Thursday, March 12, 2015

47 men and a bomb

It is hard not to notice that 47 Senators sent a letter to Iran declaring their intention to kill any nuclear deal with Iran. The goal, as Senator Tom Cotton said, is "total nuclear disarmament". The press and social media seem mixed on the severity of the charges to be leveled against those Congressmen. Some say, "disqualification", while others say they should be charged with "treason" under The Logan Act.

Considering that some of the signers of that letter are backtracking already, a good dose of embarrassment might just be enough punishment. While Marco Rubio might parlay the letter into funding for his next campaign, perhaps we could consider the ramifications of such action.

I see this action by Congress as an obvious effort to assert their power against a president they see as uncooperative on many issues. A president who has managed to outmaneuver Congress on nearly every major issue. So they did an end-run by communicating with a Iran's leadership directly to undermine the president's foreign policy agenda. In short, they said that if the GOP ever gets in the White House, any agreement signed today will be history. Here is a thoughtful analysis of where the power may be found by the president and the Congress.

On its face, the letter seems like an invitation to war, but Congress would prefer that it not be nuclear war. I'm sure they have some vision of "shock and awe" in the style of George Bush, never mind that another war could set us back 10 or more years and another trillion down the drain. But hey, if you're a defense contractor, at least you know who to call, right? You'll have 47 guys who are happy to increase funding for your weapons.

There is a flipside that Republicans seem unwilling to consider. If you make a nuclear deal with Iran so onerous that they won't buy in, then they will likely sign the deal and conduct their work in secrecy. Weapons are like that. People who really want them will find a way to get them. But if we sign a deal now, just to permit nuclear power, at least we can have some supervision going into it.

Besides, there are numerous options for dealing with proliferation. Power plants can be designed to use and create materials that are not weapons grade. We can find ways to monitor what goes in and what goes out, and Iran gets a power plant that works for them and works for us.

Let's not forget that their nemesis, Israel, already has nuclear weapons and they are probably not afraid to use them if they get backed into a corner by Iran or any other Arab nation. Iran, fresh with new leadership, is probably more interested in detente than war. If we give them some outlet to at least create the power supplies they need to run their country, then they might not be so tempted to go nuclear.

I'm surprised that Iran isn't building a world class solar power plant right about now. Imagine what would happen to world politics if Iran and the rest of the middle east went solar, instead. They could just sell solar power to the world.
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