Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Lesser of Two Evils –is Still Evil

An Islamic State execution, Imagine nuclear weapons in their hands!
There are some people that hate Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu so much, they are blinded to the truths he articulates. Truths that the more reasoned of his critics understand. 

I happen to be a fan of the current Prime Minister – even as I know that he is flawed… as all human beings are. But for argument’s sake let us concede that his statements and actions of late were all terrible mistakes. 

That instead of flattering the President with soothing language, he alienated him with his abrasive and strident rhetoric. Especially of late in opposition to the Iran deal. That his acceptance of a congressional invitation to speak to Congress without even informing the President was a slap in the President’s face. Especially since his entire purpose was to thwart the President’s goal in crafting a nuclear deal with Iran. That his support of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and other major West Bank cities like Maale Adumim flies in the face of the President’s wishes. That he used inflammatory and racist rhetoric to get elected in the last election. That he never really supported a two-state solution – something that came out during the last election campaign.

Even if all that were to be true, one cannot question his assessment of the Middle East realities. Which includes an understanding of Iran’s nature and true intentions. And their ability to carry them out. Which they are now doing and will continue to do more vigorously once the sanctions are removed and they receive an immediate $100 billion windfall.

His view of the nuclear deal made with Iran is clearly the right one. It is a historically bad one. No one disputes that Iran is the chief exporter of terror in the region. No one disputes Iran’s aims of spreading its version of Islam around the world. No one disputes Iran’s declared goal of destroying Israel. No one disputes that they have sent military arms to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas and has sent support to Assad in Syria and to the Houthi (Shia) rebels in Yemen. 

Netanyahu’s historical analysis is a very good one. Don’t believe me? Then believe one of Netanyahu’s strongest critics, Ha’aretz senior correspondent and New York Times best selling author. Ari Shavit. Those are the exact words he used about the Prime Minister in an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose (which can be seen below). In fact Shavit has the same view that Netanyahu and the majority of congress has. That the sanctions should have remained in place - and even increased. It was the sanctions regime inflicted upon Iran that brought the America hating Iranian government to the table. Their economy was crippled. Shavit said that continuing and increasing those sanctions would have produced a better deal.

Instead of eliminating their nuclear weapons infrastructure entirely (which was the originally stated goal of the American and P 5 plus 1 negotiators) they have only delayed production by 10 years. And that is assuming they won’t cheat at some point when the world’s attention shifts elsewhere. And if cheating is suspected in one of their military installations, they will have 24 days  to hide it before inspectors are allowed to go in! After 10 years, this deal allows Iran to openly go ahead full steam towards production of nuclear weapons. 10 years! And they will have plenty of money to do it with.

True this deal requires Iran’s nuclear production facilities to be reduced. And so too their current stockpiles of enriched uranium. But the infrastructure remains… ready in 10 years  to continue right where they left off. Enriching uranium to nuclear grade level. They will then - in very short order have a nuclear bomb.

Imagine this pariah state having a nuclear weapon. Their Arab neighbors will no doubt proceed to getting their own. The increase in nuclear weaponry in that part of the world will make it a lot easier for rogue terrorist states like Islamic State (IS …or ISIS …or ISIL) to get their hands on one. Is the world ready for a nuclear armed Islamic State in 10 years?!

The problems increase even before that. In five years this deal allows Iran to produce and buy sophisticated military weapons for use in any way they choose. They will immediately have $100 billion to do it with. They will be able to generate a lot more money once the sanctions are lifted. There should not be a scintilla of doubt in any rational person’s mind that many of those weapons will be sent to Hezbollah and Hamas; the Assad regime in Syria; and the Houthi (Shia) rebels in Yemen. Even now Iranian missiles are so precise that if passed on to Hamas and Hezbollah the Iron Dome is not sufficient protection !

The hope for regime change was best while the Iran sanctions were extant. They were working. The Iranian people ultimately love western culture and would love to rid itself of this extremist regime. They haven’t yet because of that regime’s iron fist. There just may have come a point that the sanctions became too hard to bear and the populace would have risen up. But we will never know. Lifting sanctions assures that the Iranian people will get a some relief and have improved their lives enough to not challenge their current regime.

The administration is banking on the fact that things can change in 10 years. Iran may be persuaded by this gesture to join the family of nations and start behaving.  But the 35 year history of this regime has shown that change is highly unlikely. Anyone that thinks this entrenched Islamist theocracy will now somehow change because of this deal has not been paying attention.

It isn’t only Netanyahu that feels this way. It is Netanyahu’s political opposition. It is most of the Arab nations that live in that area. Maybe the people that live in that area know something that nonresident negotiators desperate for a deal - don’t.

This deal now gives us the worst of all worlds. It lifts sanctions. Increases their wealth, allows them to operate freely in their terrorist supporting activities, doesn’t free a single American hostage, and paves the way for them to build the bomb in 10 years. Delaying the inevitable is not an achievement in my view. It is a historic mistake.

What makes America’s push for a deal so grievous is that there seems to be little we can do to change it, now that the P5 plus 1 has accepted it. The President does have a point when he says that if Congress votes down the deal in a veto proof manner, the sanctions will go away a (since the Europeans will not continue them even if the US will). Iran will have succeeded in removing most of those sanctions and be able to keep working at breakneck speed to build a nuclear weapon.

Shavit points out, this deal is indeed the lesser of two evils. But he also says that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

What to do now, is a big question mark. But that we signed on to such a bad deal is the fault of a President and administration that was just too eager to get it done. And the world will no doubt pay a price.