Monday, April 6, 2015

B.F. Deal

Peggy Noonan and ironman, via Media Matters.
Margaret Noonan:
None of the reporting out of Lausanne has suggested that a helpful agreement would emerge. Tuesday’s deadline for production of a basic framework was missed; on Thursday, a framework, the contents of which were not revealed, was announced. But President Obama is not known as a good negotiator.
That was issued by WSJ just after 8:00 pm on Thursday, about five hours after the extremely detailed
were released (at 18:56 Lausanne time or just before 3:00 in D.C.). Heh. I guess Noonan's in the company of those for whom the Powers figure no editing is needed. Anybody who goes behind that paywall and finds out whether they've issued a correction, let me know.

President Obama is a pretty clever negotiator, in fact, sometimes possibly altogether too clever, as in the case of the 2011 budget negotiations, where Speaker Boehner ended up feeling so badly burned that he hasn't really ever been willing to try it again, with some not very good results for the country as a whole. Then again if Boehner had gotten the deal he was hoping for that would have been pretty awful results as well.

In the case of the Iran deal I think he and his team have been just about as good as imaginable; I leave it to Emptywheel's Jim White, not exactly a continual Obama booster:
Despite tremendous pressure from Israel and the neocon lobby who lust after a war with Iran, the outlines for a permanent deal are now in place.... what has been achieved is staggering.
That's pretty much how I feel. I've been so strongly convinced for so long that Iran is not interested in building nuclear weapons, that I sometimes forget a rational person might not agree, but there are such people, including I imagine Obama and Kerry themselves (also, of course, if rumors are correct that Khamenei's prostate cancer has recently taken a serious turn for the worse, there could be a different Supreme Leader with a different view on nuclear weapons fairly soon). I don't see how any honest person could look at the Parameters from that point of view without concluding that the agreement really does prevent the country from developing a bomb.

Obviously when one says "any honest person" one is excluding Binyamin Netanyahu and the American conservative faction. Netanyahu will never concede anything of the sort and has continued working to break the thing—though he seems to have backed down from Friday's crazy demand
that any final agreement should include a commitment by Iran recognizing Israel's right to exist
as if Iran's negotiators could possibly contemplate such a thing when all issues other than uranium reprocessing and nuclear proliferation had been explicitly off the table from the time the P5 + 1 talks were initiated. He also
denied he was coordinating with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who visited Israel last week, and with other Republicans to block the Iran deal.
Sure. I think it's long past time time to start contemplating the idea that Netanyahu and his Republican friends positively want Iran to build a nuclear weapon, for reasons both ideological and political. The ideological aim would be to clarify who is intrinsically good and bad: nuclear-armed Iran would be intrinsically evil because of its nuclear weapons, Israel would be intrinsically good because sorry, that's a secret. The political aim would be to maintain the continual fear from which these conservatives get their electoral support.

I was startled by a Breaking News Alert in an email from the Times this afternoon:

Like he told all the rest of us days ago! How come Friedman had to wait so long?

Then I thought perhaps the breaking news element was meant to be that now Friedman had heard about it it had become true, so Netanyahu could stop worrying, not that he would.

But on a first cursory read through the interview (which was held on Saturday), I have a sense that Friedman is now really functioning as a kind of Mystax Ministerialis, envoy plenipotentiary from the White House to the court of King Bibi, and find myself hoping he's effective.

It's a fatiguing read for those of us of more advanced opinions than Friedman's, explaining to him things we already know or suspect, and it's naturally unclear whether the president's own opinions are any more advanced than Friedman's or not.

There's a bit that's a little upsetting, when he addresses, very cautiously, the hatred he hears from the Likud courtiers:
"...But this has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.”

You take it personally? I asked.

“It has been personally difficult for me to hear ... expressions that somehow ... this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest — and the suggestion that when we have very serious policy differences, that that’s not in the context of a deep and abiding friendship and concern and understanding of the threats that the Jewish people have faced historically and continue to face.”
He communicates it very beautifully, as you'd expect, a lot politer and more mature than you or I might be, anxious as ever not to cut off the possibility of repair. Ironically, if they—if Netanyahu—deserved that much consideration, they wouldn't need it. As it is, I'm afraid the people who most need to read what Obama has to say will be, as usual, unable to do so, blinded by tears of crazed rage.

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