Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Obama and Kerry Play with Fire on Iran Agreement

Barack Obama and John Kerry are playing with fire. They presumably want Congress and the American public to accept the nuclear agreement they and four other governments struck with Iran, but they work against their own objective by accepting the false premise of their opponents: namely, that Iran's regime is untrustworthy, dangerous, bent on becoming a nuclear power -- and containable only by a U.S. readiness to wage war.

Who knows if the president and secretary of state really believe this? But they ought to know that this premise is wrong.

Their incentive to accept the false premise is obvious. Neither wants his obituary to declare that his greatest achievement was to persuade Iran not to develop a weapon it had no intention of developing.

On announcing the deal Obama said, "Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon."

Likewise in remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Kerry said, "So this isn't a question of giving them [Iran] what they want. I mean it's a question of how do you hold their program back, how do you dismantle their weapons program...."

Hence, Obama and Kerry endorse the claim that Iran was seeking to build nuclear weapons. The long negotiating process was based on that premise. So they must now insist that the agreement contains leak-proof verification, because like their opponents, Obama and Kerry say the Iranians cannot be trusted. But the hawks demagogically ignore that part of the administration's case and claim the agreement does depend on trust; Iran can and will cheat, the hawks say, no matter what verification measures are in place. They can even quote Wendy Sherman, leader of the U.S. negotiating team, who once told a Senate committee, "We know that deception is part of the [Iranian] DNA."

That's some great way for Obama and Kerry to sell their agreement.

It would be better for Obama and Kerry to tell the truth for once: Iran has not been seeking a nuclear bomb. This has long been well-understood by American and Israeli intelligence and military agencies. As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern points out, George W. Bush had to give up plans to attack Iran in 2007 because a National Intelligence Estimate signed by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies found that Iran had stopped (alleged) research on nukes four years earlier. This conclusion was renewed regularly in subsequent years. In fact, as Gareth Porter notes, "US national intelligence estimates during the Bush administration concluding that Iran had run such a program, including the most famous estimate issued in November 2007, were based on inference, not on hard intelligence."

We have many other indications of Iran's non-interest in nukes, all of which are documented by Porter, the man who literally wrote the book on the case. (See Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.) We know, for example, that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, issued a religious edict (fatwa) against nuclear weapons. We know that when Iran could have bought weapons-related equipment from an illegal Pakistani network, it did not. We know that for years Iran tried every way to avoid having to enrich uranium for its power plants but was thwarted each time by the U.S. government. Finally, we know that when the Iranian government could have made chemical weapons to retaliate for Iraq's U.S.-backed chemical warfare against Iran in the 1980s, then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini forbade it on religious grounds.

Despite this, it is open season on Iran. Most everyone feels he can level any charge against it without providing a scintilla of evidence. Most common is the charge that Iran is the "chief state sponsor of terrorism." But does anyone bother to prove it? It requires no proof. It's the Big Lie, and it serves the war party's agenda. (For evidence to the contrary see these two pieces by Ted Snider.

The P5+1 agreement, though unnecessary, is preferable to war. Obama and Kerry should stop thinking about their legacies and start leveling with us.

Sheldon Richman keeps the blog "Free Association" and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society. Become a patron today!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Iranian Non-Threat


This image tweeted by Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has a lot of people upset. Is it supposed to be Barack Obama holding a gun to his own head?

What if it is? The picture is hardly threatening or aggressive in any way. After all, it's not a picture of Khamenei holding a gun to Obama's head.

And look at the text:
We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but if any war happens, the one who will emerge loser will be the aggressive and criminal U.S.
That is not aggressive in the least. On the contrary, it rejects war. Who's been threatening war against whom? The U.S. government (along with Israel) has been threatening war against Iran. Even after the nuclear agreement was signed, Secretary of War Ash Carter reiterated that war against Iran is still an option. So all Khamenei is saying is that if the U.S. government starts a war, it will lose. It will be as though Obama had pointed a gun at himself and pulled the trigger.

In the past, Iran's pledges to retaliate if attacked have always been presented by the news media and politicians as though they were threats to initiate war. This is happening again.

When will the media and the hack politicians be straight with the public? Iran has threatened to attack no one, but the U.S. and Israeli governments, both with nuclear weapons, routinely threaten to attack Iran. Who is the criminal?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Trump & the Establishment

Trump outrages the establishment because he's a caricature of it.

Friday, July 24, 2015

TGIF: Thought Crimes, Domestic "Terrorism," and Police Bullying

Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black parishioners because they were black has been charged by the central government with committing hate crimes. Words cannot adequately express the evil of Roof’s actions at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and no decent person would want to say anything that be could possibly be construed as sympathetic to this despicable human being. Still this must be said: the concept thought crime has no place in a proper system of law.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Free Association -- The Webinar

Lucy Steigerwald and I converse on topics of interest to libertarians every other Tuesday evening at Liberty.me The latest one was on the Iran nuclear deal, Israel, and U.S. hegemony. Listen here. The archive is here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No "Compensation" to Israel for Iran Deal

In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defined chutzpah as "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan." Today we have a new paradigm for chutzpah: the Israeli government's demand for "compensation" from the American taxpayers for the Iran nuclear agreement.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Key to Almost Everything

If Americans knew that Israel faced no threat, they might focus on the Palestinians. Can't have that.