Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Enemies, Negotiations, And The Legacy Fetish

Barack Hussein Obama appears to have grasped that he stands at the edge of a precipice. He’s pushed Congress, the courts, and the electorate about as far as they’re willing to go. The few major “achievements” of his time in the White House are all proving to be failures if not catastrophes. Were he to leave office today, he’d have nothing to point back to as a positive mark he’d left on the United States, even by his own twisted standards.

Which is why getting a deal with Iran, an enemy of the United States since 1979, is at the top of his agenda.

However, Obama has abandoned neither his premises nor his standards. He still regards his own country as “the problem” in any conflict with another nation. He still considers the approbation of the Left, and of left-leaning regimes wherever they are, as the highest possible mark of distinction. These are the considerations—the only considerations—that shape his approach to the nuclear negotiations with the mad mullahs.

Those premises and standards make him the living creature most dangerous to the peace of the world in our time.

“You can always get an agreement if you’re willing to give enough away.” – former U. S. Senator Robert Dole of Kansas

Negotiation is a well studied field with rules all its own. Those rules are few but absolute. Violating them during a serious negotiation can cost more than you can afford.

The first rule of negotiation is to know your interests and their ranking in priority order. To one who is negotiating for his own sake, this is usually perfectly clear. However, in international negotiations, matters can be quite different: the ruling regimes involved might have interests that diverge from the interests of the nations they rule. Worse yet, the negotiators designated by those regimes might have a third set of interests distinct from the other two. The potential for conflict could hardly be more obvious.

The second rule of negotiation is to know the dealbreakers: i.e., those issues on which either you or your adversary in negotiation is absolutely unwilling to concede. You cannot succeed in coming away from the table with an agreement worth having if either of you stake out a position that violates one or more of the other side’s dealbreakers.

The third rule of negotiation is to have a tenable, credible ultimate fallback agenda: i.e., what you are demonstrably ready, willing, and able to do in the event that no deal can be struck. This is particularly important in negotiations with an enemy, for example, over an armistice, a truce, or a peace treaty. If such an enemy doesn’t believe you’re prepared to invoke that fallback agenda, he can keep you at the table until you die of old age.

The current face-off between America and Iran violates all three of the above rules. The American side has acted throughout as if the most important outcome is that there be an agreement regardless of the specifics of its terms. This is plainly a dismissal of the American (and allied) interests involved. Worse, it implies that there are no dealbreakers for our side, despite repeated statements by American presidents and secretaries of state that Iran shall not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon. Worst of all, the Obama Administration has made it quite plain that there is no American fallback position. The only imaginable fallback should the talks fail (in objective terms, not Obamunist terms) would be a war of decapitation, as no sanctions regime capable of breaking the theocrats of Iran of their nuclear ambitions can be enforced by the U.S. alone, and the other nations involved are unwilling to assist in such a regime.

The behavior of Secretary of State John Kerry in Lausanne and of Obama here in America can only be interpreted as above. There is no way their doggedness in pursuing a deal with Iran, when it has become plain that Iran will not comply with the terms of any deal that impedes its progress toward nuclear arms, could be taken as genuinely in harmony with the foreclosure of that eventuality.

Despite all the above, the events that have transpired in Lausanne make plain that Obama is determined that there shall be an agreement, no matter what it specifies or how long it takes. He clearly doesn’t mean what he’s said about being resolute that Iran not acquire nuclear weapons. He and his spokesmen have implied repeatedly that war is absolutely beyond contemplation. Indeed, even a stiff sanctions regime is anathema to him. An agreement to which he can point as an achievement, as Bill Clinton pointed to the foolish agreement his administration concluded with North Korea over the very same subject, is all that matters to him.

The security of the United States would be badly imperiled by such an empty deal. The continuing existence of the state of Israel would become dubious. In no way would the Iranian theocrats be in the least inconvenienced.

I’m groping for a Last Graf. I can’t find one. Our electorate has twice put a narcissistic community organizer of immutable socialist ideals and impenetrable incompetence into the highest office in the United States. This is one of the consequences, over which our supposedly Republican-controlled Congress will probably demonstrate its recent impotence once again.

We have sown the wind. A whirlwind will follow. Film at eleven...if we’re lucky enough to survive that long.

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