Sunday, 19 July 2015

Ambassador ret. Yoram Ettinger: Iran – there are reasonable alternatives








The worldview of President Jimmy Carter– which was resoundingly rejected by President Clinton during the 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns – has been resuscitated throughout the lengthy negotiations – and the July 2015 agreement - with Iran.  

Consistent with Carter's worldview, the negotiation process and the agreement with Iran have highlighted the sacrifice of America's independent unilateral national security action on the altar of multilateralism (which has rarely been a US home court); the erosion of US confidence in its own (well-established) moral and geo-strategic high-ground and capabilities; underestimation of the intensifying threats, by rogue regimes, to the US national and homeland security; the assumption (which defies precedents) that rogue regimes respond constructively to diplomatic engagement rather than to surgical military threat to vital installations (with no troops on the ground); the voluntary abdication of pro-active US global leadership (at a time when the US and global sanity need it desperately); and the collapse of the US power-projection and posture of deterrence (lower than its breakdown during the Carter era).

In 1979, President Carter stabbed the back of the Shah of Iran, "the US policeman of the Gulf " and facilitated the Ayatollahs' rise to power; in 2015, his worldview has dealt a lethal blow to the Iranian opposition, catapulting the Ayatollahs to an unprecedented strategic height, domestically, regionally and globally, thereby jeopardizing critical US economic and defense interests, bringing terrorism closer to the North American continent.

The self-destructive nature of the Iran agreement is evident when studying the reaction in the Middle East: praised by the anti-US, radical, terroristic, rogue Assad, Hezbollah, Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority; condemned by the pro-US, relatively moderate regimes of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt.

On July 15, 2015, the editor-in-chief of the House of Saud-owned daily, A Sharq Al Awsat stated: "The Iran nuclear deal opens the gates of evil in the Middle East… No wise person would believe that Iran will give up its policy of destabilizing the region…. Western governments will be under [economic and political] pressure to make the deal succeed, and therefore turn a blind eye to many of Iran's destabilizing policies…."
On July 17, 2015, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, a senior member of the royal family, former chief of the Saudi intelligence and former Saudi Ambassador to the US, asserted: "the nuclear deal will wreak havoc in the Middle East, which is already experiencing a disastrous environment, with Iran as a major destabilizing player…. The Iran deal is Deja' vu in relation to President Clinton's 1994 North Korean nuclear deal.  In 2003, North Korea declared it had manufactured nuclear weapons…. America's allies in the Middle East predict a worse outcome of the Iran nuclear deal, considering the billions of dollars that will benefit Iran…. "

Unlike North Korea whose territorial claims are limited to the Korean Peninsula, the Ayatollahs' territorial claims – featuring prominently in their school textbooks, weekly sermons and daily subversive and terroristic operations - transcend Iran, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and the Muslim World. Unlike North Korea which is deterred by MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction), the apocalyptic Ayatollahs are not deterred - but energized - by MAD. For example, The Qur'an and Life (Grade 12, p. 125) prepares children for the apocalyptic war against the US, and Defense Readiness (Grade 11, p. 11) praises the 500,000 children who were sent to clear the minefields during the war against Iraq. 
A reasonable alternative to the July 2015 agreement with Iran would reject the Carter state of mind, resurrecting US confidence in its moral and strategic exceptionalism, unilateral action, defiance of odds, a sense of realism in the face of rogue regimes, restoring US power-projection and its posture of deterrence.

A common sense alternative to the agreement with Iran would precondition benefits to Iran upon an end to the current conventional threats to global stability, posed by the Ayatollahs. The benefits to Iran resulting from the July 2015 agreement add fuel to these threats.
A common sense alternative would focus on the 36 year lawless, rogue, violent, supremacist, megalomaniac, non-tolerant, repressive and systematically non-compliant track record of the Ayatollahs, who consider the US the prime obstacle – and therefore the prime target - on the road of attaining their prime historical goal of regional and global hegemony.   

A common sense alternative would precondition the $150bn windfall to the Ayatollahs (37% of their GDP) - in addition to the mega-billion dollar flow of oil revenues ($60bn annually), foreign investments and advanced military systems (fortifying their nuclear infrastructure) – upon a striking disavowal of their 36 year old anti-US policy: hate and apocalypse-driven k-12 school text books, systematic anti-US Friday sermons; the annual November 4 "Death to America Day;" bankrolling Islamic terrorism in Asia, Africa, Europe and the USA; terrorizing and subverting every pro-US Arab country (which could cause havoc to the supply and price of oil); the nuclear and ballistic collaboration with North Korea; the anti-US alliance with Venezuela; and the agitation of Latin America, including Mexico (which amounts to US homeland security).

A common sense alternative would not reward, embolden and "turbo-charge" the conventional capabilities of the Ayatollahs, while they target – diplomatically and operationally – "the arrogant, usurper, oppressor, infidel, idolatrous Great Satan, the USA."

A common sense alternative contends that elevating this agreement (which is a means) to the role of a goal would be at the expense of the real goal; and that the details of an agreement are significantly less pertinent than the details of the Ayatollahs' 36 year track record.

A common sense alternative would retain the threat of a surgical military action (no troops on the ground), highlighting Secretary of Defense Carter's April 10, 2015 statement: "We have the capability to shut down, set back and destroy the Iranian nuclear program."  The 1988 surgical US bombing of Iranian installations ended the eight-year Iraq-Iran war.  In 2015, the threat of a surgical US bombing would spare the globe conventional upheaval and a nuclear war.


A common sense alternative to the agreement with Iran assumes that reality - and not hope (or wishful-thinking) - must be the basis for a national security strategy.  Driving at night – in the Iranian darkness – would be much safer with the headlights on rather than reliance on hope.