Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Iran and the Dynamic of the Unpleasant Fact - Constance Jacobs

by Constance Jacobs

By withholding documents and not fully cooperating with Congress, the Obama administration appears secretive, which begs the question, what is the White House hiding? 

As the P5+1 continues negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, it is no secret that the White House wants a deal. During last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Senator Bob Corker complained that despite requests to the State Department, the President’s Chief of Staff, and other agencies, the Obama administration has refused to grant him and the Committee access to an agreement entitled “Iran Nuclear Development Program.” Corker believes the agreement is significant because it “lays out what Iran is able to do from year ten on,” stating there are “legitimate concerns” about Iran’s nuclear capability once the sunset provisions take effect. Corker wonders if the administration’s unwillingness to share the document suggests a fear that the document will undermine public confidence in the negotiations.   

Despite the White House’s desire to reach an agreement with Iran, by all accounts there is little optimism that the current negotiations will produce a good agreement. Experts and members of Congress agree that Iran cannot be trusted and that they will try to cheat.  When negotiations initially began, the United States’ primary objective was to completely dismantle Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. But the goalpost has moved to where it currently stands today -- Iran will agree only to monitoring and inspections to ensure full compliance to the terms of an agreement. Iran will not be required to remove centrifuges or destroy facilities; rather, it essentially will be required to put its nuclear program into storage. James Jeffrey, former senior American diplomat and expert in Middle Eastern Affairs, put it this way: “The agreement doesn’t stop anything. It’s only an agreement for a period of time.”

Given the level of distrust toward Iran, it is crucial that a long-term post-agreement strategy be put in place before any deal is agreed to. The United States must develop policies that protect the national security interests of the United States and its allies in the region. Under the terms of the current agreement, as key provisions start to expire after ten to fifteen years, Iran will be free to resume developing its nuclear capability without further interference by the international community if it has fully complied with the terms of the agreement.   

A robust post-agreement strategy and effective policies would send a clear message to the United States’ regional allies that it is committed to remaining a strong presence in the region and to maintaining regional stability. Any U.S. strategy must establish policies that address regional concerns, including extremist movements such as ISIS, and discouraging Iran from interfering in state matters while encouraging it to respect territorial integrity. A military component should also be part of any strategy to clearly identify what constitutes a redline trigger against credible threats that may arise in the region. Most importantly, a post-agreement strategy must be fully defined and operational by the time an agreement is reached and sent to Congress for approval.  

The White House and Congress should be working in tandem during the current negotiations and beyond. By withholding documents and not fully cooperating with Congress, the Obama administration appears secretive, which begs the question, what is the White House hiding?  

General Michael Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency and CIA, and a member of the Iran Task Force, articulated the dangers of withholding information when he explained a term known in the intelligence community as “the Dynamic of the Unpleasant Fact.” The term refers to intelligence that is received, verified, and triggers the need for military action. Such a scenario necessitates someone must break “really bad news” to the president. Hayden gives the example of Jim Clapper walking up to the president and starting the conversation by saying:  “Mr. President, you recall that war you promised to start in the Persian Gulf? Well guess what. Today’s the day.” 

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives are tasked with gathering information, holding hearings, and briefings to fully review and assess the terms of any agreement. They need to accomplish all that within 30 days upon receipt of the agreement. Withholding key documents, reports or other information to Committee members at any point throughout the negotiation process increases the risk that Congress will approve a bad deal. It also increases the risk of a “Dynamic of the Unpleasant Fact” moment for a future president who inherits the Iran agreement. Much is at stake with the Iran negotiations. “Any deal” is far worse than “no deal” -- the White House must be fully transparent by disclosing all relevant information to Congressional leaders and, if necessary, be prepared to walk away from the table.

Constance Jacobs is a freelance writer living in Oakland, California.

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/06/iran_and_the_dynamic_of_the_unpleasant_fact.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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