Sunday, July 19, 2015

Iran deal

I worry about the Iran deal, but not as though it were a bad idea in itself.

What friends do we have in the area? Among the people, just the Israelis and the Kurds. The Saudi royal family is more or less friendly, but the population is hostile--when the house of Saud goes away you'll see the difference.

Among the Sunnis elite you can find a number of allies of convenience, and sometimes even of temperament, but not so much on the ground. Insofar as people care about us, they don't care for us. I described why, with suggestions, some years ago.

My takeaway is that the MidEast is full of divisions, some of which are religious and some tribal. The largest attacks against us have come from the largest religious group: the Sunnis.

It makes sense to keep in touch with all the major parties, so that you can play one against the others when possible. Iran was going to get nukes unless somebody used force--the Saudis already bought theirs via Pakistan.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to trumpet this sort of bargaining, though. You always want the biggest pressures to be applied quietly, because in a couple of years you may be trying to wheedle favors and you don't want too much public shame to get in the way.

And this kind of tribe vs tribe diplomacy isn't something the US is used to. We tend to like nice black and white conflicts and don't have a lot of patience for the Great Game. I think our leaders and administrators often suffer from the same tendency.

The real problem is that Obama is provably incompetent in international affairs; and arguably almost as dishonest as incompetent. The only thread of hope I have in this agreement is that the French signed off on it, and they've tended to have a sharp eye for French interests, which while they don't overlap with American ones, probably aren't served by nukes flying about.

Several people have claimed that this treaty guarantees war. So it does: X implies "there will be war in the MidEast" is a true statement for all values of X short of "sun goes supernova."

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, that last is true. What action doesn't result in war in the ME?

You also note that the US has difficulty playing the long game anywhere, and this is especially problematic in the Mediterranean, where alliances shift rapidly. This is perhaps one of the costs of elections and running for office. Politicians need visible victories, or at minimum, things they can call victories to their supporters.