Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tianenmen and the Iran deal

Sar Shalom

In 1989, the Chinese Communist Party responded to a student demonstration in Tianenmen Square by massacring the students occupying Tiananmen Square. In the wake of that massacre, both houses of Congress unanimously passed sanctions against China. President George H. W. Bush vetoed the bill and during the override attempt, 37 Republicans in the Senate changed their positions to sustain the president's veto. Since then, candidate Bill Clinton promised that he would not renew China's Most Favored Nation status the next time the issue came. The next time China's MFN status came up for renewal, Clinton was president, and he did not oppose. Same thing the following time China's MFN status came up. After that, Clinton made China's MFN status permanent, eliminating any future automatic review of that status.

The fate of MFN status for China in the years after Tiananmen provides a model for what would likely happen with the Iran nuclear deal if Obama's veto is sustained. Among President Obama's constant refrains supporting his deal is the claim that if Iran violates the terms of the agreement, we can always "snap back" the sanctions. The problem is that "snapping back" the sanctions after the deal is put into place will create the same disaster scenario that Obama claims would result now if the deal is rejected. The only difference is that rejecting the deal now would leave an outside chance to renegotiate a better deal while "snapping back" the sanctions would open no such opportunity. The result is that any argument used today to support the president's deal could be used to oppose "snapping back" the sanctions under any conceivable violation by Iran. In other words, any violation by Iran would give a choice of "let them get away with it" or war. If those are the choices the future will present to us, "snap back" will be as much of a paper tiger as the renewal process of China's MFN status.


  1. There is no question but that this politically usefull notion of "snap back sanctions" is a bunch of hooey... as we say in the good ol' US.

    We need to take the mickey out of this president... what?!

    Sanctions cannot simply "snap back" because finances do not work that way. Once you open the dam to the money river it is not so easy to close it back up. It could not be more obvious. Powerful people with financial interests are not simply going to allow the governments involved to so easily cut-off their operations merely because the Americans no longer approve.

    Furthermore, of course, there is nothing that Iran could possibly do, up to and including attacking American troops in Iraq, that could possibly incline this president to "snap back" anything.

    The bottom line is that the deal means that the ayatollahs will have the bomb within ten years, on the outside.

    It means that Barack Obama is tossing the dice with the lives of your children.

    I consider it the height of stupidity, but what do I know?

  2. There is no possibility of "snapbacks" on the Iran deal. Apart from the heavy investment by European countries etc.,making it virtually impossible, the UN Security Council would never allow for them. Russia and China, both permanent members, would use their veto. Both Russia and China are friendly with Iran and at least one of them would definitely veto such a move.
    The whole talk about " snapbacks" by the Obama administration has been just talk .
    At the moment Obama is using every trick to prevent the deal from failing. Unfortunately, that has involved using pressure, intimidation and dog whistle politics. Much of it has ( and will continue to be ) deeply concerning. He and Kerry are desperate ( the latest polling shows the American public are against the deal by 2 to 1. ) Some of what is being said is ridiculous, some is simply lies, and, sadly, much of it is using unpleasant and toxic smears about Israel and about American Jews and Jewish organizations.
    It seems almost certain that this deal will go through, not enough Democrats will be prepared to vote against it.
    The whole thing is misguided, duplicitous and is leaving a very nasty taste in the mouth.

    1. Your argument is complete nonsense. All it would take to trigger "snapback" is for one of the parties to the JCPOA to call for it and for the Security Council to fail to pass a resolution preventing it. If you want to have any credibility outside of those who are already convinced that the deal is an obamination, you have to acknowledge that fact.

      My argument addresses that claim of the deal's supporters. That point is that if sanctions are ever "snapped back," Iran will simply walk away from the deal and all would be as if there never was a deal, except that Iran will be $100 bn. richer.

      What would we do if Iran refuses to allow inspectors into one of its military sites after the claims procedure and 24 days have run their course? If inspectors find something anomalous but inconclusive? A few centrifuges slightly faster than authorized are found? In any of those situations, the cry "we either have to let them get away with it or it's war" will be every bit as compelling as the cry "it's either this deal or war" is today. THAT is what the real obstacle is to "snap back." Whenever there would be a reason for "snap back," it would subject to the same scrutiny to which review of China's MFN status as leverage over its human rights record was subject.

    2. I think the deal has been set up in such a way that the use of "snapbacks" is extremely unlikely to actually happen.
      I could be wrong. I hope I am.

      I would imagine the Iranians have not accepted a deal that is not to their liking.

    3. This is interesting.

    4. What is clear is that it allows Iran to make the cost of using "snapback" extremely high. That would certainly curtail the likelihood of it happening.

    5. Yes. I agree with that.
      It seems the whole "snap back" mechanism is more cosmetic than anything else. The Iranian regime is very unlikely to have accepted a deal that contains measures that genuinely allow their activities to be policed. At no point during these negotiations did it seem that Iran was forced into accepting anything that was unfavourable to them. Quite the opposite. The Obama administration has been so desperate to make this deal that the Iranians could run the show. Effectively, Washington was prepared to cave on everything. And the measures that are supposedly going to provide safeguards, in reality are almost impossible to implement.

      Re that:

      There's an interesting screenshot concerning Wendy Sherman speaking at a Congressional hearing yesterday.
      If you go to. @mdubowitz tweet at 9.45pm , Aug 5, 2015.

  3. Bret Stephens in the WSJ:

  4. There will be no sanctions of any kind. They are over whatever Iran claims they do or don't do. This current administration will simply lie about anyway. If it were me I'd press Israel to abandon "The Bomb in the Basement" doctrine and adopt a slightly less ambiguous usage doctrine. One that asserts that any attack on the Jewish state that at that moment is believed to be a WMD attack of ANY kind from ANYONE will be construed to be an attack BY Iran and will be met with similar or greater WMD force. Then declare that one of Israel's strategic objectives is the ultimate destruction of the Iranian state.

  5. Here's the White House twitter site explaining the Iran deal:

    And here's a tweet from that site to Mondoweiss:

    So now we have Obama's regime tweeting directly to a notorious anti-Jew hate site. Why am I not surprised?