country with 75M population and 80 percent of them are under 40! Shell is in talks with government, Apple and Microsoft are in talks with domestic companies. Rocket Internet is hyperactive here and it’s spending huge money here (about 1 million dollar a week) and so on! I’ve heard Uber and Amazon are trying to reach Iran market too! What about General Motors and their agent in Geneva Talks? I don’t think these American fellas think like you! I suspect all the other Americans think like you Dr. Delacroix!

    • BOOOM!!

      For what it’s worth Siamak, Jacques has no idea what he’s talking about when he says that Americans don’t want to be friends with Iranians. That’s bullshit. Americans – save for a small extremist cluster on the Right – can’t wait to have open, honest relations with the lovely Iranian people (and especially their beautiful, intelligent daughters; Oh Westwood!).

      Dr J is farting on the bus without asking for a pardon. (Old people are known to do that!)

    • Dude I know it. I don’t take it to myself or any other Iranians. I speak with him like this, So maybe he knows what shit he’s telling! :-)))

  10. Brandon! Dr Delacroix is old. He’s really Old. And you like Westwood girls? Some people call it Tehrangeles! :-)))

  11. I “liked” the post just for point (3). We’ve managed to conclude a deal that is fundamentally about Israel’s security rather than our own–if Iran developed nuclear weapons tomorrow, it couldn’t deliver them to anywhere near us–but we’ve managed to omit the one actual security concern we have in Iran, retrieving the citizens of ours that they have. If we could work so hard to get Bowe Bergdahl home, why not Rezaian, Abedini, and Hekmati? They’re not exactly secure, sitting around in Iranian prisons. And if they’re not secure, we’re not secure. That’s what being an American citizen means, and that’s what our “national security” is about.

    Abedini is being held on the transparently bullshit charge of disturbing Iranian peace by creating a network of churches, supposedly the Iranians’ idea of a “crime.” Rezaian is a journalist who hasn’t been charged, and Abedini (the Marine) is being held on some sort of quasi-sorta-espionage charge. I mean, excuse me, but what the hell is this? If they want a deal with us, how about this agreement: let our people go, and then we’ll talk.

    • @Irfan

      Well, if we’re going to ensure that diplomacy fails by loading the talks with irrelevant stuff why not go for something serious….I propose climate change. We won’t sign a deal with Iran limiting their progress towards a nuclear weapon unless they cut CO2 emissions by 25%. Hell make it 30%.

    • The problem with your analogy is that climate change is not a set of American hostages that Iran is holding. If you could somehow make that equation, I’d grant your point. At some point, if we want those people back, we are going to need to negotiate with Iran for them. Linkage is a well-worn technique that saves us the trouble of negotiating twice. Releasing them is a small, good faith gesture on Iran’s part. If they truly value a deal with us, they’d meet our condition just to assure us of their good faith.

      I have no problem with the deal per se, but American lives should be a higher priority than nuclear weapons that neither exist nor have the capacity to touch us if they were somehow to materialize. It seems to have escaped notice that this deal gets us nothing in particular. Even in the best case scenario, weapons verification requires good faith cooperation by the country under inspection, which we will never get. So no matter what deal we make with Iran, we ultimately have to reconcile ourselves to the eventuality that they will either acquire nuclear weapons or have a latent capacity for them. On the other hand, there is no need to reconcile ourselves to their holding three of our citizens on transparently spurious grounds. To repeat something you haven’t touched: we worked hard to get Bergdahl back and succeeded. These three deserve at least as much.

      It could be that there is covert linkage involved, i.e., that the US demanded linkage but that Iran wanted the linkage kept silent so as to save face. I don’t mind that. In that case, we get a nuclear deal and the three hostages back. But the linkage should be there, one way or the other.

    • @Irfan
      “The problem with your analogy is that climate change is not a set of American hostages that Iran is holding.”

      The virtue of my analogy is that climate change, like the 3 prisoners, has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program.

      You’ve made it clear that you don’t care whether or not Iran gets nukes. That’s ok. The administration, the UN security council and every country disagrees with you but your opinion is yours to hold.

      Linking the nuclear negotiations to extraneous topics would only have the effect of shutting down the negotiations. If that’s he intention fine but don’t pretend it would do anything for the 3 prisoners.

    • @Terry

      The status of the three prisoners is “extraneous” to Iranian nuclear weapons, but not extraneous to US-Iran relations. Climate change is extraneous to both. It’s common practice to link issues that are relevant to bilateral relations, even if the issues do not involve the same topic, narrowly conceived. There is no reason to assume that any bilateral deal must involve one and only one of the bilateral issues that concern the country. There’s a fundamental disanalogy between two issues of obvious bilateral concern and some random third issue that someone’s thrown into the discussion for polemical purposes but that makes for a very poor analogy. After all, no one disputes that the US is currently negotiating with Iran over the prisoners/hostages, but no one would claim that we’re currently in bilateral climate change negotiations with them.

      I didn’t say I didn’t “care” whether Iran gets nukes. I said the issue is secondary to our getting our citizens back. The difference between the two issues is that with one involves clear criteria of success, and the other does not. Once we get our citizens back, they’re back, and we’ve succeeded. But once we do a deal with Iran, we have to find a way to verify it, and it’s common knowledge in weapons inspections–testified to by every UN weapons inspector who’s ever put pen to paper, from Richard Butler to Hans Blix–that if you cannot get cooperation from the inspected country, your chances of successful verification plummet. That’s what distinguishes South Africa or Libya from, say, North Korea. My view is: we should secure clear-cut success before we start chasing probable failure.

      If we managed to negotiate the release of 52 hostages in 1981, I don’t see why we should fail at negotiating the release of three in 2015. If the Iranians would shut down negotiations of this magnitude over three measly prisoners, that gives us an indication of their priorities and trustworthiness: it suggests that we’re dealing with people so irrational and untrustworthy that we can’t trust them to live up to their end of the deal, any farther than we can throw the ICBMs they don’t possess.

    • @Irfan
      “It’s common practice to link issues that are relevant to bilateral relations, even if the issues do not involve the same topic, narrowly conceived.”

      That’s not my understanding but I’m willing to be shown wrong. Please provide 2 examples of successful negotiations that involved linkage of different issues. Any countries will do and any negotiations. Any time post World War II. There were a whole series of arms limitation talks/treaties with the USSR to consider for example. If it is common practice it should be easy to show 2.

    • Terry,

      You wanted two examples that satisfy my claim that it’s common practice to link issues in bilateral relations where one party regards the linkage as “extraneous” to what the other regards as an overly narrow issue. Here is example 1–the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.

      http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/pakistan901/aid.html

      It’s an aid package but it requires “direct access” to Pakistani gov’t functionaries involved in nuclear proliferation. The Pakistanis regarded the “direct access” condition as extraneous to the purpose of the aid package. Why should an aid package designed to build schools be linked to a condition involving nuclear proliferation? Because such things are commonly done, and there is nothing wrong with doing them. Hence the US linked aid to access.

      The example shows that “extraneousness” is in the eye of the beholder. From the Pakistani perspective, any string attached to aid is “extraneous” to the provision of the aid. From the US perspective, any attachable string is a potential condition on the provision of aid. There is no a priori criterion that says that X is “extraneous” and must not be linked as long as X is relevant to bilateral relations. Nor is there any a priori criterion that dictates what is extraneous and what’s intrinsic to bilateral relations.

      Concede the point on that example, and I’ll give you another one.

    • @Irfan

      Could you tell me where to find more info on the negotiations between Pakistan and the US? I don’t see any info on who the negotiators were or when and where the negotiations took place. I’d also be interested in seeing which Pakistani official(s) signed the agreement.

    • No Pakistanis “signed the agreement.” It’s an American law governing bilateral relations via an aid package, but its terms were the subject of prolonged lobbying and negotiation by the Pakistani government, which objected explicitly to the linkage conditions within it, regarding them as extraneous to the proper content of an aid package. Asif Zardari was President of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gillani was Prime Minister, and Shah Mahmood Qureishi was Foreign Minister. Qureishi visited the US to engage in negotiations over the package.

      http://www.dawn.com/news/913807/obama-signs-kerry-lugar-bill-into-law

      Bite sized summary of the relevant point:

      “The signing followed efforts by the Obama administration and US lawmakers to allay concerns in Pakistan over conditions linked to the aid package, while making clear the legislation would not be changed.”

      The “concerns in Pakistan” were represented by Qureishi who was present for the signing and had pressed (unsuccessfully) for a signing statement that watered down the implications of the linkage. He didn’t get what he wanted, so the resistance to it had to be deferred.

      That’s why the linkage conditions have been the subject of friction in bilateral relations ever since. But that’s to be expected, since the Pakistanis have always insisted that the linkage was illegitimate.

      http://www.dawn.com/news/1155205/no-kerry-lugar-fund-for-pakistan-since-2013-us

      It gets tortuous:

      http://www.deccanherald.com/content/451871/no-certification-pakistan-curbing-terror.html

      But the linkage is there. The point was driven home to me by a cousin of mine who’s a member of Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet (now the Minister of Railways). He railed bitterly at Kerry-Lugar’s sovereignty-violating conditions. He didn’t say anything about giving up the aid, however. The money was fine. The linkage wasn’t.

    • You can interpret this comment either in the spirit of my coming back ten months later and saying “I told you so,” or in the spirit of Frankenstein’s monster saying, “I keep my promises,” but either way, events have vindicated the position I took here against Terry Amburgey.

      I had said this:

      “It could be that there is covert linkage involved, i.e., that the US demanded linkage but that Iran wanted the linkage kept silent so as to save face. I don’t mind that. In that case, we get a nuclear deal and the three hostages back. But the linkage should be there, one way or the other.”

      As it happens, there was covert linkage involved, so the thing I didn’t “mind” was actually happened when I said it ought to be happening.

      Terry disputed the idea that linkage takes place in diplomacy. He demanded that I offer two examples of “successful” linkages in diplomatic affairs. First, obvious point: to prove that linkage takes place, you don’t need to adduce success stories of linkages. Insisting on “success” just distracts attention from the central issuei, since there are few clear-cut success stories in diplomacy, and figuring out what counts as “success” is more complicated than demonstrating that there are linkages. To prove that linkage exists, you just need to adduce examples of linkages.

      It’s also unreasonable to insist that there be written, documentary evidence of linkage. Linkage is often a cover matter, a matter that neither side wants to admit. So they are not going to provide documentary evidence of it, simply so that Khawaja can win an argument at NOL. If you insisted on this “documentary evidence” approach, you’d have a hard time proving that Adolph Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust, since he was careful not to leave documentary evidence of a direct order for it. A reasonable inquirer is left making a plausible inference based on the non-documentary evidence: the leader of the Third Reich can be held responsible for the military (or quasi-military) policies of the Third Reich. The same thing, mutatis mutandis, is true of bilateral relations between Iran and the United States.

      Terry wanted two examples of linkage. I gave him one; he didn’t acknowledge it or respond to it. Well, here is another, more directly linked (so to speak) to the issue at hand. The lead story in this morning’s New York Times shows that the Iran-US nuclear deal and the Iran-US hostage swap took place concurrently, took place at the highest levels on both sides, and involved many of the same negotiators. The one deal was concluded when the success of the second deal was assured. Because the hostage swap deal was considered sensitive, it was kept quiet, not just by the government but by the press (by the press because one hostage was a journalist). And when complications arose in the form of the ten sailors who wandered into Iranian waters, Kerry explicitly linked the lifting of sanctions on the nuclear issue with the release of the sailors. On Terry’s view, this latter linkage is practically inconceivable, because linkage never takes place in international affairs, but this is one case where the linkage is undeniably there, out in the open. What do ten sailors have to do with sanctions for violations of UN resolutions on nuclear weapons? Not much. And yet Kerry linked them.

      By the way, it’s worth noting that the Iranians linked the nuclear deal to what Terry calls “extraneous” issues, like the release of funds that were frozen in US banks at the time of the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis. What do $100 billion in funds frozen in 1979 have to do with whether Iran will develop nuclear weapons? Absolutely nothing. And yet the Iranians linked the two things. Terry’s view seems to be that even if the Iranians link “extraneous” issues in negotiations, we should adopt a posture of non-linkage, either because linkage never happens, or because trying it would be self-defeating. Well, if it doesn’t happen, then how has it happened? And if it’s self-defeating, why do the Iranians regard the concluding of the nuclear deal, the hostage deal, and the “extraneous” linkages involved with both of them a gigantic national success? (Incidentally, I find it amusing that despite their theocratic inclinations, the Iranians have no problem with accepting the $1.3 billion in interest that has accrued to their previously frozen funds in the last 37 years. Whatever happened to the Islamic ban on interest? It seems to have melted away with the unfreezing of the funds.)

      Granted, there is no smoking gun evidence–a single online document, signed by all relevant parties–that the whole nuclear deal was linked to the whole hostage deal, but I think there is enough evidence of the kind of linkage I was defending and that Terry was deriding. When you have concurrent bilateral negotiations taking place at the highest diplomatic levels, and conclusion of one track of the negotiations faciliates the conclusion of the other, and you have explicit linkage concerning some important aspect of the two tracks, you have good evidence that two tracks were linked all along. When you realize that the negotiations would have been derailed by transparency, and both parties had an interest in concealing the linkage, you have an explanation for why there was no admission of the linkage. But you still have evidence of linkage.

      I think it would be unreasonable to demand more evidence than I’ve given, but once Kerry or Obama (or both) write their memoirs, we may well know for sure. No one can know for sure whether Obama would, in the worst-case scenario, have been content to throw the hostages under the bus, but all I was saying was that he shouldn’t have. And I’m inclined to think that he wouldn’t have.

      So I feel vindicated. I’m also happy that the hostages are out of Iran, that the administration evidently took them as seriously as I wanted to, and that world leaders are finally following my sage advice, even when I write it up after they’ve started following it. It’s good to know that they don’t need documentary evidence of the wisdom I have to offer them. They just telepathically read my mind, ask themselves what Khawaja would do, and do it. This is the way things ought to be, and I can only look forward to a world in which it happens with greater consistency than it so far has.
      Here is a link to the NYT story; there are four associated stories, but I won’t link to the others.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/us/politics/14-testy-months-behind-us-prisoner-swap-with-iran.html?login=email&hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0&mtrref=www.nytimes.com

      [Brandon: I posted this comment on NOL before, but somehow lost it between the posting and submitting, so apologies if two versions get posted. Feel free to delete the earlier version.]

  12. In my honest opinion, the Lausanne agreement may (and I emphasize “may”) be either a good starting point for a new relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, or an insignificant event, a small side note on future history books. Everything depends on the parties’ actual intention to reach a compromise by June 30, since there is not a real signature, but few key principles. I will humbly try to answer some of your questions: the agreement provides for the weakening of some nuclear sites, including the Natanz (uranium enrichment), Fordow (site for research in physics without fissile material), and Arak (plutonium production that will be transferred abroad) plants, as well as the renunciation to enriching uranium beyond 3.67%, in return for an easing of sanctions on Tehran. Now, I can understand that you would have never sat at the negotiating table with Javad Zarif, as a delegate of an enemy country “that always cheated in the past”. However, Iran happens to be a rather significant player on the Middle East chessboard, and I don’t think that the ayatollahs, beyond the regime rhetoric, really jump for joy at the idea of equipping themselves with anti-Israeli nuclear warheads, knowing that this would almost certainly result in a lethal attack by Tel Aviv itself and Washington. In my opinion, this is more about a Middle Eastern re-balancing rather than nuclear weapons themselves. Persia is the center of Shiism, whose legitimacy could lead to either an attempt to regional stabilization or an arms race with Saudi Arabia, in a worst-case scenario. Last but not least, wanting to overlook the fact that often the European allies proved more royalist than the king himself, I’m glad to hear that you consider what you call “European partners” like hungry dogs to be kept on a leash. I would note that, with an easing of tensions, the United States would have the greatest economic benefits, especially in the field of oil concessions (as already happened with Khatami).

  13. Historical truth: I did not post this short essay on Notes on Liberty. Brandon did, by choice, I assume. (And, I am glad he did. Look at the discussion it generated!)

    Prof Amburgey has a potty mouth, as usual.

    Siamak: You are accusing me of all my sins plus of all the sins you think I want to commit but did not really commit. (I had a confessor like this when I was ten.)

    I do not wish for war with Iran. I am sorry I have to say this. I hear (on NPR) that Iran is working on the final phase of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. If this is not true, please, let us know. If it’s true, it’s disturbing because Iran already had missiles capable of reaching all its nearby potential enemies including Israel. Against whom will the ICBM be targeted? I ask because I also believe that the real leadership of Iran, the handful of insane old men – has an apocalyptic view of history: Nuke the Great Satan; hasten the coming of the Hidden Imam.

    Please, tell me clearly if there are no ICBM in preparation of if the insane old tyrants don’t entertain an apocalyptic vision. Please, say it clearly.

    I want Iran to be sanctioned and sanctioned and sanctioned until the US and its weak-kneed allies obtain a much more constraining agreement on its nuclear program. Sorry for your relatives there. I will wish them well when they try seriously to hang, say, a hundred mullahs, beginning a the top. I don’t (DON’T) know how many Americans think the same.

    I still don’t know either what you think I should be reading in English, or in French, or in translation from Farsi in either language. While I await your advice, I am limited to a broad range of ordinary media in English and in French (journalistic sources).

    Not wanting war with a country does not mean being friendly with it. To answer Prof. Terry’s penetrating question, I think no (NO) adulterous woman has been stoned in Iran in the past five years. The fact that the penalty is on the book, as well as capital punishment for apostasy, is just for fun, I guess, a kind of joke. This is silly.

    I understand I the Islamic Republic barbarism very well because it is similar to that of my ancestors. They burned and burned at the stake. On the eve of the American Revolution, Virginia still had a law making “heresy” a capital offense. We, in the West tamed to a large extent our savage practices. In Iran, the same were revived and re-inforced. It’s disgusting.

    You, again, blamed the US for the previous president of Iran. I mean the moron who once asserted at Columbia University that here were no homosexuals in Iran. I can’t imagine an Englishman, or a Chinese blaming the US for its head of government. So, why do you? Look into your heart.

    One thing you said drew my attention: “…US Supporting Taliban against Mujahedin in Afghanistan: Iran was supporting Mujahedin and Ahmad Shah Masoud.” That’s interesting. I though the US also supported Masoud. I would be interested in a moderate reading assignment on this affirmation. I hope it will not be from a journalistic source. Thank you in advance.

    • I know your last query was directed at Siamak, but I thought I’d butt in, because I happen to know the perfect reading assignment on the topic of US support for the Taliban and/vs Ahmad Shah Massoud. The book to read is Ahmed Rashid’s book, Taliban (Yale Nota Bene, 2001), chs. 11-13, but especially ch 13 and especially pp. 176-77. What Rashid shows is that there were two distinct phases of US involvement in Afghanistan during the Clinton Administration. The first phase involved support for the Taliban (1994-96), the second phase involved a backlash against them (1997-2000). The Bush II administration started off on an anti-Taliban footing it inherited from Clinton in early 2001, then of course went to war against them after 9/11.

      US support for the Taliban was always fairly weak and equivocal and crumbled fairly easily. “The US rejection of the Taliban was largely because of the pressure exerted by the feminist movement at home…The anti-Taliban campaign got a major propaganda boost when Mavis Leno, the wife of comedian Jay Leno, pledged US $100,000 to it” (Rashid, p. 182). There was no sustained US support of Massud (unless what’s meant is support for the Northern Alliance after his death).

      Naturally, the US’s pro-Taliban policy in 1994-96 was dictated by the desires of our regional “allies,” Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Also motivated by the possibility of a UNOCAL oil pipeline (never created), the Taliban’s anti-drug stance (a lie) and the Taliban’s anti-Iran stance (mostly true).

    • Your vision about Iran and its government need to be corrected. It will not happen by reading press of US and it’s articles about Iran. It will just lead to you to more wrong vision.

      You told that you want Iran to be sanctioned and sanctioned and sanctioned. Tell me how you name yourself a Libertarian?! Sanction and sanction and sanction?!!! Really?!

      Jack Straw has some really good interviews with different TV Channels and newspapers. I advice to read them. He seems a righteous man.

      You think there are some Insane Mullahs in Iran government but you’re wrong. Me, A Libertarian man voted to Rouhani… A Mullah! You don’t know anything about politics and Causes in Iran and you’re judging it very simply. Mullahs are not as bad as you think. All these Armageddon visions you told are gone many times ago. Do you know anything about Islamic Intellectuals. Many Mullahs aren’t as bad as you think. Many of them like Khatami and Rouhani think Modern and believe in Democracy. When US shows a bad face and makes sanctions this part of government loses power, because the radical part will say that “US is our enemy. They showed it by sanctions against us. You were stupids! Why did you negotiate with those old enemies”

      I just brought you examples to show you the effect of US politics on Iran government and you instead of trying too understand this keep telling me that I’m trying to tell that electing Ahmadinejad was because of US gov. I never told this dude. Stop that. I’m just talking about the foreign policy of US and it’s effect. I’m trying to tell you what foreign policy would be the best for US.

      There are examples. George Bush comes. He makes sanctions against Iran. In Iran reformist can’t negotiate with west and fail and then what? Ahmadinejad comes out. Now it’s Obama and his good foreign policy in case of Iran. Reformists are getting more powerful and all those radical right wing insanes have nothing to say.

      Remember one thing Jacques. If you want to give an statement like “Iran should be sanctioned and sanctioned and sanctioned” at first you should recognize all the conditions. If you don’t so you souldn’t give that statement based on what is not real, Because this kind of policy is very very dangerous and also Imperialistic. I live in Iran. I am an activist here. You’re telling me that you know Iran and it’s government better than me?!

      You don’t know Iran. You don’t know anything about the culture here. Stop talking about stoning people. There’s no such thing here! In Saudi Arabia they’re cutting the hand of a person who has stolen one thing. Why don’t you advice US to sanction them?

  14. GM : Thank you for the explanation.

    Of course, Iran is a significant country. If it had only ten million people and an economy dependent on palm oil, I would be less worried. Of course, I would sit at the same table as an enemy country. That’s how you negotiate peace and try to stop bad things from happening.

    You seem to me to be too optimistic about the insane old men’s alleged fear of Israel. That might be true if they were rational. I believe they are not. (See my response to Siamak.) Is it not true that two days before the agreement was announced (or the day before) a general of the Revolutionary Guard pointed out again that Israel had no right to exist and could be wiped out? Tell me if I heard wrong. If I did not, why is it that the mullahs did not tell the man to go home stay there and keep his mouth shut? This is a real question.

    “Everything depends on the parties’ actual intention to reach a compromise by June 30,” I sort of agree with this but I think that fortitude matters even more than intentions. I think Obama is a wimp who wants a legacy at any cost. I think the Islamic Republic’s government knows this well. I would bet the Iranian negotiators will eat him alive. Sec. of State Kerry is worse. The day of the announcement, I heard an Iranian spokesman speaking in English describe a framework significantly different from the one I heard the White House describe shortly afterward. I suspect there is an agreement between the two sides to pretend that there is a framework agreed upon by both, all for their own political opinion. (Incidentally, I am please to see that the Islamic Republic’s government cares about public opinion.)

    I believe there will be an agreement but certainly not on June 20th. I think it will be even more advantageous to the Iranian side that the framework because the Obama administration will yield and yield.

    The framework you describe is not so bad except for one thing: According to the Administration itself, “break out time” is one year. I take this to mean that at best, the Western allies would have 12 months after the discovery of significant Iranian cheating to get their (collective) act together either to re-impose severe enough sanctions to make a difference or to bomb Iran. This is a recipe either for surrender of for disaster.

  15. Siamak : I almost forgot. About three nights ago, I heard on NPR some big news that shows that Iran is relaxing. A women speaking perfect English but with an Iranian accent ( she may have been from Westwood) excitedly confirmed the following: Soon, Iranian women will be allowed to see some men’s sports competition directly in the stadium where they are disputed rather than on television. Only soccer and basket-ball will be permitted so far. Swimming and wrestling will still be off-limits. I speculate (SPEC.) that this continued exclusion must be because the nearly naked bodies of men in those two sports might prove too stimulating for women, that it might push them to adultery. I am a little envious. I wish I had known such quick-triggered women when I was your age. Wait a minute, wait a minute, I knew one; I knew her very well! I am not going to give any more info on this, first, because I am a gentleman, second, on the off-chance that she might be one of your aunts. (Just perhaps to re-assure you, the acts took place in the US.) Of course, she will cut a prominent place in my forthcoming collection of stories: “Indecent Stories for Decent Women.”

  16. Irwan. I did not refer to your previous comments because I agree with them and because I was busy sticking my fingers in the dykes.(if I may say so). I have read Rachid’s excellent book. I thought Siamak had something new to add.

  17. Siamak:

    I don’t call myself a “Libertarian.” (The capital L indicates a party affiliation.) I have often voted for the Libertarians for unimportant local offices. Other than this, there is no reason to trust anything coming for the Libertarian Party. Two sets of reasons: a) Positive: It demonstrates its lack of political seriousness with every election; Libertarians also often demonstrate a tendency toward intellectual totalitarianism. Just look at the language used against me on this very blog; see the barely contained rage. None of this is surprising. It happens with every party, on any side, bent on doctrinal purity.

    b) Negative: The failure of leading Libertarian voices to engage in speculation on two essential topics. The first is the issue of transition to a higher degree of libertarianism, to much smaller government. (Is Somalia the model?) The second issue is that of the defense of societies that seem (to me) to be the most likely to birth the kind of society I would like, with minimum interference with individuals. I believe Libertarians are simply pacifists in the closet.

    I think of myself as a conservative with strong libertarian (small “l” ) leanings. This means little eagerness to meddle in other people’s lives and much reduction in the power og government as expressed by its control of about 40% of our economy (more than 50% in much of Europe). I never shy away from recognizing that there is a much incompatibility between the last goal and insistence of a strong societal defense. It’s a real issue. Libertarians have to face it rather than deny it.

    Brandon, the co-founder and able editor of this blog knows all this well about me. He decides on his own which of my postings on my own blog (factsmatter.wordpress.com) to re-blog on Notes. I have never posted one myself. I am not sure I would know how. Anyone is welcome to re-blog my essays and my comments.

    For the third time, I think, you criticize me for relying on the mass media. You still don’t indicate what I should to instead. Your denials about the nature of current Iranian society are not convincing. The same late news I posted most recently also included a mention that an Iranian woman had spent five months in jail for trying to gain access to a soccer game stadium where men were playing. The source was the Iranian woman interviewed on the famous neo-Con source, National Public Radio. It seems to me that you are not facing the facts. What would happen to you if you stood in central Teheran holding a sign proclaiming: “There is no Hidden Imam; we are on our own” ? You do not address the matter of severe penalties in law against adultery and apostasy (including death). I believe the question is important even if no one ever gets punished. (A woman got so close a couple of years ago that her sons had to plead for her life.) Do you or don’t you believe there is such a thing as legal intimidation? How can I feel friendly with a polity which, on paper at least, would condemn most of my female friends to death?

    And, by the way, has anyone in the Islamic Republic apologized for the death fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie. For those of our readers who don’t know what I am talking about because it happened a long time ago: It was an order to all Muslims worldwide to assassinate a talented writer who had playfully given the names of the Prophet’s wives to inmates of a brothel. The fatwa was issued by the first of the insane old men. I don’t know of any ethical system that commands forgiveness for those who do not regret their crimes, or even forgetfulness.

    In addition to their brutality, the mullahs who dispute power from each other are extremely corrupt. I hold this opinion because of what I read and also from an Iranian I have known for thirty years who is pro-regime, lives outside the US but does business in Iran. (He does not say himself that they are corrupt; he simply describes to me the actual obstacles he encounters and how he overcomes them. It sounds like a banana republic.).

    On a more personal note: Beware of the well anchored native-born American tendency to avoid confronting frankly, as an intellectual equal, anyone who is not American, European, or Australian. Political correctness has progressed so far that anyone not from one of those parts of the world is considered a member of a protected minority, a different kind of African-American; one who needs protection. I did not get this strange, astoundingly racist idea from the mass media alone but also forty years observing middle-class white Americans ‘ interactions with my wife who is from India. Well, thank you for unwittingly giving me an idea for another awful essay!

  18. Brandon: I will ignore your timidity about answering my simple questions about Iraq pre-invasion, etc.

    1 I think the invasion of Iraq was a chosen war, not one imposed on the Bush administration. Given what nearly everyone agreed were the facts at the time – including the countries that opposed the invasion – if it were my decision, I would have invaded Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein.

    2 I cannot -for obvious reasons – get out of my mind the extraordinary display of lack of political will in the US and among its allies when it came to decide what to do with the swift and easy victory against the Butcher. I had private misgivings before the invasion about the post-invasion phase. Nevertheless, I was astounded by the amateurishness, the lack of vision, the lack of resoluteness in what followed. Of course, I thought before the invasion that the US was still capable of conducting a Japan-style or a Germany-style occupation/reconstruction or, barring this, of capturing a one thousand leading Baathists, including generals, and withdrawing. I was mistaken.

    Given what I know about these things, I would probably not invade now if it were my decision. I would do something though; I would intervening some other way, with or without UN blessing. The key issue to me was the Hussein regime’s hundred of violations of the agreement that put an end to the first Gulf War. The second issue is the habitual massacre of civilians by the Hussein regime.

    I believe the Bush administration’s decision to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was morally correct given the limitations on its knowledge at the time. I would agree that this precedent should encourage prudence in starting such a war. I don’t think the prudence should be so tight as to prevent, for example, the establishment of a no-fly zone currently over parts of Syria to protect an unarmed population against barrel bombs gifted to them by their government.

    I suspect that the virtuous cloak of non-intervention anywhere, anytime worn by the Libertarian party has a big racist component.

    • @Jacques

      Yes, libertarians are racists because they didn’t (and still don’t) support the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

      Back to reality, please. Is it at all possible to consider, in your mind, the fact that the United States refused to declare war as being responsible for the botched invasion and occupation of Iraq?

      Is it at all possible to consider, in your mind, that were a declaration of war to be considered by Congress, the deliberation that would have ensued could have brought to light uncomfortable facts and the threat posed by the Hussein regime would have been deemed as “not relevant” to national security? That is to say, do you think a constitutional approach to fighting wars would lead to actual wars – which the US can win – rather than foreign adventurism where the US weaknesses in warfare can be exposed for all to see?

      PS: There is no “unarmed population” in Syria. Those barrel bombs were meant for Islamists killing secular socialists and the minorities that the Assad regime protects (or, at least, protected). If you want the US government to “do something,” I suggest scrapping your whole conception of the Middle East as a few nation-states and start thinking like a libertarian.

    • Brandon:

      I think there was a declaration of war. It was preceded by debate. It was public. In fact, Hussein understood it so well that he even let our diplomats leave as is the custom at the onset of a war. What it was called is not important, I think.

      I see no connection between the procedure followed – as long as there is debate and voting – and the kind of wars we engage in. I gave earlier in this thread the vote count in both houses. I believe there was no challenge to the war on constitutional grounds. If I am mistaken and there was or were, they went nowhere. Perhaps, you are the only one left to think it was unconstitutional. Perhaps, it’s not too late and you could try, retroactively.

      There has to be some better way to stop foreign adventurism.

      The Assad regime dropped barrel bombs from the air several times on civilians. The lack of accuracy of such weapons guarantees that there will be horrible collateral damage even if Assad was not simply trying to terrorize civilians.

      You always seem to possess this strange-sounding information. I wonder what your sources are. I am not trying to get you involved in a citation war, I am just curious. I sometimes even wonder if you follow Chomsky.

    • Aaaand this is why you, and military interventionists in general, have been on the wrong end of so many policy predictions for the last three decades:

      I think there was a declaration of war.

      Show it to us. Where does the United States declare war on Iraq?

      I’ll save you the time: It didn’t. You wouldn’t be such a laughing stock here at NOL if you didn’t rely on unicorns and fairy dust for every problem you see in the world. Military action against an authoritarian regime is not the same thing as declaring war against a state. The fact that you don’t see the institutional implications of this confusion illustrates perfectly why the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq was such a disaster. The rule of law matters, and your conflation of two perfectly distinguishable concepts in the name of expediency only bolsters the reasons why.

    • @Brandon

      You should download this document for future interactions with Professor Pinocchio. “Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications” by the Congressional Research Service

      https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL31133.pdf

      Why does it matter?

      “With respect to domestic law, a declaration of war automatically triggers many standby statutory
      authorities conferring special powers on the President with respect to the military, foreign trade,
      transportation, communications, manufacturing, alien enemies, etc. In contrast, no standby
      authorities appear to be triggered automatically by an authorization for the use of force, although
      the executive branch has argued, with varying success, that the authorization to use force in
      response to the terrorist attacks of 2001 provided a statutory exception to certain statutory
      prohibitions.”

      Professor Pinocchio wants to argue that an ‘authorization for the use of military force’ is a declaration of war. It is not and the Congressional Research Service report goes into the differences in some detail.

    • Ooooh lawdy! Thanks Professor Terry.

      War is serious, and it’d be nice if military interventionists started recognizing this simple-but-ugly fact.

      Also, notice how the executive branch is trying to gain power through war resolutions without actually fighting any wars? Not a good precedent, and it’s one that military interventionists conveniently ignore.

  19. I am through discussing the substance of “framework” for the time being because of the thorough Oped on today’s Wall Street Journal (4/8/15) by former Secret. of State Henry Kissinger and George P. Schultz. I have nothing to add, of course.

  20. Irfan’s latest comment: I agree completely with his fine analysis. I want to repeat some and to expand it.

    If the Iranian side does not even think, on their own, without even a request, of throwing three unimportant hostages into the mix as a simple signal of good will, they have no good will. It would be irrational not to take this assessment into consideration when evaluating their sincerity toward the agreement to come.

    If Mr Obama and Mr Kerry cannot even induce the Iranians to include three unimportant hostages into the framework, they have no juice or they are spineless. The relevant fact should be incorporated into our assessment of the likelihood that they will get an agreement favorable to US interests. We are all sort of guessing, at this point. That’s when symbols matter most. I can’t think of a good reason why the three American hostages are not already home, courtesy of the old man (who is not insane, according to Siamak).

    Of course, I can forget the masterful exchange of four top terrorists against one American deserter.

    • A devastating rebuttal! Who knew unicorns and fairy dust could be so reasonable?

  21. Brandon’s latest comment is posted on the same day that the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran announces that there will be no agreement on nuclear weapons development: 1 that includes inspection of military sites (because, of course, Iranians would never dream of locating the development of military devices on military sites); unless all economic sanction are lifted before any Iranian implementation (because, after all, we have to trust each other).

    Did it tell you that neither the toughness of the Obama-Kerry negotiating team nor its truthfulness could be trusted?

    Did I not warn you that the leading team of the Islamic Republic (the “Supreme Council”) was composed of insane old men?

    Sorry, Siamak, you got intercoursed again.

    As to Brandon’s attempt to draw me into another boring discussion of constitutionality, unlike him, I am not really an expert. I think the discussion is superfluous. I assume that practically all members of Congress know the Constitution better than I. (Most are trained lawyers.) I trust in normal mechanisms of democracy to restrain unconstitutional coups by the Executive when there is debate and when there is time. The invasion of Iraq was never urgent. There was debate; the opposition, the Democratic Party could have had more debate if it had desired it. The Democratic Party in its large numbers gave its assent to what Brandon keeps arguing obscurely, was an unconstitutional way to engage in military action. I gave the relevant numbers in the body of my unimportant essay. Go back and look at them if you are interested.

    If I were interested, I would point out that the Executive needed no (NO) action from Congress to engage in military action against Iraq because that country violated the agreement putting an end to the first Gulf War several hundred times. That agreement was still in effect at the time of the invasion. If Germany had tried any hostile action against Allied Forces in 1946 or 1947, the Truman administration would certainly have shot at someone there. It would have been completely constitutional. As I said, I am not that interested in fueling the obsession of pure and hard Libertarians. I can hear form here the rasping sound that their anchor to reality makes on the sea floor as it slides away toward the abyss.

    Prof. Terry: I am not Pinocchio, I am Satan!

    • You still haven’t provided anything other than unicorns and rainbow farts to bolster your dogmatic assertion that the Shame of Iraq was a war. Concepts matter, as do facts. You rely on neither in this case.

      Just to reiterate your so-called argument: the Shame of Iraq was a war because Congress and the President said so, right?

      Your argument, when broken down, isn’t an argument at all. It’s juvenile name-calling and pathetic adherence to dogma.

      PS: Satan was a bad man (apparently), which you are not. Pinocchio was a liar (that’s why his nose grew so long). You’re not lying to anybody here at NOL, mind you, save for yourself. It’s your kind of obstinate ignorance that leads to national shames like Vietnam and Iraq (and Indian reservations).

  22. Brandon: You don’t have the authority or the influence to make me discuss anything you want at any time even if it bores me to death.

    The temperance, the reasonableness of your language will sere as a model to me in the future.

    Satan was not a “man.” Please, complete your studies; you will be more fun to talk with.

    • Please, complete your studies; you will be more fun to talk with.

      Ouch, and duly noted.

  23. @Brandon

    “Just to reiterate your so-called argument: the Shame of Iraq was a war because Congress and the President said so, right?”

    Umm. No. Congress didn’t say so, that’s the point. They can declare war or not, it’s clearly their prerogative. Although the constitution doesn’t specify the wording there’s certainly precedents for an unambiguous declaration of war.

    Moreover, despite Professor Pinocchio’s when-it-suits-me approach to law and legal systems there are requirements….”The official international protocol for declaring war was defined in the Hague Convention (III) of 1907 on the Opening of Hostilities.”

    The United States Congress did not declare war on Iraq. That is a fact and despite Professor Pinocchio’s inappropriately named blog Facts Matter.

    • @Terry

      Oops, I was summarizing Dr P’s argument and addressing him, not you. My bad! It’s Friiiiday!

  24. So many comments for an essay I wrote in the bus on the back of an envelop! What would you do without me, Brandon?

    And when is Prof. Terry finally grace us with one of his own essays instead of going around with a pinched face trying to i give req

  25. (Continued)… trying to give required reading assignments to everyone as if readers where a bunch of frightened B- undergraduates?

    Reminds me of Catholic bishops handing out sex advice!

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