Peace in Our Time or Prelude to Armageddon?

Peace in Our Time or Prelude to Armageddon?

© David Burton 2012

Interim Agreement with Iran

P5+1 Reach Interim Agreement with Iran

     So, some sort of agreement has been reached between Iran and the P5+1 world powers that consist of the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany.

     “The two sides now have six months to find out how historic the breakthrough really is. That's the duration of the preliminary agreement hammered out in Geneva, Switzerland, by Iran and the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
     "’There are lots of things, regrettably, that we still have to work on. Our hope [Emphasis mine] is that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif want to build this different relationship, want to show in clear ways as we go forward that the program is peaceful,’ U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN's State of the Union.” (Ref. 1)

     Note should be taken of the word hope in Kerry’s statement. Hope and promises do not result in actions that nations in the mid-east will necessarily undertake. The agreement “represents an opportunity, not a guarantee.”[ 1]

Many in U.S. Have Concerns Over the Agreement

     Not everyone in the U.S. Congress was enamored of the agreement. ‘This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands,’ said freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.” (Ref. 1)

     “A bipartisan group of senators – unwilling to share the blame for the Obama administration’s phony-baloney ‘deal’ with Iran – has come up with a backup plan for new sanctions should Iran not fulfill its obligations over the next six months.
     “Of course, the interim deal still gives Iran the right to enrich uranium to 5 percent, maintain its six nuclear facilities and its more than 10,000 centrifuges. - - -
      - - -
     “So U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-ILL) are readying a bill when the Senate returns from its recess on Dec. 9. It would require the Obama administration to certify every 30 days that Iran is sticking to the terms of the interim agreement and that it hasn’t been involved in any act of terrorism against the United States. We hope the fine print in that legislation includes any act of terrorism by Iran’s well-known surrogates Hezbollah and Hamas.
     “’I do not believe we should further reduce sanctions, nor abstain from preparations to impose new sanctions.’ Menendez said.
     “Secretary of State John Kerry’s insistence that the U.S. could easily ‘ratchet up’ sanctions if Iran violates the accord after six months isn’t worth the hot air it took to express the thought.”
      - - -
     “Passing this sanctions-in-waiting plan would be the smartest thing this Congress has done in a long time.” (Ref. 2)

     Comments from congressional leaders include the following: ( Ref. 3)

     ”I am disappointed by the terms of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations because it does not seem proportional … Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.” - Sen. Chuck S. Schumer (D-NY)

     “[T]he United States must not settle for a comprehensive agreement that fails to end Iran’s capacity to build and deploy a nuclear weapon.” - Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)

     “Numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for the full suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities, so it is troubling that this agreement still permits the Iranians to continue enriching.” - Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)

     “We had these guys on the ropes. What I was looking for is an interim agreement that went a long way toward the final deal. This actually leaves in place everything that would allow them to make a weapon.” - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Mid-East Nations Also Have Concerns Over the Agreement

     While many of us in the United States have serious doubts about the wisdom and effectiveness of the interim agreement with Iran, we are not the only ones who are worried. The Israeli government, along with Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries in the mid-east, looks upon the agreement with distrust and apprehension. Israel’s Prime Minister, “Netanyahu adamantly distrusts Iran and decried the agreement as a ‘historic mistake’ - - -.
     “For decades, he has listened to Iranian leaders threaten the Jewish state, one even saying Israel should be wiped off the map.
     "During the negotiations in Geneva, Khamenei responded to passionate Israeli skepticism by saying Israeli officials ‘cannot be even called humans’ and referred to Netanyahu as ‘the rabid dog of the region.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “Now that sanctions are working, Netanyahu wants to see the thumbscrews tightened, not loosened, until Iran shuts down much of its nuclear capability, which Tehran claims it will use only for peaceful purposes {while, at the same time, publically declaring that it will wipe Israel off the face of the earth}.
     “The agreement does not apply to Israel, he said Sunday. If need be, Israel will take matters into its own hands, he said.
     "’The regime in Iran is dedicated to destroying Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat. I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not let Iran develop a nuclear military capability.’
     “Israeli President Shimon Peres backed up Netanyahu's show of strength but also extended an olive branch.
     "’I would like to say to the Iranian people: You are not our enemies and we are not yours. There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically,’ Peres said.
     “He called on Iran to drop ambitions of acquiring a nuclear weapon and end support to terrorists threatening Israel." (Ref. 1)

     Israel has referred to the agreeement as global "self-delusion." (Ref. 4)

     "’What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. ‘For the first time, the leading nations in the world agreed to the enrichment of uranium in Iran by ignoring the decisions of the (U.N.) Security Council that they themselves led.’
     “Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the current deal ‘is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb.
     "’Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and the world self-delusion,’ Steinitz said.
     “And Naftali Bennett, the Israeli minister of trade and industry, was even harsher.
     "’If in five years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid,’ he said Sunday, ‘it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning.’ (Ref. 4)

     With regards to Saudi Arabia and other mid-east countries, “Obama may need to talk with Saudi Arabia, which has lasting tensions with Tehran and has been at odds with Obama over much of his Middle East policy.
     “The {Saudi Arabian} government expressed displeasure Sunday with the preliminary deal.
     "’The Saudi government has been very concerned about these negotiations with Iran and unhappy at the prospect of a deal with Iran,’ a Saudi government official who is not authorized to speak to the media told CNN.” (Ref. 1 )

     "Many in Saudi Arabia worry that Iran is not being sincere, and the worry during the negotiations was that any deal reached would mean Iran would widen their influence in the region -- in countries like Lebanon and Bahrain -- and become a bigger threat." (Ref. 4)

Problems With the Agreement

     ”Iran retains the technology and material to produce fuel for a weapon for now.” (Ref. 5)

     The deal adds time to an Iranian nuclear ‘breakout.’ --- Before the deal, Iran had enough uranium enriched at lower levels and centrifuges to produce fuel for a weapon — a nuclear breakout — in between one and two months, according to a study by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based group that has been skeptical of Iran’s peaceful claims. The deal adds time to the process. The time ranges from several weeks to almost a month, according to I.S.I.S.” (Ref. 5)

     The interim agreement appears to have many unfavorable (and potentially disastrous) aspects which include the following (summarized from Reference 3 ):

  • The deal dismantles none of Iran’s existing nuclear program and allows 9,000 centrifuges to continue operating and an additional 10,000 centrifuges to remain in place.
  • Iran will be able to double the pace of its enrichment program at any time by breaking the agreement or by not coming to a final agreement.
  • Iran retains all its nuclear materials and is able to continue the R&D aspects of its program.
  • Iran retains enough low-enriched uranium to produce 5 to 7 nuclear bombs.
  • The interim agreement realistically impose no restrictions of Iran’s nuclear weaponization efforts.
  • The agreement does not require Iran to come into compliance with six mandatory U.N. Security Council resolutions. It merely states that Iran will “address” U.N. Security Council concerns.
We Are Babes-in-the-Woods When it Comes to Mid-East Style Negotiations

     The problems with negotiating in the mid-east are already becoming obvious. While President Obama said, "We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue they have been denied through sanctions", he did not say that all sanctions would be lifted. But “Contrary to what Obama said, {Iranian President Rouhani} said ‘all sanctions will be lifted’ as part of the deal.”[4] “That's not the only difference in wording. Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the written deal does not say that Iran can enrich uranium. - - - Rouhani, however, said the outcome means world powers have ‘recognized Iran's nuclear rights,’ including the right to enrich uranium. - - - ‘This right has been explicitly stipulated by this agreement, stressing that Iran will go on with enrichment,’ he said. ‘Enrichment will proceed similar to in the past.” (Ref. 4 ]

     Such is the nature of negotiations in that part of the world. Nothing is black and while and deals are made to be broken whenever convenient. It has never been clear that the American administration is aware of these facts. Their approach to negotiations has been to take the word of those with whom we negotiate, to put trust in their promises, and to assume that the middle-eastern rulers operate under the same gentlemanly precepts that the U.S. does. Many of us call this attitude naïve and dangerous, particularly for a country like Israel that will suffer most from failure to understand the intricacies of middle-eastern negotiations. In that part of the world, it is taken as gospel that might makes right. Being civil and gentlemanly is taken as a sign of weakness that can be exploited.

     As the saying goes. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” This would be good advice concerning the interim agreement with Iran. The U.S. has been involved in negotiating a deal in a mid-east bazar. The consequences of a bad deal in this case are not the loss of a few thousand dollars that results from being taken in by a Persian rug salesman, but in this case a bad deal could mean the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly Israelis. Does our government have the understanding and skill needed to negotiate a deal in such an environment?

     “Our media, talking heads, academics, and even our government strategic thinkers have been dealing with the Arab and Muslim world based on the politically-correct paradigm of even-handedness, attributing most international problems to poverty, misunderstandings, rectifying historical grievances, and, in the case of Israel, territorial disputes -- while ignoring or underplaying key elements, such as the importance in Middle Eastern cultures of the values and importance of honor, shame, clan loyalties, theocratic religion, retaining absolute power, and frustrated religious imperialism.
     “As Harold Rhode, recently of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, wrote for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, it is crucial to understand the mindset of our enemies – something the current US Administration and the leaders of the European Union appear loathe to do. [Emphasis mine]
     “Dealing specifically with Iran, but implying that the Arab dictators and despots of the Middle East move to the same beat, Rhode concludes that the paradigms that govern US foreign policy in the Middle East today are totally at odds with the paradigms that actually govern the actions of our enemies.
     “The Western concept of demanding that a leader subscribe to a moral and ethical code does not resonate with Iranians or the Arab world in general. As Rhode notes:‘One coming from a position of strength will only make a concession if he is absolutely sure that doing so will consolidate and therefore increase his power. If one believes that his adversary will gain even the slightest advantage through such a measure, he will never concede an inch.’ The attitude, quite simply, is: ‘rule-or-be-ruled.’ As such, compromise, as we understand the concept, ‘is seen as a sign of submission and weakness’ that brings shame and dishonor on those -- and on the families of those -- who concede. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “Further, while Iranians, and the Arab world cope with adverse situations by being ‘warm, gracious, polite, and obsequious,’ whereas Americans place a high value on ‘candor, straightforwardness, and honesty,’ we in the West fail to realize, to our detriment, that we are easily deceived by our enemies' effusively friendly, kind, generous, and engaging behavior --- as were the Europeans by Hitler's magnanimous promises of peace to European leaders immediately preceding World War II. As Hitler later stated to his General Staff: ‘Our enemies are worms. I saw them at Munich’.
     “Our efforts at compromise, contrition, accommodation and appeasement are perceived as symbolic of our weakness; and our attempts to find common cause with our enemies merely reinforce their belief that we are ‘paper tigers,’ to use bin Laden's term, and easy prey. ‘It is for this reason that good-will and confidence-building measures should be avoided at all costs,’ he says, as our Western cultural biases make it easy to misunderstand the true intentions of our enemies.
     “Our adversaries -- Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah -- see 'negotiations' and our desire for dialogue as opportunities to 'best others, to demonstrate power,' and to make certain that we know who is in control. Under such circumstances, goodwill and confidence-building measures by the West are interpreted as a lack of strength or resolve. Israel should not have been surprised when, in return for withdrawing from southern Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005, it received terror in the form of increased suicide bombings and missile attacks on its civilian population. Nor, for that matter, should President Obama have been surprised when his many overtures to our enemies were seen as symptomatic of American weakness, vulnerability, lack of resolve and an opportunity for conquest in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere - which is why American foreign policy in the Middle East is in shambles.
     “As Rhode writes, such regimes are prepared to ‘negotiate’ only after they have defeated their enemies and established their superiority - at which point they need only dictate terms rather than negotiate them.
     “Contrary to the view of Western diplomats, ‘signaling a desire to talk before being victorious is [interpreted as] a sign of weakness or lack of will to win,’ and, in the view of our enemies, can only lead to an escalation of violence against them and invite demands for further concessions from them .       - - -
     “Our diplomats may argue that dialogue is necessary to clarify ‘misunderstandings’ and to 'make amends for past injustices' real or imagined, but our enemies see it otherwise: we have created a credibility problem with our friends, and whetted the appetites of those who smell victory based upon our perceived weakness.
     “As Rhode also notes, in the wake of the Iranian hostage-taking crisis ‘Iran put the hostages on a plane less than an hour before Ronald Reagan became president. The hostages left Iranian airspace when Reagan raised his hand and took the oath of office. The Iranian ‘students’ believed Reagan was a cowboy and feared he would ‘level’ Tehran…… Interestingly, during the hostage crisis, a group of Iranian terrorists also occupied the Soviet embassy in Tehran. But they quickly left, because Moscow informed Tehran that if the Iranians did not leave the Soviet Embassy within hours, Tehran would be bombed,’ and they knew the Russians meant it.
      - - -
     “In the Arab-Persian world, those who seek to challenge us do not intend to be on the losing side.
     “As power, honor and humiliation are inextricably bound together in Iranian and Arab cultures, it may become necessary to destroy both national symbols, as well as leadership strongholds, of our adversaries. Only when they are convinced that we are serious in protecting our interests in the region, and show the strength of resolve expected of a superpower, will those who threaten us come on board. Neither Hitler nor Tojo would have stood before their nations at the end of World War II and proclaimed that ‘this was just a temporary setback.’ In both cases, national recognition of the humiliation and shame that flowed from their defeats allowed moderate elements in both Germany and Japan to assume the mantle of power and provide for a better future for their people –- including both nations subsequently being among the closest allies of the United States.” (Ref. 6)

     Only time will tell if the interim agreement with Iran will lead to a curbing of Iran's nuclear ambitions and a stop to its sponsorship of terrorism in the middle-east and elsewhere in the world. We can only hold our breath and hope. In the meantime, we should prepare for the worst.
  1. 3-decade gridlock broken: The nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva, Jim Sciutto and Ben Brumfield, CNN, 24 November 2013.
  2. Don’t trust, just pass Plan B, OpEd, Boston Herald, Page 18, 27 November 2013.
  3. U.S. Must Prevent a Nuclear-Capable Iran, Memo, AIPAC, 25 November 2013.
  4. Iran nuclear deal: One agreement, wildly different reactions, Holly Yan and Josh Levs, CNN, 24 November 2013.
  5. Understanding the Deal With Iran, Sergio Pecanha, The New York Times, 24 November 2013.
  6. Negotiating in the Middle East: How The Other Side Sees It, Mark Silverberg, Gatestone Institute, 27 September 2010.

  5 December 2013 {Article 187; Islam_12}    
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