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
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.
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
by Mitchell Plitnick and Matt Duss
The Framework Agreement between the P5+1 and Iran announced on April 2 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 gunpoint. 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.
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.
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.
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.
This article originally appeared at LobeLog.
The new Israeli government features a security braintrust that might be a bit more reasonable on Iran, but is likely to be even more hawkish both in the immediate region
Netanyahu has a new and untested cabinet
and within the country itself. Gone are voices from the Israeli right who favored a more reasoned and diplomatic approach to their right-wing agenda. They have been replaced by figures who want more direct action and refuse even the pretense of a two-state solution.
On Iran, the retirement of Ehud Barak removes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leading supporter in his effort for a strike on Iran sooner rather than later, whether that be carried out by Israel or, preferably, the United States. He is replaced by Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon. Bogey is also an Iran hawk, but is not in favor of Israel launching an attack other than as a last resort. He is far more content than Barak to allow the United States to take the lead and wants Israel to act only if it becomes apparent that the US will not. That puts him pretty well in line with the Israeli military and intelligence leadership in practice, though he sees Iran as more of a threat than they do.
In fact, no one in the current or even the outgoing inner circle came close to matching Barak’s eagerness for military action against Iran. Only Netanyahu himself could match him, and he remains daunted by the lack of support for his position in Israel. The ongoing hawkishness in the US Congress and President Barack Obama’s repeated statements holding firm to a military option and refusing a policy of containment also blunt Netanyahu’s resolve. It would seem that, at least for the time being, the calls for war on Iran will be fueled more in the United States than in Israel.
Ya’alon is a former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, but he did not have a distinguished term of service there, was not well-liked and returns without a great deal of good will among the military and intelligence services’ leadership. In fact, colleagues in Israel tell me there is a good deal of consternation in those services regarding Bogey’s appointment. But for now, they will wait and see how he acts. For a deeper look at Ya’alon, see my recent piece on him here. Continue reading