Monday, March 2, 2015

The strange relationship between the US and Iran

As the Democrats and Republicans fumble around trying to figure out their 201 talking points, Mr. Obama continues to avoid labeling Daesh (ISIS) as a radical Islamic group.  Some are quick to call this proof that Mr. Obama is really a Muslim.  The problem with the snarky little sound byte is it fails to really examine things beyond the superficial.  Perhaps Mr. Obama is merely trying to pursue a diplomatic approach publicly (while increasing troop presence in Iraq).  Or perhaps he still believes he can create a some kind of partnership that will fight the major battles (such as Jordan and Egypt) but by labeling Daesh a radical Islamic group other partners may be deterred.

What is far more intriguing to me is the deceptively low-level reversal of policies towards Iran.  Under Hillary Clinton's reign as Secretary of State, is was tantamount to war should Iran even think about having nuclear weapons.  Obama and Clinton actually likely saw the Arab Spring as a way for Assad to fall while creating instability for Iran.  Of that didn't happen and we now have a stronger than ever Daesh.  But Iran was still not supposed to develop nuclear weapons, even when Kerry took over the reigns at the State Department.

But in recent weeks, talk has been of "bottom lines" to deal with Iran to try to region in their nuclear program.  In 2007, Clinton said that no option can be taken off the table, including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threat and use of military force, when dealing with Iran.

The White House would argue that the policy of 2015 is merely a refinement of Hillary's earlier policy.  But then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speech tomorrow has exposed the growing chasm between Washington and DC, especially to our mutual interest of Iran.  Obama overtly disdains Netanyahu's preference for dealing with Daesh and Iran.  However, recent articles show that Obama's disdain for Israel goes well beyond anything previous administrations would have done.  It now has come to light that Mr. Obama authorized the shoot-down of any Israeli jets sent to attack Iran's nuclear facilities (Israeli News).  Jimmy Carter had to face an Iran that stormed our embassy in Tehran and since then, Iran has had an adversarial relationship culminating with George W. Bush naming it as part of the Axis of Evil.  Somehow, Obama has decided that Israel, which has a hell of lot more at stake should Iran become a nuclear power, should have its fighters shot down should Israel dare attack?

If that sounds far-fetched for a US President, then an article in the Huffington Post will really challenge your view of US-Iranian relations.  The $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 has a rider gives a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining firm Rio Tinto 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in exchange for several other parcels so it can mine a massive copper deposit.
Rio Tinto, which removed Iran’s two members of the mine board in 2012, has argued that Iran gets no benefit from the property, that there is no active partnership, and that it has discussed the issue with the U.S. State Department to ensure that no sanctions against Iran are violated.  The rider was pushed through by everyone's favorite hawk and former POW, John McCain.

"The official also declined to say if, as might be expected, Iran would be able to benefit from the mine if Secretary of State John Kerry is successful in negotiations to limit the regime’s nuclear aspirations, and sanctions are lifted. “We are not going to speculate on any hypotheticals,” the official said. A Rio Tinto official also declined to speculate, but noted that under the current sanctions and Namibian law, it's impossible to buy out Iran's share or sever the tie." (Huffington Post)

Those 2,400 acres are sacred to Native Americans, especially the Apache.  The mining will destroy holy ground and grave sites but these doesn't seem to matter to McCain or Obama.

Obama is too willing to avoid offending Daesh will more then willing to offend Israel and give up sacred lands to Iran.

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