Big Red Car here in the lovely ATX looking forward to another day in paradise. Going to be warm and sunny today. Ahhh, on Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!
So I was talking to a little Mercedes Benz convertible yesterday over near Medici, The Boss’s sometimes favorite coffee shop over on West Lynn.
We got into a discussion about President Obama’s recent turn of a phrase describing his foreign policy as the Obama Doctrine. She was critical and seemed to make a lot of sense to me.
The Obama Doctrine
The Obama Doctrine — espoused in an interview with Tom Friedman of the NYT — goes something like this. The United States is a big country — with me so far?
The United States can afford to engage with other countries and pursue diplomacy to achieve American ends, to serve American interests.
That is it. That is all of it. Nothing else — burp, kind of a thin gruel?
The “other countries” cited were Burma, Cuba and Iran. Both Cuba and Iran have been in the news recently but the beef with Burma requires a bit of digging.
What was noticeably missing was Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Russia and China. Did I mention Israel?
Military budgets v asymmetrical warfare
The President was quick to note that one of the comparisons between the United States and some of our adversaries was the comparative size of our military budgets.
He said: “The truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us.”
Let me tell you right up front that this is an intellectual blunder of gargantuan proportions.
Asymmetrical warfare, by its very nature, allows small entities to use tactics which have enormous impacts. It is the nature of the war we are engaged in in the Middle East.
Asymmetrical warfare came to our shores when a handful of zealots hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon and one into a field in Pennsylvania.
News flash — this bunch financed their operation on Master Card. The US has a bigger Master Card — so what?
Big budgets do not protect you from asymmetrical warfare. Al Qaeda doesn’t care what the US military budget is. ISIS doesn’t care what the US military budget is. The cemeteries of the world don’t care what your military budget is, America.
Asymmetrical warfare works like — just like when the Brits used to get pissed off with the Continentals who hid behind trees and shot their officers off their horses. Asymmetrical warfare is a great leveler.
Suspending one’s disbelief
One of the foundation requirements of the Obama Doctrine is that you must suspend your skepticism and disbelief about the intentions and capabilities of these nations with whom we propose to engage as a basis for the engagement itself.
You must discard the hard evidence — evidence, not words — in order to be able to develop the trust in the doctrine and the faith that engagement, meaning diplomacy, will actually impact the relationship between them and the United States.
Let’s use Iran as an example as that is a country cited by the President.
In order to be able to get to the notion of engagement, you must discard the hard evidence as follows:
1. Iran is a theocracy pretending to be a secular state with recognizable sovereign interests. In fact, it justifies much of what it does by the teachings of the Qu’ran. The joint is being run by the ayatollahs.
2. Iran is a brutal dictatorship — the ayatollahs having the dictatorial powers — which abuses its people routinely using execution, rape, maiming and torture as sanctioned actions of its government without the benefit of either due process or law. Incredibly enlightened policies toward women. Hillary would have a field day over there. Remember to wear a burqua, Hill.
3. Iran has lied to the world about its nuclear intentions and has violated a number of agreements related to their nuclear program. Even when caught and exposed, they do not fail to continue to lie about other things.
4. Iran has consistently said that their enrichment program, which has continued to enrich uranium and to develop plutonium, is for peaceful purposes while ignoring the reality that fuel rods and isotopes can be purchased in an orderly world market and while enriching uranium to far higher concentrations than necessary for power plants and medical research. Why?
5. Iran is the world’s largest exporter of terrorism with interests — direct financial and control interests — in Hamas, Hezbollah. Hamas and Hezbollah exist solely to hasten the demise of Israel, a tenet of the Iranian attitude toward our most important ally in the region.
6. Iran is expanding its own toxic sphere of influence into Libya, Syria (supports the brutal Assad regime), Lebanon, Gaza, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen. These are only places where there are actual Iranian personnel — who knows where Iranian money goes?
7. Iran gives no evidence of being a country which will change and even moreso when that change is at the point of a pen rather than a bayonet. This is a dance step they have never done.
The Obama Doctrine asks that you please suspend the implications of this evidence and now trust that this same Iran will enter into binding, negotiated treaties limiting their development of nuclear weapons. Trust this because President Obama has told you to disbelieve the evidence and trust in his wisdom. Sure, he has a spotty record on delivering on promises but this is a new day.
“If you like your nuclear program, you can keep your nuclear program. Period.”
The Iran nuclear agreement
The lightning rod that has attracted this debate is the engagement and diplomacy which surrounds the development of a nuclear weapon by Iran — actually a treaty to prevent that very thing. This blog post will not comment on the specifics of the agreement, which appears to be hopelessly flawed, but rather the reality that it requires the signatories to TRUST future Iranian behavior while providing immediate relief from economic sanctions.
It is the classic bait and switch — “Give me what I want right now and I may give you what you want at some future time.”
What could possibly go wrong with that?
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is not real. [Wow, Big Red Car, you’re getting into dangerous territory right after the Easter holiday. Sure you want to go there, Big Red?]
The Easter Bunny, however, delivers on its promise. It — meaning your parents — hides the eggs, makes a basket of chocolate bunnies and generally delivers on its promise.
The Easter Bunny only lasts as a figment of your belief system until you begin to confront the evidence — often precipitated by an older sibling. For a few more years, you may conveniently ignore the evidence — why not, you fail to embrace the evidence and you are likely not going to get an Easter basket. You know where your personal interests lie, right?
Rat out the Easter Bunny? No goodies.
Disbelieve the evidence pertaining to the Easter Bunny? No goodies.
Don’t believe the Iranians can change their stripes given the massive evidence to the contrary? No Obama Doctrine gullibility that diplomacy will work.
The Obama Doctrine requires a suspension of your powers of reason, the disbelief in massive amounts of evidence and blind trust in the Easter Bunny.
What does work, Big Red Car?
The Iranians — who were sanctioned by the United Nations, the United States of America, the European Union, basically the “civilized” world — only came to the negotiating table when the sanctions began to destabilize the hold on power exerted by the ayatollahs and their faux civilian deputies.
When the pain began to be felt — the pain of potentially losing power — the ayatollahs deigned to show up to listen to the P5 + 1 scolds.
Why would we abandon a winning strategy?
What is the first thing the Iranians have demanded in the negotiations? Termination — immediate termination — of the economic sanctions. This is an ode to the effectiveness of the sanctions.
Know this — the Iranian economic sanctions are highly unlikely to be re-enacted when Iran is caught cheating. The termination of the sanctions is real. The re-enactment of the sanctions in the face of Iranian perfidy is Easter Bunny thinking. Not going to happen.
So, dear friend, there you have it.
The Obama Easter Bunny Doctrine requires you to suspend your disbelief, to ignore the evidence and to trust in the future conduct of the Iranians. This is the intellectual spawn of our community organizer President and his team of battle hardened negotiators.
You buying it?