Posts Tagged “Witness”
Michael Doran of the Brookings Institution argues that the Iran deal is this days well-known version of the danegeld, in this case, making substantive concessions just for the purpose of keeping talks going:
…In my view, there will never be a final agreement. What the administration just initiated was, rather, a long and expensive process by which the West pays Iran to refrain from going nuclear. We are, in essence, paying Ayatollah Khamenei to negotiate with us. We just bought six months. What was the price?
We shredded the six United Nations Security Council resolutions that ordered the Islamic Republic to abandon all enrichment and reprocessing activities. We exposed fractures in the coalition against Iran. And we started building a global economic lobby that is dedicated to eroding the sanctions that we have generated through a decade of hard, very hard, diplomatic work.
It’s a dynamic that Washington has repeatedly foisted on Israel in its dealings with the Palestinians. For all that, it’s hard to argue with any of Doran’s conclusions, and the incoherence with which Obama and Kerry are defending the agreement is the hallmark of an agreement with its own internal incoherence. Smart, sensible dealings rarely need intellectual gymnastics in their defense.
Doran also suggests another parallel with the worst of the Israel-Palestinian dynamic, the attempt to build goodwill with our enemy through gestures:
In my view, that free hand was already visible in the chemical weapons deal that Obama cut with Syria’s Bashar al-Asad. I have long suspected that Obama’s retreat from Syria was prompted, in part, by his desire to generate Iranian goodwill in the nuclear negotiations. The evidence for that case is growing by the day. We now learn, for example, that the administration had opened a bilateral backchannel to Tehran well before the Syria crisis. I can only assume that the president backed away from the use of force against Assad because, in part, he saw the Syria challenge as a subset of the Iranian nuclear negotiation.
I’ve been working my way through Witness, Whittaker Chambers’s remarkable tour through the authoritarian mind. In it, he tells this story in passing:
He [Sam Krieger] explained that he had once been a Wobbly (a member of the International Workers of the World). He had been arrested somewhere in the West for some radical activity. The Civil Liberties Union had come to his rescue, and Krieger had at last gone free. For Roger Baldwin, the head of the Civil Liberties Union, he had a respect quite unusual among Communists. For while Communists make full use of liberals and their solicitudes, and sometimes flatter them to their faces, in private they treat them with that sneering contempt that the strong and predatory almost invariably feel for victims who volunteer to help in their own victimization.
I’m quite certain that’s how the mullahs think of us. The figures in Witness are all long dead, and many are kept alive in memory only through their inclusion in this book. But the authoritarian mind goes on and on.