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Emphasis Added: The Foreign Policy Week in Pieces

March 1, 2013 ·

DC credibility, Netanyahu's red line, and shame about nuclear disarmament.

As always, emphasis added.

Credibility: The Only Thing People Value More Highly Than Their Credit Rating

So why do so many smart people keep embracing an approach to Iran that is internally contradictory and has consistently failed for more than a decade? I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect it has a lot to do with maintaining credibility inside Washington. Because Iran has been demonized for so long, and absurdly cast as the Greatest National Security Threat we face, it has become largely impossible for anyone to speak openly of a different approach without becoming marginalized. Instead, you have to sound tough and hawkish even if you are in favor of negotiations, because that's the only way to be taken seriously in the funhouse world of official Washington (see under: the Armed Services Committee hearings on Chuck Hagel).

On Iran, try backscratching, not blackmail, Stephen Walt, Foreign Policy

Netanyahu's Alarmist Tachometer

So if we are looking for real “red lines,” the obvious trip-wires should be either the expulsion of IAEA inspectors or the detection of diversion of nuclear material to non-peaceful uses – not some artificial red line drawn by a non-NPT member state.

How close is Iran to nuclear weapons?, Yousaf Butt, Reuters

Nuclear Disarmament on the Sly

… the administration continues to keep secret the current size of the stockpile, which, among other effects, forces officials such as Dr. Cook to be unnecessarily vague about the extent to which the United States continues to make progress on reducing nuclear weapons in compliance with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [Because] the unilateral retirement of roughly 500 warheads from the stockpile since 2009 – an inventory comparable to the total stockpiles of China and Britain combined – is political dynamite (no pun intended) because conservative Cold Warriors in Congress (and elsewhere) vehemently oppose unilateral reductions of U.S. nuclear weapons.

(Still) Secret US Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Reduced, Hans Kristensen, FAS Strategic Security Blog

What Would the Supreme Leader Do Without the U.S.?

Reaching a lasting deal with Khamenei has never been about Iran's nuclear program but rather the political legitimacy — and thereby survival — of the Islamic regime. … Mindful of threats to his power by rival conservative and reformist factions, Khamenei has nearly always undermined efforts by any one of these groups to resolve Iran's long-standing disputes with Western powers. … Simply put, normalization of relations between Iran and the United States would deprive Khamenei and the deeply invested cohort of radical ideologues around him of a powerful justification for their arbitrary rule.

Why Iran says no, Hussein Banai, The Los Angeles Times

"A war against a name is a war in name only"

Last September, Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified to Congress that “core Al Qaeda”—the original, Arab-led group, whose surviving members, hiding mainly in Pakistan, are thought to number in the dozens or low hundreds—is at “its weakest point in the last ten years.” Yet, to explain the White House’s policy, he and many other counterterrorism analysts warn of a resilient threat posed by Al Qaeda “franchises” … Each group has a distinctive local history and a mostly local membership. None have strong ties to “core Al Qaeda,” …  A franchise is a business that typically operates under strict rules laid down by a parent corporation; to apply that label to Al Qaeda’s derivative groups today is false. … If Al Qaeda is not coherent enough to justify a formal state of war, the war should end."

Name Calling, Steve Coll, The New Yorker