Monday, November 25, 2013

The Long Shadow Of Iran Contra

Charles P. Pierce on the Iran deal.

I am a simple man. Years ago, I made it a policy of mine that I would approve of any deal with Iran so long as it didn't involve selling missiles to the mullahs. I developed this policy in January of 1981, when I was in Washington covering the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, and the Iranians, in one last attempt to stick it to Jimmy Carter, refused to release the remaining American hostages until Reagan had taken office. Almost immediately, the propagandists in the employ of the new president started floating to a credulous media that the Iranians had done so because they were terrified of the awesome awesomeness of Ronald Reagan. Turns out, of course, that they did it in exchange for Reagan's unfreezing their American assets and also because Reagan's people opened up a yard sale at the Pentagon where the Iranians could get good deals on TOW missiles. Ronald Reagan, as we all know, would never negotiate with -- let alone sell weapons to -- nations that sponsored terrorism. That is why Ronald Reagan was a great man who has many large and ugly buildings named after him.

(Whether or not these deals were cut by officials of the Reagan campaign prior to the election -- in other words, whether or not Bill Casey et. al. committed something like treason by undermining American foreign policy in order to win an election -- is still very much an open question. But there were, ahem, precedents.)

Consequently, I am very happy with the deal struck over the weekend between certain western powers and Iran as regards the latter's nuclear programs. Nobody is selling weapons to a country that sponsored the killing of our Marines. (Also, nobody is flying around the world acting like a jackass carrying a Bible and a cake shaped like a key. Bonus!) To me, this makes this a good deal, but the bar is obviously set pretty low. Call it the Ollie North Meridian. Also, consequently, I am less than saddened by the howling of the Republicans, especially those who were old enough to have been around when Reagan and his people sold those missiles and who never have purged their party's foreign-policy establishment of the people who thought it was a swell idea. (The Bush State Department, especially the parts of it that dealt with Central America and the Middle East, was like an Iran-Contra Old-Timers Game. Recall especially that the egregious "minority report" of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation -- the report that pretty much argued that Reagan could've sold the missiles to Khomeini personally -- was written by a rising young authoritarian lycanthrope named Richard Cheney.) Nor am I particularly saddened by the various Democrats -- Chuck Schumer, come on down! -- who are posturing for the cameras. Suffice it to say I never really cared what Bibi Netanyahu's opinion was on anything.

Iran is what we still had for a Soviet Union after the wall fell. [...]

To me, the unsatisfactory denouement to Iran-Contra remains the great lost opportunity a) to rein in the executive branch's ability to conduct off-the-books imperial adventurism, and b) to break the power of the neoconservative intelligentsia in matters of foreign policy, especially in west Asia. A few criminal complaints that stuck -- and an impeachment inquiry into both the president and vice-president -- would have done the job nicely. Alas, the very serious people of the day assumed we were all made of spun sugar and far too delicate to know precisely how criminal our leaders had become. This treaty represents a new paradigm, a rejection of what had become the old norms, some of which were downright idiotic. It is possible that this treaty, and what may or may not come after it, signals an end to that long era of covert adventurism and criminal mischief (my em). If that is the case, then this deal is more than worth the inevitable caterwauling that already has erupted. At least, Kerry didn't get on the plane with TOW missiles and a cake.
The warmongers' heads are exploding. Fine with me. As Churchill said. "better jaw-jaw than war-war".


From a piece by Juan Cole:

The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled.

In 2003, the Neocon chickenhawks, most of whom had never worn a uniform or had a parent who did, joked that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran.” When people have to talk about being “real men,” it is a pretty good sign that they are 98-pound weaklings.

The “everyone” who wanted to go to Baghdad was actually just the Neocons and their fellow travelers. Most of the latter were hoodwinked by the Neocon/Cheney misinformation campaign blaming Saddam Hussein of Iraq for 9/11. [...]
Mr. Cole is a little long-winded and knows whereof he speaks. Go read.

Update II:

Obama Crushes the Neocons

[...] And perhaps most important of all in psychic terms to the neocons, there is contemplation of the hideous reality that Obama and the path of negotiation just might work. This is the thing the neocons can’t come to terms with at all. If Obama succeeds here, their entire worldview is discredited. Check that; even more discredited.

Rouhani appears to be moving his right wing a bit. Ours, alas, isn’t nearly so flexible as Iran’s.

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