The easiest campaign promise??

Both War Party candidates (Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama) have stumbled all over themselves — and each other — to promise the government of Israel  they won’t let Iran produce a nuclear bomb.

Unless they begin to believe their own propaganda as Kennedy did (which inadvertently fired-up the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union), it’s the one campaign promise they’ll both be able to easily keep at almost no cost.

Here’s why:

U.S. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta: “Are they [Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” –Panetta Admits Iran is Not Trying to Develop a Nuclear Weapon, CBS’s “Face The Nation” Jan. 8, 2012

The Buried Lead on Iran: All Nuclear Sites Routinely Inspected, No Violations Antiwar.com

'What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?' Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Iran to Allow Nuclear Inspectors Into Secret Military Complex
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Iran has announced it will allow international nuclear inspectors to visit its secret Parchin military complex. Iran has long said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, but some international analysts have speculated Iran may be using the Parchin complex to do research relevant to nuclear weapons. It is not clear when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit the site. –Democracy NOW! HEADLINES, March 06, 2012

SEYMOUR HERSH: …let me say again, there is no evidence that our intelligence community or even the Israeli intelligence community has — and I know that firsthand — suggesting that there’s an ongoing bomb program. So we are now — the United States is now in the position of increasing sanctions and pressuring all sorts of economic pressure on the Iranians to stop — the whole purpose of the economic sanctions is to stop the Iranians from making a bomb that we know they’re not making. –Training Terrorists in Nevada: Seymour Hersh on U.S. Aid to Iranian Group Tied to Scientist Killings

So everyone, including U.S. and Israeli intelligence, knows that the Iranian government isn’t trying to make a bomb. Unless a seriously careless Iranian scientist slips on a banana peel and pushes the wrong 10,000 buttons in exactly the right sequence, there’s little chance Iran — which, unlike Israel with its estimated 100 secret nukes, has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty  — will build even one bomb.

How hard can it be to stop someone from doing something they’re not doing? So, is the War Party candidates’ mutual promise to the government of Israel to prevent Iran from producing  a nuclear bomb the easiest campaign promise?

Or, as with Kennedy and the nuclear arms race, Iraq, and now Iran, is THIS the main danger – – –

Little girl's sign: They lied about Iraq

For further information: Common Sense: IRAN: A Medley Against the MIC (MilitaryIndustrialComplex)

Prospect of Putin Presidency Gives Pundit the Vapors

I read a lot of opinion pieces so that you don’t have to. Some are good enough to make our Viewpoints section. Some are… special:

[P]olitical events in Russia will become more important in the coming years, and Americans should prepare for the leverage Russia will begin to exercise.

Photo-illustration; Painting of Peter the Great: Getty; Putin: Sergei Guneyev / RIA-Novosti for TIME
Photo-illustration; Painting of Peter the Great: Getty; Putin: Sergei Guneyev / RIA-Novosti for TIME
Putin as Peter the Great (click image for irritating commentary)

OK, I have fresh batteries in the flashlight, a week’s supply of nonperishables in the pantry, and jumper cables in the car. What other preparations should I make?

In foreign affairs Russia will continue to block interventions into countries like Syria with their permanent veto in the UN Security Council. Whatever one’s opinions might be on humanitarian intervention it is clear what an absurdity it is for a country like Russia, whose actions in Chechnya are not far removed from Assad’s in Syria, to be able to influence international humanitarian work.

Actually, your opinions on humanitarian intervention may determine whether you find Russia’s obstructionism offensive at all. If you consider humanitarian intervention a blood sport played by cynical opportunists, then you won’t be outraged when one cynical opportunist takes his ball and goes home. Furthermore, many on the receiving end of Western interventions would have difficulty distinguishing “international humanitarian work” from what Putin and his predecessors have done in Chechnya and what Assad is doing in Syria.

Russia will continue to wield its influence over Eastern Europe, a part of the world where liberal values are struggling.

Photo by Matt Barganier, Cluj, Romania
Photo by Matt Barganier, Cluj, Romania
The only Vlad for me

Now we’ve entered the heart of Op-Edistan, where “liberal values” are always “struggling.” Would it help if we built more torture chambers in Eastern Europe?

It should worry Americans that Russia, straddling both Europe and Asia, will be able to dictate the pace of the twenty first century more and more.

Even if dictating the pace of a century were a real possibility instead of pundit claptrap, Putin could no more do it than Peter the Great or Josef Stalin could. This sort of threat inflation makes me appreciate the relative sobriety of China panic. The Russians are not even conceivably coming.

It looks like Russia’s influence will continue to be exerted under corrupt and illegitimate governments with a demonstrable disregard for civil liberties and expansionist mindset. Whoever is the President this time next year (probably Obama) should make more of an effort to establish good economic and diplomatic relations with countries still under Russia’s shadow, especially countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, in order to limit the amount of damage an presidency like Putin’s can inflict.

And to which head of state can we turn to limit the amount of damage a presidency like Obama’s (or Romney’s, or Santorum’s) can inflict? Who will save Americans and others from the demonstrable disregard for civil liberties and the expansionist mindset of the Kremlin on the Potomac? Is there an extraterrestrial force for good to which we can appeal?

Upsetting the Reset

Last week, the Federation of American Scientists released “Upsetting the Reset: The Technical Basis of Russian Concern Over NATO Missile Defense” [.pdf]. The introduction includes a recurring theme of the Bush-Obama years:

In September 2009, the Obama administration discarded its predecessor’s European missile defense initiative that called for powerful ground-based interceptors (GBIs) in Poland with a large radar site in the Czech Republic. … Some Russian critics characterized them as threatening because they could potentially be re-engineered to be offensive nuclear-tipped missiles.

Remember when Putin seized the North Pole? This bear won't forget.
Remember when Putin seized the North Pole? This bear won't forget.

The Obama administration instead proposed the new European Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), presented as a more flexible alternative based on the roughly ten times smaller SM-3 interceptors. …

The shelving of the original plan was initially greeted with much optimism as it was seen as the first step in “resetting” bilateral relations with Russia, which had suffered under the George W. Bush administration. It allowed the discussions of New START to get off the ground and cleared the way for greater cooperation on areas of common concern, such as addressing the possible military dimension of the Iranian nuclear program.

Over the last two years – as details and analysis of the PAA plan have emerged – Russian officials have voiced increasing concern about its scope and implications for Russia’s strategic deterrent forces.

How dare they! With popular villain big bad Vlad on his way back to the Kremlin, expect a surge in stories about Russian paranoia and expansionism.