11/13/14

I have written so many blogs on the subject of Iran that I’ve lost count.

I have been saying for ten years and writing for over four years that Iran is the most dangerous/immediate danger to world peace. In the long term, China is way more dangerous; but in the medium term, Iran’s capacity and desire to generate strife and war in the Middle East—and through it gain influence and dominance in the world—is without equal.

All the scholars (real and assumed) that think Iran can be contained like all other nuclear armed countries before it simply do not understand, or refuse to recognize, the real nature of this regime.

The world has never seen a regime that was both deeply, fundamentally religious and possessed nuclear weapons.

Theocracies, real ones, have different logic and reality than secular countries. Survival is not necessarily the highest goal.

Therefore, Iran with nuclear weapons is a threat to world peace that is without precedent.

No mutual assured destruction (MAD) will work on them.

I’ve said many times that the most likely scenario by far is that Iran will use its nuclear weapon, once they possess it, to threaten; to effect price of oil through threats toward its oil producing neighbors. In addition, they will use such weapons to magnify the already very significant power that its terrorist army wields (Hezbollah is the main example here) and to allow these terrorist organizations to conduct war against Israel and others under the umbrella of nuclear protection from Iran. They will also double their efforts, with impunity, once they have nuclear weapons to foster Shia uprising in many of the Gulf emirates.

Iran is already fostering strife in the entire Middle East: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, and now Yemen, are all prime examples. Imagine how much more powerful this movement will be if given the protection of nuclear weapons.

By the way, Yemen is falling apart because of Iran’s meddling, and the US is very close to evacuating its ambassador there only two months after the President mentioned it as an example of the success of his strategy for fighting terror…really? Where is the media making a mockery of another presidential claim that is stripped naked when reality hits home—and this time within less than two months??

Back to Iran: My best hope all along regarding the “talks” (P1+5 etc.) was that Iran will be so contemptuous of the weakness projected by the U.S. that they will reject all entreaties made by the US in an effort to bring Iran into signing a deal. The US is going out of its way, doing backward somersaults—going back on established red lines, on minimal demands, even those contained in UN resolution, begging the Iranians in secret letters, offering inducements, and more—all in an effort to convince Iran to agree to a face-saving formula (not a real good deal, God forbid). This spectacle, while dismaying, is not shocking. Given President Obama’s failures on every other front—domestic and, especially, foreign—he will go to extremes to try and show a deal with Iran as a huge success. Especially since he knows that the terrible consequences of such a deal are likely to occur after he leaves the office. Après moi, le déluge (yes, I know I am repeating this phrase frequently as of late but it is the only way to explain Obama’s policy).

However, it seems that even all of these efforts are likely to fail. At least, I hope they will. It looks like the talks that recently occurred in Oman were not productive, to say the least. Rumors speculate that the likely outcome of this failure is that the November 24th deadline will be extended. According to the initial agreement signed in January, the deadline was July but there was a provision for a one-time extension of another six months. In July, the US chose to extend the deadline for only four of the six provisioned months. That decision was clearly motivated by the Administration’s desire to achieve an agreement before the likelihood (then and certainty, now) that control of congress will change hands. Well, it seems that Iran does not care.

I think that Iran may be miscalculating here. I keep saying that we do not really understand the Iranians due to a completely different set of values and rationale. I believe the same applies to them. Their esteem of the USA is so low that they may misjudge. My biggest fear is that they will not; that they will agree to some face-saving formula for the US before the November 24th deadline and then go on to do what they want. They cheated before—they cheat all the time—so what is different now? But the indications are that maybe they will miscalculate and allow the talks to be extended to, say, January 24th which is the deadline of the original deal with no more extensions beyond that date.

Why would the Iranians do that? Why would they not settle now? Because they believe that the US is weak and incapable of any serious action against them. They need time to finish their development and as long as they can gain that time under a weaker and collapsing sanction regime, that is their goal.

They may be right. It is possible that the US is way too weak, but there is also a chance here for the new Republican-controlled congress to take action.

If the current “framework” with Iran is extended beyond January 6th when the new Congress is sworn in, then Republicans should immediately—within days—pass a resolution in both the House and the Senate containing the following elements:

  • Any agreement with Iran will be null and void unless it receives congressional approval. Some will say that such an act is unconstitutional as it trumps the President’s executive power. I disagree. A specific law trumps executive power unless such power is clearly enumerated in the Constitution, such as launching military action. Congress cannot force the President to start a war, but they can stop him from signing commercial agreements with other countries—see trade agreements as an example. The agreement with Iran will essentially be a commercial agreement to remove sanctions. That such a law passes is enough to create sufficient doubt as to make a signature by the President not worth it for the Iranians.
  • If agreement with Iran is not reached by March 31st and then approved by congress by April 30th all prior sanctions that were eased will be re-established with no further extension or delays.
  • Furthermore, the various “loopholes” that allowed the Administration to give some countries protection from sanctions, even if they did buy oil from Iran, are hereby eliminated. Stop ALL oil sales from Iran. Some will say that this will cause the price of oil to skyrocket and hurt the world economy. But the price of oil is in a multiyear trough, it is very low and there is a glut of oil in the world. The Saudis and others will be happy to fill in shortage of Iran’s oil in world markets.
  • To help the world oil markets, all restrictions on exporting of oil and gas from the US are lifted.
  • Any entity, individual, corporate, or country that will do any type of business with Iran will be subject to huge, debilitating penalties by the US. If they want to be present and do business in the USA, they cannot do business with Iran directly or indirectly. Let them choose.
  • Finally, and most importantly, such a resolution should include Authorization for the Use of Military Force Resolution (AUMF). Empower the President to use force—limited force: air and sea based forces only with very small elements of Special Forces if necessary to make the air attacks more effective—and have it out there that the Congress of the USA has authorized the use of force against Iran. Congress cannot force the President to make use of such authorization—that would be unconstitutional—but giving him the option, paving the way for him to do it at will, will send a very powerful message to all concerned.

It is my view that such a resolution can pass Congress in few days with veto-proof majorities.

If it does, this will be a game changer and, paradoxically, the only chance the world has to prevent a war in the Middle East.