”Peace in our time”
* Winston Churchill (virtually alone, 75 years ago, warning of the follies of Munich): “We have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us in history. Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup …”
* Yair Lapid: “I don’t understand how the French Foreign Minister can call an agreement that doesn’t involve the dismantling of one centrifuge a ‘victory.’ I can’t understand the world’s failure to notice the nineteen thousand Iranian centrifuges. We may be the only child in the room saying the king has no clothes but that’s what we must do.”
* Republicans (and quite a number of Democrats): Obama has betrayed the Middle East’s only democracy, Israel.
* Tom Gross: One would, I think, have more confidence in the Geneva deal if the lead negotiator hadn’t been the unelected EU High Commissioner Baroness Ashton, a British diplomat whose shortcomings make her compatriot Neville Chamberlain look competent, and John Kerry, known as the lead appeaser in Washington of the Assad regime in Syria for the last two decades.
* The 30-year-old-song “There’s a man in Iran (Ayatollah Song)” from the British comedy “Not the Nine O'Clock News,” satirizing the useful idiots in the West enamored of the despotic mullahs, sung by Pamela Stephenson and Rowan Atkinson (who later became famous as “Mr Bean”) goes viral today. (Link below in item 8.)
* You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.
1. Will the west’s “Munich deal” bring war closer?
2. The New York Times’ front cover 75 years ago
3. “How can the French FM call an agreement that doesn’t involve the dismantling of one centrifuge a ‘victory’?”
4. Saudis: “The U.S. foreign policy is just complete chaos”
5. The unelected Ashton
6. Fars: Fordo and Natanz will also continue operation
7. The Plutonium Option
8. Spoof song: “There’s a man in Iran (Ayatollah Song)”
9. “Our ‘Sucker’s Deal’ with Iran” (By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2013)
10. “Lost cause in Geneva” (By Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz, Nov. 14, 2013)
WILL THE WEST’S “MUNICH DEAL” BRING WAR CLOSER?
[Note by Tom Gross]
(This is the latest in a long series of dispatches concerning Iran’s nuclear program, the most recent of which can be read here: Diplomacy is better than war but bad diplomacy can cause bad wars.)
Many people today have said that the agreement concluded in Geneva early this morning between the despotic regime in Iran and the Western democracies is reminiscent of the “Munich agreement” of 1938.
75 years ago, in October 1938, the same people who are excited today (the New York Times, BBC correspondents, highly regarded British diplomats) – telling us assuredly the Geneva accord is a positive step that will make war and a nuclear arms race less likely – were delighted following the Munich accords. “Peace in our time” proclaimed then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
While the Islamic dictatorship in Iran and the Nazi dictatorship in Germany are of course not the same, the appeasement by the west to these ruthless, expansionist idiotically driven powers does have similar elements.
And those who warned in 1938 that appeasement was not bringing the West closer to peace but to war, were dismissed as “hysterical” – the word the New York Times editorial board chose last week to describe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who today reiterated the view that the appeasement of Iran in Geneva is a “mistake of historic proportions”.
British politician Winston Churchill (who was then out of government) was also dismissed as hysterical following the speech he gave to the British House of Commons on October 5, 1938 following the Munich Agreement.
In it, he said: “I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat. ... People ... should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defenses; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us … in our history ... Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom…”
Churchill’s full speech can be read here.
(Thank you to Bill Kristol for drawing my attention to this.)
(Churchill also famously said after the Munich agreement: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”
Time will tell whether there are any similarities between today’s Geneva agreement and the 1938 Munich agreement.)
THE NEW YORK TIMES’ FRONT COVER 75 YEARS AGO
The front cover of the New York Times in 1938 following Munich agreement:
“HOW CAN THE FM CALL AN AGREEMENT THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE THE DISMANTLING OF ONE CENTRIFUGE A ‘VICTORY’?”
Tom Gross continues:
The BBC and other media have not made clear today that the Geneva Agreement fails to uphold the many U.N. Security Council resolutions that call on Iran to stop enriching uranium. i.e. that all five members of the UN Security Council have caved in on this key demand.
Across the Arab world, and across the Israeli political spectrum, and beyond there is anger, bewilderment and exasperation at the deal that the western powers have signed with Iran.
Israel’s Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s secular centrist party, said bitterly this morning:
“We had a choice here between the plague and cholera. Israel was left alone explaining the truth, and all of our options were bad. I don’t understand how the French Foreign Minister can call an agreement that doesn’t involve the dismantling of one centrifuge a ‘victory.’ I can’t understand the world’s failure to notice the nineteen thousand Iranian centrifuges.”
“We may be the only child in the room saying the king has no clothes but that’s what we must do.”
“Obviously a deal is better than a war, but not this deal,” Lapid continued. “Netanyahu did everything he could and we all across the Israeli political spectrum stand behind him on this issue.”
Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the Geneva deal was reminiscent of the “bad deal with North Korea” that allowed that country to develop nuclear weapons.
(Tom Gross adds: In truth the deal would have been even worse had Netanyahu not made such a fuss and threatened military action.)
Uzi Rabi, Director of the Dayan Center for Middle East studies at Tel Aviv University, said “This deal sacrifices the long term interests of the West in exchange for the short term gain of getting Iran to agree not to cross the nuclear threshold for a few months.”
Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said: “If a nuclear suitcase blows up five years from now in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning.”
American Jewish Leaders also criticized the nuclear deal.
“Nothing in the deceptive behavior of Iran and its leaders in recent years should make the world believe that they will honor this agreement,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement: “The sanctions had the Ayatollahs on the ropes and the U.S. and West let them win the round and perhaps the match.”
B’nai B’rith said, “The deal signed in Geneva does not go far enough in reversing Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The high speed centrifuges will still remain in place, and it remains unclear whether Tehran will permit full or only ‘managed’ access to all of its nuclear facilities. Its long history of deception on inspections is cause for much skepticism on this point.”
The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris said he was opposing President Obama’s calls not to oppose further sanctions: “We believe that existing sanctions should remain in place and new sanctions, whose trigger date would not necessarily be immediate, should be pursued to underscore the seriousness of America’s determination – and the consequences of an Iranian failure to act in good faith,”
SAUDIS: “THE U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IS JUST COMPLETE CHAOS”
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud expressed the despair of many in the Arab world when he said: “The U.S. has to have a foreign policy. Well-defined, well-structured. You don’t have it right now, unfortunately. It’s just complete chaos. Confusion. No policy. I mean, we feel it. We sense it, you know.”
THE UNELECTED ASHTON
One would, I think, have more confidence in the Geneva deal if the lead negotiator hadn’t been the unelected EU High Commissioner Baroness Ashton, a British diplomat whose shortcomings make her compatriot Neville Chamberlain look competent, and John Kerry, known as the lead appeaser in Washington of the Assad regime in Syria for the last two decades.
Among other things, the way Ashton has been giggling and hugging the representatives of this highly repressive Iranian regime – is very disconcerting.
FARS: FORDO AND NATANZ WILL ALSO CONTINUE OPERATION
Here’s how Iran’s official Fars news agency reports the Geneva deal:
“According to the agreement, the structure of Iran’s nuclear program will be fully preserved. There is no turning back in Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. Fordo and Natanz (nuclear sites) will also continue operation.”
Many in the U.S. Congress are making it clear that they will support Israel if she now decides she must act alone to stop the Iranian nuclear program, just as she previously defied the world to act alone to stop the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs.
There is speculation that Iran signed the six-month deal now because it wants to use the next six months to get the S-300 missile in place. An attempt to deploy the S-300 will likely prompt an Israeli attack.
THE PLUTONIUM OPTION
For those who want to understand the less-discussed second method Iran is suspected of using in attempts to acquire a nuclear arsenal, it is worth reading this new paper by Dr. Ephraim Asculai: “The Plutonium Option: Iran’s Parallel Route to a Military Nuclear Capability.”
SPOOF SONG: “THERE’S A MAN IN IRAN (AYATOLLAH SONG)”
This song “There’s a man in Iran (Ayatollah Song)” from the British comedy “Not the Nine O'Clock News,” satirizing the useful idiots in the West enamored of the Islamic dictators, sung by Pamela Stephenson and Rowan Atkinson (who later became famous as “Mr Bean”) has gone viral today.
Below are two articles written before this morning’s deal was signed. They sum up well the shortcomings of the deal: the first by Charles Krauthammer published in Friday’s Washington Post; the second by lead columnist for the Israeli liberal daily Ha’aretz, Ari Shavit.
-- Tom Gross
“SOME JEWISH LIBERALS GOT A TERRIBLE SHOCK LAST WEEK”
Our ‘Sucker’s Deal’ with Iran
The so-called interim nuclear agreement is a rescue package for the mullahs.
By Charles Krauthammer
November 12, 2013
A president desperate to change the subject and a secretary of state desperate to make a name for himself are reportedly on the verge of an “interim” nuclear agreement with Iran. France called it a “sucker’s deal.” France was being charitable.
The only reason Iran has come to the table after a decade of contemptuous stonewalling is that economic sanctions have cut so deeply – Iran’s currency has collapsed, inflation is rampant – that the regime fears a threat to its very survival.
Nothing else could move it to negotiate. Regime survival is the only thing the mullahs value above nuclear weapons. And yet precisely at the point of maximum leverage, President Obama is offering relief in a deal that is absurdly asymmetric: The West would weaken sanctions in exchange for cosmetic changes that do absolutely nothing to weaken Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
Don’t worry, we are assured. This is only an interim six-month agreement to “build confidence” until we reach a final one. But this makes no sense. If at this point of maximum economic pressure we can’t get Iran to accept a final deal that shuts down its nuclear program, how in God’s name do we expect to get such a deal when we have radically reduced that pressure?
A bizarre negotiating tactic. And the content of the deal is even worse. It’s a rescue package for the mullahs.
It widens permissible trade in oil, gold, and auto parts. It releases frozen Iranian assets, increasing Iran’s foreign-exchange reserves by 25 percent while doubling its fully accessible foreign-exchange reserves. Such a massive infusion of cash would be a godsend for its staggering economy, lowering inflation, reducing shortages, and halting the country’s growing demoralization. The prospective deal is already changing economic expectations. Foreign oil and other interests are reportedly preparing to reopen negotiations for a resumption of trade in anticipation of the full lifting of sanctions.
And for what? You’d offer such relief in return for Iran’s giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Isn’t that what the entire exercise is about?
And yet this deal does nothing of the sort. Nothing. It leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact. Iran keeps every one of its 19,000 centrifuges – yes, 19,000 – including 3,000 second-generation machines that produce enriched uranium at five times the rate of older models.
Not a single centrifuge is dismantled. Not a single facility that manufactures centrifuges is touched. In Syria, the first thing the weapons inspectors did was to destroy the machines that make the chemical weapons. Then they went after the stockpiles. It has to be that way. Otherwise, the whole operation is an exercise in futility. Take away just the chemical agents, and the weapons-making facilities can replace them at will.
Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing with Iran. The deal would deactivate its 20 percent enriched uranium, which, leaving aside the fact that deactivation is chemically reversible, is quickly replaceable because Iran retains its 3.5 percent uranium, which can be enriched to 20 percent in less than a month.
Result: Sanctions relief that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure untouched, including – and this is where the French gagged – the plutonium facility at Arak, a defiant alternative path to a nuclear weapon.
The point is blindingly simple. Unless you dismantle the centrifuges and prevent the manufacture of new ones, Iran will be perpetually just a few months away from going nuclear. This agreement, which is now reportedly being drafted to allow Iran to interpret it as granting the “right” to enrich uranium, constitutes the West legitimizing Iran’s status as a threshold nuclear state.
Don’t worry, we are assured. The sanctions relief is reversible. Nonsense. It was extraordinarily difficult to cobble together the current sanctions. It took endless years of overcoming Russian, Chinese, and Indian recalcitrance, together with foot-dragging from Europeans making a pretty penny from Iran.
Once the relaxation begins, how do you reverse it? How do you reapply sanctions? There is absolutely no appetite for this among our allies. And adding back old sanctions will be denounced as a provocation that would drive Iran to a nuclear breakout – exactly as Obama is today denouncing congressional moves to increase sanctions as a deal-breaking provocation that might lead Iran to break off talks.
The mullahs are eager for this interim agreement with its immediate yield of political and economic relief. Once they get it, we will have removed their one incentive to conclude the only agreement that is worth anything to us – a verifiable giving up of their nuclear program.
THE CENTRIFUGES ARE FASTER THAN THE SANCTIONS
Lost cause in Geneva
By Ari Shavit
November 14, 2013
When senior American officials spoke with senior Israeli officials this weekend, they insisted they weren’t stupid. We aren’t naïve, the Americans said. We know who we’re dealing with. We understand that the Iranians will try to get a lot while giving very little. But what we’re trying to do in Geneva is to create a short time frame in which the Iranians will be put to the test. During the six months in question, the Iranian nuclear program won’t advance and the sanctions regime won’t collapse. During those six months, intensive negotiations will be held, and by the end, we’ll know whether there is or isn’t a grand bargain to be had with Iran.
Therefore, there’s no reason for anxiety and no reason to panic. If Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei doesn’t supply the goods, next spring he’ll be facing an aggressive United States that will be willing to use force – if in fact there’s a need to use force. Trust us, the Americans said. We aren’t apprentices; we know what we’re doing. Our new Iranian diplomacy is calculated, measured diplomacy, which also serves Israel’s national interests.
The Americans really aren’t stupid. Therefore, they ought to know that their public explanation is nice-sounding but lame. The interim agreement taking shape in Geneva is extremely problematic. What has nevertheless caused sober, intelligent Americans to support this agreement isn’t delusion, but worry. According to the Obama administration’s in-depth analysis, the West’s position with regard to Iran isn’t anything to write home about.
You want the real truth? There is no military option. The Iranians have made too much progress, they’ve gotten too far, and there’s no way to make them not know what they already know.
You want the real truth? The centrifuges are faster than the sanctions. The economic sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy and causing problems for the regime, but they won’t make Natanz and Fordo disappear.
You want the real truth? We have to say that all options are on the table, but we also have to understand that for a long time now, there haven’t been any options and there hasn’t been any table. Going to Geneva is a miserable effort to postpone the end, so that a nuclear Iran doesn’t emerge now, on Barack Obama’s watch, but immediately afterward.
The Americans aren’t stupid, but they’re worn out. Therefore, their mood is that of Nixon going to China. They’re nurturing a genuine belief that, just as they made peace with Beijing in 1972 they’ll make peace with Tehran in 2014. They’re hoping that this historic American-Iranian reconciliation will be Obama’s international legacy, and will retroactively justify the Nobel Prize he received as a down payment four years ago.
But what the Americans haven’t taken into account is that while they are going to the new China, they are creating five or six new Taiwans: Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Israel. These countries now feel cheated, betrayed and threatened. And they are immeasurably stronger than the original Taiwan. Therefore, they will do everything in their power to thwart Obama’s journey toward Iranian President Hassan Rohani. Uncle Sam’s abandoned nephews will rise up against Uncle Sam and try to school him.
The big story of 2012 was the story of an Israeli preemptive attack, which in the end didn’t happen. Maybe this story will repeat itself in the spring or summer of 2014, and maybe it won’t. An interim agreement would make it hard for Israel to act and push it into a corner.
But the new big story of 2014 is liable to be the story of Saudi Arabia’s preemptive nuclearization. It’s not inconceivable that the first Islamic bomb in the Middle East won’t be Persian, but Arab. It’s also not inconceivable that while the American president is going to the new China, the Saudi king will be going to the real China.
It’ll be fun, my friends. The Sunnis and the Jews are boiling with anger. Therefore, they are now holding hands and launching a campaign against the Christians and Shi’ites who are closing a deal in Geneva.