Belmont Club

Obama's World

Here is a round-up of media coverage of the recently concluded Iran deal. Various pundits try to predict what it effect it will have on America and the world.

What Key Players Are Saying About the Iran Nuclear Deal according to the NYT.

“We are confident that the world today breathed a sigh of relief.” — PRESIDENT VLADIMIR V. PUTIN, who emphasized Russia’s plans to be a major partner with Iran in the development of its “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program.

“We have no doubt that the coming days will see momentum for the constructive role of the Iranian Islamic republic to support the rights of the people and strengthen the bases of peace.” — PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, according to the Syrian state news service, SANA.

The deal is “a historic mistake for the world” and will allow Iran ‘‘to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region.’’ — PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, who has said that a deal will eventually pave the way for Iran to quickly produce multiple bombs and ultimately become a “terrorist nuclear superpower.”

The Dawn of Iranian Empire, Max Boot.

What this means is that Iran will soon have more than $100 billion extra to spend not only on exporting the Iranian revolution and dominating neighboring states (Gen. Soleimani’s job) but that it will also before long be free to purchase as many weapons — even ballistic missiles — as it likes on the world market. No wonder Vladimir Putin appears to be happy: This deal is likely to become a windfall for Russian arms makers, although you can be sure that Iran will also spread its largesse to manufacturers in France and, if possible, the UK so as to give those countries an extra stake in not re-imposing sanctions.

What Does the Iran Deal Mean for Syria? — Carnegie Endowment

Russia and China are now both angling to get into the Iranian arms market, which is sure to swell once oil money starts flooding back into government coffers in Tehran. Some commentators have estimated that Russia could be looking at $13 billion in arms export earnings and no one will be shocked to learn that the Kremlin has been pushing to lift arms sanctions immediately after an agreement. …

Still, in some ways, Iran’s military is already benefitting from the deal. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed to progress in the nuclear talks as his reason for lifting a ban on sales of the S-300, a powerful air defense system long sought by the Iranians as a means of offsetting Israeli and American air superiority.

In Arab World, Worries That Deal Will Boost Iran’s Power — Associated Press

The nuclear deal with Iran was met with a profound wariness in the Arab world, where concerns are widespread that the easing of its international isolation could tip the already bloody contest for power in the region toward Shiite-led Tehran.

Arab countries have deep fears of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, and some have been skeptical that a deal will prevent that from happening. But equally high for key Sunni-dominated Gulf allies of the United States is the worry that a deal gives Iran the means — through an economic windfall — and an implicit green light to push influence in the region.

Iran: We Won — Daily Beast

Iran declared it won the decade-long struggle with the West to rein in its nuclear program after it signed an agreement with the U.S. and five world powers Tuesday. “To our neighbours: Do not be deceived by the propaganda of the warmongering Zionist regime. #Iran & its power will translate into your power,” President Hassan Rouhani tweeted. During a state TV address, Rouhani said Iran had achieved all of its objectives through negotiations. “All the sanctions, even arms embargoes and missile-related sanctions… would all be lifted,” he said.

Nuclear deal likely to temporarily increase Iranian political stability, cause escalation of Iraqi and Syrian proxy war — Janes Intelligence Review

The agreement will gradually allow investment in Iran’s economy, Saudi Arabia and Turkey will likely attempt to maximise their gains in Iraq and Syria in the short term, and to increase their dependence on militant Sunni groups, while it will also increase Israel’s fears over Hizbullah’s developing capabilities.

The Real Reason Obama Did the Iran Deal — Leslie Gelb, Daily Beast

Iranian negotiators understood well what’s been driving the U.S. president, and they have used the prospect of becoming “a friend” as their best bargaining card. For over a year now in small private conversations and strolls, they have been painting rosy pictures of Iranian-American cooperation.

The Iranian list of possibilities goes to most of Washington’s principal worries about the broad Middle East. They would step up their fighting alongside Iraqi troops to combat the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in central Iraq. And they would do much more in Syria to go after the headquarters and main forces that ISIS has there. They spoke of finding “solutions” to the civil war in Yemen between Sunnis and Iran-backed Shiites. They raised hopes of forging better relations with America’s “partners” in the Gulf. They pressed the idea of renewing the cooperation they once had with the U.S. fighting the Taliban at the beginning of the Afghan war.

What’s really wrong with the Iran nuclear deal — Robert Satloff, NY Daily News

I have read every mind-numbing page of the Iran nuclear agreement. It is a serious document, negotiated by serious people. It includes a series of impressive restrictions on all aspects of Iran’s nuclear program for many years, some lasting a quarter century.

But it is much more than just a technical accord. It is a strategy paper that maps Iran’s emergence as a regional power, with the full blessing — even support — of the United States and the international community. …

The Iran accord goes further. On top of refraining from penalizing Iran for bad behavior, the U.S. and its partners commit to assist Iran to develop in energy, finance, technology and trade. The idea that America and its allies will actually help Iran grow stronger in these areas will sound a discordant note around the Middle East, where the Tehran regime is viewed as the eminence grise behind Bashar Assad’s brutal suppression of his people, the Houthi rebellion against state authority in Yemen, the creeping expansion of radical Shiite influence in Iraq and the activities of some of the most extreme Palestinian terrorist groups.

In that vein, this agreement is truly historic. It marks a potential turning point in America’s engagement in the Middle East, a pivot from building regional security on a team of longtime allies who were themselves former adversaries of each other — Israel and the Sunni Arab states — in favor of a balance between those allies and our own longtime nemesis, Iran.

Ian Bremmer, a professor at NYU makes the argument that Obama has fundamentally changed the structure of American alliances.  He says “within a decade I expect US relations with Iran will be closer than US relations with Saudi Arabia.”  The administration, frustrated with the inability of the existing cast of characters to break out of a decades old impasse and stuck in a regional conflagration of its own making simply went and made a new dinosaur; one part Islamic republic, one part nuclear weapons and one part newly available cash.  The park has a new attraction and the logjam is broken.  What could go wrong?

This sounds vaguely promising until you remember that the US and Iranian government were once allies — before Khomeini and Carter.  Obama is now making friends with the existing regime.   But being buddies with regimes is a less stable proposition than making friends with peoples. The ultimate irony would be if the Iranians rose in a few years and overthrew the Ayatollahs with whom Obama made a deal.  History is complex, not linear.  The administration may discover that their new dinosaur refuses to stay confined in his paddock.

Perhaps the weakest aspect of Obama’s foreign policy is his readiness to betray friendly civilizations such as the Israelis, Kurds, Christians — even the Sunnis and the Shia who have placed their trust in America —  in favor of currying favor with the strongmen du jour.  True love cuts no ice with the administration, even though a diplomacy based on cultures is more stable than treaties between strongmen.  Like some hard-boiled detective it seems the only partners Obama finds interesting are those who’ve demonstrated a willingness to lie and cheat, nodt the plain, faithful Janes.

The Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon reports that the world is waiting to see which way the sword cuts.  Obama is pouring money on Iran.  Will it be water or gasoline?

Iran is widely expected to use some of the billions of dollars freed up by sanctions relief under the newly minted nuclear deal to aid regional partners hostile to Washington and its allies.

But with the threat of extremist group Islamic State redrawing old battle lines in the Middle East, the Iranian and U.S. camps sometimes find themselves fighting a common enemy. Iran hopes to leverage better relations to secure closer cooperation against common threats.

Leslie Gelb’s observation that Obama bought a friend in Iran suggests the president’s deal will meet either one of two fates. The first possibility is that his machinations will succeed and America will find new partners in the Middle East.

The second possibility is the president will be rolled. Obama, in purchasing the promise of an alliance with Iran for money, is like a man who engages a lady in a clip joint to sit at a table and pretend to be interested in him, even though they have nothing in common.  The lady, in this case a bearded Ayatollah, consumes overpriced, watered-down beverages for which he presented an astonishing bill and when opportunity presents may slip him a mickey.  Then she escorts her wobbly customer out followed closely by Vladimir.

It is not unheard of for patrons of such establishments to wake up in a ditch without their wallets, glad they still have their underwear. But if shared values are not the coin in the administration’s realm, then it must be purely down to who has the last laugh.  Off go Iran and Obama into the mist.  This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but don’t count the ditch out.

Recently purchased by readers:
Go Set a Watchman, A Novel Hardcover by Harper Lee
Dishonest Money Financing the Road to Ruin Paperback by Joseph Plumme
Natural Language Processing with Python, Paperback by Steven Bird
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, Kindle by David Miller
A Week in Winter, Kindle Edition by Maeve Binchy

Possibly worth buying:
The Fall of the Euro, Kindle Edition by Jens Nordvig
Once Upon a Time in Russia, The Rise of the Oligarchs  Kindle Edition by Ben Mezrich
The Mighty Mars Rovers, by Elizabeth Rusch
We Now Know, Rethinking Cold War History (Council on Foreign Relations Book) by John Lewis Gaddis

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the Belmont Club