Or what? For it amazes one to see the extents to which the Republican Party will go, as the country heads to another presidential election in 2016. There are several exertions it is making to try and make the Democrats look bad, from the ridiculous to the ludicrous. Most dangerously, they are trying to make political capital out of President Obama’s courageous efforts to come to an agreement with Iran on its nuclear programme in which they are aided and abetted by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
A framework for the agreement negotiated by not only the United States but the P-5 plus-one China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States + Germany, under the chairmanship of the EU has already been announced. But that makes no difference to the ideological opponents of the Democrat who sits in the White House.
No thought whatsoever is given by the stalwarts of the GOP to the fact that nuclear negotiations with Iran have been going on since 2003, conducted by three of the United State’s staunch allies, and fellow-members of Nato: France, Germany and the United Kingdom (three countries which took part in the Bush Wars too, mark, especially the UK). These countries, known as the EU-3 were joined by China, Russia and the United States in 2006; and 11, going on 12 years later, there is a possible deal under which Iran will curtail its enrichment processes drastically.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors will have complete access to Iran’s nuclear facilities through ‘intrusive’ inspections, encompassing the whole chain from the mining of uranium to its refinement, for the next 25 years. Indeed, Iran has already agreed to reduce the number of its centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,104, and its enriched uranium stocks from 10,000 kilogrammes to 300 kilogrammes: huge reductions by any reckoning. The enrichment of uranium has been limited to one facility and, far more critically, Iran has agreed to redesign its heavy water reactor at Arak to the verifiable extent that it will no longer be capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.
Quite clearly, Iran has agreed to these conditions so that the many sanctions imposed upon it by individual countries including the United States and its allies, and also the United Nations, and which have crippled its economy and brought hardships to its people could be lifted, causing the country’s economy to be freed and, according to financial experts, to boom. Some are touting the figure of a $420 billion economy with annual growth increasing by two per cent in just one year, to five per cent.
However, the Republicans (and their Israeli allies!) are sticking to their joint position that this is a bad deal, and that no deal is better than a bad deal. But when they are asked what they would suggest instead, there is nothing but waffle: loud demands ranging from the ludicrous to the downright unreal. From making the Iranians close down ALL of their nuclear facilities — an impossibility as they well know — and increasing the sanctions if they don’t; to actually bombing the installations.
They are not even fazed by very senior and very sane military voices, such as that of Admiral Michael Mullen, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, who said on the PBS talk show with the brilliant Charlie Rose on April 2 that this deal “Sounds pretty reasonable to me… I am taken aback at some of the issues Iran has agreed to… .” “Diplomacy is so much better than the other options.” “If there’s any chance that we can avoid another conflict, as an individual who’s led in two already, I’m willing to take that chance.”
One has to wonder at the thought processes of the Republicans and the Israelis. Is the very bloody mess in the Middle East, Yemen being the latest country that is unravelling before our very eyes, not enough for them? Can the region afford another war? With a country of 80 million proud people? Neither do they give any thought at all to the effects such a war would have on the 10,000 American servicemen and women still in Afghanistan — a number that will increase in my estimation, sooner rather than later — by even suggesting a war in Afghanistan’s direct neighbourhood.
Indeed, do they not know that Pakistan, another neighbour of Iran AND Afghanistan, is in the throes of a terrible fight against terrorists of several hues who know no mercy when it comes to spreading mayhem? That more than 55,000 Pakistani civilians; 10,000 and counting, army soldiers and police, three generals among them, have been killed, and countless others horribly maimed over the past 14 years? That, more than anything else, the ethnic balance in that country is most critical, and which would be thrown completely out of kilter if there is any adventurism against Iran?
One should have thought that with the fabled reach of their intelligence agencies all of the above facts would be quite apparent to American legislators and the Israeli prime minister. Why then, do they act as if they live on another planet? I must add immediately that Senator Rand Paul, who entered the presidential race just two days ago, seems to be the only one to acknowledge that the murder and mayhem in the Middle East, particularly the rise of ISIS, is precisely because of the machinations of outside powers.
In an article in The Wall Street Journal of April 7 arguing against the deal, but not suggesting another solution, Messrs Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, both Republicans(!) state: “Some have argued that these concerns are secondary, since the nuclear deal is a way station toward the eventual domestic transformation of Iran. But what gives us the confidence that we will prove more astute at predicting Iran’s domestic course than Vietnam’s, Afghanistan’s, Iraq’s, Syria’s, Egypt’s or Libya’s?” Indeed you are right, gentlemen!
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2015.