The future of our time: Rewriting ‘Westphalianism’

Interesting times: the new definition.

Past master. (Image via Outside the Beltway)
Past master. (Image via Outside the Beltway)

Reading Henry Kissinger’s typically well-considered and intelligent article for the Wall Street Journal this weekend (“A Path out of the Middle East Collapse”), I had a growing sense that it isn’t so much a prescription for the future as a description of the past.

The sense began with the first paragraph, in which Kissinger defines the scope of what’s collapsing, and dates it only to 1973, when the U.S. moved to stabilize the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War.

But far more than recent U.S. policy on the Middle East is collapsing today.  What we’re seeing is more like the collapse of “Rome” itself:  the organization of Western power as a Europe-centric territorial phenomenon, setting unbreachable boundaries north, south, and west of a restless and perennially “unorganizable” Middle East. Continue reading “The future of our time: Rewriting ‘Westphalianism’”

Time to ‘John Paul Jones’ the non-deal ‘Iran deal’

Nail the colors to the mast.

Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis at the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779. Painting by Anton Otto Fischer (1882-1962). (Via crashmacduff.wordpress.com)
Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis at the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779. Painting by Anton Otto Fischer (1882-1962). (Via crashmacduff.wordpress.com)

“I have not yet begun to fight!”

John Paul Jones, commanding the Continental Navy, Battle of Flamborough Head

23 September, 1779

If we went by the triumphal proclamations of the mainstream media, we would think opponents of the unsigned Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – described inaccurately as a “deal” with Iran – were out of options at this point.

Operating on the process set in motion by the Corker-Cardin bill, the House has voted against approving the JCPOA.  But the JCPOA’s opponents in the Senate have failed twice to move the JCPOA to a vote.  A 42-vote minority has prevented a Senate vote, and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unwilling to use the “nuclear option” of overriding the effective filibuster by the minority, and forcing a vote on the JCPOA.

If we accept that Obama met his requirements under Corker-Cardin, when he submitted the JCPOA to Congress for review, then the deadline for Congress to act was 17 September.  Since the Senate couldn’t vote by then, the theory is that all objections to the JCPOA are now dead. Continue reading “Time to ‘John Paul Jones’ the non-deal ‘Iran deal’”

Legal bombshell? Obamacare case may enable Congress to sue Obama over Iran ‘deal’

For such a time as this.

House GOP leaders Kevin McCarthy (Majority Leader), Steve Scalise (Majority Whip), and Speaker John Boehner. (Image via Politico)
House GOP leaders Kevin McCarthy (Majority Leader), Steve Scalise (Majority Whip), and Speaker John Boehner. (Image via Politico)

On Thursday, Senate Democrats blocked cloture on debate over the resolution to disapprove the non-deal Iran “deal,” or JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

The Senate is effectively hamstrung.  As of now, no Senate vote is foreseeable on the disapproval resolution.  The mainstream media are visibly crowing over this as a big win for Obama.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to push for a vote again next week.  But there’s no reason at this point to think the outcome will be any different.  Obama has the votes to prevent cloture in the Senate; he needs 41 and has 42.  The vote on the disapproval resolution itself doesn’t look like it will be happening. Continue reading “Legal bombshell? Obamacare case may enable Congress to sue Obama over Iran ‘deal’”

Verify-ish: What if Obama’s standard for Iran were applied to other policy issues?

Peace in our time.

In homies we trust. (Image: IRNA via Gatestone Institute)
In homies we trust. (Image: IRNA via Gatestone Institute)

Sometimes a comparison is the best way to illustrate a point.

Suppose, after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri a year ago, the Obama administration had decided – as it in fact did – that the Ferguson police and courts needed to be investigated for their history of law enforcement practices.

But instead of the Obama Justice Department conducting an investigation itself, the federal government called in a third party to negotiate an agreement with the city of Ferguson as to how it would be investigated.

Applying the “Iran verification” standard to the issues of policing in American cities, the U.S. Justice Department would have relied on an “independent” third party – one without any legal authority, and only there at the sufferance of Ferguson – to come up with a plan of its own to investigate the city’s police department. Continue reading “Verify-ish: What if Obama’s standard for Iran were applied to other policy issues?”

Iranian officials: Obama offered big concessions in secret talks with Iran in 2011-12

Peace in our time.

Obama MunichThere has been a persistent thread of reporting in Western media about secret contacts between the Obama administration and the Iranian regime, going back for years before the formal P5+1 negotiations that opened in 2013.

But there hasn’t been much explicit information on the content discussed in the secret meetings.  If the statements made in passages translated by MEMRI are valid – excerpts from speeches and Iranian media interviews with top officials – the reason for that is obvious.  According to the Iranians quoted, the Obama administration planned from the outset to give away the major bargaining points.

MEMRI says a full translation has yet to be completed, so we must wait on that for a more extended discussion.  But here are some highlights Continue reading “Iranian officials: Obama offered big concessions in secret talks with Iran in 2011-12”