Netanyahu’s New Claims Against Iran Prove To Be Much Ado About Nothing

Israeli Prime Minister gave a speech yesterday designed to undermine the nuclear deal with Iran. The evidence was unconvincing, but the speech was really only aimed at an audience of one.

Early yesterday, the Israeli government announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be addressing the nation in a television address later in the day with what it claimed was a ‘major announcement’ regarding Iran and the nuclear weapons deal. The speech took place about one in the afternoon Washington, which was roughly eight in the evening in Israel. While such a late night speech seemed somewhat unusual, it was clear that the primary audience for the speech was not in Israel, but in the United States and that the primary intended target of the speech was the President of the United States, who has said he will be making a decision on the fate of the Iran nuclear deal by May 12th. The speech itself was dramatic and at times seemed to have more in common with Steve Jobs or Tim Cook presenting the latest iPhone than a serious foreign policy speech, but it was significant that Netanyahu chose to first give his speech in English and then deliver it in Hebrew, the primary language spoken in Israel and one of its three official languages. As I said, it’s clear from both the timing and the format of the speech that Netanyahu wasn’t concerned so much with informing his nation of something significant as it was with giving President Trump a larger basis on which to base a decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal with Iran.

In the end, though, Netanyahu’s speech, and the evidence he presented proved to be rather anti-climatic: 

JERUSALEM — Revealing a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accused Iran on Monday of lying for years about its efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

Days before President Trump was to decide whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Netanyahu presented records from a secret warehouse in Tehran, making the case that Iranian leaders had deceived the international nuclear agency when they insisted their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Israeli spies seized the documents in an overnight raid in January, a senior Israeli official said.

But Mr. Netanyahu did not provide any evidence that Iran had violated the nuclear agreement since it took effect in early 2016. That suggests that the Israeli prime minister — who has opposed the deal since its inception, and even went to the American Congress to try to block it — was hoping that the disclosures would bolster Mr. Trump’s resolve to scuttle the agreement on May 12.

Doing so could be one of the most momentous foreign policy decisions of Mr. Trump’s time in office. In recent days, a succession of European leaders, including President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, have gone to the White House to make the case that the United States was more secure with the Iran deal than without it. Mr. Netanyahu’s presentation seemed intended to push the president in the other direction.

Mr. Trump was coy about his plans. Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference minutes after Mr. Netanyahu’s presentation, he gave no indication of whether he would scrap the deal or continue his effort to force the European partners who helped negotiate it — Britain, France and Germany — to try to reopen it.

“In seven years, that deal will have expired, and Iran will be free to make nuclear weapons,” Mr. Trump said, incorrectly stating the terms of the deal. While some restrictions on Iran are relaxed starting in about seven years, Iran cannot make nuclear fuel until 2030, and it is never permitted to make nuclear weapons: It has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which bans it from weapons production. “Seven years is tomorrow,” Mr. Trump added.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, a top Iranian negotiator of the nuclear agreement, called Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks “a very childish and even a ridiculous play.”

In a telephone interview with state-run television, he said Mr. Netanyahu’s presentation was “a prearranged show with the aim of impacting Trump’s decision, or perhaps it is a coordinated plan by him and Trump in order to destroy the J.C.P.O.A.,” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement’s formal name.

Mr. Netanyahu, in a highly theatrical presentation from the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, played clips of Iranian leaders repeatedly attesting that their country harbored no ambition for building nuclear weapons — and then pointed to photos, videos, blueprints and other evidence Israeli agents had harvested, he said, that showed the Iranians had been deceitful all along.

“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Mr. Netanyahu said, pointing to copies of what he said were 55,000 printed pages and 183 compact discs.

He said Israel had passed the information on to the United States, which “can vouch for its authenticity.”

Mr. Netanyahu said that Iran had intensified its efforts to hide evidence of its weapons program after signing the nuclear deal in 2015, and in 2017 moved its records to a secret location in Tehran that looked like “a dilapidated warehouse.”

“Few Iranians knew where it was, very few,” Mr. Netanyahu said proudly. “And also a few Israelis.”

The senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a secret mission, said that Israel’s Mossad intelligence service discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then.

Mossad operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said.

Mr. Trump was informed of the operation by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, on a visit to Washington in January, the official said. The official attributed the delay in making the material public to the time it took to analyze the documents, the vast majority of which were in Persian.

But the Iranian program to design and build nuclear weapons was hardly a secret; its existence was the reason that the United States, under President George W. Bush and then President Barack Obama, moved to block it. Both presidents said publicly that Iran had a bomb project underway, and the United States mounted, with Israel, a vast covert program to undermine the Iranian effort with one of the world’s most sophisticated cyberattacks.

American intelligence agencies concluded in 2007 that Iran suspended the active portion of the bomb effort after the beginning of the Iraq war, in 2003, and Mr. Netanyahu confirmed that in his presentation. But he said that other elements of what Iran had called “Project Amad” went ahead, directed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist.

(…)

Iranian diplomats greeted Mr. Netanyahu’s accusation with derision.

“Ha, ha, ha,” said Mohammad Marandi, a University of Tehran professor who is close to Iran’s leaders and participated in the nuclear talks in Vienna. He said that Israel had “fabricated evidence” before and might have again. He called the timing of the Israeli disclosure suspect, and raised the idea that it might have been orchestrated in cooperation with the Trump administration.

“It’s very convenient to bring this up two weeks before the decision on the nuclear deal is made,” Mr. Marandi said. “No one in their right mind will take this seriously, unless there is a prearranged deal with the White House.”

Here’s the video:

As many experts who have followed the Iranian nuclear program over the years pointed out after the speech was over, notwithstanding the dramatics and theatrics of the speech, there was nothing new in what Netanyahu revealed, but given the intended audience that likely doesn’t really matter. As early as 2007, several American intelligence agencies had concluded that Iran had an active program to develop nuclear weapons but that the program had been suspended in 2003 shortly after the start of the Iraq War. Netanyahu confirmed that in his speech, and the documents he presented all indicate that the program ended in 2003 and the plans to develop up to five bombs roughly equivalent to the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima had been shelved. Netanyahu seemed to confirm that as well when he stated that the documents had been obtained by Israel from a “secret archive.” In addition to this 2007 assessment from American intelligence, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) gave a presentation in 2008 at which it presented many of the same documents that Netanyahu to support his allegations in the speech. Other elements of what Netanyahu revealed had been known to the United States and other foreign governments for years prior to the negotiations to the JCPOA, and it was in response to that information that the Obama Administration was able to get international support for the sanctions that ultimately brought Tehran to the table in Switzerland.

Many experts in the field have argued in the wake of the speech that, ironically, the Israeli Prime Minister’s presentation arguably makes the case for why the JCPOA was necessary and why the United States should stay in it, which is obviously the opposite of the impact he wanted it to have. Paul Pillar, who had a long career in the intelligence community specializing in the Middle East, makes exactly that argument:

The history of secret Iranian work related to nuclear weapons design is all the more reason to keep the JCPOA and is why the agreement was designed as it was.  It is an agreement for doing business with a state that has lied and kept secrets, not one that is entirely honest and trustworthy.  This was the reason not only for the tight restrictions on enrichment and other nuclear activities but for the establishment of a highly intrusive regimen of inspections and monitoring by IAEA inspectors.  The JCPOA provides not only for regular monitoring of declared nuclear sites but also for inspection of any other locales in Iran if the IAEA is given reason to suspect any prohibited activity.  If Netanyahu really were interested in ensuring there is no Iranian nuclear weapon rather than putting on a television show to try to kill the agreement, he would provide his material to the IAEA (which, as far as we know, may already have it) to be checked out.  As the office of European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini tweeted, “IAEA is the only impartial international organization in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear commitments. If any country has information of non-compliance of any kind [it] should address this information to the proper legitimate and recognized mechanism.”

Netanyahu, Trump, and the other American players inside and outside his administration who are intent on killing the JCPOA, while dispensing with logic, are relying on emotion and confusion to try to achieve their objective.  Netanyahu’s theme of Iran lying serves partly as innuendo that will lead some people to believe that Iran somehow is violating the JCPOA, even though it isn’t.  The IAEA has repeatedly certified that Iran is living up to its obligations under the JCPOA.  (Holding files is not a violation of the agreement.)  The violations so far are all on the U.S. side.  The emotion part involves getting people angry in general about Iran and relies on a popular misconception that the JCPOA is some kind of reward or act of generosity to Iran rather than a restriction on, and evidence of mistrust of, Iran.

Fred Kaplan makes a similar argument in Slate:

In his Monday broadcast, which he recited in English and Hebrew, Netanyahu did publicize a remarkable heist by Israeli intelligence agencies—if his claims are true—of 55,000 pages of “files” and “archives” showing that 15 years ago, Iran did have a plan with an avowed intent to build nuclear weapons.

But did the prime minister think his viewers, at home and abroad, would glide over those key words—files and archive—or that they wouldn’t notice that the quotations from some of those files were dated 2003?

He said and showed nothing to suggest that the Iranians ever put their plan into motion or that they are violating the deal’s restrictions on nuclear activities now. In fact, at one point in his telecast, he acknowledged that Iran stopped the program—supporting the conclusion of a U.S National Intelligence Estimate, published in 2007, that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003.

Netanyahu said the newly uncovered files indicate that Iranian officials have violated an article of the Iran deal requiring them to reveal their past plans or intentions to build nuclear weapons. Faced with the question, Iranian officials have denied that they ever had such intentions. If the files are authentic, they show that those denials are false. This is not a new point, but it is not trivial either, and the International Atomic Energy Agency should investigate the claims. (They may well find that Iran’s written plans about building nuclear weapons don’t amount to activities—nothing in Netanyahu’s presentation proves otherwise—and, therefore, don’t amount to a violation at all.)

However, the larger message of the archive—and Netanyahu’s briefing—is that the Iran nuclear deal, now more than ever, is worth preserving. Netanyahu pointed to documents suggesting that Iran had plans—he talked of secret documents, charts, presentations, and blueprints—for every aspect of designing, building, and testing nuclear weapons. What he neglected to point out is that the deal gives international inspectors highly intrusive powers to verify whether Iran is taking any steps to pursue those plans.

In Senate hearings last week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis testified that after reading the full text of the deal three times, he was struck by how solid its inspection provisions are. “I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat,” Mattis said. “So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in” and check on compliance.

The fact that there was very little substance to Netanyahu’s presentation, and certainly nothing new about it, is hardly a new thing of course. The Israeli Prime Minister has a long history of giving dramatic, danger-laced, speeches regarding Iran and its nuclear program in the past. The most notable of these, of course, have occurred during his annual addresses to the United Nations General Assembly, including one in which he used a somewhat cartoonish drawing of a bomb to demonstrate the need for international action against Iran to stop it from developing nuclear weapons. To a large degree, of course, Netanyahu succeeded in that effort since the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China all coordinated sanctions against Iran that ultimately brought it to the table for the talks that led to the JCPOA. While I’ve said many times in the past, while that agreement is admittedly far from perfect, it is far better than the status quo that existed before it went into effect and it was likely the best that could have been expected under the circumstances.

In the end, of course, the purpose behind Netanyahu’s speech had nothing to do with presenting the world with evidence that Iran was currently violating the JCPOA, which it most emphatically did not do. Instead, Netanyahu was essentially speaking to an audience of one, the President of the United States who has made his hostility to the deal well known since he became a candidate for President and who most recently declined to certify that Iran was complying with the agreement despite fact that his own Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, along with the IAEA, were all saying that the Iranians are in fact complying with the agreement. Most recently, French President Emmanual Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both came to the United States for the express purpose of trying to convince Trump to keep the United States in the deal. Those arguments likely fell on deaf ears, and by the end of his visiting Macron was admitting that Trump was likely to pull out of the deal for “domestic reasons.” In the meantime, Macron and Merkel, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May continue to work behind the scenes to try to find a way to save the JCPOA, but those efforts seem as though they will be in vain.

Walking away from the JCPOA would be as foolish as decertifying Iranian compliance was and would serve only to embolden the hardliners in Iran while also undermining the United States just as we are on the verge of high stake negotiations with North Korea regarding its nuclear weapons program. A rational person would see these things and step away from the brink. Instead, we have a President who is clearly intent on fulfilling a foolish campaign promise and taking action that is only likely to increase tensions in the Middle East even while we’re dealing with a host of other problems around the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have a rational actor behind the Resolute Desk, we have Trump.

Note: For some reason, this post was published with commenting turned off. That was an inadvertant error. Commenting is now open for this post. 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Intelligence, Middle East, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Israel is highly concerned about Iran, somewhat understandably considering the rhetoric Iran has directed against it, and is rather clearly fomenting a war between the U. S. and Iran. We shouldn’t rise to the bait but I’m afraid we will.




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    It takes a special kind of evil, to stand up and lie, in order to start a war in which 100’s of thousands of people will die. Cheney did it. Now Netanyahoo is doing it. They know what they are saying is not true. That it is misleading. And that people will die, needlessly. Yet they persist.
    And of course the incompetents at the White House chime right in.
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/iran-gains-loses-nuclear-program-in-wh-clerical-error.html
    But we should all be disgusted that Michelle Wolf was mean to these people.




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  3. Gustopher says:

    @Dave Schuler: And Iran should look to the examples of Iraq, Libya and North Korea, and see that if the US pulls out of the deal, war is inevitable unless they have a nuclear deterrent.

    My guess: we pull out, Trump bombs a few targets in Iran and announces that he has solved the problem of Iranian Nuclear Weapons, and then Iran successfully tests a nuclear weapon less than two years later.




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  4. @Dave Schuler:

    Agreed on all counts, which is why Netanyahu’s rather obvious dog-and-pony show for Trump is all the more concerning. What I find interesting is the fact that he chose to do this in the form of a public speech that was, as far as I can tell, covered live by all three American cable news networks. My guess is that this is part of a coordinated plan between the Trump Administration and the Netanyahu government to lay the groundwork for an announcement on May 12th that seems rather inevitable at this point. The consequences of all this for the Middle East and for our interests elsewhere in the world (i.e., Korea) are what concerns me the most.

    I give Macron, Merkel, and May credit for at least trying to deal with the President in good faith but, as Macron noted at the end of his visit last week, it does appear that Trump has made up his mind on which course of action he will take on May 12th. As it stands, it now appears that there’s only one voice in the Administration calling for calm when it comes to the JCPOA, the Secretary of Defense. Unfortunately, he’s now competing with the likes of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, both of whom have rather obvious disdain for the agreement whether its working or not.




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  5. @Gustopher:

    Meanwhile, the proxy war between the US (and our “ally” Saudi Arabia) and Iran in Yemen and the other proxy war in Syria are likely to become more heated.




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  6. drj says:

    @Gustopher:

    My guess: we pull out, Trump bombs a few targets in Iran and announces that he has solved the problem of Iranian Nuclear Weapons, and then Iran successfully tests a nuclear weapon less than two years later.

    That might be the best case scenario.

    Israel clearly wants the US to pull out of the JCPOA, but equally clearly doesn’t want Iran to be free to develop a nuclear weapon later on. That leaves regime change…




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  7. gVOR08 says:

    Here’s how USA Today reported Netanyahu’s presentation:

    Tens of thousands of secret files and other evidence proves the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is “based on lies and Iranian deception” and should be thrown out, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday.

    “Even after the deal was made, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear know-how for use at a later date,” Netanyahu said.

    “In seven years that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and develop nuclear weapons. Seven years is tomorrow,” Trump said. “I am not saying what I am doing, (but) it’s a horrible agreement.”

    “This is a terrible deal,” Netanyahu said. “In a few days time, President Trump will make his decision. … I am sure he will do the right thing, the right thing for the United States, the right thing for Israel and the right thing for peace in the world.”

    The only indication that Netanyahu’s talk should have been mostly past tense and wasn’t gospel was a closing , obligatory, she-said:

    Iran’s deputy foreign minister and senior nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, called Netanyahu’s presentation “childish and ridiculous,” and said the purported evidence was “fake and fabricated,”

    Looks to me like Netanyahu had a wider audience than just Trump, and it’s working.




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  8. An Interested Party says:

    Has Bibi been arrested on corruption charges yet? I’m sure there’s more than one reason why he put on this show…




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  9. Kylopod says:

    On another note, Netanyahu is currently embroiled in his own corruption scandal, and given Israel’s parliamentary system I’m betting he’s gone long before Trump.




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  10. Guarneri says:

    Clearly, since we knew they were lying forks, we should engage in important, toothless contracts.

    But I’d go further, send another plane full of money to them. That’ll fix it.




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  11. Franklin says:

    My fear is that Trump feels emboldened over “his” success of getting Korean talks going. Even if his tough talk actually worked on Kim Jong Un (which it might have because he and Trump are so similar), I don’t see it playing out the same way with Iran.

    My bet is on Trump nixing the treaty.




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  12. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Netanyahoo’s presentation was clearly aimed right at Dennison; it was full of big simple to grasp graphics, e.g. IRAN LIED.
    Netanyahoo also went on Dennison’s favorite TV show this morning…so he was talking directly to the fat orange blob.
    So clearly Netanyahoo understands how to manipulate Dennison, who is well over his head here. If you can’t handle a failed relationship with a porn star, and you are constantly being played by her attorney, there is no way you are going to come out ahead in a war against Iran.




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  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    I was wondering who’d be dumb enough to buy this ridiculous dog and pony show. Thanks for providing an answer.




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  14. drj says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well, it’s an opportunity to own the libs. (“But I’d go further, send another plane full of money to them. That’ll fix it.”) And that’s all that counts, amirite?

    No matter that Iran hasn’t worked on its nuclear weapons program since 2003. Owning the libs clearly takes precedence over avoiding needless wars and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies.

    Cultists turn into monsters quite easily.




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  15. michael reynolds says:

    1) We can pull out of JCPOA and attack their nuke facilities, in which case they can retaliate with terrorist attacks on us and Israel, and they’ll have a deliverable bomb in two years.

    2) Or we can pull out of JCPOA and launch an effort at regime change, in which case we’ll spend a trillion dollars, lose a bunch of soldiers, and crawl away in a decade having done nothing but further radicalize Iranians.

    3) Or we can stay in JCPOA and take up Macron’s suggestion that White People negotiate a follow-on treaty that will be untainted by Black President. In which case no war, no bomb.

    Anyone else have another scenario I’m missing? Maybe one where we are welcomed by the Iranians with open arms and they set up a pluralistic democracy allied with us? Anyone want that one?




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  16. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Sure. Keeping in mind that, given the front-loaded nature of the benefits for Iran in the agreement and the backloaded nature of the benefits to us, pulling out of JCPOA is foolish anyway, we could pull out of the JCPOA, tone down the rhetoric, gin up more opposition to the Iranian regime and even tougher economic sanctions on the grounds of Iran’s non-compliance (using a tone of injured innocence and disappointment rather than anger), and let nature take its course.

    That wouldn’t make Israel, neocons, national greatness Republicans, or anyone else who really wants a war with Iran particularly happy but it would be better than any alternative other than just staying the course.




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  17. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    OT…but has anybody else noticed that in the past 24 hours two prominent Republicans have actually told the truth about the signature Republican accomplishment of the Dennison Presidency?
    Tom Price admitted that cutting the individual mandate, in the tax bill, is forcing people to pay more in insurance premiums.
    Marco Rubio admitted that the tax bill showers benefits on corporations and shareholders, and there is “no evidence whatsoever” that money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.
    Republicans being honest…what a concept.




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  18. Guarneri says:

    Yeah, speaking of dumb. How’s that collusion thingy working out for ya




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  19. Moosebreath says:

    @Guarneri:

    “How’s that collusion thingy working out for ya”

    Quite well, in spite of Republican efforts to whitewash it. Further response outsourced to Jon Chait. On the obvious point:

    “But even if you don’t consider the Trump Tower meeting to be absolute proof of collusion, it is certainly evidence of collusion. It was, after all, a meeting held for the express purpose of furthering cooperation — or, as it were, collusion — between the Trump campaign and Russia. And there is no reason to believe that the publicly available evidence of this meeting — which Trump and his family have lied about, repeatedly — contains the entire extent of the information about it.”




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  20. Mikey says:

    @drj:

    Owning the libs clearly takes precedence over avoiding needless wars and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies.

    With most in today’s GOP, that’s not an either/or. They want both.




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  21. Guarneri says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Do you plan any evidence this century? Just askin’




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  22. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    @michael reynolds:
    @Moosebreath:
    Wow, Guarneri…you’re just getting bitch-slapped today. Sucks belonging to a cut-rate cult, doesn’t it?




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  23. MarkedMan says:

    Trump’s decision on this requires no push from Benny, his thought process on it begins and ends with “negotiated by the Obama administration “, so that’s a done deal. So we turn our attention to outcomes and there is a potential outcome that sounds melodramatic but is all too real. Israel convinces Donnie Boy to start a war in Iran and the Republicans cower in fear as they usually do and acquiesce. The war, inevitably is a disaster. This leads to the collapse of US support for the existence of Israel.

    To a significant part of the US electorate it will be perceived as Israel taking advantage of an all but mentally retarded president to send American soldiers off to die in order to protect their apartheid state. Sure, for a short time they may have some allies in the Trump-kins but bear in mind they are made up of a collection of the most racist and bigoted America has to offer, and often are Christian extremists to boot. How long will they remain steadfast in sending their children off to die to save the Jewish state?




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  24. Moosebreath says:

    @Guarneri:

    “Do you plan any evidence this century?”

    Do you plan on learning to read this century? I’ll re-post my quote, with the key words bolded:

    “But even if you don’t consider the Trump Tower meeting to be absolute proof of collusion, it is certainly evidence of collusion. It was, after all, a meeting held for the express purpose of furthering cooperation — or, as it were, collusion — between the Trump campaign and Russia. And there is no reason to believe that the publicly available evidence of this meeting — which Trump and his family have lied about, repeatedly — contains the entire extent of the information about it.”

    You can call upstairs to your mommy and ask her to help you with the big words.




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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The last time we effected regime change in Iran certainly worked out well for … well, nobody.




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  26. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: The core Trump electoral/sociological segment is white evangelical Christians. They will be thrilled that American soldiers are dying to immanentize the eschaton. Why did it take so long?




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  27. JohnMcC says:

    OT: I haven’t commented much lately so perhaps this is well understood and hashed over, but — I use the ‘Preview’ option and look over my spelling, grammar and do some fact checking at times.

    Preview doesn’t seem to be working.




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  28. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Moosebreath: @Guarneri:

    Are Titans of Industry (TM) unable to read and comprehend a 4 sentence paragraph?

    You’ve entered Jenos territory of getting intellectually bitch slapped. Do you not have a sense of embarrassment?




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  29. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: You have a point. For two thousand years people have gone off to die because ol’ Jebus is finally coming. Unfortunately for Israel the regular bigots and racists outnumber the would be crusaders by about 3-1




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  30. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Republicans being honest…what a concept.

    Yeah. Krugman reacted on Twitter to that quote from Rubio. He pretty much has Little Marco’s number.

    Rubio is pretty amazing. On one side, he appears to be relatively perceptive, or at least able to see what’s right in front of him, rare in today’s GOP. On the other side, he’s completely spineless, always voting for what he knows are bad policies




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  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    It’s hard to see anyone joining us in ramping up sanctions on Iran. The Europeans might play along as an alternative to war, but I think even that’s doubtful. And the Russians would tell us to go pound sand.




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  32. michael reynolds says:
  33. Scott says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Unfortunately, it is bad manners to vet our political appointees for religious views. However, I think it is essential we eliminate any end-times Christians out of the public sphere. For our own survival.




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  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: There seem to be two things that the supposedly liberal MSM don’t want to talk about. They for sure don’t talk about Dominionists and End Timers. They occasionally mention the Koch Bros and the rest of the RW Billionaire Boys Club, but they sure won’t go very deep.




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  35. steve says:

    Dave- “gin up more opposition to the Iranian regime and even tougher economic sanctions on the grounds of Iran’s non-compliance ”

    Where is Iran in non-compliance? The IAEA says they are complying and we have been certifying that.

    Steve




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  36. grumpy realist says:

    @Guarneri: Either you are a liar, or you are an idiot who has been told over and over again what was going on with those pallets of money and has totally forgotten it.

    That money was Iranian. It wasn’t a pay-off.

    In neither case does this speak well of your dedication to stating truth.




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  37. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: Assuming there’s such a thing as objective truth. So Twentieth Century of you.




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  38. Tyrell says:

    This agreement is probably about as good as you will get with the leaders of Iran. It does give the US and other countries some leverage.
    What they should do is to have an audit and review every two or three years. It would open things up to discussions, changes, alterations, tune ups, or modifications as both sides can agree on.
    This sort of thing should be done for many a federal program and agency: Clean Air Act, Head Start, Tricycle Safety Act, Disabilities Act, NCLB, and the “Affordable Health Care Act”. This sort of arrangement could have improved things and saved time, money, and a lot of stress. Too many times these sort of things are wound up like a clock and then run on indefinitely without any kind of expiration date.
    “Civil War benefits checks still being issued to veterans descendants” news article from a few years ago.




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  39. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Clearly, since we knew they were lying forks, we should engage in important, toothless contracts.
    But I’d go further, send another plane full of money to them. That’ll fix it.

    Even Michael Cohen and the webmaster at ZeroHedge know that the money sent to Iran as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (aka the Iran Nuclear Weapons Inspection Agreement), represented a return of Iranian assets, not a payment (or payoff) using American assets.

    That concludes my fact-based public service announcement for this thread.




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