Agreeing or Disagreeing with Ty
Over the Framework Agreement with Iran
Colleagues: A wide range of opinion regarding my rather upbeat assessment of the framework agreement with Iran. I was surprised to find that those in favor outweighed those against my position by about 5:1! Here are some of the viewpoints expressed, in favor or against. Ty
First this from my former White House colleague, Peggy Noonan:
Misplaying America’s Hand With Iran
The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one.
April 2, 2015 8:06 p.m. ET, WSJ
Barack Obama, six years into his presidency, does not have a foreign-policy legacy—or, rather, he does and it’s bad. He has a visceral and understandable reluctance to extend and overextend U.S. power, but where that power has been absent, violence and instability have filled the void. When he overcomes his reluctance to get involved, he picks the wrong place, such as Libya, where the tyrant we toppled was better than many of those attempting to take his place.
Syria, red lines, an exploding Mideast, a Russian president who took the American’s measure and made a move, upsetting a hard-built order that had maintained for a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union—what a mess.
To Iran, and the negotiations:
What is needed is a deal that keeps Iran from developing nuclear weapons, period. A bad deal will be worse and more dangerous than no deal. A bad deal will—perhaps—slow the deadly project, not end it.
President Obama is not known as a good negotiator. He and his White House have given the impression that they want a deal too much—they need the win. It isn’t good when you let the people on the other side know how much you need it.
One observer wrote that past sanctions on Iran cratered their economy and forced them to the table, but now, from a position of weakness, he wrote, they are “overcoming the West” with “cunning” and “resolve.” Signs point to a bad deal in June and a bad deal will be dangerous.
K.T. McFarland, writing online for Fox News this week, opposed the talks from a different angle. The “neoconservatives who believe the only way to stop Iran’s bomb is to bomb Iran” are wrong, she said, as is President Obama when he says the choice is a deal or war. “Our policy . . . should not be Obama-style capitulation or Bush-style war,” but increasing political pressure through increased economic sanctions. More than 70% of Iranians are under age 30, Ms. McFarland noted. “How long will they tolerate being ruled by a handful of 80-year-old mullahs who have pushed their economy into free fall?”
Mr. Obama should have walked when Tuesday’s deadline failed to hold. Absent an ultimate deal, something good can always happen down the road. With a bad final deal nothing good will happen, and bad things will surely follow.
In the end he should toughen the sanctions and wait out the mullahs. No one in America would be angry. Most would think “Wow, if he walked, it must have been a terrible deal—give him credit for trying!” Everyone else would be relieved.
That would enhance his foreign-policy legacy. That would be a win.
Here is the link to Peggy’s full op ed:
Click here: Peggy Noonan: Misplaying America’s Hand With Iran – WSJ
Then this from experienced arms control negotiator and implementer, COL Doug Englund:
The framework for a nuclear agreement with Iran is a good deal – perhaps even a stunningly good deal. Any objective observer should agree that the P5+1 negotiators got more from the Iranians than most anyone expected, both in terms of the cuts Iran is willing to make and, especially, the extent of the verification measures Iran has apparently agreed to accept. True, many opponents in this country object because the Agreement does not stop all nuclear activities in Iran. But, clearly, that was not going to happen anyway: Iran has every right to pursue peaceful nuclear activities under the NPT, and the Iranian leadership also has its own factions that have to be mollified. It’s also true that there are many potential obstacles between now and June, but these obstacles would obtain no matter what the agreed framework looked like.
Possibly the most important aspect of the framework is the simple fact there is one. Mr. Netanyahu argues that a bad agreement is worse than no agreement. He is, simply and utterly, wrong. My own experience in arms control inspections and in hunting for WMD in both Iraq wars convinces me that having eyes on the ground is infinitely better than trying to guess from afar what’s actually going on. The agreed framework will establish an inspection regime that offers broad and intrusive access and one that will continue for at least 20 years. It is difficult to imagine that an agreement that allows for a robust presence by skilled inspectors will not provide a better opportunity for early warning than no agreement at all.
Doug Englund served with the On-Site inspection Agency at its establishment in 1987 and was responsible for building and operating the portal monitoring sites in Russia and in Utah. He was also seconded to the UN in 1991 to be Chief of Operations for UNSCOM. Finally, he joined DTRA in 2000 and headed up the On-Site Inspection Directorate, as well as the Weapons Elimination Directorate which was formed to search for and eliminate expected WMD in Iraq.
But then a contrary viewpoint from Gene Trabitz:
Iran Seeks to be Regional Hegemon; Cannot be Trusted
Ty, many Americans are pleased by the announcement that a framework for a nuclear agreement with Iran is concluded. Supporters of the agreement believe the framework outlines the best result possible for restraining Iran’s nuclear weapon program. But is that belief justified? Perhaps not. Consider the following:
Iran has undermined our efforts to establish a viable coalition government in Iraq. Iran has supported radical groups who have sought to destabilize governments throughout out the Middle East. Iran has provided weapons and training to enable Hezbollah and Hamas to attack our most reliable ally in the region, Israel. Iran has threatened to block oil shipments through the Straits of Hormuz. Iran seeks to become the regional hegemon for the Middle East at the expense of our allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Clearly a nuclear weapon would serve their ambitions in that regard with the added benefit of providing them the means to fulfill their repeated threat to destroy Israel.
Given all that, why is Iran now willing to change direction and make concessions that hamstring its ability to build a nuclear weapon and hinder its regional ambitions? There are two reasons that might explain this change of heart. Reason one is that the economic sanctions in force are having a serious, possibly even disastrous, effect on their economy, which threatens to bring about either collapse or revolution. Reason two is that they’ll sign an agreement because they don’t plan to honor it. Instead they stage a long and contentious negotiation to support the fiction that the agreement is meaningful, when all the while they have covert facilities and resources that they insist be exempted from the terms of the agreement and, and which make enforcement of the agreement impossible.
If reason one is correct, then the West should demand an agreement with terms that leave no possibility of a nuclear weapons program by requiring that no Iranian scientific or military facilities are exempt from inspection. Again, if reason one is correct Iran’s economy is now in such dire straits that existing sanctions coupled with the threat of added sanctions should force them to sign an agreement that safeguards the interests of the entire region. If reason two is correct, then any final agreement that might be concluded that permits Iran to maintain nuclear facilities and resources unaccounted for under the terms of that agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
- Gene Trabitz is a retired Air Force Officer, entrepreneur and technical consultant. He now spends time at golf courses hoping to break 80 before he does.
And finally this from former National Security Advisors, Brent and Zbig (more than a hundred others have also signed on)
Letter from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, Former National Security Advisors
We support President Obama’s decision to seek a first phase understanding with Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program now. The agreement under discussion would slow crucial elements of the Iran program, make it more transparent and allow time to reach a more comprehensive agreement in the coming year. The apparent commitment of the new government of Iran to reverse course on its nuclear activities needs to be tested to insure it cannot rapidly build a nuclear weapon. Such an agreement would advance the national security of the United States, Israel, and other partners in the region.
For nearly two decades American Presidents with the strong support of the US Congress have worked on a two track policy of building ever more forceful sanctions against and pressure on Iran combined with a willingness to turn to diplomacy when opportune. It now seems possible that this dual track approach could achieve our goals of preventing a nuclear armed Iran. The United States has had the unprecedented cooperation of its allies and virtually the entire international community in this two track strategy. Should the United States fail to take this historic opportunity, we risk failing to achieve our non-proliferation goal and losing the support of allies and friends while increasing the probability of war.
Additional sanctions now against Iran with the view to extracting even more concessions in the negotiations will risk undermining or even shutting down the negotiations. More sanctions now as these unprecedented negotiations are just getting underway would reconfirm Iranians in their belief that the US is not prepared to make any agreement with the current government of Iran. We call on all Americans and the US Congress to stand firmly with the President in the difficult but historic negotiations with Iran.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor
Brent Scowcroft, Former National Security Advisor