Thursday, January 16, 2014

142.5 - Outrage of the Week: GOPpers and Dimcrats combine to ruin Iran negotiations

Outrage of the Week: GOPpers and Dimcrats combine to ruin Iran negotiations

For the rest of the show I'm going to spend a few minutes each on two things you need to know about, but which require a little explanation. First up is our other regular weekly feature, the Outrage of the Week.

On Sunday, January 12, US and Iranian officials announced that Iran and a group of six major nations have reached agreement on the first phase of the deal they have been working on for months regarding Iran's nuclear facilities. The six nations are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, the UK, Russia, and China - plus Germany.

The agreement, worked out in a month of talks among technical experts and diplomats following a preliminary agreement signed on November 24, goes into effect January 20. At that point, Iran will open more of its facilities to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, and in return Iran will get access to some of its frozen assets. It also sets a timetable of six months to a year for negotiating a long-term agreement.

Okay, a couple of things: First, this means the negotiations are making progress. Neither side has gotten everything it wants by any means, but each has gotten something and each can live with the agreement so far. Progress.

Second, far more important, this whole business of sanctions on Iran, of pressure on Iran, of demands that Iran stop working on some nuclear-related projects and slow down on others, is all based, at least on the public record, on fears suspicious questions speculations whatever that Iran has been trying to build a nuclear weapon.

The problem is, there is no actual, no solid, evidence that they are or were trying to do any such thing. But the claims go back a long way: the Christian Science Monitor published a timeline dating back to before the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. The government of Israel has been claiming Iran is three to five years from having nukes since 1992. The US joined the chorus in 1995, saying Iran could have The Bomb within five years. The warnings, always with the same rough three-to-seven year projections, have been repeated at regular intervals since.

Not only is there no hard evidence that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, there is some hard evidence that they aren't, including converting some of its partially-enriched uranium into a metallic form useful for nuclear power reactors but incapable to being converted to bomb use.

It doesn't matter, no evidence for, some evidence against, it doesn't matter. It's taken as an article of faith among the American punditocracy that the only reason Iran has not already nuked Israel and who knows where else has been the constant pressure and hostility of "the civilized" - which apparently means the non-Muslim - "world." That faith allows US government officials to act as if that is known to be the case, known that Iran is trying to build nukes, even though they will admit if directly asked that they don't have actual evidence of it.

Okay. Put those two things together in your head and then consider this:

There is a bill in the Senate that would impose a new set of demands on Iran, including, for example, a provision that would re-impose sanctions and add new ones unless Iran agreed to dismantle its entire nuclear infrastructure. Not just limit its growth, not just have it be unable to produce nuclear weapons, not even to dismantle part of its nuclear infrastructure, the whole thing.

The bill is insane, it is madness, it makes demands that its supporters have to know - how could they not know - that Iran will never accept. No nation would. It amounts to national humiliation on a grand scale.

Despite that, its backers insist with straight faces that this is going to help negotiations. Dimcrat Bob Menendez calls it "reasonable pragmatism." Yeah, it'll help - kind of like being put on the rack will help with your stiff back.

It's so bad, so likely to undermine negotiations, that the "No Drama Obama" White House has accused supporters of having a hidden goal of drawing the country into another Mideast war and demanding that if they “want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American people and say so."

The thing is, this insane bill is approaching, if it doesn't already have, a veto-proof majority. It has at least 59 co-sponsors and Congressional aides are saying the actual count of supporters could be as high as 77 and in any event is well above the 67 needed to guarantee overturning a presidential veto.

This is madness, madness driven to a significant degree by right-wingers happy to do anything they think might embarrass Obama no matter the cost, by extreme right-wingers who are waiting for Israel to trigger the Second Coming, and most importantly, frankly, by sheer, craven political cowardice among the Dimcrats, who are terrified of standing up to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and yes I'm looking at you, Chuck Schumer and at you, Bob Menendez, and at you, Corey Booker.

The fact is, anyone who votes for, anyone who supports, this bill is saying in effect that they don't want a settlement with Iran. They don't want an agreement. They don't want a peaceful resolution. They may not want outright war, no, but neither do they want peace. They want to be able to maintain Iran as, in a role reversal, The Great Satan. They want to have Iran be the looming, always on the horizon but somehow never approaching, but always there, the threat, the looming darkness, to be used as leverage for why Israel needs yet another couple of billions dollars in US aid and why Israel can't negotiate with Palestinians.

And yes, I am saying that for at least some of these people, that is exactly why they are doing it. This bill is dangerous and foolish and anyone who supports it is dangerous and foolish. It is an outrage.


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