Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, January 17th, 2016.

Poor Babies

Obama Administration

It’s been a great week for U.S. diplomacy, and naturally Republicans are outraged. And they’ve had a bad week for outrage. Last week when Iran took custody of U.S. sailors that were more than a mile within Iran’s territorial waters, the GOP presidential contenders barely had time to vent on Twitter about our weak and feckless President before the sailors were released. Unharmed. With all their stuff.

Of course, in Rightie World the sailors were not detained for being somewhere they weren’t supposed to be; they were kidnapped. Jazz Shaw wrote at Hot Air:

It’s a great time to be Iran, it seems. You can launch ballistic missile tests, kidnap and imprison western journalists or take American sailors hostage with guns held to their heads and the President of the United States will… allow you to import civilian aircraft and export locally produced goods. The dust hadn’t even settled from the Secretary of State thanking Iran for the release of ten American sailors when the White House announced that some of the first sanctions on Tehran were being lifted. …

Iran hasn’t taken any western journalists hostage this week; I think they’re referring to the Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was arrested on July 22, 2014, and also released this week.

… This bizarre and “nuanced” handling of sanctions – whether we’re talking about Iran, North Korea or anyone else – underscores the feckless nature of dancing with one’s enemies. So we have some sanctions which are specifically tied to their nuclear program, some associated with their ballistic missiles and others aimed at human rights abuses. (There apparently aren’t any for kidnapping American sailors.) As long as we’re dicing up the pie this way we can cancel some sanctions while leaving others in place?

I’ve been trying to grasp why that’s bad. And, of course, it’s not just “we.” This is a multinational deal.

FYI, earlier today, this happened:

The Obama administration announced Sunday that it was imposing new, more limited sanctions on some Iranian citizens and companies for violating United Nations resolutions against ballistic missile tests. The move came less than 24 hours after the White House lifted broader sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

The announcement, which was prepared several weeks ago but delayed by the Treasury Department, was made shortly after a Swiss plane carrying Americans freed by the Iranian authorities departed Tehran. The release of the Americans came a day after Iran and the United States concluded delicate negotiations on a prisoner exchange tied indirectly to the completion of a nuclear agreement.

The entire Right seems unable to grasp that military vessels or aircraft are not supposed to enter the territories of other nations without permission. It’s kind of a big no-no. I get the impression from this news article — somewhat reading between the lines — that the U.S. sailors just plain screwed the pooch.

 Fred Kaplan lambasted the GOP for excessive derp.

You might think the prisoner release would put the Republicans in an awkward position. They’ve been pushing Obama to get the Americans freed for months, and now, here they are, back home with their families. Donald Trump tried to resolve the cognitive dissonance by claiming personal credit for the release. “I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might’ve had something to do with it,” Trump said in a campaign stop on Saturday. (A minute later, though, he denounced the release anyway, saying it should have happened three or four years ago. How, he didn’t reveal.) …

…Sen. Marco Rubio wrote an op-ed for RedState, denouncing the whole complex of Iranian-American deals as “appeasement.” This is the stuff of rhetorical hot air. What territory or interests did the United States cede in any of these deals? Rubio, Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and others denounce the $150 billion that Obama is “giving” to Iran as part of the nuclear deal—not acknowledging, in some cases perhaps not knowing, that the money (more like $100 billion, minus $50 billion that will instantly go to pay off debts) is Iran’s own assets, which were frozen in response to Iran’s nuclear program. Now that the program is largely dismantled, as required the assets are unfrozen. That’s what the nuclear deal—negotiated by the United States, Iran, and five other powers (England, France, Russia, China, and Germany)—was all about.

For its part of the deal, Iran was required not merely to freeze its nuclear program but to substantially roll it back. Specifically, it had to dismantle two-thirds of its centrifuges and 98 percent of its enriched uranium, to fill its Arak plutonium reactor with concrete, and, for verification, to allow international inspectors unprecedented access to its facilities. The big news this weekend, in this regard, is that the International Atomic Energy Agency—which monitors compliance with the deal—announced that, at this stage of the deal, Iran has fulfilled its end of the bargain, ahead of schedule.

That’s what triggered the lifting of economic sanctions. (Rubio wrote that the release “rewards bad behavior,” but in fact it rewards good behavior.)

Back to Jazz Shaw:

But it hasn’t even been a week since they had guns to the heads of our sailors and took possession of two of our naval vessels. We’re seriously turning around and rewarding them with rich new economic activities and billions of dollars in relief? The broad lifting of these sanctions not only makes us look weak, but has a wide ranging effect on the rest of the world. One aspect of this phenomenon was already seen this week as oil prices tanked further on the prospect of additional Iranian crude flooding the market.

Oh noes! The price of oil will go down more! Big Oil might have to stop deep-oil drilling and fracking and whatnot. I feel so bad.

Yes, it’s a great day indeed… to be an Iranian. Should we really expect any of our allies to put their faith in us today?

Ask England, France, Russia, China, and Germany how much faith they would have in us if we had broken the deal.

Seriously, righties live on another planet.

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