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October 02, 2007

What Does Iran Want?

Selig Harrison's explanation of what the Iranians will actually demand in order to shut down nuclear enrichment seems about right. Problematically, I highly doubt that this administration -- or the next -- will give Iran enough in the way of incentives and security guarantees to shut down their nuclear program. Indeed, I think it's almost totally unlikely that they will pressure Israel to freeze their Dimona Reactor, though that sort of concession would finally give Iran the political breathing room to back down from their weaponization plans.

At the end of the day, I don't think we're going to stop the Iranian nuclear program. We're not serious enough about doing so. The country's politicians have committed to it going away, not trading it away. But the former isn't much of an option and the latter is unlikely. So it will likely proceed apace. That's why I'm so insistent on politicians actually signaling whether or not they'd attack Iran to end their atomic pursuit -- because that will probably be the choice they face. And so I'm glad to see that Hillary Clinton is atoning for her vote in favor of Lieberman-Kyl by cosponsoring a resolution that states that any funds used to attack Iran must go through an explicit process of congressional approval. The bill, of course, is unlikely to pass, but if Democrats are willing to stand behind it, they can publicize the problem and make action by the Bush administration significantly less likely.

October 2, 2007 in Iran | Permalink

Comments

Harrison is an excellent reporter, but his question is wrongheaded -- the US is not asking Iran to accept de-nuclearization; the US only demands an end to Iran's enrichment program. This is far less than what the US has negotiated with NK.

Posted by: c.l. ball | Oct 2, 2007 9:27:16 AM

"And so I'm glad to see that Hillary Clinton is atoning for her vote in favor of Lieberman-Kyl by cosponsoring a resolution that states that any funds used to attack Iran must go through an explicit process of congressional approval. The bill, of course, is unlikely to pass"

As mentioned to Matthew, you gotta be kidding. This is classic Clinton.

She gives aid and comfort to the hawkish Lieberman-Kyl, which passes.

And now she seeks cover in the dovish Webb resolution that she knows won't get cloture.

At the end of the day, Bush and Cheney get the IRG classified as a terrorist organization with Senator Clinton's blessing, which is all they will claim they need to send in the bombers.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 2, 2007 9:36:29 AM

And as stated over at Matt's, what Petey said.

Posted by: terraformer | Oct 2, 2007 9:37:46 AM

You know, I've seen a lot of this "Clinton wants to have it both ways!" stuff about the Lieberman-Kyl/Webb thing, and I frankly don't buy it. My sense is that Hillary, having been in the White House a while (and, obviously, wanting to be there again), generally votes on these issues to give the President whatever latitude she would want/expect were she President. Lieberman-Kyl isn't by itself a pernicious piece of legislation -- it designates the IRG as a sponsor of terrorism, which from what I can tell is almost certainly the case -- but is made so by the fact that those in the White House who would be charged with executing the implications of that legislation are, almost to a person, bellicose lunatics. I find some merit to the Edwards position -- that, regardless of what you think on the merits, you can't give this gang even the smallest iota of power -- but I don't think it's right to say that Hillary's argument (or at least, the argument I'm putting in her mouth) is only colorable qua her political ambitions.

Posted by: Daniel Munz | Oct 2, 2007 9:55:42 AM

I agree with Petey. Definately not atonement, just posturing after the fact of a repulsive vote.

Posted by: greg | Oct 2, 2007 10:04:44 AM

The only people calling this posturing are ,suprise surprise, people who don't like her.

People in netroots said "watch out Kyl-Lieberman might give the president justification to go to war" and then Clinton fires back demanding that the president come to congress before we attack Iran, if we do.

You'd think the blogosphere would be happy...but of course not. "Oh shes pandering boo whoo". This is why the netroots will always be limited in its influence. Theres an idelogical purity requirement thats not even fairly adminstered.

"Clinton voted for Kyl-Lieberman"


Uhh..and didn't Obama and Dodd sponsor a bill to destignate the ISG a terrorist organization earlier this year?

"But, but Hillary won't 'end the war'. She wants to keep troops in the region."

Uhh...didn't all of the top three say they couldn't gurantee troops would be out of Iraq in 5 years?


Posted by: Phil | Oct 2, 2007 11:04:44 AM

"...their weaponization plans."

Evocative and an extrapolation....word.
The full fuel cycle MAY be intended to that end..or not.
And actually one will never know until a delivery system is actual.
[Could be either a suitcase or a missile.]

'Weaponization' is a word Norman Pod-hor-etz would like
and probably uses.

Just sayin'

Posted by: has_te | Oct 2, 2007 11:42:12 AM

> My sense is that Hillary, having been in the White
> House a while (and, obviously, wanting to be there
> again), generally votes on these issues to give the
> President whatever latitude she would want/expect were
> she President. Lieberman-Kyl isn't by itself a
> pernicious piece of legislation -- it designates the
> IRG as a sponsor of terrorism, which from what I can
> tell is almost certainly the case -- but is made so by
> the fact that those in the White House who would be
> charged with executing the implications of that
> legislation are, almost to a person, bellicose
> lunatics.

There's that pesky "rule of law" concept again. Does the President have to obey legal constraints on his behavior? If the answer is no, of course, only bellicose lunatics will abuse such concepts. We have no way of knowing going in who is a bellicose lunatic and who isn't, which is /why we have the laws and restraints/.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Oct 2, 2007 12:08:28 PM

Cranky -- That's more or less the Edwards position, and I think it's a valid one. I'm only saying that I think Hillary genuinely takes her positions on these things with a view towards what she'd want Congress to do were she in the Oval Office, rather than simply naked political considerations.

Posted by: Daniel Munz | Oct 2, 2007 12:20:40 PM

> I'm only saying that I think Hillary genuinely
> takes her positions on these things with a view
> towards what she'd want Congress to do were she
> in the Oval Office, rather than simply naked
> political considerations.

I'm sorry, but that strikes me exactly as naked political considerations. Hillary wants to freedom to have her own OVP operative, her own John Yoo, her own politicized Justice Departement, and her own Scooter Libby. Maybe not to send people she doesn't like to Guantanamo Bay, but maybe that too.

I admit that when Schumer sends his first subponea to the (Hillary) Clinton Administration, and they send it back saying "refused - Executive privilege" and the Justice Dept doesn't take Schumer's call exactly as they didn't under W I will fall out of my chair laughing. But it will be a bitter laugh, because it will be my nation being flushed down the toilet.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Oct 2, 2007 12:32:06 PM

Cranky, when I said "naked political considerations" I meant things like "winning the Democratic primary" or "positioning herself better for swing voters." If you view "naked political considerations" as also extending to considerations of what the president should and shouldn't be allowed to do, then we need a different term.

Posted by: Daniel Munz | Oct 2, 2007 12:34:11 PM

"Cranky, when I said "naked political considerations" I meant things like "winning the Democratic primary"

OK. Then you're going to have to explain her support for the Webb resolution, Daniel. After voting with Lieberman to give Bush his go ahead for bombing Iran, she turns immediately around and gets behind an anti-Iran war resolution that she knows is going to fail.

If there is any way to interpret that other than "naked political considerations", I'll eat my computer keyboard.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 2, 2007 12:45:09 PM

Well, because Lieberman-Kyl and Webb aren't incompatible. The former designates IRG as a terrorist group, and the latter makes it harder for the President to take "any broad military action in Iran" without Congressional approval. These two together are only inconsistent if you assume -- as Cheney & Co. no doubt do -- that if X is a terrorist organization then the only way to deal with that is with military action against X. I guess the Bush years have conditioned us to assuming our leaders think this way, but my point here would be that Hillary knows she doesn't think this way (nor, its worth noting, do any of the top Dem contenders) and votes accordingly.

And, uh, make sure to check if your keyboard was made in China before eating.

Posted by: Daniel Munz | Oct 2, 2007 1:09:21 PM

I think it's worth noting that this is a good summary of the Iranian starting position, but they do in fact have a number of economic problems which the US could offer movement on. (e.g. Iranian Airlines suffer greatly from the trade bad because they can't get Boeing parts.)

What that means is that there could be a negotiation. And if this is their publicised starting position and there are other things the US could offer in the economic sphere (which as I've noted, there are) then you could probably negotiate around some of the conditions. This is particularly important because the US cannot deliver any meaningful agreement about Dimona, because it can't enforce it on the Israelis.

(Or at least it's not politically realistic to expect enforcement.)

However, if that could be negotiated over and the next issue finessed to something like (for example): No _first use_ of US nukes in the Gulf area, then it seems pretty reasonable to agree to overall.


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