25 April 2015

Bob Carr: Miles High and Hallucinating

Illustration: John Shakespeare.  Complimentary plane pyjamas in Qantas business class takes flying to a whole new comfort level.

Dear Bob
Why don't you don your silk pyjamas, drink a warm milk, and relax? We no longer need you to lie in your suit, nor to embellish our national opinion pages with your Persian-bazaar fantasies, as you did in yesterday's Centenary-ANZAC-Day edition of The Australian.

The key "neo-conservative" principle, which you discern in your hallucinogenic haze, and deride, is to emulate Ronald Reagan. It seems that, like Groucho Marx, you would quickly abandon your principles under pressure - and not much pressure at that.

However the self-contradictory punch-line to your far-fetched, interminably-protracted, self-congratulatory yarn, is that you would have us believe that Obama's treatment of the evil Iranian regime is analogous to Ronald Reagan's approach to the evil Soviet regime, and is therefore commendable after all. How droll and clever...

Are we to forget that the Soviet Union faced years of credible military as well as diplomatic pressure? Are you really suggesting that it succumbed to glib diplomacy and agreed "frameworks"? Or was it so stretched by its weapons program and economic nonperformance that it finally collapsed under its own weight?

Compare this to your (and Obama's) prescription for Iran. As Natan Sharansky has pointed out (and he should know):
The Obama administration apparently [like Bob Carr] believes that only after a nuclear agreement is signed can the free world expect Iran to stop its attempts at regional domination, improve its human rights record and ...behave like [a] civilized state...
The differences [between the US's treatment of Iran and the Soviet Union] are striking and revealing.
For starters, consider that the Soviet regime felt obliged to make its first ideological concession simply to enter into negotiations with the United States about economic cooperation. At the end of the 1950s, Moscow abandoned its doctrine of fomenting a worldwide communist revolution ...the Soviet government understood that it had no other way to get what it needed from the United States.
Imagine what would have happened if instead, after completing a round of negotiations over disarmament, the Soviet Union had declared that its right to expand communism across the continent was not up for discussion. This would have spelled the end of the talks.
Yet today, Iran feels no need to tone down its rhetoric calling for the death of America and wiping Israel off the map.
Just last week, the Iranian regime held another of its military parades with truckloads of weaponry, masses of goose-stepping zombies and repeated chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel". Would you have us ignore this, Bob? ... or perhaps join in the chorus?

Natan Sharansky continues:
...Over the past month alone, as nuclear discussions continued apace, we watched Iran’s proxy terror group, Hezbollah, transform into a full-blown army on Israel’s northern border, and we saw Tehran continue to impose its rule on other countries, adding Yemen to the list of those under its control [Lebanon, Syria and Iraq].
Then there is the question of human rights. When American negotiations with the Soviets reached the issue of trade, and in particular the lifting of sanctions and the conferring of most-favored-nation status on the Soviet Union, the Senate, led by Democrat Henry Jackson, insisted on linking economic normalization to Moscow’s allowing freedom of emigration. By the next year, when the Helsinki agreement was signed, the White House had joined Congress in making the Soviets’ treatment of dissidents a central issue in nearly every negotiation.
Iran’s dismal human rights record, by contrast, has gone entirely unmentioned in the recent negotiations. Sadly, America’s reticence is familiar: In 2009, in response to the democratic uprisings that mobilized so many Iranian citizens, President Obama declared that engaging the theocratic regime would take priority over changing it.
Furthermore, as Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, recently pointed out:
..The unsigned, non-binding “understanding” announced [in early April] dismantles none of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — not even Fordow, the facility built secretly and illicitly under a mountain. 
It does nothing to slow the Islamic republic’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose only conceivable purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads to distant targets. 
It does not authorize “go-anywhere-anytime” inspections — the only kind of inspections likely to uncover whatever prohibited activities Iran undertakes over the months ahead.
It doesn’t even require Iran’s rulers to stop lying — to acknowledge that their nuclear program has not been strictly for “peaceful purposes” as they have claimed.
And, of course, it doesn’t address
  • Iran’s support for terrorists, 
  • its holding of innocent Americans hostage, 
  • its power grab in Iraq, 
  • its military support for the brutal Assad dynasty in Syria and Houthi rebels in Yemen, 
  • its continuing threats to
  1. topple Arab regimes with close ties to the United States, and 
  2. to “erase Israel from the map” (that is “non-negotiable,” a commander of Iran’s Basji militia declared ...) and, 
  3. in due time, bring “death to America.”
But you would dismiss all this, Bob, with another of or your mile-high fantasies: 
"If there are violations, sanctions are snapped on again...."
Such colourful language! Just lift the sanctions, like a seat-belt clasp, and we're free to take our pants off in exchange for smooth-as-silk deceit. Then if we're disappointed, snap-click, and we're securely strapped in again... Do you expect us to forget that the sanctions are an economic edifice (a UN version of the Tower of Babel) that took years to erect? ...and to believe that, once destroyed, it can be re-instated with a snap of the finger?

Clifford May continues:
...the agreement being finalized is likely to lead to the spread of nuclear weapons (with a serious risk that some of those nukes will end up in the hands of terrorists), ... further fuel jihadi fires (Sunni and Shia alike), [and] ....heighten our enemies’ contempt for us (while further depleting our allies’ trust in us)...
...21 years ago, President Clinton announced the conclusion of a “framework” with North Korea, an agreement he described as “a good deal for the United States” because North Korea would henceforth be obligated to “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program.”
“The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments,” he vowed.
North Korea’s chief negotiator, Kang Sok Ju, provided further reassurance: The agreement will resolve “all questions of the so-called nuclear weapons development by North Korea” that have raised “such unfounded concerns and suspicions.” He added: “We have neither the intention nor the plan to develop nuclear weapons.” 
He was lying. And we were choosing to believe him... 
Natan Sharansky concludes:
...in today’s postmodern world [and Bob Carr's diplomatic fantasies], when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions. 
We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.