Sunday, January 17, 2016

So Much Iran News!

Between snarking on public figures and dishing out environmental news, I try (key word: "try") to keep on top of foreign affairs. This week was trying. I was already a bit behind on blogging about the SOTU, so I also missed blogging about the capture, and release, of 10 US sailors who were in Iranian waters.

It's not that I didn't care, mind you--it just that when I heard of it, it was already determined that they were going to be released. I might be conflicted by how it was handled on Iran's part, but I'm wholly unsympathetic to people who want to play the "optics" game about how what the Iranian footage of the sailors looked like. Yes, Iran has to make it look a certain way for their folks at home. Yes, it looks shitty to us. It's almost like there are two very different points of view at work! But did I second-guess whether they were really releasing them--no. Timing.

It is coincidental that Iran has also released four Americans ahead of confirmation by the IAEA that Iran has complied with their end of the nuclear agreement. But it should also be recognized as being due to very hard work by the US State Department occurring alongside the work on the nuclear deal. I'm also (no surprise if you're following this blog) not really sympathetic to criticisms of either deal. The seven Iranians we're releasing aren't "most wanted criminals"--they violated sanctions on trade (and the US apparently feels so-so on that score depending upon who one is). The $150 billion that Iran is supposedly "getting" is the unfreezing of their own assets as a part of sanction relief. And we can always add sanctions as Iranian misbehavior dictates without necessarily scuttling any part of the deal.

All in all, it seems like pretty positive news to me.


mikey said...

I'll say two things, somewhat tangential to your post.

First, the outpouring of anger and hatred over the detention of the American forces is both stupid and dishonest. It was a basic law-of-the-sea transaction. Foreign military vessels cross into territorial waters. Local navy boards them and brings them into port to investigate. The American pundits tellingly never said what we SHOULD (in their fevered fantasies) have done about this. But the alternative to negotiating - what seagoing nations have been doing for centuries - would be to start a war with Iran. Over ten sailors whose release can be easily gained through a well-known process. I promise that NONE of them, not one, would have started a war over this if they were President. Which is why they can shriek about how we shouldn't be 'weak', we should 'do something'. Also, too, why hasn't the US ratified the law of the sea treaty? Conservative lunatics in congress.

As to the whole Iran nuclear weapons/sanctions thing is a horrible precedent that is going to turn out to be a net negative for the whole world. The premise was imaginary, and EVERYBODY knew it. Iran was not working on a weapon - indeed, they had shut down their nuclear weapons program many years ago. Intelligence agencies all over the world knew that. Because of relationships with Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others, the US led the UN in pursuit of sanctions over a false premise. If Iran wanted a nuclear weapon, they would have built one. It's a well understood seventy year old applied science project.

But the whole world went along with the sham, for various reasons of their own. Russia wanted Iranian oil off the market. China saw a zero cost political option to improve trade relations with Europe and the US, while keeping the focus off their human rights problems. And on and on.

But here's the thing. That same process can suddenly coalesce around economic warfare against Israel. Or America. Or UK. The precedent for trumped-up debilitating economic sanctions is cemented in history.

As a side note, if the US congress decided to pass another sanctions regime against Iran, they would not find a lot of support in the UN. Times have changed, and with the collapse of the actual nations of Syria and Iraq, trade with Iran is a desirable thing...

Vixen Strangely said...

It's like there is outrage about the death of talking points. If there are inspections and the threat of an imaginary program is destroyed, the illusion that they can have another war goes down the tubes. Ditto prisoner releases. The war-mongers have less to work with or will even have to start from scratch.