“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Obama to pay off N. Korea and bestow legitimacy to Iran.

The Obama Administration has decided to fulfill a campaign promise and will enter into direct talks with Iran and North Korea. On a regional basis North Korea should be a greater concern to China, South Korea and Japan than the United States but as a source of supply for nuclear contraband, North Korea is an American problem.

The talks will boil down to terms of the payoff. We will try and convince them to start using hundred dollar bills printed in the USA instead of them printing their own.

Think of it as a stimulus bill. Certainly The NORKS are at least as deserving as ACORN. The payoff will work for awhile.


I have no idea why we are talking to Iran. Iran is being protected from further meaningful sanctions by Venezuela, China, Russia and some NATO members. Iran's nuclear program is nothing more than a mullah protection program. There is nothing positive to offer them that they will accept.

For old time's sake we may as well appoint Jimmy Carter as special envoy.

The only reason for Iran to talk is to buy more time to develop their nuclear program and get Washington to try and restrain Israel.

If the US is serious about the threat of nuclear proliferation and wants to actually do something about it , it needs to continue developing and deploying missile defense systems.

Doing so will have the added benefit of giving some pause to the duopoly of nuclear enablers, China and Russia. Talking with the present regime in Iran is pointless and naive.


September 12, 2009
U.S. to Accept Iran’s Proposal to Hold Face-to-Face Talks


NY Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Friday that the United States would accept Iran’s offer to meet, fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to hold unconditional talks despite the Iranian government’s insistence that it would not negotiate over the future of its nuclear program.

The decision to engage directly with Iran would put a senior representative of the Obama administration at the bargaining table, along with emissaries from five other nations, for the first time since Mr. Obama took office.

The decision is bound to raise protests from conservatives who contend that unconditional talks are naïve, and from human rights groups that say the United States should not legitimize an Iranian government that appears to have manipulated its presidential election in June and crushed protests after the vote.

In advance of Friday’s announcement, senior administration officials said that their offer to negotiate directly with the Iranians, for what could turn into the first substantive talks since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, was, as a senior official had earlier put it, a “bona fide offer.”

But at the same time, officials said their expectations were extremely low. They also said their willingness to proceed was based in part on a recognition that some form of talks had to take place before the United States could make a case for imposing far stronger sanctions on Iran.

“We’ll be looking to see if they are willing to engage seriously on these issues,” said a State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley. “If we have talks, we will plan to bring up the nuclear issue.”

The talks would also include Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, which in the past have negotiated with Iran without the presence of an American representative, except for one meeting at the end of the administration of President George W. Bush.

During his first term, talks with unfriendly countries like North Korea and Iran were usually rejected out of hand in the hope of speeding their collapse. That loosened in Mr. Bush’s second term, but even then agreements to talk were usually under highly restricted conditions.

The result was a stalemate — one that Mr. Obama argued during last year’s presidential campaign was a huge mistake, in part because Iran was producing nuclear material while the standoff dragged on.

The United Nations Security Council has issued several rounds of sanctions against Iran for failing to comply with resolutions demanding it stop enriching uranium. It has called on Tehran to answer questions from international arms inspectors about documents that suggest that the country worked in the past on a nuclear weapons design.

Iran’s government insists that its efforts are aimed at the peaceful generation of electricity, and has charged that the documents were Western forgeries.

Iran made its offer to meet in a five-page letter delivered to several nations on Wednesday. Titled “Cooperation, Peace and Justice,” it touched on political, social and economic themes, called for reform of the United Nations and a Middle East peace settlement, and for universal nuclear disarmament.

But the letter said nothing about Iran’s nuclear program, and as recently as this week President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed never to halt the fuel production, saying Iran would not relinquish its fundamental rights.

Administration officials were dismissive of the letter, saying that it rehashed past statements and offers. But they said they would consider the offer to meet, and they spent less than 48 hours studying its contents before deciding to tell Iran that the United States would join its negotiating partners in talks.

It is unclear where the discussions will take place, but the most likely American representative is William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, who is leading the diplomatic effort.

The first announcement of the decision was made Friday in Brussels by Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, who acts as an intermediary for the six countries.

Hours earlier, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, appeared to take a softer line on Iran, saying the administration would not impose “artificial deadlines” on Iran.

It was difficult to judge Mr. Obama’s outreach to Iran because, she said, “the elections and their aftermath have added a layer of complexity to assessing the overtures and offers of diplomatic engagement.”

Some administration officials argued that Mr. Obama’s overtures, which included a videotaped New Year’s greeting and at least one letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, had thrown the Iranian leadership off balance. They thought that for the first time in recent history, the United States had Iran on the defensive, rather than the other way around.

Russia and China have expressed deep reservations about imposing additional sanctions on Iran. On Thursday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, expressed opposition to additional sanctions.

On Friday, Mr. Crowley also said the United States would be willing to hold direct talks with North Korea over its nuclear program, within the context of existing six-party negotiations.

“We are prepared to meet with North Korea,” he said. “When it’ll happen, where it’ll happen, we’ll have to wait and see.”


  1. The US has never been serious about stopping nuclear proliferation, why would anyone think that the issue would or even should be elevated now?

    The Pakistani certainly got a pass, and a profit, from US.
    They being the greatest nuclear proliferater in the whirled.

    If proliferation was really the issue, the US would cut off Pakistan, but we do not, do we?

    It is not even on the table.

    That is exemplary of just how serious the US is not, about that particular nuclear issue.

  2. Peace in our time...

    President B Hussien Chamberlain Obama will see to that...

    Peace with iran and north korea means that south korea, israel, columbia, japan are all to be slit across the throat...

  3. How are they going to have their throats slit, man of "substance"?

    Again you are peddling fear of boogie men with little capacity or capability.

    The NorKs have been capable of attacking the South, and inflicting millions of civilian casualties for forty years, now.

    They have not done so. A nuke will not change their risk and reward mathematics.

    As for the Iranians, the idea that the US can bestow or deny legitimacy, that is pure hubris.

    The attempts to isolate Iran, well amigos, that policy track has failed, totally.
    At least according to man of "substance", we have not diminished the threat by our past behaviors, so a change in rhetoric will do no worse than we have already done.

  4. What is this man of "substance" stuff that you love to call me?


    your taunts might have more success if i had a CLUE as to what you are talking about.....

  5. Substance, that goes back to the Joos inventing the modern whirled.

    That was substantial, making you and yours men of "Substance"

    No taunt.

    Isreal being the most substantial little country in the whole wide whirled, no?

    But that misses the point "substance", you fail to address the questions that your posts bring up, again and again.

    You're pushing fear and victimhood, like it was a drug.

  6. Real Americans are not buying into your paradise of fear and loathing.

  7. dr: Isreal being the most substantial little country in the whole wide whirled, no?

    Ah... now i see..

    it's ISRAEL

    as for the MOST? never said that...

    I said you would not have western world without it...

  8. desert rat said...
    You're pushing fear and victimhood, like it was a drug.

    Real Americans are not buying into your paradise of fear and loathing.

    now that is the funniest thing i have ever heard... taking threats seriously is pushing fear and victimhood?

    whatever YOU are smoking must be powerful stuff...

    yeah... 9.11 was a dream.... North Korea, Iran, and all their party friends are really just good guys and you will be 1st in line to welcome them to the good ole USA...

    where real Americans LIKE you are smiling idiots...

  9. 9-11 has NOTHING to do with NorK, and to attempt to relate the two, another example of pushing fear and victimhood upon US.

    The US declared war upon State Sponsors or Terror.

    While Iran and NorK comprise the remaining Axis of Evil, they were and are not considered to be Sponsors of the 9-11 Terror.

    You belittle the memory of those lost to the border bandits, to even try to equate the threats.

  10. And even if the "threat" were as grave as you claim, you offer no substantial alternative to the bi-partisan policies the US is pursuing, with regards to either country.

  11. How do you wrestle with a pig without getting muddy?

    Rat you are a pig...

    You play checkers and cannot see current dangers in a dangerous world...

    North Korea, Iran and all their rowdy buddies count on the useful idiots like you to do their bidding..

    Dont see the nexus of the relationships?

    you are blind...


  12. Again, man of substance, you fail to answer the questions posed, while diving into a pigsty of your own making.

    Answer the question, substance, or are you really just "smoke and mirrors"

    What does or did NorK have to do with 9-11-01?

    You are using the deaths of 4,000 residents to further a unrelated political agenda in the Far East.

    You are the pig.

  13. I can hear is the squeal of a rat..

    and just like most rats, says nothing and eats their young...

  14. No answers, perhaps the is no substance.

    man of "smoke and mirrors"

  15. Or, shall we say ...
    Man of "Misdirection"

  16. What is "Occupation" said...

    "squeak squeak squeak says the rat..."

    Good heavens, man. Let's try and maintain some modicum of dignity. This is the Elephant Bar after all.

  17. Yeah,

    Goddamn, Somebody HIT somebody.

    This is embarrassing.

  18. Geo Bush let the Europeans dialogue with the Iranians for the last several years. They got nowhere.

    It's foolish to say that regimes like North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, et al pose no threat, direct or otherwise. It's obvious that they seek to align themselves against the US and have directly or indirectly attacked us or our allies.

    On the other hand, it can be legally challenging to preemptively neutralize a threat. Strict adherence to laws, good or bad, such as the Guerilick Wall of Separation can have serious consequences.

    Sometimes we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

  19. During WWII, Italy certainly posed no direct threat to the US but they were allied with the Germans and Japanese.

    Should we have given them a pass? No, I don't think so but then again, can you imagine this current crop of "leaders" faced with such a threat as faced our country in the forties. Talk about appeasement! They would make Chamberlain look hawkish.

  20. I forgot that our record of confronting evil in the 30's is worse than Chamberlain's. We were mired in depression and more than flirting with Communism and socialism.

    Sound familiar?

  21. Hubris is excessive pride. I do not see how that applies in my contention that the US talking with Iran bestows legitimacy to the regime in Iran.

    It is true that the regime is legitimate, in that it is recognized by other nations. Rights are not so much of one's own making as they created by the acceptance of others.

    Some rights are jealously restricted by those that have the power to give and control them, taxation, police and military being simple examples.

    Their is no absolute right of a nation to become a nuclear power. In the past it has been done by stealth and accepted by acquiescence. There has been one military challenge to the right of another nation to acquire nuclear weapons: Israel vs Iraq.

    By sheer weight of power and the accordance of other powers, the right to stop a belligerent from acquiring nuclear weapons was established.

    Iran is cleverly playing the US by standing as an equal in the eyes of the world. The very act of the pre-eminent nuclear and military power of the world negotiating with Iran bestows upon them a legitimacy they presently do not have.

    Hubris has nothing to do with it. In other words, you are wrong.

  22. Whit, I just noticed your editing. Nice one.

  23. I would like to make it bold and red. Maybe we can put sign on the sidebar?

  24. I like the subtlety, with the right to reconsider should it become necessary.

  25. The other day, I was asking about the current size of the economy. An "expert" on Bloomberg said that the decline in GDP was less than 4%. Which puts it at about $12.5 trillion.

    Less than 4%? Do you believe it?

  26. It sounds about right. It feels worse because prior to that there was about 3% growth, so that would be a -7% turn in relative terms.

    We tend to project the future from the recent past. For businesses and household, a 7% reversal in fortunes would be disastrous, especially with a zero savings rate and consumption based on rising prices and easy credit.

    We were planning rising property prices and equities as being our amortization table.

    That smarts!

  27. I keep hearing that consumer spending is nil. I also have read and heard that consumer spending accounts for about 2/3's of our economy.

    I have a hard time reconciling the two.

  28. ummm, whit, I would guess what you are hearing is that the GROWTH in consumer spending is nil. Consumers spending nothing is absurd.

    on a related note:

    "U.S. Adds Punitive Tariffs on Chinese Tires

    Article Tools Sponsored By
    Published: September 11, 2009

    WASHINGTON — In a break with the trade policies of his predecessor, President Obama announced on Friday night that he would impose a 35 percent tariff on automobile and light-truck tires imported from China."

    So are you guys with the POTUS on this one? I'm not!

  29. Ayatollahs cast growing shadow in Latin America

    By Roman D. Ortiz
    7:57 p.m. Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nomination last month of Ahmad Vahidi as defense minister starkly illustrates the danger posed by Iran’s Latin America penetration. Vahidi is wanted by Interpol in connection with the truck bombing of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires 15 years ago that killed 85 people and wounded more than 300. Argentine investigators accuse Iran of planning and financing this attack and Hezbollah of executing it.

    Responding to criticisms of his foreign policy during a pre-election debate in June, Ahmadinejad declared: “When the Western countries were trying to isolate Iran, we went to the U.S. backyard” — Latin America.

    The Obama administration must take note. Ahmadinejad’s regime promises to have strategic repercussions in America’s neighborhood. The expansion of Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere — diplomatic, economic, military and terrorist infrastructure — has been rapid.

    In little more than two years, the number of Iranian diplomatic representatives in the region has increased from six to 11 and the number of diplomatic personnel has grown proportionately. This multiplication of Iran’s ties with Latin America has been the result of a strategic convergence.

    Tehran sees its penetration in the region as essential to its efforts to weaken Washington international influence. The radical leftist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua view Iran as a partner with whom they share common ground: hostility towards the U.S. The result is an anti-American alliance in the heart of the Western Hemisphere.

    The growth of political ties has been followed by an expansion of economic interests. Iran has invested in a huge array of industries in Venezuela, ranging from car factories to cement production plants. The Islamic Republic has agreed to build a refinery and a petrochemical plant in Ecuador. Tehran is also making efforts to increase its commercial and cooperation ties with Mexico and Brazil.

  30. Furthermore, Iran is seeking to develop military ties with Venezuela. In 2007, Tehran signed an agreement to collaborate on defense matters, which has already resulted in the provision of a dozen Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). At the same time Tehran has become a key partner in the development of the space program and the nuclear projects of Caracas and announced plans to build a munitions factory in the Venezuelan state of Carabobo.

    The most worrisome Iranian activity in Latin America, however, is the establishment of terrorist infrastructures linked to Iran. Tehran employs a combination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — Vahidi was the head of IRGC’s Quds Force — and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah in its covert operations. The presence of both organizations in Latin America has substantially increased in recent years.

    For example, the IRGC is cooperating closely with Venezuelan intelligence agencies. Tehran sent observers to military exercises organized by Caracas in 2008. Hezbollah has built a network of relations with Venezuelan citizens, making Caracas Hezbollah’s gateway into Latin America. As the U.S. Treasury Department denounced, one Venezuelan diplomat accredited in Beirut, Ghazi Nasr al Din, provided support to Hezbollah, including help with setting up its fund-raising apparatus in Latin America.

    Hezbollah’s presence has been detected behind the proliferation of Shiite mosques in Ecuador. Hezbollah has been involved in the contraband of drugs in Colombia and in illegal immigrant traffic in Mexico. And the organization is expanding its presence in the region via proxies such as “Hezbollah Argentina” and “Hezbollah Venezuela.”

    Tehran seeks to gain strategic advantages from its increased influence in Latin America in case its refusal to stop its nuclear program provokes a military confrontation with Washington or Jerusalem. Tehran wants to use the threat of retaliation by terrorist networks in Latin America under its control as a tool to dissuade the U.S. and Israel from launching an attack against its nuclear infrastructure.

    In addition, the ayatollahs’ regime hopes its presence just south of the U.S. border forces Washington to pay more attention to the Western Hemisphere, leading to a reduction of America’s footprint in the Middle East.

    Iranian penetration in the Western Hemisphere must be taken seriously and addressed. Elements of the Obama administration have preferred to minimize the destabilizing potential of Tehran’s infiltration so as not to deal with the strategic dilemmas arising from the fact that the war against terrorism has a front in Latin America. At the same time, the moderate Latin American governments lack the experience to fathom the menace and the resources to confront it.

    The U.S. must curtail and counter Iran’s growing influence in Latin America so that terrorist attacks in this region cannot happen again and so that American actions to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons program will not be constrained. This requires stepping up the pressure on both sides of the equation.

    Washington should send a clear message to Teheran that it will not tolerate Iran-sponsored terrorist networks in Latin America. At the same time the Obama administration should impose diplomatic and commercial sanctions on those Latin American governments that are facilitating and supporting the Iranian destabilizing activities in the hemisphere.

    Roman D. Ortiz, senior associate in the private security and defense consulting firm Grupo Triarius in Bogota, Colombia, is a professor at the School of Economy at Los Andes University in Bogota.

  31. With the US negotiating directly with North Korea, Pyongyang can claim that the US will be negotiating with the one true Korea.

  32. Just to add, this is a huge victory for North Korea.

  33. Every President has to do the obligatory "Dumping" Deal, Ash.

    It's good for 3, or 4 (or, some other quantifiable amount) points in the polls (and, the ballot box.)

  34. Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Equador, and all the rest are sovereign states. If they want to do some business it's

    "Their Business."

  35. "Their Business."

    On such a nice Saturday it's no time to enter the barnyard and pick shit with the chickens.