Tuesday, July 14, 2015


The Iran nuclear deal could have been worse.  One has to wait to read the fine print and be able to venture between the lines before risking a definitive appreciation.  All negotiators certainly deserve praise for stamina. They appeared more often than not like actors in a remake of "The Grand Budapest Hotel".

One fact is clear:  What was addressed is a brick in the wall, but the wall still stands.  The Iranian stands against the US, Israel and most of the values which the West still represents, remain unattended. It might appear surreal that the 5+1 accepted to negotiate while their counterpart is pursuing a nihilistic agenda and refuses to waiver on its nefarious agenda.  In "The Persian Letters" Montesquieu argues that "mankind constantly waivers between false hopes and silly fears, and instead of relying on reason, it creates monsters to frighten itself with, and phantoms which leads it astray." True, in his novel one of his heroes, Usbek, returns home to find the Seraglio imploded and his wives dead. I hope the very able Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif or Prime Minister Hasan Rohani will not encounter the wrath of their unpredictable Supreme Leader!

Diplomacy is not always a gourmet feast.  Partners might look unpalatable.  A contario yesterday's enemies might become tomorrow's allies. Who could have imagined Obama meeting last week with the Vietnamese in the White House years ago? True, the American president has a knack for attracting the marginals while alienating his natural allies.

The major flaw in this deal lies less in what it pretends than in what it might do. The nuclear pause "in time" is a positive step. The former was nevertheless taken in almost total disregard of Israel and allies in the region. Hence, the United States might end up harvesting a rotten apple on the back of a better harvest. To negotiate with a rogue state which claims the annihilation of another state is far-fetched. Not to bring up the unpleasant dealings in a region which is booby-trapped as a consequence of inter alia Iranian interference is hard to explain. The fact that human rights were not even mentioned once torpedoes the image of the American white knight! True, one cannot totally forego more confidential bilateral agreements en marge but until further notice, this remains doubtful and more a thing of past classical diplomacy, which is forgotten by now. The likes of the China communique are history!

The nuclear issue in the Middle East is of paramount importance. One could have chosen for a multilateral path on the Tlatelolco model whereby Israel might have agreed to a gradual, step-by-step denuclearising.  Instead, the other path was the chosen one, giving the former pariah the status of major regional power.

Even if the deal (arrangement is a more suitable term) were agreed upon by the US Congress, the question remains if it was really a necessary one.  If cheating becomes a way to get recognition, we might as well return to some comedy of errors. Would it have been better to leave Iran to exhaust itself under sanctions, than to lift the former for a brief respite (under control)?  Iran behaved like the Mexican drug pin. The more it is locked up, the more it will find a way out! Behaviors do not change overnight and whatever the Pollyanna's proclaim, improved manners or regime change are not in the cards for now.

In fact Iran can cash in, create havoc in OPEC and continue to manipulate its Shia minions.  It is not bound by a code of good behavior.  It remains to be seen if the 5+1 which are not on the same page (France, Russia and China) will be able to present a united front when unavoidable divergent interpretations occur.  Verification, qualitative and quantitative commitments look good on paper but interpretation thereof remains an untrustworthy actor.

At the end of so many days, the negotiators are rightfully exhausted. It is their own doing, be it by calculation, or illusions of Nobel grandeur. The agreement looks and sounds better than many had feared but, in the end, the tired enemies remain the same as at the start, despite the smiles: incompatible for now. Muslims follow often a disputable norm "taqiyya "which gives them a free pass to deceive infidels,if the situation warrants it, without penalities for dishonesty.Cela promet !

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