Of Chickenhawks and Diplomats–War and Peace

File under “who do you trust?”

The usual suspects– Dick Cheney, Tom Cotton (author of the arguably treasonous letter to Iran sent earlier this year), Ted Cruz, Bibi Netanyahu and various Right-wing and media personalities– are attacking the nuclear agreement with Iran.

I have listened to their arguments, and they boil down to “get a better deal” (without any specifics about what “better” might look like) and “Any deal, no matter how good, legitimizes an evil regime, so we should never negotiate with Iran.”

When pressed to say what they would propose in lieu of the agreement, some opponents argue for the status quo, that is, continuing to enforce sanctions. In the real world, of course, this is not an option, since in order to work, sanctions require agreement and enforcement by the international community. That would be the same community with which we negotiated this agreement–the members of which have made clear they would react negatively to efforts to sabotage it.

What most opponents don’t say, but clearly mean, is– in the (in)famous words sung by John McCain– “bomb bomb bomb Iran.”

Because making war in the Middle East worked so well the last time.

If those opposed to this agreement are less than persuasive, what about those who have voiced support?

According to media reports, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft, Sandy Berger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, retired Admirals William Fallon and James Stavridis, and recent Senate Committee Chairmen Dick Lugar, Carl Levin, and Nancy Kassebaum, as well as Ambassadors Tom Pickering and Ryan Crocker have joined a bipartisan group of more than 50 retired military officials, U.S. foreign policy leaders, ambassadors, and leading national security experts in applauding the achievement reached after 18 months of complex negotiations.

Let’s see….Dick Cheney? or Dick Lugar?

I know who I trust.


  1. I don’t pretend to know all about nuclear bomb making.
    I don’t pretend to know all about international negotiations.
    I do not pretend to know everything there is about the middle east and its century old problems. What I do know is that I have a president and a secretary of state who are both highly intelligent, good, honest and decent men.

  2. The continuing negative campaign against anything that the President and Secretary of State along with FIVE other world powers is reprehensible. There are no details, no alternatives, just hyped fear-mongering. AND they hide who they are and who is paying for the ads. See below.

    The advertisement was paid for by a group called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran. About the group, the Washington Post reports, “The group is backed financially by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and other individuals and pro-Israel groups.”-ABC News, Arizona

    The use of misinformation, lies, fear, and hate are the tools of propaganda. Those who use those tools and hide behind the curtain of “privacy” are not to be believed. They are interested in power and money, not freedom and security.

  3. Any deal that gives Iran immediate access to $250 billion to wreak havoc in the Middle East and beyond just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Obama and the Europeans blinked. I worry that after funding terrorists in and around Israel, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Northern Africa, Europe will see the effects of the destabilizing terrorist funds pretty soon as well.

    I think it’s important to look at the message, and not be biased by the messengers.

  4. Amanda, just who do you think has waged war in the middle East for more than a decade?
    Just who do you think Paul Wolfowitz is? Why do you think so many middle Eastern cities look like the ruins of Dresden? Why are little children terrified to join in groups of more than three? Who do you believe is laying waste to that part of the earth?

    You say ISIS? I’ve got a NY bridge I’d let go cheap to you.

    Europeans kill. That’s just how they roll.

  5. Iran has been a target of Western Imperialism since the Anglo-American Coup of 1953 that installed the Puppet Dictator the Shah of Iran to power. The Shah like the other Gulf States and Saudi Arabia did nothing to cultivate Political Freedom, i.e., free elections, etc. Our Right Wingers seem to forget this and the consequences that manifested itself in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 with a Religious Backlash.

    The Republicans and some Democrats simply have no plan, other than in the final analysis to turn Iran back into a Puppet Dictatorship controlled by the USA, like the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

  6. Republicans of course view negotiations as a waste of time. Look at the Republican do nothing Congress. They are incapable of diplomacy. Break open any Republican and you’ll find Donald Trump inside.

    They’ve demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that they’ve devolved to incapable of governance, here or globally.

    If the Supreme Court had only chosen the popular vote winner Gore in 2000 think of how much different the world and country would be now.

    Now think of going forward. We can’t afford to go backwards again. Bush used up all of the slack.

  7. One benefit of Global Warming and the end of fossil fuels that it requires is that it also means the end to the subsidies for big oil which means the end to our Middle East interests. We will no longer fight oil wars there. Let them figure out which theocracy is most powerful. Leave us out of it.

  8. Having listened at length to congressional testimony on this agreement, John Kerry and the Energy Secretary and Treasury Secretary had answers to every concern -when they were permitted to respond. The complainers had complaints but no solutions, and often didn’t want to hear answers to their concerns.

    Unlike his father, Geo. W. Bush failed to coalesce others to support his war on Iraq for which we’re still paying in lives, dollars, and ISIS as well as Al Qaeda. I’ve been impressed that in negotiating the current agreement, the U.S. assembled a broad geopolitical coalition to hold Iran to account from all sides (European and Asian; democratic and dictatorial; capitalistic and communistic). That in itself is a herculean accomplishment, but it also surrounds Iran politically, economically, and militarily.

    My former pastor frequently lamented that ecumenical endeavors were the most difficult because of all the different agendas. With the many other issues and cross-currents in the world, I can only imagine how difficult negotiations were among the partners to the agreement with Iran, but thank Heaven for the perseverance to keep the coalition together. It’s much more difficult for Iran to misbehave when the major players in the world (including traditional opposing parties) are aligned against it and will now have the power to verify its nuclear status.

    As someone has remarked, we can’t bomb away knowledge on how to build nuclear weapons.
    So a negotiated agreement with checks and balances is more likely to be successful.

  9. Dick Cheney as educated for Monsanto deals does not mind that the allied atomic and nuclear human – soldiers atoms and nuclei have been mutated by all those mass chemo-weapons, so he has defeated not only the enemy, but the test subjects, the missionary recruits…for generations of USA men and a few women while the poisons play out. These guys are really nice, members of really nice families sadly, who simply do not understand Sixth Grade physical science, notably distant force applications on humans by humans for humans. A deal for us applies 20 percent morbid disease reduction and 80 percent for the rescued and maimed civilians, allies from overcrowded places, and the enemies on the run!

  10. Of course human suffering isn’t the only consequence of the chicken hawks.

    “The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates the prestigious Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.”

    “Remember, when President George Bush’s National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Lindsey, had told the country’s largest newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had found himself under intense fire from his colleagues in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation.”

    “Consequently, Lawrence Lindsey was forced to resign. It is also imperative to recall that the Bush administration had claimed at the very outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues, but Washington DC had instead ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders.”

    “According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012.”

    “According to the report, the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt,” and future interest payments would amount to trillions of dollars. This Harvard University report has also been carried on its website by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is a widely-quoted Montreal-based independent research and media organisation.”

    “In its report under review, the 377-year old Harvard University has viewed that these afore-mentioned wars had not only left the United States heavily indebted, but would also have a profound impact on the federal government’s fiscal and budgetary crises over a protracted period.”

    “The report has attributed the largest share of the trillions of dollars in continuing costs to care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of troops left physically and psychologically damaged by the two wars being discussed here.”

    “The report states: “The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history—totaling somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.””

    “It asserts: “Another major share of the long-term costs of the wars comes from paying off trillions of dollars in debt incurred as the US government failed to include their cost in annual budgets and simultaneously implemented sweeping tax cuts for the rich. In addition, huge expenditures are being made to replace military equipment used in the two wars. The report also cites improvements in military pay and benefits made in 2004 to counter declining recruitment rates as casualties rose in the Iraq war.””

    “The authors of this report have warned that the legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”

    “According to the Harvard University report, some 1.56 million US troops—56 per cent of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans—were receiving medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities and would be granted benefits for the rest of their lives.”

    From: http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-wars-in-afghanistan-iraq-to-cost-6-trillion/5350789

  11. Pete, thank you for that very informative report about the cost of the Republican wars since 9-11.

  12. Republican war? That is to say Vietnam was a Democratic war. Not so. Korea was a ‘Police
    Action’. Change the name but keep the killing.

    Both were American wars and we are all Americans. Johnson couldn’t stop the killing. It took the dead kids at Kent State. Look again into that mirror.

    We are the killers.

  13. Earl; the fact that Gopper likes your posts and that you earlier agreed with him should tell you to take stock of and rethink some of your views. I’m surprised and disappointed; you are better than that.

  14. What is very telling in regard to to all the commentary that is being pushed forth in opposition to this agreement is that little of it is really more than sound bites and slogans. No one has spoken about an end game to what they propose other than in very vague generalities. The military option, which should be the last in terms of available options for us, is talked about as the first recourse to be considered and also in a vacuum as if its the only means to an end. Unfortunately for them and ultimately for all of us any attack on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure would result in consequences that could be very dire for both the other states in the region, particularly Israel, but also us. While I have no doubt that we could launch such strikes against Iran we have no guarantee that we would be able to take out, let alone find, all of their various installations. In doing so we would first have to suppress any counter-air and anti-aircraft missile forces to insure that our loss rate in regard to strike aircraft and aircrews would be at acceptable levels. Cruise missiles launched by aircraft, submarines, and surface warfare ships would constitute a large portion of any such strike but even then, regardless of their accuracy, we may not hit everything that is targeted. So even the preferred military option might end up being incomplete in terms of its execution but will have opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of unintended and under appreciated consequences.

    Even if such an enterprise would be thoroughly successful it is, by its very definition, an act of aggression against a sovereign nation and that fact alone adds a diplomatic dimension to this course of action that would likely add several additional layers to an already extremely complicated situation. Likewise, such an action would likely result in the Iranian people, many of whom despise their current government, rallying around that government in the face of American aggression. Iranians, perhaps thousands of them, would die as a result of this sort of action. The Iranian people, the average “man on the street”, would likely be just as incensed as we were on 9/11 or on December 7, 1941 as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A call for action by the Iranian government would likely be met with popular support as a result. The seemingly shared interest that we all have in regard to the defeat of Daesh (ISIL) would undoubtedly suffer as a result as well.

    So, what would happen then? The P5+1 negotiation platform would likely immediately evaporate if it hadn’t already fallen by the wayside before such a move. European resolve in confronting Iran, what there is of it, would also evaporate with the further weakening of NATO with a serious detour by them from participating in any similar undertaking for possibly quite some time even when it would be in their collective interest to do so. There would be risk that this country would find itself isolated as a result of such an attack and unable to mitigate a sweeping tide of violence that would be unleashed by both Iran and its proxies against Israel and also American interests in the region. The entire strategic balance in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region would be radically altered possibly irretrievably. Russia and China would move to fill the vacuum created as a result of these moves which also wouldn’t be good for the region or us. They also might be drawn into such a conflict both to protect their diplomatic and commercial interests but to stand up to American strategic hegemony as they would see it. We might end up far weaker strategically and diplomatically than all those chicken hawks clamor about now, far weaker.

    There is a quaint concept connected with nuclear strategy which is known as “escalation dominance”. The gist of it that at every rung of the escalatory ladder in a confrontation each party engaged has to have a workable and achievable game plan to match the other one or the whole exercise ends up in a strategic defeat for the side that is eventually seen as being unprepared. Jack Kennedy practiced this successfully in October 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis but that success came with unprecedented risks to this country. Today we have people talking about this as if it would be “a walk in the park” when any serious look at the region and this sort of process would immediately confirm for any observer that it clearly would not. Iran is not the Soviet Union but unlike the Soviets of that era, they do not come close to having the shared rationality that we and the Soviets had regarding the import of a war between us. We both saw the need to walk things back. They may not but instead embark on a reckless course of action that might make the recklessness of our own pale in comparison.

    Still another dimension to this is the war-weariness of the American people and make no mistake this would be a war and perhaps a very long and bloody one with a high degree of unpredictability and risk for all of us. This won’t be something that we just watch on TV when we so choose but something that could affect all of us. Before we let the people that think a military option against Iran is our best course of action and go off less than half-cocked in pursuit of it we need to listen seriously to all of those foreign policy luminaries that have spoken out in support of this agreement that Sheila listed near the end of her fine piece above since all of them, including Dick Lugar, have contemplated all of this backwards, forwards and sideways and have found what all the chicken hawks are talking about wanting and extremely risky.

  15. Earl, Lord Acton said that absolute power currupts absolutely and I think that he was right. What we call American exceptionalism is really the concept of being the strongest military power in the world. Power. We’re corrupted by it. President Obama is building our diplomatic reputation around the world so that other nations view us as benevolent rather than malevolent and don’t have to respond with ISIS type solutions.

    Like in most ways he will be regarded as exceptional by history for changing our position in the world from bully to leader.

    Too bad that seems beyond most Republican minds.

  16. JoAnn, give a moment to consider that you’re the one off in La-La Land.

    Earl knows his History. You never add anything but personal anecdotes and party slogans.

  17. Yes Gopper; Earl knows his history. The problem is he lives there and accusing the rest of us as being killers accomplishes nothing. My personal anecdotes are how current issues relate to me – personally. The issues covered in this blog, everything politicians do – and don’t do – relates to each and every one of us personally as Americans. Adages are not “party slogans”; they have been around for years, that is why they are called adages (an old familiar saying) and sometimes they do fit the party but most often they fit life in general.

    Tom Lund referred to “the war-weariness of the American people”; he is on target, so reliving past wars rather than learning from them and moving on will not resolve this war-weariness or the loss of lives. The Kent State shooting resolved little here at home and nothing globally, it is another ugly chapter in our American history but it is an excellent example of what war-weariness and fear can lead to. We MUST negotiate with Iran and reach some form of agreement regarding a nuclear pact between Iran and world leaders. We don’t have to like it, we don’t have to fully understand the reasoning but we have to realize it is a necessity and live with what those leaders decide on. They know who they are deaing with due to past history and what they are capable of. Getting personal again; I have a grandson who is a paramedic in the U.S. Navy, if war comes he would be on the battlefield. I have other grandsons and granddaughters who would be targets if the draft is enacted. Yes; Gopper, it is personal with me that we move onward rather than backward and forcing our younger generation to become those killers Earl refers to.

  18. I went to college with Iranians (TCU). I stayed in an apartment with an Iranian during the summer after my freshman year. They loved America! However, The Shah of Iran turned out to be a butcher; though he was supported vehemently by the U.S. We put our push behind the reign of a dictator. We have done that on many occasions throughout the years. The the inevitable revolution occurs, we look back and wonder why? We establish enemies as those who would not cooperate with the jerk we helped occupy the office. It’s been fifty years since all that played out. We might be surprised to see Iran pleased to have us in some sort of friendly, cooperative relationship if the Pubs don’s undermine it. WWI led to WWII. Had the Pubs supported Wilson’s 14 points of peach that would not have happened. Oh yea, did the Pubs help develop the Great Depression? I could go on with Pub flubs, but times is running out.

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