Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Not Taking Yes for an Answer

This week, the UN certified that Iran was keeping its side of the nuclear agreement -- dismantling centrifuges, pouring concrete into their proposed plutonium reactor site, shipping most of the enriched uranium abroad. As a result, most sanctions were lifted, and Iran's $100 billion in frozen assets unfrozen. When American sailors mysteriously wandered into Iranian waters, they were detained but freed after 24 hours. Four Americans imprisoned in Iran on dubious pretexts were freed in a prisoner exchange.

This all seems like good news to me, wonderful evidence that diplomacy sometimes works. But on the Republican campaign trail, and in Israel, somehow it is yet more evidence of Iranian perfidy and American weakness. Marco Rubio can stand for many:
This nuclear deal and the appeasement that has accompanied it will not improve Iranian behavior. Just the opposite—it rewards bad behavior. It teaches the world a simple lesson: when challenged, America backs down and abandons its allies.
Sigh. If dismantling centrifuges and pouring concrete into reactor sites isn't good behavior, what would be? It is certainly true that Iran continues to oppose certain American allies, but damnit somebody should be opposing Saudi Arabia's criminal bombing campaign in Yemen, and Bahrain's crude oppression of its Shiite majority. Iran does support Hezbollah, but on the other hand they also actively oppose the Islamic State, which is more than anybody can say for Israel.

We've seen the result of go with your gut, good guys vs. bad guys, shock and awe methods in the Middle East, and it isn't pretty. From what they are saying, all the leading Republicans want to repeat the mistakes W made in Iraq, and that Obama and Hillary made in Libya: more intervention, more bombs, more fighting, leading to more instability. The Islamic State is scaring people just like al Qaeda once did, but we must not react with stupid violence. We know where that leads. We need more diplomacy, not less, and more engagement with anyone who can help hold back the chaos.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I'm pretty sure if they thought they could get away with suggesting it, most Republicans would ultimately come out in favor of nuking the middle east.

The GOP culture is one of delusion and insecurity. They're genuinely afraid of everything, and so they feel the constant anxiety-induced need to project absurd force at every turn and for every purpose.

It's classic bully/problem child psychology. The individual suffers some trauma or insecurity which makes them feel like they lack agency and control over their life. In response, they begin to crave feelings of power and agency which they violently seek out elsewhere.

A neglected child acts out and gets in trouble to receive any form of attention at all, even negative. A physically abused child in turn abuses those weaker than themselves. And historically privileged populations that see their unjustly obtained place in the sun inexorably eroding away lash out at The Other in a desperate bid to cling to their disappearing position of privilege.