Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Syria, Iran and Obama

I usually leave foreign policy to the experts, but has anyone else noticed that the Obama administration had two chances to get us involved in shooting wars in the Middle East in the past six months and instead negotiated comprehensive agreements in both cases?

First, there was Syria. It looked like the President had backed himself into a corner on by drawing a "red line" on chemical weapons usage. It looked like he was going to have to launch air strikes to save face. But instead his team took an last-minute opportunity and managed to secure the dismantling of Syria's entire chemical weapons stockpile.  The deal doesn't end the Civil War, but it does keep the United States out, prevents regionalizing the conflict and removes Assad's weapons of mass destruction (insofar as chemical weapons are that). Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Then, a few days ago, we hear that Iran and major western powers have reached a deal on Iran's nuclear program: for six months, the Iranians submit to tough inspections and dismantle some of their program and in return, we ease some sanctions and unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets. While this goes on, we try to negotiate a long-term deal. Again, it's kind of an unusual framework, but it seems like everyone gets time to think things through. Small successes can lead to bigger ones.

For about the last year or so, it seems like Obama's team is actually doing pretty well in getting productive international agreements without getting unnecessary people killed.

Now if we could just get the stupid NSA under control. 

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