Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is Obama's foreign policy similar to Cold War diplomacy?

Is Obama's foreign policy similar to Cold War diplomacy?

By Jay Bergman
Jay Bergman is a board member of PRIMER-Connecticut.

At his press conference on July 14 defending the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement [JCPOA] with Iran, US President Barack Obama made the obvious and indisputable point that "deals" in international affairs are made between adversaries, not allies. Implied in what he said is that, despite their divergent interests, adversaries sign such deals to advance an interest they share - in the case of the JCPOA, a commitment to peace. To prove his point, the president cited the arms control agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

But any analogy between these agreements and the JCPOA cannot withstand even the most cursory examination.

The agreements the United States signed with the Soviets during the Cold War - the two SALT Treaties in 1972 and 1979, the Vladivostok Accord in 1974 and the INF Treaty in 1987 - were bilateral. They involved two countries, not seven as does the JCPOA (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany plus Iran). As a result, the United States could respond in whatever way it wished in the event these agreements were violated, which they were. In the case of the JCPOA, because it is a multilateral agreement, responding unilaterally is more difficult politically, and less likely to have the intended effect.

No less important in assessing the president's analogy is that the Soviet leaders during the Cold War were not like the mullahs in Iran today. They wanted to live. The mullahs, while perhaps not actively seeking to die, are aware of the advantages of doing so, which include gaining access to the 72 virgins the Koran and the Hadith promise Muslims upon arrival in Jannah, the Muslim equivalent of Heaven. In addition, nuclear war carries with it the likelihood of collective martyrdom, to which the Shi'ite Muslims of Iran in particular aspire. In light of this, the statement in 2001 by then Iranian president Rafsanjani that destroying Israel would be worth the lives of millions of Iranians in any Israeli nuclear counter-attack is readily comprehensible.

Whatever their monstrous crimes, the Soviets had no such eschatological vision animating their actual policies. While Soviet generals such as Marshal A. M. Sokolovskii, chief of the general staff of the Soviet armed forces during World War II and defense minister in the late 1940s, seriously contemplated nuclear war with the United States, they did so not because they wished to die in fulfillment of an ideological imperative, but because they believed the Soviet Union could fight and win such a war: the Soviet population was still predominantly rural, and thus sufficiently dispersed to survive even multiple nuclear strikes by the United States. Similarly, several in the civilian leadership prior to Khrushchev, notably Beria, Malenkov (until 1954) and Stalin himself thought that somehow only capitalist countries could be destroyed by nuclear weapons. However ridiculous, this caused them to believe that in a nuclear war the Soviet Union would not only survive but emerge victorious.

This is very different from seeking nuclear war so that millions will die.

It is essential to remember that the eschatological vision the Iranians embrace does not allow for the peaceful coexistence Soviet leaders from Khrushchev onward declared to be their policy toward the United States and the West. To be sure, "peaceful coexistence" was not always peaceful. While precluding direct military confrontation between the superpowers, it allowed their proxies, such as Israel and its Arab enemies, to fight one another periodically. Nor was it meant to be permanent, or to signify a change in how the Soviets viewed the course of history.

Capitalist countries, including the United States, were destined to collapse.

But for the Iranians, peaceful coexistence, even with the limits the Soviets put on it, is a theological impossibility.

While the mullahs may be capable of using nuclear weapons the way the Soviets used them during the Cold War, namely for the political benefit that accrues from threatening non-nuclear countries with total destruction, their apocalyptic theology would seem to require them, at some point, to attack their enemies with nuclear weapons. The fact that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, and that Sunni Muslim regimes, in their fear of Iran, will soon acquire them, may actually make the Iranians more likely, rather than less likely, to do this.

In short, the paradoxical logic of nuclear deterrence - the concept of MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction - that kept the nuclear peace for the duration of the Cold War is sadly inapplicable to the Middle East today and for the foreseeable future.

In seeking public support for the JCPOA, President Obama would do well not to invoke misleading historical analogies that demonstrate his ignorance of history. The agreement with Iran must be considered on its own terms, both as a means of serving American interests and of protecting the American people, and for its likely effects on America's allies and America's enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

At the same time, one can fairly wonder why an American president so deficient in his knowledge and understanding of history should be given the benefit of the doubt in his predictions of the future.

The author is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and the author of Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov (Cornell University Press, 2009).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

It Caught My Eye

This was sent by Chana Givon after being sent to her by Benny Gluch.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent—Eleanor Roosevelt.

If the Israeli elected leaders and the head of the opposition both oppose the Iran deal, can JStreet support it and still call itself pro-Israel--- Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg View

The Iran deal is in essence giving a fat kid a box of twinkies and then just hoping he doesn’t eat the whole box…but you know they will in the end. Jewnews

In Israel, one of the world’s rowdiest democracies, politicians rarely agree on anything. Which is why their reaction to the nuclear arms deal with Iran is so unique. For the first time in living memory, virtually all Israelis – left, right, religious, secular, Arabs, Jews – are together calling the deal disastrous. Michael Oren, Time

History Always Repeats Itself.
The Nazis planned to exterminate the Jews; Iran has the same plan…and the world is reacting in the same pathetic way.

When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue. We had hit bottom. Or so I thought. Then on Tuesday the final terms of the Iranian nuclear deal were published. I was wrong. Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional-arms and ballistic-missile embargoes on Iran? What happened to our insistence on “anytime, anywhere” inspections?  Obama has laid down his legacy and we will have to live with the consequences for decades.
Charles Krauthammer

According to the Carnegie Endowment and the Federation of Scientists, Iran’s nuclear program has been marked by enormous financial costs. Its Bushehr reactor, one of the most expensive in the world, is a hybrid German-Russian reactor that resembles a virtual petri dish of amalgamated equipment and antiquated technology. A great deal of the equipment was sourced covertly at high cost, and a good deal of outright theft may have been hidden in supposed payoffs to intermediaries. The biggest single public expenditure in one of the world’s most corrupt countries may be a secret that the Iranian state felt compelled to keep.
David P Goldman, Asia Times

Omar Sharif, the Hollywood actor, born in Egypt, who died last week, lived between several worlds, from the Middle East to Hollywood, via bridge matches and gambling casinos, to horse racing tracks.  He hated Middle East politics, which got in the way of his close friendships with Jews, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the antisemites.

In 1968, he was the captain of the bridge team of the United Arab Emirates at the world championships in France.  I was working at the tournament, and late one morning he cornered me.  “We’re scheduled to play Israel in two days,” he said, “and I’ve just received a cable from Cairo telling me we musn’t play.”  He frowned.  “So how about you and I play a two-handed match?  I can’t ask the other Egyptians to disobey, but the government won’t do anything to me.” The Israelis agreed, and we did it.  That was Omar.
Michael Ledeen, PJ Media

An employee of the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba said an anonymous Israeli robber left two 2,000-year-old Roman sling stones in a bag in the museum courtyard with a typed note saying the stolen artifacts "brought me lots of troubles."  The robber wrote that he stole the artifacts 20 years ago from ancient Gamla in the Golan Heights that was the site of a Roman siege in the first century. The robber ended the note with the message, "Do not steal antiquities!" There was also a map of the site in the bag with an "X'' marked on it, likely marking where the stones were taken.
Israel Hayom

Anat Kadari and Roi Ashkenazi went down the aisles twice on their wedding day. Living close to the corner of Namir Boulevard and Jabotinsky Street in Tel Aviv, only 2.9 km. from their wedding hall, the couple decided to save the money for a limo, and take the bus. When surprised passengers realized this was not a marketing gimmick but a genuine bride and groom walking down the aisle, everyone cheered. Egged had been informed before hand of the couple’s intentions and decorated the bus with balloons. After a 10-minute ride down the main drag, with three stops in between, the delighted couple and their wedding party alighted for a second walk down the aisle.
Chelm-on-the Med.

Israeli bumblebees are being sent to Japan to help make up for a lack of bees caused by the increased use of pesticides in that country’s rice fields. When they arrive in Japan, the bees are sent to greenhouses in farms throughout the country. The Bio Bee firm based at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu mass-produces the bees to fulfill their mission even when the temperature drops, in rain and cloudy weather when bees prefer to huddle up in their warm hives. The pollinating bees have been helping Israeli farmers, who have also been affected by the global decline in the honeybee population. The advantage of these particular bees is that they tend to stay inside the closed greenhouse, rather than flying out to cultivate other people’s fields.

Cardinal O’Connor, for 16 years New York’s Catholic Church’s top cleric, was born to a Jewish mother. The discovery was only made by his sister Mary after his death in 2000 while exploring the family’s roots ahead of a trip to Ireland. While the O’Connors long knew that their mother Dorothy had converted to Catholicism in 1908, they assumed by her Germanic-sounding maiden name, Dorothy Gomple, that she had been a Lutheran. In fact, her given name was Deborah Gumpel and her father was a rabbi and butcher. Cardinal O’Connor was recognized as a friend of Jews. He was involved in the Vatican’s recognition of the State of Israel and the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the two in 1993.
Ginger Adam Otis, NY Daily News and Sheila Lagan, Irish Central

Economic development plans for Israeli Arabs initiated under Ehud Olmert accelerated under Netanyahu. The projects include industrial parks in Arab and Jewish towns; subsidies to help firms hire Arab labor and expanded transportation infrastructure, which allowed Arabs to reach employment sites; a five-year plan to improve Arab education and a special unit in the prime minister’s office to promote economic development in the Arab community.

Female Arab labor participation rates increased substantially: for women 30 to 39 years old, it increased from 24 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2010. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has transformed government services in East Jerusalem---- transport, the planning of neighborhoods, schools, and medical facilities. The health quality indices for East Jerusalem are the same as for West Jerusalem. These efforts have led many East Jerusalem Arabs to link themselves to the Israeli state, including a dramatic increase in residents seeking Israeli ID cards. More and more students enrolled in school programs that prepared them for the Israeli matriculation exam.

The number of Arabs employed in government civil service rose from 2,800 workers in 2003 to 5,000 in 2011—an increase of 78% compared to the 12% increase in the number of Jewish workers during the same period. The expansion of high-tech in Nazareth in the last few years and the success at the Technion has reduced the dropout rate of Arab students from 28% to 12%.  

These achievements have been achieved despite Palestinian nationalists trying to discourage cooperation with Israeli ministries. An example is that set by the mayor of the Bedouin village of Hura, Mohammed Alnabari.Under his administration, Hura gained call center jobs, initiated the Women’s Catering Enterprise that produces meals for Bedouin schools, a joint project with a nearby kibbutz to produce high value-added produce and a project with the JNF to raise mixed heads of sheep and goats for organic meat and dairy products. The government has also provided subsidies to firms that hire Bedouin workers in the new industrial park in Rahat and for other employment initiatives.

There has been a dramatic improvement in Arab (including Bedouin) schooling, with a corresponding improvement in test scores. As a result of additional funding, by 2010/11 only 15% of Arab classrooms compared to 11% of Jewish classrooms suffered overcrowding. Occupational and educational advances have led the Israeli Arab public to have more hopeful attitudes.  The share of Israeli Arabs, who were “very satisfied” with their economic conditions, rose from 40% in 2004-5 to 60% in 2010-11.  A plurality of Arab citizens of Israel today rejects being called Palestinians.  

All of these changes suggest that an increasingly upward mobile Israeli Arab populace seeks constructive engagement rather than a confrontational, separatist stance.
Robert Cherry, Mosaic Magazine

A prominent Arab writer started his column with:  Hi there! Any news from Palestine? He went on to describe a “growing fatigue with the whole Palestine issue and noted that the so-called peace process has run into sand. The US is focused on forging an alliance with the mullahs of Tehran; no other major power seems interested in touching the issue. France made some noises about “a new initiative” but quickly thought better of becoming involved in “something no one is interested in.”

The Arab columnist’s concern reflects the current mood in the Middle East. For the first time in decades, Palestine has been shut out of the news in favor of Syria, ISIS, sectarian wars and the aggressiveness of Iran. The foreign press in Israel has moved to cover the sectarian wars in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq; the Palestinian government resigned; Hamas split into at least three factions; and ISIS killers loom over the Sinai Peninsula.

Another reason the Palestine issue has lost much of its luster for many Arabs, as a Jordan-ian businessman said in London: “Today, no Arab feels safe in his country. Ironically, the sole exceptions are Palestinians in the West Bank because they know Israel will defend them if ISIS attacks. Even in Gaza, most people secretly believe that Israel is their ultimate protection against ISIS fighters trying to strike roots in the Sinai.”

Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria have been massacred; the massacre of Christians, Yazidis and Druze by Islamists in Syria and Iraq contrasts with the safety those groups enjoy in Israel. For weeks, Jordan has been bracing itself for an attack by ISIS on Zarqa, a Palestinian-majority city near Syria. Such a move would bring ISIS close to the West Bank, in which case, some Jordanians believe, the Jewish state would stop its spread. “Today, Arabs see that their own house is on fire,” says a Dubai businessman.

A prominent Lebanese commentator and TV personality cites another reason for dwindling interest in the Palestinian issue. “One might call it Palestinitis,” he says. “Arabs realize that there are many other issues that affect their lives, indeed their existence.”

The idea, that it is now Iran and not Israel that poses an existential threat to Arabs, receives almost daily confirmation with outlandish statements by leaders in Tehran. “Iran is trying to create a Persian Crescent as the core of its empire,” claims Lebanon’s Interior Minister. “That now represents the principal threat faced by Arabs.”

Not surprisingly, Iran’s leaders try to keep the Palestine issue on the front burner by casting themselves as the “liberators of Jerusalem.” That was the theme of the “Jerusalem Day” events last week presided over by President Hassan Rouhani. But their show attracted less attention than at any time in the past 30 years. The Khomeinists missed the irony of Israel being the only government in the Middle East, outside Iran itself, to allow such a demonstration.
Amir Taheri, New York Post

Hawks who believe airstrikes are the only option for stopping Iranian nukes should welcome the deal. This is because it sets Washington on a collision course with Tehran. The plan leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear-weapons state. To imagine such a deal working is to imagine the Islamic Republic without its revolutionary faith. So the deal is in effect establishing the necessary conditions for military action when a new president takes office.

No US president would destroy Iranian nuclear sites without first exhausting diplomacy. The efforts by the US to compromise with Tehran are comprehensive. If the next president chooses to strike after the Iranians violates the agreement, however, the newcomer would be on much firmer political ground than if he tried without this accord.

Without a deal the past would probably repeat itself: Sanctions would increase while the Iranians would advance their nuclear capabilities. Without a deal, diplomacy wouldn’t die. Via this meandering diplomatic route, Tehran has gotten the West to accept its nuclear progress. Critics who suggest that a much better agreement is possible with more sanctions assume that economic pain alone can force the mullahs to set aside their faith.

The problem is that the Islamic Republic remains a revolutionary Islamic movement that,  by definition, would never bend to the US’s economic coercion and never gut the nuclear centerpiece of its military planning. This is the revolutionary Islamic state that is ever fearful at home of seditious Western culture and prepared to use terrorism abroad.
Above all, the clerical regime cannot be understood without appreciating the centrality of anti-Americanism to its religious identity.

The Revolutionary Guards are fighting in Syria and Iraq, and Iranian aid flows to the Houthis in Yemen. Wherever the Islamic Republic’s influence grows among Arab Shiites, Sunni-Shiite conflict grows worse. With greater internecine Muslim hostility, the clerical regime inevitably intensifies its anti-US propaganda and actions in an effort to compete with radical Sunnis and their competing claims to lead an anti-Western Muslim world.

Iranian adventurism will eventually provoke a more muscular U.S. response. The odds of Tehran respecting any nuclear deal while it pushes to increase its regional influence—unchecked by Washington—aren’t good. Mr. Obama may think he can snap back sanctions and a united Western front to counter nefarious Iranian nuclear behavior, but the odds aren’t good once European businesses start returning to the Islamic Republic.

 When and if America strikes, it will be because Mr. Obama showed that peaceful means don’t work against the clerics’ nuclear and regional ambitions.
Reuel Marc Gerecht & Mark Dubowitz, Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Iranian leaders are laughing

The Iranian leaders are laughing

By Chana Givon

The Iranian leaders are laughing - because the joke's on us.

The free world will have much to regret with the agreement that has just been revealed;  we will rue the day that such a dangerous deal has been made with the devil.

Teheran is celebrating because as Rouhani has said-  'Iran got all that it wanted'. If that is so it means that we did not get what we needed!

Obama and Kerry have issued statements claiming that Iran's nuclear capability has been limited; anyone who has kept track of the proceedings - the constant adjustment of red lines according to the demands of the ayatollahs - can see that both men are delusional and the reality is that the West will not have a moment's peace of mind now for fear of a sudden nuclear attack; there is no strict monitoring system.  Weapons of mass destruction do not differentiate between political parties or ethnicity.

That twosome - so desperate for a legacy - cannot claim victory; it is nothing less than surrender to a rogue regime that has been supplying weapons to terrorist proxies Hamas and Hezbollah for attacks on Israel.  Now it can freely extend its evil with the billions of dollars that it will receive according to the agreement.

The President has already announced that he will veto any veto of the  plan. The man who promised hope and change has brought chaos and despair - certainly on the international scene where he has sided with terrorists rather than with friends.  There is no calm in countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other nations in the Middle East; they understand Iran and the dangers ahead much better than the American administration that has arrogantly claimed to 'know better'.

Congress is opposed to the deal as it is and many citizens are expressing their outrage. We can only hope that Mr. Obama's Democratic friends on whom he is counting for support will come to their senses and recognize that they will be on the receiving end of the blame - if anyone survives the horror of nuclear confrontation that is being set up now.  One cannot expect neighbors of Iran to sit by without a nuclear race of their own.  Those who are mainly concerned with the American economy and other domestic issues will find that a nuclear attack can wipe out the benefits in a split second. The dangerous deal with Iran is the most important issue today!!!

The script for the future is being written now.  It is time for Americans to stand up and denounce the plot!!  Call the White House and member of Congress and demand that the agreement be thrown out and stringent sanctions be re-imposed immediately on Iran.

in beloved Jerusalem