Bolton’s Firing Undermines Netanyahu In Several Ways

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a very disappointing day on Tuesday. Struggling in the polls a week before the rerun of April’s Israeli national

elections, the embattled prime minister was desperate for something to swing a chunk of voters in his direction, or at least in the direction of some of the right wing parties supporting him.

To that end, Netanyahu scheduled a press conference to announce some big development, and as the hour of his appearance neared, the word was that it was going to be that the Trump administration had agreed to Netanyahu’s plan to annex major pieces of the West Bank. Netanyahu appeared and quickly said that if he won the election, he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley, which constitutes around 30% of the West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) and about 60% of Area C, the part of the West Bank that was left under full Israeli control in the Oslo Accords (see adjacent map). He further implied that more annexation would follow, as a result of negotiations with the United States (not the Palestinians, of course) that would be held in the framework of Donald Trump’s fabled “Deal of the Century.” Read more at LobeLog

The Day After Leaving The Iran Deal

French President Emmanuel Macron likely wrote the epitaph for the Iran nuclear deal as he was leaving Washington. Based on his statements, U.S. relations with Iran and North Korea as well are becoming increasingly dangerous.

“(President Donald Trump’s) experience with North Korea is that when you are very tough, you make the other side move and you can try to go to a good deal or a better deal,” Macron said. “That’s a strategy of increasing tension … It could be useful.”

Trump accordingly believes that North Korea has agreed to talks because Kim Jong Un was intimidated by Trump’s belligerence. But this is unlikely to be the case. Colin Kahl, the former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, wrote on Twitter that “Trump likely misreads Kim Jong Un’s reasons for agreeing to a summit: to legitimize rather than dismantle his nuclear program. Remember, Kim said North Korea could stop testing because the nuclear program was already complete.”

Although no one can be certain of Kim’s thinking, Kahl’s interpretation is much more consistent with what is known about Kim and the current diplomatic state of play. So, what does the US leaving the Iran nuclear deal mean for the relationships with Iran and North Korea? Read more at LobeLog

My New Piece, “Correcting the Critics of the Iran Nuclear Deal” And Additional Notes

Now that the Iran nuclear agreement is done, the Republicans, AIPAC, the neocons and the Israeli government have gone on the warpath (in more ways than one) to try and get Congress to kill the deal. 4688994752_853e3d2f46_b

I have written a piece for FMEP that takes on some of the most common criticisms of the deal and demonstrates that they are almost entirely smoke. In some cases, they’re based on outright falsehoods, in others on distortions of the facts. Please check out the piece and, if you are so inclined, share it with your contacts, friends and lists. There is also a link there to a PDF version that you can print out and distribute if that would be helpful.

A few other points should be stressed in addition to the ones I listed in my piece.  Continue reading

Debunking the Opposition to the Iran Framework

by Mitchell Plitnick and Matt Duss

The Framework Agreement between the P5+1 and Iran announced on April 2[1] was an important step toward ending the long standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Not surprisingly, it has already come under fierce attack by hawks in Washington and Iran.

On the U.S. side, opposition to the deal is rooted in a desire to see Iran’s complete capitulation, if need be at Kerry Zarifgunpoint. But negotiation requires compromise; and compromise, by definition, means no one gets exactly what they want.

Ultimately, here are the questions at hand: Can a deal based on this framework prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon? Will the U.S. and its allies be more secure because of it? The answer to both is yes. Read more at the FMEP blog. 

Nuclear Islam: Demystifying the Iranian Threat

The mindless way in which Americans simply assume that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon is just appalling. I have found it most repulsive in that my school, the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, reflects in its classes the absolute certainty of this “fact,” despite the reality that the evidence points to multiple possible conclusions, and an unyielding Iranian pursuit of a nuke is far from the most likely. I explore this mindless, zealous almost religious belief that permeates government, the media and, sadly, academia this week in Souciant

Iran Hawks Gear Up

As much as I often heap scorn on Barack Obama’s foreign policy acumen, he is taking the right approach with Iran by pushing forward and taking advantage of the opening by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani while also trying to forestall the hawks by proceeding with caution. Israel, AIPAC and the Gulf States are not blind, however and they are gearing up for an all-out assault in Capitol Hill to sabotage efforts to resolve the sanctions and nuclear dispute peacefully. I examine at LobeLog.

The Global Hoodie

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Stand Your Ground laws. There’s lots to learn from all of this, but one lesson is how this horrific incident and the awful verdict reflects the US’ and many other countries’ approach to foreign affairs regarding security and defense. I explore at Souciant this week.