Monday, December 9, 2013

Obama's Iran Deal: If you like your nuclear reactor you can keep it.

With all of the embarrassing, fumbling and high profile problems of the Obamacare web site and the stark failures of Obamacare as a policy so far,(less than 2% of those setting up accounts are enrolling)   some may think comparing the glaring flaws and gitches with Obamacare and its implementation to the nuclear agreement with Iran  is overly simplistic, a cheap shot or even a low blow.  It isn't.

 The two have very real similarities and threaten to have very similar outcomes, failed outcomes that were predictable and are both very much the product of Obama's  flawed approach and thinking when it comes to important issues and solving problems often sacrificing something real just to have a deal an adversary can accept.  Which is why both have become equally worrisome  and have about the same chance of succeeding and accomplishing what they promised.

 Just as the Obamacare roll out and web site was fraught with problems and glitches from the beginning,  the Iran agreement  is hardly two weeks old but from the very beginning started to fray. And for much the same reasons.

 And as was the case with Obamacare, the nuclear deal shows a lack of planning, a lack of foresight, miscalculations, imprecise language and most  important of all does not solve the problem it was supposed to solve.

 The ink hadn't even  dried on the nuclear agreement before  Iran claimed the deal said one thing and the Obama administration claimed it said the opposite.

 Iran's foreign minister said the deal explicitly gave Iran the right to enrich uranium. Kerry said it didn't. Iran's foreign minister said the agreement explicitly removed the threat of military force by United States against Iran. Kerry said it didn't.

Iran said the deal specifically allows them to continue to operate their heavy water reactors (which are needed only to enrich uranium to weapons grade level). The White House says it doesn't.  And Iran's foreign ministry put out a statement saying that the outline of the specifics of the deal posted by Obama on the White House web site "are not true".  To call this getting off to a rocky start is something of a gross understatement.

There is already ample evidence that the Iran deal, like Obamacare, is rife with misjudgments,  lack of foresight, but most of all, like Obamacare, is a capitulation and compromise to an adversary who was the sole source of the problem when no capitulation or compromise was necessary.

 Just as it had been the insurance companies and their Draconian practices of high premiums, caps on coverage and denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions which had been the core problem, only to see Obama drop the public option which had overwhelming support and which solved those problems simply to make a deal that the insurance companies were pleased with,  it has been Iran and their belligerence and military threats to wipe their adversaries "off the face of the earth" that has made their nuclear enrichment program and it's potential military use the sole source of the problem.

 And like  Obamacare,   Obama's  Iran deal does nothing to solve the problem. Which is solely to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

 Just as Obamacare does nothing to lower the cost of healthcare and favors insurance companies by letting them offer policies to the uninsured at prices they themselves choose,  the Iran agreement, even as a preliminary one, favors Iran, reduces leverage by easing sanctions and does nothing to stop Iran's weapons grade nuclear program.

 And like Obamacare, which was Obama's substitute for the public option, for many the Iran deal represents a wasted opportunity.

 But unlike Obamacare, opposition to the Iran deal has been led by Democrats, been very vocal, even fierce in its opposition, and has bipartisan support.

 Democratic senator Chuck Schumer said he was "disappointed" with the deal. Republican congressman and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King called it "a serious strategic mistake".  Republican congressman and House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said it was "a serious mistake". Democratic senator Robert Menedez is calling for tougher sanctions in spite of the deal and is drafting a senate bill to do just that over Obama's objections.   Republican senator Lindsay Graham doesn't like the deal either. Neither does Israel or Saudi Arabia. So it's no wonder that Iran sees it as a "win" and made a point of saying how "pleased" it was with the deal.

 You don't have to be an expert on nuclear proliferation or geopolitics to understand the ramifications of Iran saying how "pleased"  it is. Just like Karen Ignagni, the chief Washington lobbyist for the health insurance industry said how "pleased" she was that Obama dropped the public option for Obamacare.   When the adversaries and source of the problem are "pleased" its a pretty good indication the deal  isn't what it should be and someone is getting screwed. And it's not the adversary.

 Given the issues and the leverage the sanctions provided with Iran, there should have been no agreement that would cause the Iranian government to be "pleased". Iran caused the problem themselves. They were the ones making threats. They are responsible for the sanctions against them.  Iran's choices should have been, shut down the centrifuges and heavy water reactor used to enrich weapons grade uranium  in return for easing sanctions or face more sanctions. The deal should have been either or. They can't have both. Except for now, based on this deal,  they do.

 That Obama has tried to defend the deal by saying its the product of "clear eyed principled diplomacy" when there is complete disagreement between the principals as to what the agreement actually says, is enough to prove it's anything but clear eyed and principled.

 And a close look at Obama's statement bears that out. Obama, who seems to spend a lot of time trying to craft language that gives him a way out in case of failure, has said that the deal will "help prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon".

 The problem is "will help prevent" is very different from "will prevent" which  is the only thing that matters. And the only thing that "will prevent" Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is for Iran to shut down it's centrifuges and heavy water reactors. And this agreement doesn't do that. In fact, it looks more and more like  Obama's deal with Iran is "if you like your nuclear reactor you can keep it".

There are already bipartisan bills in the senate, sponsored by Democrats Robert Menedez and Chuck Schumer and with strong Republican support, that take the agenda away from Obama and slap Iran with even tighter sanctions in spite of Obama's deal, both recognizing history and refusing to repeat it as well as recognizing Einstein's definition of insanity of doing the same things over again and expecting different results.

Had Democrats did the same in 2009 when Obama was caving in to the health insurance lobby, taken the agenda away and passed the public option which they had the votes to pass instead of falling into line behind Pelosi, they wouldn't be dealing with the policy and political disaster that is Obamacare today and will be in the future. They won't do the same with Iran.

NOTE: Democratic senator Robert Menedez and Republican senator Mark Kirk announced they are about to introduce legislation that would limit Obama's ability to waive sanctions and automatically reimpose sanctions on Iran in six months if Iran renegs on the deal.

Tellingly, Iran has said that such legislation will "kill the deal" just completed even if the legislation wouldn't take effect for six months and only if Iran attempted deception.

If Iran is threatening to kill the deal because of legislation that would hold them accountable for any deception regarding their nuclear program, it only serves to re-enforce what's wrong with the deal.  And if that's the case, maybe its better to kill the deal now rather than continue the deception and put Obama in a position of  waffling over another red line six months from now.


James Ala said...

At only 4,096 characters I can not even begin to explain all the ways your are mistaken.

Our foreign policy should not be decided by the musings of Likudnicks nor their enablers in the US Congress. Israel is not the 51st state of the union nor should it be treated as such.

Iran is no threat to Israel no matter what the former President Im A Dinner Jacket said. The Shia Persians don't give a rat's patootie about the feckless Arab Sunnis of Palestine.

Iran has rights under the NPT that can not and will not be bargained away. They can have their reactor and they can do peaceful research. What the Israelis want is for the Iranians to surrender the whole lot, a non-starter.

By following the musings of the Saudis and Israels we will accomplish exactly the exact opposite what we supposedly want, the prevention of the Iranians having a turn key nuclear device.

I understand why some want to give war a chance, but let's try negotiation first. It's early days yet, who knows Obama may just get this one right.

Marc Rubin said...

"By following the musings of the Saudis and Israels we will accomplish exactly the exact opposite what we supposedly want, the prevention of the Iranians having a turn key nuclear device."

First, its easy for you to say who Iran is and is not a threat to when youre 6,000 miles away from the action and far renmoved from the threat. So its really not your call. Secondly, when you have an agreement where one party claims it says one thing and the other claims it says another you dont have an agreement, what you have is a typical Obama halfway measure that in the end, like Obamacare, accomplishes nothing and may cause even more damage. Third, 26 co-sponsors of a bill in the U.S, senate think youre wrong and will introduce a new bill designed to do what Obama should have done in the first place -- guarantee the imposing of even tougher sanctions if the Iranians dont hue exactly to the agreement as WE see it. And that is going to mean dismantling their heavy water reactor which has no purprose except to produce weapons grade uranium. Iran sees the agreement as letting them kep it. Once the new bill trupming Obama's agreement passes, then we'll see what happens.