I have been reading a lot of articles about the Iran deal this morning. Over at The Atlantic alone, a magazine that has a reputation for serious writing and features different political stripes, there are four detailed articles that take a number of stances about the deal, though they come down overall on the side of being favorable of the deal, if cautiously so. Above are links to the four Atlantic articles. The third, the one that is most skeptical of the deal, is by Jeffrey Goldberg. I will admit that I am no fan of Goldberg, as I feel he too often totes the Israeli line. However, I do think he is an intellectual that is at least coming to the table with serious intent. I find that when trying to parse what is going on, it is best to try and read a bunch of information, weigh out different opinions, and decide for yourself. It’s always worth reading people that are on the opposite end of an issue, as long as they seem to be coming to the debate honestly. However, as always, read, weigh the various facts against each other, think, and decide for yourself. I personally am in favor of the deal at this point as it seems the best option based on what I have read. If you know history, even presidents that I would not view favorably overall, such as Reagan and Nixon, negotiated with countries that we were at odds with, and ended up with better outcomes than would have been seen with force. I think today is a day for celebration, if cautiously so. However, I acknowledge that I am basing this opinion on my world view, along with the various things I have read today and over the last year as this deal was worked on. Don’t take my word for it. Get outside of your propaganda zone and do the heavy lifting yourself.
The new New York Times interview with President Obama is an interesting read. I am glad that he is our leader at this point. He explains what his approach to Iran and other countries is. He lays out his way of thinking about countries that have been deemed enemies of the U.S. It’s being called the Obama doctrine. It seems more than sane to me. Here is a small snippet:
“You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.”
The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
The notion that Iran is undeterrable — “it’s simply not the case,” he added. “And so for us to say, ‘Let’s try’ — understanding that we’re preserving all our options, that we’re not naïve — but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be secure, in a better position to protect our allies, and who knows? Iran may change. If it doesn’t, our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place. … We’re not relinquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn’t we test it?”
This does not mean that his foreign policy is perfect. I still am highly wary of his use of drones over the term of his presidency. I also don’t like the way that whistle blowers have been treated. However, the main policies that he lays forth seem to me that they are highly reasonable. He seems to understand our place in the world. We are militarily the most powerful country in the world. Why couldn’t we try new approaches, especially when the downside, given our technological and military position, is small. His approach to Cuba and Iran, at least at this point, seem like victories for peace.
I highlight two of the quotes that Huffington Post also highlighted.
Right now the U.S. is in danger of the Republican party nullifying our countries historical peace agreement with Iran. If they truly believe in what they are doing they are crazy, if they are just playing politics it might be even worse. If this is just to rob the Obama administration of a huge foreign affairs accomplishment then they are clearly not responsible enough to govern in any way. Too many leaders in that party are in thrall to the military industrial complex. This is an outrage and a disgrace. Many of my friends growing up were Republicans. My grandfather was a Republican. This modern day version, which the Republican leadership represents, have almost nothing in common with the Republicans of the past. What has it come to when the Iranian leadership sounds saner than many of our politicians?
I really enjoyed Obama’s response to the Republicans who decided to put their names on a letter to Iran. Conan O’Brien once compared Bill Clinton with The Road Runner, the way that Republicans would try to catch him and end up destroying themselves in the end. I actually think Obama merits this comparison much more than Clinton, as Clinton was self-destructive in many obvious ways. The Republicans are thrashing about climbing over each other to tarnish Obama, and their actions just make Obama look like the adult in the room. I mean, think about what the Republicans did: They reached out to the Ayatollah (The Ayatollah!) in an effort to weaken our Commander in Chief! That is not only unprecedented, but batshit insane! It is so insane that the remarks by the Ayatollah actually seem more reasonable than the Republicans. I would like to be mad at this action, but it is so self-defeating that it seems more like a strange gift. It is true that it is long enough before the next election that it may be forgotten by then. But if it is not, and dear god I hope it is not, it will certainly be a plague on their house.
Well looking up a little background information on the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Obama thankfully vetoed, I came across this Rolling Stone article. It explains Canada’s politics in connection to big oil and to the pipeline. It’s worth a read if you want to get a broader perspective on the topic.
The above link is to a Guardian article that states that the intelligence that Benjamin Netenyahu used to say Iran was a year away from a nuclear bomb was false.
Look it is not as if I have any special information on this subject. However, if you examine enough articles about Netenyahu over time, one can’t help but feel he is a bad actor on the world stage. Israel’s policy under him is not only highly questionable, but it is a fact that he is trying to influence U.S. politics as well. The sooner he is discredited, the better.
A family member just sent me the above article from Salon. It is about how many people in the world are increasingly viewing America as something to be watched closely, if not outright feared. Although I have traveled less extensively than the author, I have been in several foreign countries over the last few years and can vouch for the overall sentiment of the article.
I remember specifically being in England during the Bush years. Many people would be slightly cold and then sheepishly ask me what I thought of Bush. Once I explained that I voted against him and hated his policies, it was like a party had started. Shots and embraces came out, and suddenly I was everyone’s best friend.
So many Americans have no idea not only how the rest of the world views us, but also how much they know about us. When you go to foreign countries you are often asked deep political questions by average people concerning the U.S. Often these are questions that you are not sure if many of your own countrymen and women could answer.
My Dad has related to me many times a story from a trip to Kenya. He was walking down the street, in an area that was slightly impoverished, and a man walked up to him. After finding out he was an American, the man asked him, “So tell me about Jesse Helms?” Meanwhile I have gone out to drinks with girls here, during a U.S. presidential election, and been stupefied to find out they didn’t know who the vice-presidential candidates were. Now I know that I am drawing conclusions from limited experiences, but there are many more stories that I have personally witnessed on both sides that make me believe that the author of the above article knows what they are talking about. It’s strange out there…