The Iranian deal

The Iranian deal looks astoundingly good. Will any GOP officeholder have the guts and patriotism to say so?

Congratulations to Secretary of State John Kerry and his boss.

This seems like a remarkably good deal.


According to the agreement, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle links between networks of centrifuges.

All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.

No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating could not be started up.

I’m curious about whether there’s a single Republican officeholder with the guts, smarts, and patriotism to say out loud that this is good for the country.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

66 thoughts on “The Iranian deal”

  1. I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe that Republican has had the guts to praise the President on his policy in Libya, overthrowing Khadafi without any loss of U.S. lives, or the removal of poison gas from Syria. Why should they start now?

    1. 4 Americans were lost because of our immoral intervention in Lybia. And more will be lost in the future because we broke our deal with Gaddafi to get the Lockerbie bombers.

      1. Yeah, I’m kind of curious why we’re supposed to praise a President for launching a war without any authorization from Congress, in fact, after being denied it. But I guess President Scott Walker will appreciate being lauded by Democrats in 2018, when he invades somebody over the objections of a Democratic Congress.

        1. Yeah, Bush Sr. refused to invade Panama without authorization, so that’s why we never invaded Panama. Same thing with Saint Ronald refusing to invade Grenada, Nixon’s refusal to bomb Cambodia, Eisenhower and the Dominican Republic.

          Or alternatively you can look at what Obama did as entirely within the continuum of presidential action going back to the shores of Tripoli. Whether it’s good or even legal is an open question, but precedent is very clear.

      2. The revelation that the majority of USians have no idea how dangerous working in the State Department Diplomatic Corps actually is – in any year under any President – was no surprise to State Department employees and their families, but disturbing nonetheless.


  2. No Republican will praise it, no Republican will vote to ratify it, no Republican will call it anything but a distraction from their talking point of the day. If Darrel Issa doesn’t hold kangaroo hearings it will be a small miracle.

    It’s a good thing is that the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany are all signatories. Otherwise the Sabotage Caucus’s permanent refusal to vote for any treaties would actually matter. It’s been a tough week for Republican Senators. May they have many more like this.

  3. It’s a bit disingenuous to make this into merely a partisan issue when members of the president’s own party have been hawkishly skeptical of the State Department and of his negotiations with Iran.

    For example, in New Jersey, Senator Menendez has staked out a sort of Joe Liebermanesque stance concerning the Iran talks.

    1. I think that there is a distinction between lip service to the alter kockers and genuine opposition to the Administration on Iran. Most Democrats who face election are willing to emit protestations of undying love for Bibi Netanyahu at the slightest provocation. Their conduct often belies their protestations. Or often enough, they do things like enact legislation that grants a novel right to sue various terrorists for acts outside the US, but provides absolutely no enforcement for collecting.

      Menendez, although a genuine hawk on Cuba, is probably just trying to toke his contributors on Middle-Eastern matters.

      (For you goyim on this site, “alter kocker” is a Yiddish term that literally translates to “ancient defecator”, and is closer in meaning to “old [emitter of flatulence].” It is commonly used as a term of derision by the more dovish American Jews to refer to their compatriots on the more hawkish side, who on average are wealthier and older.)

      1. I was thinking of doing an elegiac blog post on the death of Yiddish, but it turns out it’s alive and kocking.

    2. “members of the president’s own party have been hawkishly skeptical”

      In the most unsurprising coincidence ever, the Dems being quoted are Menendez of New Jersey and Schumer of New York. It’s almost as if Democrats in the NYC area are reflexively pro-Likud, as opposed to reflexively anti-Obama.

  4. I’m curious how anyone imagines converting enriched Uranium to enriched Uranium oxide means much of anything. It could be reduced back to the metallic state by science fair level of chemistry, after all.

    That aside, it’s all in the monitoring, because everything that’s been promised could be almost trivially circumvented unless the monitoring is really, really good. Just take some of your 3.5% Uranium, and substitute it for natural uranium during some of the runs.

    Maybe implausibly good, but certainly better monitoring than that link you provided suggests will be in place.

    1. There’s official monitoring, and spooks. There’s no reason to think the US and Israel will hold back the latter. Uranium enrichment to bomb purity, and the manufacture of the bombs, are large-scale industrial enterprises than can hardly be concealed from even cursory scrutiny.

      As time passes, the project of civilian nuclear power will look less and less attractive to Iranian élites and voters. For some, it may just be a pretext for a weapons programme, but even for them it’s a vital pretext both domestically and internationally. Others probably take it seriously. But what’s the point in paying Britain’s Hinkley C prices when they have huge solar, wind, and probably geothermal resources?

      1. Problem is, even detecting hints of rule-breaking won’t do much, since the US/EU politicians will have so much incentive to ignore it and downplay it (remember the 2003 report that claimed Iran had abandoned it’s nukes program). This deal is bad because it establishes Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium. Even it slows things down, it is not likely to prevent Iran from getting bombs. And that’s why the “civilian nuclear power” issue is irrelevant. This was never about nuclear energy – it is and always about Iran’s ability to intimidate or destroy its neighbors.

        So I don’t see how this could be a good deal, but if Israel and Saudi Arabia (who have the most to lose) buy it, I’m willing to admit that I am wrong.

        1. = = = This deal is bad because it establishes Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium. = = =

          As a signatory to various IAEA agreements Iran _already_ has the right (not “right”) to enrich uranium, as does every sovereign nation.

          Now, there is one Middle Eastern nation that has refused all IAEA agreements and also refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Agreement treaty…


          1. And you see no difference between a nation which has repeatedly declared its intent to use nuclear weapons aggressively, even naming a nation which it intends to bomb, on the one hand, and a nation which has repeatedly been attacked by its neighbors and sought weapons for self-defense? What an interesting perspective.

          2. And you see no difference between a nation which has repeatedly declared its intent to use nuclear weapons aggressively, even naming a nation which it intends to bomb, on the one hand, and a nation which has repeatedly been attacked by its neighbors and sought weapons for self-defense?

            The Iranian nation has done no such thing. A previous Iranian president did say some very aggressive things though not, so far as I remember, actually threatening to use nuclear weapons on anyone. The current Iranian government categorically has not. So the premise of your comment is false.

            There are very real reasons to think that Iran gaining nuclear weapons would be a bad thing. That said, Israeli possession of nuclear weapons shreds our credibility on the issue.

        2. “.. the “civilian nuclear power” issue is irrelevant.” Iran’s leaders have always denied that the aim is a bomb. So the Iranian public support the programme on the basis of the claimed civilian use. The public is not sovereign in this constitutional theocracy, but it does have real influence through eh ballot box. Rouhani is not the same as Ahmadinejad.

          BTW, a bomb you claim not to have, and not to be developing, is no use for threatening anybody. They would have to produce an actual working device suddenly to get any leverage.

          1. BTW, a bomb you claim not to have, and not to be developing, is no use for threatening anybody.

            Didn’t Stanley Kubrick make a movie in which something like this played a key role?

            Dr. Strangelove: Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you *keep* it a *secret*! Why didn’t you tell the world, EH?

            Ambassador de Sadesky: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.


          2. Potentially plenty of use in skipping the whole “threatening” step, and just going ahead and attacking them. In fact, if you meant to attack somebody through cutouts, and pretend to be innocent, claiming to not have or be developing a nuclear bomb would be a smart move.

          3. I don’t think the Israelis are shrinking violets now, much less so if Tel Aviv gets nuked. Tehran will get nuked next, and then they’ll sort things out.

          4. Brett: “Potentially plenty of use in skipping the whole “threatening” step, and just going ahead and attacking them.” Do the ayatollahs look like suicidal nutjobs to you? Their eagle trap in Iraq worked beautifully.

          5. I don’t want to sound like a testosterone-crazed hawk, but I have to disagree with James’ assertion: “a bomb you claim not to have, and not to be developing, is no use for threatening anybody.”

            For an example, see Japan. It has no apparent intentions of making a bomb, but nobody doubts that it could have a working fission device within months–maybe weeks. A fusion device could follow quickly enough. China is extremely aware of this. The same is technologically true for Germany (and probably Brazil), but they live in quieter neighborhoods.

            Iran isn’t Afghanistan. It is a well-educated country, with its share of good physicists. It doesn’t need a bomb to have a credible threat of one. An Iran that is perpetually four months away from a bomb will be an Iran that the Israelis are less willing to antagonize. And I think that is what the Iranian government wants, if it can get it. The number of months that Iran is removed from a bomb is an important variable. This is what the negotiations are about. The US and EU would rather that Iran be more than a year away. The Israelis and Saudis would rather keep the regional monopoly of nuclear potential in Israeli hands.

            The question, then, is political. Would a near-nuclear Iran be a responsible neighbor? If “no”, the Israelis and Saudis are right. If “yes”, the question is “how near?” Brett and FuzzyFace probably think that the answer is “no.” I think that the answer is probably “yes”, but would prefer the longest latency I could get.

          6. I’m inclined to think the answer is actually, “we won’t know for many years”. I just think it’s silly to pretend that you’ve transformed 4 months into a year, when all you’ve done is transformed it into 4.5 months.

          7. Ebenezer: Japan’s nuclear potential is useful defensively – its a constraint on Chinese policy that it would be unwise to provoke Japan to the extent of risking a crash nuclear programme. But it’s no use as a threat by Japan against China, as it would risk a preemptive first strike. That’s why Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel were just bluster.

      2. = = = As time passes, the project of civilian nuclear power will look less and less attractive to Iranian élites and voters. = = =

        In the case of Iran I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Over the next 50 years Iran’s oil reserves will grow exponentially more valuable as the world’s oil supply depletes. By using electricity rather than oil for their energy needs Iran banks an incredibly, and increasingly, valuable resource for the future. Solar is a possibility but has problems as well (including severe dust storms), so Iran’s policymakers may well see a continuing role for nuclear power.


        1. “Over the next 50 years Iran’s oil reserves will grow exponentially more valuable as the world’s oil supply depletes.” They may think that. But there’s also a real possibility of a boom-and-bust. With oil at $200 a barrel, the transition to electric vehicles will be fast and complete. There will remain a few uses like petrochemicals for which fossil oil or gas will be technically necessary, but will they support a high price?

    2. @brett bellmore–

      you may be a fine engineer but you are not a chemist. the least toxic method for the reduction of uranium oxide to metal requires facilities for heating the oxide for at least 4 hours at 950-1050 degrees celsius in an inert atmosphere. following the return to room temperature the material is dissolved in a solution of either ammonium nitrate or nitric acid and a reducing agent is added until the ph of the solution reaches 9.5 at which point the unranium metal can be separated by filtration. the most common process for the reduction of uranium oxide to metal involves converting the oxide to the fluoride of uranium and then reducing it to metal a process which creates dangerous waste products. this is not science fair chemistry. this is an advanced and dangerous chemical process which our national laboratories perform with difficulty.

      1. Nav, while we might have differing opinions about the science fair potential of reducing Uranium Oxide, (I’d try electrowinning, personally.) surely you can’t be suggesting that anybody running an enrichment facility is going to find reducing the oxide horribly challenging. It’s a standard step in Uranium refining!

        Suggesting that you’re rendering the enriched metal unusable for bombs by oxidizing it is just silly, when you’re talking about people who are doing that sort of chemistry all the time. Which was my point. Who do they think they’re kidding, treating oxidizing it as a real security measure?

        1. reducing uranium oxide to uranium metal or to uranium hexafluoride, which is a suitable material for gaseous diffusion enrichment, is a difficult and dangerous industrial process which would be observable to satellite reconnaissance or an enhanced inspection regime. it requires facilities, infrastructure, materials, and personnel which would be observable. whatever misconceptions you may have about the process, any process that requires working with fluorine gas at high pressure or running a kiln in an inert atmosphere (the primary methods used by enrichment facilities her in the u.s.) is not an amateur process. you will, no doubt, dispute this because you’ve gotten it embedded in your head that the neither the iranians nor the obama administration can be trusted with anything so there must be some kind of chicanery involved in this. you’ve also demonstrated on innumerable comment threads that you are completely incapable of admitting any kind of error or misapprehension. i’m making this comment solely to make sure anyone else reading this exchange who might accidentally think you’ve hit on a truly egregious flaw in the agreement will know that you haven’t and not to try to persuade you that you are mistaken, a task i know is futile. if you were to accidentally type that 2 + 2 = 5 you would find a way to argue that you meant exactly that, probably on 2nd amendment grounds, and would endure the severest abuse in order to prevent being made to admit error and, in the end, drop from the discussion as if it had never happened.

          1. Nav, the agreement permits them to run an enrichment facility. Are you somehow under the impression that this does not imply that they will be doing chemistry with Uranium and Florine? If they’re not going to be converting Uranium oxide to the hexafloride, where are they getting the hexafloride to run through their centrifuges? From a Uranium hexafloride mine? If they’re not going to be converting the hexafloride to metallic, have they invented reactors which use Uranium hexafloride fuel?

            So, what’s your satellite going to detect? That they’re doing things the agreement permits them to do?

            No, I don’t think converting their higher enriched Uranium to oxide means much. Now, were it being exchanged for an equivalent energy potential worth of lower enriched Uranium, that might mean something, because enrichment is a real pain compared to reducing the oxide.

            Nor do I think that replumbing their centrifuges so that they get lower enriched Uranium out the end means much, either, since the could just resort to multiple passes through the same centrifuges to achieve the same result, and how are the cameras going to tell that the hexafloride going through today came out a week ago, instead of coming direct from your hypothetical Uranium hexafloride mine?

            Please don’t pretend the safeguards in this agreement are more ironclad, harder to circumvent, than they really are. If Iraq really wants to circumvent them, they won’t find it terribly difficult.

          2. mr. bellmore, you demonstrate again that you don’t know much about uranium chemistry or various methods of enrichment. uranium hexafluoride is a gas which allows for the enrichment of uranium in a gas diffusion plant like the one in paducah, kentucky or the one that once took up 750 acres at the oak ridge facility. i assure you that i am not claiming expertise but i have read and remembered enough about uranium chemistry and the history of uranium enrichment to know about that. and to answer your silly rhetorical jibe about hexafluoride mines i point back to my previous post wherin i referred to working with fluorine gas at high pressure. that, in part, is how uranium oxide is is changed to uranium hexafluoride which can then be enriched. it would be easier to take your arguments here more seriously if you evinced even a shallow knowledge of the chemistry and processes involved. instead you have taken the position that “what i don’t understand must be easy” and just kept on talking.

            i would also like to take this moment to point out that i have at no point in our discussion assumed or asserted that it would be impossible for the iranians to convert the oxide back into a usable form, a truly determined government can accomplish remarkable things if they set out wholeheartedly to do so. what i am saying is that if they convert their stockpiles of enriched uranium into an oxidized form which will then be stored in an inspectable location then, in addition to the time, personnel, and facilities required to conduct the conversion, it would also require the surreptitious transport of the oxides to the facility required for the conversion. all of this will create a significant buffer of time between the decision to cheat on the agreement and recovering usable quantities of usable uranium. you really must stop pretending that this is like the electrolysis of water which could be done with materials found in an average household. rarely, if ever, have you swaggered your ignorance as thouroughly as you are doing here. there are many good histories of the development of nuclear weapons from wwii to the present as well as personal memoirs and exposes of our current enrichment and weapons production facilities. additionally, there are a few good inorganic textbooks as well as layperson-readable surveys of both fluorine chemistry and uranium chemistry primarily from a historical perspective. if you’re interested in being informed about the actual chemistry and processes involved in this, dip into the literature i’ve just described. i’m sure the arguments about iran’s nuclear program will still be ongoing no matter how many months or years it requires.

          3. Brett, Iran has large uranium deposits it can mine scattered in several places around the country. They can always mine it and start separating it. Your objection seems to be that you oppose any deal that leaves the Iranians with any capacity to surreptitiously build enrichment facilities and enrich uranium. Given the facts on the ground, this means that you would oppose all possible deals with the Iranians.

            Is this the case? And if so, what is your end game?

          4. Nav, determined people can accomplish remarkable things, but reducing Uranium oxide does not qualify as “remarkable” in the context of an enrichment facility. It constitutes “everyday activities”. You’re going on and on about how hard it would be for them to do the things they’re already doing!

            They’ve set up to refine Uranium. This involves doing the things you complain are ultra-difficult. So, how does the difficulty of what they’re already doing suggest they won’t do it?

            J, I am simply objecting to characterizing the “safeguards” as effective. I don’t believe scattering cameras around an enrichment facility is an effective way to prevent it from being used to enrich Uranium to higher levels than the owners of the cameras want. I think it ineffective because the activities you’re trying to prevent look just like the activities you’re permitting.

            Uranium enrichment is an expensive proposition. If all Iraq wants is a civilian nuclear program, offer them cut rate enrichment services if they’ll give up their own facilities. Offer them cut rate heavy water, so they can use CANDU reactors which don’t require enrichment.

            But don’t pretend you can let them run an enrichment plant, and just “phone in” preventing them from highly enriching some of their output. That needs feet on the ground, not cameras.

            Why don’t they want feet on the ground? I’m guessing it’s because they plan on making some highly enriched Uranium for bombs.

          5. i understand you don’t grasp the concept of shame or embarrassment as most people do but, really? you’ve spent the past day going to great lengths to flaunt your mind-bogglingly complete ignorance of the chemistry of uranium and the process of enrichment and for what? as far as i can descern you could have started this thread with the statement that “this agreement will in no way prevent iran from continuing to enrich uranium” and just left it at that. you didn’t have to make the preposterous assertion that changing uranium oxides into a usuable form is “. . .science fair level chemistry, after all.” nor did you have to continue by suggesting electrowinning a process which, while quite useful for some metals, has only recently been made useful in a small scale system but is presently too energy intensive to be scaled up to any kind of industrial process. you continued by acting as if the notion of working with uranium hexafluoride was comical despite its proven utility in uranium enrichment. finally, after committing this series of unforced errors you ended up with an elaboration on “they can’t be trusted” as your primary objection. you would have beem better off if you had started with that and stuck to it rather than to have embarked on an attempt to convince the readers here with a science you clearly know nothing about. as i indiated above i have rarely, if ever, seen total ignorance displayed so enthusiastically as i have seen in your performance in this thread.

            bless you and yours, mr. bellmore, and have a happy thanksgiving.

          6. I understand the concept of shame, it just doesn’t shame me to disagree with you.

            Now, seriously, why are you going on and on about how tough it is to do these things they’re already doing? And insisting that we’ll be able to detect them doing things we’ve agreed to let them do?

            But, yeah, have a good Thanksgiving. I’ve got a turkey to start brining today.

          7. it isn’t your disagreement with me that concerns me here, it’s your disagreements with the science of chemistry, the pride you seem to take in your own ignorance, and your inability to even consider that you might be wrong about something.

          8. additionally i find it completely typical of you to elide your ignorance of the facts and phrase your response as a matter of disagreeing with me. it’s not me you have been disagreeing with, it is the science of chemistry in general and uranium chemistry in particular that you have been disagreeing with. i’ll give you this mr. bellmore, you are nothing if not consistent in your approach to all aspects of reality.

            btw, deep-fried or roasted?

          9. Oh, roasted. That way you get lots of yummy gravey, and can stuff it. With wild rice stuffing.

            Tried this recipe several times with chicken, and the result was phenomenally good, so we’re going to use it to brine the turkey.

            Also roasted brussel sprouts, and Jamacan coconut cornbread. Finally, a Blackberry Merlot to wash it down.

            My wife is making some kind of eggnog cheesecake, recipe out of Taste of Home.

            Look, I do understand the chemistry of Uranium and florine a bit. Aside from it’s tendency to draw SWAT teams, I don’t think it’s any more difficult to work with than any other highly reactive, toxic metal. Which is to say, it would make weenie school administrators drop a load, but there ARE teens who could pull it off.

            I don’t see the relevance. Yes, nasty stuff. Iraq is already doing that sort of thing, we’re going to permit them to continue doing that sort of thing. So the real question is, can we tell from cameras that they’re doing it so as to produce low enriched Uranium, rather than high? I think not.

            And whether you could do it with my son’s chemistry set, or would have to break out my (Now sadly atrophied) college level chemistry skills, doesn’t really enter into that question, does it?

            Can they swap some inventory numbers, and take the Uranium that went through the centrifuges last week, and put it back through this week, without getting caught? This is not a question about chemistry.

      2. i’d never have started this exchange if you hadn’t said “It could be reduced back to the metallic state by science fair level of chemistry, after all.” which isn’t close to accurate. and if you had at any point along the way been willing to admit that i would not have continued the exchange. but instead you continued to pile on absurdities like “(I’d try electrowinning, personally.)” and even now you persist with “And whether you could do it with my son’s chemistry set, or would have to break out my (Now sadly atrophied) college level chemistry skills, doesn’t really enter into that question, does it?” on the other hand i think i might see the outlines of your sense of humor in that last one. perhaps even in all of them past the first. i think in the first one you were simply being hyperbolic and when i called you on it you saw an easy way to keep this thread going. as i said previously, your main idea seems to be that this agreement can’t possibly prevent cheating which is an argument i wouldn’t bother pursuing with you.

        that brining process sounds interesting and i may try that chicken recipe in the near future. with turkey i have had both deep-fried and roasted that were very good and since i’m not that excited by gravy that part doesn’t factor into my enjoyment of it. i will say that oven roasting is my favorite way of preparing brussel sprouts and i can recommend roasting some carrots and parsnips with them if you like those vegetables for a nice set of flavor contrasts.

        1. I think my position is more, “this agreement can’t stop cheating if they’re at all determined to cheat”. If they really don’t want nuclear bombs, it will work. But, of course, if they don’t really want nuclear bombs, it was also unnecessary.

          Parsnips are my favorite root vegetable, save perhaps rutabaga. Aw, who am I kidding? I like them all. Never met a vegetable I didn’t like.

  5. I loathe him and think hes a liar, an anti-semite, a plagiarizer, and an idiot, but Rand Paul probably would.

  6. JFK (remember him?) was perceived by some as weak when Khrushchev announced that the Soviet missiles would be withdrawn from Cuba. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George Anderson told Kennedy that “we have been had.” Air Force Chief General Curtis LeMay said “It’s the greatest defeat in our history. We should invade today.”

    Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is calling this deal “an historic mistake.” Expect some of the same from the GOP.

  7. I expect not. Once you’ve convinced yourself that the president is extremely smart (true) and consciously working against America’s interests (profoundly silly), it’s trivial to reach the conclusion that any deal he strikes is certain to be a bad one.

    1. You credit them with far too much coherence. They believe that he’s brilliant enough to hypnotize all our elementary school students with an anodyne back-to-school welcome, but is so dumb he has to read it off a Teleprompter. He is so liberal that he’s turning America communist, while simultaneously imposing Sharia. At this point they are just hysterical, shrieking out any nonsense that is anti-Obama even when it contradicts what they said 15 seconds ago.

      1. Well, what *I* believe is that he’s really good at politics, but that being good at politics doesn’t translate into being good at anything else.

  8. From TPM: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Sunday he is “disappointed” with the nuclear deal reached Saturday between the U.S. and Iran.

    This is the bad Schumer, whom I do not care for.

  9. It’s doubtful that the House Republicans would have anything good to say about it, because they’re the ones who gave a standing ovation to Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who said that the blowing up of the World Trade Center was good for Israel.

      1. If so, then it belies the alleged commonality of interests between the two lands, to say nothing of the commonality of values.

        1. Say someone breaks into my house, and the local police do nothing about it. Then someone breaks in the police chief’s home and he realizes, yes, burglary is a serous problem and I am going to put more cops on the street. The break in to his house was good for me, even if I think break in’s are bad and horrible. Is this really that hard to understand?

          1. you and rachelrachel are both oversimplifying things. the extent of the oversimplification became obvious to me when i started to come up with an analogy that really reflect the situation but echoed yours and i got thirty lines in and realized i wasn’t up to the point of introducing the equivalent of the 9/11 attacks. the 9/11 attacks may have forced the u.s. into providing boots on the ground and the spending of a huge amount of money in a way that helped israeli foreign policy objectives but our interests and israel’s interests are not as aligned as even you hypothetical homeowner and the recently burgled police chief. where i differ from rachelrachel is in thinking that netanyahu’s 9/11 statement was the point that belied the notion of a commonality of interests. our interests started diverging sharply not long after the assassination of rabin.

          2. or it is possible that you were both oversimplifying for the sake of this discussion and you both hold views more nuanced than appears here. i believe the situation is vastly more ambiguous and murky than either of you are indicating here.

          3. Your analogy assumes that the chief of police was a stranger. But if the chief of police was my friend, and afterwards he had me over for dinner, and I said, “Hey Chief, I’m really glad that you got your house burglarized,” he’d probably think I wasn’t much of a friend. And he’d be right, because that’s not the way friends treat each other.

            All of our real friends — the western democracies — expressed shock and horror and sympathy with us at the time of the attacks. Bibi Netanyahu, however, was cheering Bin Laden on while the attacks were happening, and the House Republicans cheered Bibi on when he came to visit.

            Why can’t we stop pretending that Israel is a friend of the United States?

      2. It was good for Israel only if you think that Israel’s real interests and Likud’s perception of them coincide.

  10. I’d bet on the Pauls (Ron and Rand) to be in favor of the deal.

    Me–I think the Saudis and Israelis are in a better position to judge than I.

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