The Perpetual War Party wants its war with Iran

I have noticed that the mainstream media — particularly disturbing is PBS which really  ought to demonstrate better judgment — has trotted out the Neocon architects of the Bush-Cheney regime’s unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq and illegal torture program to comment on the P5+1 world powers nuclear agreement with Iran.

NurembergTwo quick points. First, these unindicted war criminals should not be given legitimacy by giving them a seat at the table to discuss the nuclear agreement with Iran. They have forfeited any right to speak by virtue of their war crimes. The only time I want to hear from these Neocons is under oath before a Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal (there is no statute of limitations for war crimes).

Second, if the feckless media is going to give them a seat at the table anyway, it should preface their remarks with a litany of their failures war crimes in Iraq, and make a full disclosure that these Neocons are actively engaged in seeking the next war with Iran. If the media is not going to inform the public, then do not invite these Neocons to appear on your network programs. Otherwise, the media is, once again, a complicit accessory to war crimes (and the media is also liable to prosecution under the Nuremberg Principles.)

Matt Yglesias at Vox.com has a pair of posts explaining GOP opposition not just to to the Iran agreement, but to negotiations with Iran at all, in pursuit of their desired goal for war with Iran. Why Iran hawks can’t be honest about why they hate the Iran deal:

Iran hawks displeased with the nuclear deal struck between Iran, Russia, China, the United States, and the European Union have an awful lot of complaints. But if you look closely at what they are saying, you’ll notice something funny. They don’t actually have any arguments about what Obama has done wrong or how a different administration would park the situation in a better place. What they have instead are a lot of talking points, MacGuffins, red herrings, and distractions that aim to divert attention from the core issue — hawks’ desire to avoid diplomacy and have a war.

That’s why Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake, among the most sophisticated of the hawks, ends his hot take on Obama with a whine rather than a policy argument, saying, “Obama should have the decency to level with us.”

But the people who really aren’t leveling with us are the hawks. Delve into their varied criticisms and it all comes down to two key points:

  1. The Iranian regime is bad.
  2. The deal has some upside for the Iranian regime.

These two points have the advantage of being true. On the other hand, if the deal had no upside for the Iranian regime, Iran wouldn’t be agreeing to it. And if the Iranian regime weren’t bad, there would be no severe international sanctions to negotiate about. The whole premise of having a diplomatic process with Iran is that the United States, as a member of a broad international coalition, might offer the Iranians something that improves their situation and does not remove them from power.

The view that one should never make a diplomatic deal with a bad regime is hardly without precedent in American politics.

“We don’t negotiate with evil,” Dick Cheney famously said, “we defeat it.”

And presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan have faced attacks from conservatives for violating this “don’t negotiate” principle. Embrace of that principle during his first term is why George W. Bush found all off Saddam Hussein’s possible concessions to international arms inspectors unacceptable. The inspectors’ failure to locate WMD programs was merely evidence of how effective Saddam was at hiding them. After all, the Hussein regime was evil, and no deal with evil is worth the paper it’s written on.

If you think hawks have a secret plan for regime change in Iran that will work better than the 2003 invasion of Iraq, you may find their viewpoint appealing.

Yglesias concludes that the GOP’s Iran war hawks do not have any alternative other than war. He follows up this post in, I looked at the leading Iran hawks’ cases against the deal. They’re utter nonsense:

Yesterday I published an article asserting that opponents of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the six major world powers negotiating with it had no argument. Of course, before reaching that conclusion I was not able to literally read every single hostile article that has been published. I was, however, able to engage last night in a little Twitter dialogue with Noah Pollak, a well-networked neoconservative who leads the Emergency Committee for Israel and writes for Commentary, the Weekly Standard, and the Washington Free Beacon.

He offered to recommend some choice articles that might change my mind around.

So I read them. And having read them, it’s clearer than ever: The most prominent arguments against the deal aren’t really arguments at all. The people making them don’t like the deal, because they don’t like Iran and because the deal has some upside for Iran. That is, of course, the nature of diplomacy. You make deals with adversaries (that’s why you are negotiating), and the adversaries secure an upside through the deal (that’s why you reach agreement).

But hawks don’t want to come out and say they oppose diplomacy in all forms and just want a war. So what you get are irritable mental gestures instead.

Elliott Abrams, ex-convict and former George W. Bush administration official, offers what is in many ways a perfect example of what I mean when I say the deal opponents have no argument. He recounts, at great length and in great detail, that as a result of this deal Iran will receive valuable relief from international sanctions. That is, of course, the point of a deal with Iran. If Iran did not receive valuable relief from international sanctions, Iran would not sign the deal.

He then offers a lot of broad-brush attacks on President Obama’s character:

Of course Obama has a theory: The main problems in world politics come from American militarism, aggression, bullying, and the like, and if we open our “clenched fists” to embrace Iran, it will respond in kind. We’ve seen the results of such policies in Russia and North Korea, and most recently in Cuba. In fact Obama’s Iran deal is based on his “Cuba model”: Hand a lifeline to a regime in deep economic trouble and ignore the population of the country and their quest for human rights and decent government. Call it a historic achievement, and above all don’t bargain hard for recompense. For, you see, in these openings to Iran and Cuba we are only righting the historical wrongs America has committed and for which we need to apologize.

Note that Abrams has nothing to say about David Cameron or François Hollande or Angela Merkel or their theories of how the world works, much less anything to say about Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping and their theories. But this paragraph of aspersions on Obama’s character is where an argument belongs.

The argument that is needed is that a tougher US president who refused to grant sanctions relief unless Iran went further would, in fact, have gotten Iran to make more concessions. What John Kerry and his team think is that if they had held out even more than they did, the international coalition to maintain the sanctions would have unraveled as foreign leaders concluded that the US, rather than Iran, was being unreasonable. This is the key point on which the whole thing turns, and yet Abrams has literally nothing to say about it — he has no argument.

In terms of affect, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s Washington Post op-ed is the opposite of Abrams’s work. There are no racist dog whistles, and no efforts to pump up the base. If you are a House Democrat who wants to break with the Obama administration in order to stay on the good side of pro-Israel groups in the United States while minimizing the extent to which you alienate partisan Democrats, then Dermer’s talking points are very strong. He is demonstrating real skill in his job as Israel’s ambassador to the United States and deserves congratulations.

What he does not have is an argument that rejecting the deal will lead to a better outcome.

Again, it is not that his argument is unpersuasive. He literally does not attempt to argue that rejecting the deal will lead to a better outcome. If the US walks away from the table and refuses to sign this agreement, will the global sanctions regime stay in place or will it collapse, thus leaving Iran in a stronger position? Dermer has nothing to say on this subject.

I found the inclusion of the Kissinger/Shultz piece on Pollack’s list puzzling. First, the article was published in April, before the full details of the agreement were available or, indeed, agreed to. Second, the article does not seem to me to even say that the agreement is bad or that the United States should not sign it. Whereas the previous two lack any real argument that the agreement is bad, this last piece doesn’t even assert that it is categorically bad.

In another sense, I find Kissinger/Shultz to be the most natural for inclusion on the list. The reason is that the piece’s actual conclusion is that, deal or no deal, the United States needs to maintain a high and growing level of military engagement in the Middle East.

The big issue at stake in the Iran nuclear debate is whether the United States should do what the hawks want and start a war with Iran. Kissinger/Shultz argue for the next best thing, namely that there should still be lots of US involvement in Middle Eastern wars even if we do implement the deal:

Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms. History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves.

This is, I guess, a fun thing to argue about, whether in April or now in July or six months from now. But it’s pretty clear that not reaching an agreement with Iran, while also trying to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb would definitely “necessitate deepening involvement” (i.e., a war), so even if you grant that reaching a deal would still “necessitate deepening involvement,” this is not really a case against the deal. They seem to be saying that the United States should keep supporting Saudi Arabia and Israel regardless of the particulars of the situation with Iran — something the Obama administration also thinks.

The Perpetual War Party wants its war with Iran. The only thing that can deter them is American voters saying no to Republican candidates for office in 2016, especially the presidency. Unless you are willing to sacrifice more American blood and treasure in a war that will last for generations and can easily escalate into an actual nuclear war between the world’s nuclear superpowers and their proxy states in the Middle East, you have to be a damn fool to vote for Republicans.

When these Republican politicians are willing to send their own children and grandchildren off to die in their wars of adventure, and to raise taxes on their wealthy friends — many of whom are war profiteers in the arms industry — to pay for their wars of adventure, then they can try to make their case to the American people for war. Until then, diplomacy and negotiations have to be exhausted, because war should always be the last resort.

12 responses to “The Perpetual War Party wants its war with Iran

  1. No one has done more to empower Iran than the neo-cons, led by Dick Cheney. By removing Saddam Hussein and destroying the secular Baath party, they essential turned Iraq into a satellite state of Iran.

    I think this picture from a post I made in 2007 pretty much sums it up:

    http://jimhannan.com/foreign.htm

  2. David Safier together with Bob Lord are birds of a feather who present their views through the lens of appeasers, and cowards, who cheery-pick and parse words to hide a weakness characteristic of the weaker sex.
    Lord try’s to romanticize his naive reasons from once being pro-Israel to now identifying with the Arab Palestinian sub-human barbarians.

    Safier on the other hand try’s to hide his cowardice by accusing the neo-cons of being a “Perpetual War Party wanting war with Iran.” Both utterances are the likes from the female weaker sex rather than men, and they should step aside to cower with the weaker sex, and allow men to do what courageous men do to protect country and the weak.

    Safier wrongly equates the “neo-con War-Party” with the Bush Iraq War debacle, but the parallel is between Neville Chamberlain’s cowardly Munich appeasement agreements with Hitler in 1938 “to bring peace in our time” but only further reinforced Hitler’s assessment of allies lack of courage, and Germany’s invincibility. A year later the British declared war on Germany ushering in World War II.

    Long before WWII, as early as 1933 the world knew of Hitler’s Nazi extermination concentration camps, and Hitler’s vision and implementation of the German “super race,” and the world just watched!

    WHAT IF GERMAN WAS THREATENED WITH WAR IN 1933, OR EVEN ATTACKED, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN ANY WORSE THAN THE MAGNITUDE OF WWII?

    The answer to that question was given by a German Officer who commanded the invasion of France when questioned at the Nuremberg Trials: “how is it that you advanced in France knowing France had the largest standing army in Europe and the formidable “Maginot Line”?

    The Commander replied that he would have turned tail, had one Frenchman so much as shown the slightest “appearance” of willing to fight. Hitler knew the French would not fight and prodded his commanders to advance successfully to their surprise. IT WAS COURAGE OR THE LACK OF IT THAT WON THE DAY FOR THE GERMANS.

    THE TAKE-WAY FROM WWII is:
    1. PROJECTING THE WILLINGNESS AND COURAGE TO FIGHT, and
    2. HAVING THE DEMONSTRATED MUSCLE TO BACK IT.

    Projecting a willingness to fight not war mongering, but a deterrent, not understood by appeasers or the weaker sex.

    THAT IS THE PARALLEL FACING THE PLANET TODAY – a repeat of the history of appeasement and weakness to deal with belligerent powers.

    No war in history killed more people or destroyed more property than World War II because of appeasement. The war began in 1938 and ended in 1945 (7 years later) — a war that cost Planet Earth”:

    • Seventeen million combatants–and an unknown number of civilians–lost their lives in the conflict.
    • Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war; of these, some 7.5 million Soviet troops died in World War II, along with 3.5 million Germans, 1.25 million Japanese, and 400,000 Americans.
    • Civilian deaths were even higher. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

    More than any previous war in history, World War II was a total war. Some 70 nations took part in the war, and fighting took place on the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in the seas surrounding Australia. Entire societies participated in the war either as soldiers and war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation, bombing, and mass murder.

    Our Planet Earth is now confronted with a Nazi Super Race in the form an Islamic Super Religion, with leadership and advocates following the same script of appeasement and cowardice that emboldened Hitler and the horrors that followed.

    APPEASEMENT IS THE MANAFESTATION OF THE WEAK AND ENDANGERS US ALL.

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      Wow, this is a whole load of crazy you got here. So “He-Man Defender of Freedom!“, why are you wasting time posting troll comments to blogs? Why aren’t you and your family members in Iraq and Syria right now fighting ISIS if you truly believe this bedwetting “we’re all gonna die!” fear mongering? All talk and no action.

    • We will never again fight a war like the one we fought against Germany, Italy and Japan. To draw lessons from that war on how we can deal with wars today is to base your argument on a flawed premise. It is not just the weapons that make it different, it is the enemies we face.

      The enemies of World War Two were Governments bent on the conquest of territory and the establishment of empires. Their weapons were conventional in nature and limited in destructive power. The enemy of today really isn’t a Government (even though they sometimes control governments), and their most potent weapon is belief and ideology. We can easily defeat them on the battlefield; we can even keep them generally at bay with intelligence gathering; but we are relatively impotent in stopping them in spreading their ideology.

      What you refer to as appeasement is simply an attempt to keep one of the strongholds of that ideology (Iran) from adding a powerful physical weapon (the Islamic Nuclear Bomb) to their arsenal. Will the treaty be successful? I have my doubts, but trying the Treaty out doesn’t really harm anything it because if Iran violates the Treaty, then we are simply back to where we were before. As I have said many times here, I think Iran WILL violate the Treaty, but it is a reasonable effort, the Senate should approve it, and we should wait until Iran does violate it before we give up on it.

      I often criticise the Obama Administration, but this is not something I will criticise them for doing. It doesn’t fit the definition of “appeasement” because Iran has been given nothing except the slow lifting of sanctions as they live up to the terms and accords of the Treaty. While I don’t think it is going to work, I will be quite happy to be proven wrong.

  3. “But hawks don’t want to come out and say they oppose diplomacy in all forms and just want a war.”

    And because they don’t say that, you and your sources HAVE to say it for them. And because you say it, it MUST be true. After all, you just said it. You spent a great deal of time frightening yourself here by arriving at the conclusion (along with your sources, who are also just opinionated pundits with no evidence) that since these “neocons” don’t want the Treaty, they want war. It is as if it never occurs to you that a person can oppose the Treaty and NOT want to go to war.

    The truth is that if you completely trust Iran to live up to the Treaty without fail, then you are living in “La La Land”. Their own recent history demontrates they often break international treaties based on claims the other party violated the treaty first. They have already put the United States on notice that China and Russia often violate international treaties, so everyone has to watch them closely. How long do you think it will be until Iran claims that China or Russia violated the Treaty? And what of exempting Iranian military bases being exempted from inspections? Does that sound like a good idea to you?

    Kerry and the other negotiators acknowledged that the Treaty was as good as they could get without Iran leaving the table. I believe that; there is nothing wrong with that; that is the nature of negotiations. We couldn’t have a Treaty without Iran getting some of what it wanted. The problem with it is that this Treaty – in my opinion – is very much like when Neville Chamberlain returned from talks with Hitler declaring “This means peace in our time”. I think Iran will violate the Treaty within a year and we will find that they never really intended to live by it. By that time, however, the coalition that placed economic sanctions on Iran will have collapsed and Iran will be free to do as it wishes without concern of sanctions being reimposed.

    That is my opinion, based on my knowledge of the history of Iran, reading the newspapers on the web and listening to Iranian broadcasts on short wave radio at night. I hope I am wrong…

    • http://www.vox.com/2015/4/2/8337347/iran-deal-good

      They have too much lose if they don’t follow the rules…but if they don’t, there are mechanisms in place. We all have to try to allow for others to change for the better. We have to as a world community.

      • As I keep saying, I hope I am wrong. I hope that what the Iranian leadership is saying and writing is all bluster put out for the benefit of their people. I hope that they will not they do as they have done in the past and they will live up to the terms and accords of this Treaty.

        In the Arab world there is a saying, “When trading with a Persian (Iranian), keep one hand on your purse and the other on your camel”. The Iranians are known for their negotiating skill and for the often sly and devious manner in which they honor agreements. I hope that is not the case here.

        Cheri, you have no idea how much I want to be wrong. I will be as pleased as punch if the Treaty is honored and Iran develops peaceful nuclear energy and no Islamic Bomb. Since the Treaty was negotiated, I hope the Senate approves it. It is probably better than no Treaty at all. And who knows? Only time will tell…

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      Like all the critics to this deal, you fail to mention any viable alternative. Roger Cohen of the New York Times addresses this today, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/17/opinion/roger-cohen-the-door-to-iran-opens.html?ref=opinion&_r=0:

      “So what do the critics, from Republican presidential hopefuls to the Israeli government, seek in place of the deal with Iran that verifiably blocks Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years? Presumably, they want what would have happened if negotiations had collapsed. That would be renewed war talk as an unconstrained Iran installs sophisticated centrifuges, its stockpile of enriched uranium grows, Russia and China abandon the sanctions regime, moderates in Iran like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are sidelined, and a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic draws closer.

      To favor such peril, when a constructive alternative exists that engages one of the most highly educated societies in the Middle East, amounts to foolishness dressed up as machismo.

      The Iran nuclear deal is not perfect, nor was it ever intended to address the long list of American-Iranian grievances, which will persist. It must be judged on what it set out to do — stop Iran going nuclear — not on whether Iran has a likeable regime (it does not) or does bad things (it does). President Obama did not set out to change Iran but he has created a framework that, over a decade, might.

      If implemented, the agreement constitutes the most remarkable American diplomatic achievement since the Dayton Accords put an end to the Bosnian war two decades ago. It increases the distance between Iran and a bomb as it reduces the distance between Iran and the world. It makes the Middle East less dangerous by forestalling proliferation. In a cacophonous age of short-termism, it offers a lesson of stubborn leadership in pursuit of a long-term goal.”

      You should read the entire piece.

      • I failed to mention any alternative to the Treaty because there isn’t any. This Treaty is the best we can hope for and the Senate should approve it. My point in the response I made to your post was that opposition to the Treaty doesn’t mean someone wants war, which is what you were stating.

        I want this Treaty to work, but I will not be surprised if it doesn’t. The Iranians are not known for their reliability where Treaties are concerned. To assume that THIS TIME their serious, is silly. I jope they are, but even the sanction in the Treaty will be difficult to enforce a year from now because two of the signatories – China and Russia – will have a vested in not seeing the sanctions enforced.

        But, again, let me emphasize: This is the best shot we’ve got. We have made a good faith effort. If it works, it is an important step in world peace of which we can be proud.

  4. Great piece. Shall we include the 47 treasonous US Senators that violated the Logan Act and tried to undermine a sitting US President to achieve their nefarious goals? Proof positive that some choose war over peace…