The North Korea Thread


So how bad was it? Like what was so monumentally stupid that he said to elicit this response?

I ask because I’m in India, and therefore a bit more out of the loop than normal due to the fact it’s 6am here.


That’s such a good book.

Beyond Jutland, it goes into great detail on the sinking of the HMS Victoria, which is Air France 447 levels of miscommunication and mismanagement. Incredible read.


Trump refused to re-certify the Iran nuclear agreement, tossing it on Congress to do…something. It’s not clear exactly what Trump actually wants, because clearly he has no clue about what the agreement is, or what an agreement is, in general, even.

HIs comments were to the effect that Iran was not living up to the deal and thus it needs to be junked or at least seriously revised. This despite the fact that pretty much no one else, anywhere, agrees with his “assessment” of the situation, and I use that term advisedly.


So, for all the bluster and hype that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, there is a chance he actually does, in this instance. Let me explain that confounding statement. Neither we, nor Israel, nor most of the arab nations and even some of Europe do not like the current agreement with Iran. It’s billed as too soft, with not enough unilateral inspection. The agreement has the ability to be reworked and appended, if all sides agree on that. It’s a 15-year agreement, and it banks on one simple proposal: that Iran’s current hardline regime will fade, the people will rise, and common sense will prevail. It’s meant to delay the inevitable, which is the time for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon.

It also bakes in providing aid, which was both immediate and ongoing throughout the deal. Some in monetary compensation, some toward their energy program. So, Trump being Trump, I’m going to guess it was suggested to him that Iran got something for nothing but a promise. He hates unfair deals like he hates bad press. He wants to renege on the entire deal, but perhaps someone suggested, “Mr. President, if you talk of walking away from it, we are more likely to get Iran back to the table to negotiate appended rules in our favor.”

So I’m hoping he is aiming for the latter, because just killing the deal because it is a deal will backfire in a big way. There was a lot of agreement that Iran was within a year of a nuclear capable weapon prior to the deal.


If they were only a year away, why’d they bother stiking a deal?


The multi-billion dollar question.

First guess: Israel


…would have…?



We were protecting other allies within region in looking for a deal. But also ourselves, as Iran has been a source of a lot of terrorist cell funding, etc. But the deal was bad. Israel doesn’t like it, and I think that’s also part of the pressure to renege on the deal and get something better.

Here is the Atlantic’s long winded version.

And the New York Times nutshell version.


Who is pressuring Trump? “He hates bad deals.” What? Fucking trump wouldn’t know a good deal from a bad deal if fill in the analog.. While the deal was contentious at the time, once it was signed the consensus emerged it was the best deal that could be made, and by all accounts it has delayed the Iranians window for getting nuclear weapons. Almost no one, even those that opposed it at the time thinks it’s a good idea now to “get something better” because that just isn’t going to happen.


The only deal Israel wants is us invading Iran for them.


True, they propose amending the current deal. And that’s where they are apparently trying to steer Trumps tirade about the deal itself, hopefully.


I hesitate to speak of deals like this as “bad” or “good.” In some ways, any compromise that doesn’t leave both sides sort of feeling bad about the agreement probably wasn’t very productive anyway. Ideally, sure, everyone would be smiling, but realistically most compromises are just that, both sides giving up stuff they don’t want to give up, in exchange for a necessity that isn’t necessarily that palatable despite being needed.

But then, I’m a heretic when it comes to non-proliferation. I firmly believe that the genie is out of the bottle, and while we should discourage nations from developing nukes, and encourage them not to, I feel the best use of energy is to focus on making sure no one uses nukes, rather than no one having them. For one thing, it’s technically easy even if hard in an engineering application sense, so it’s pretty inevitable that any moderately advanced society will be able to develop nukes if they want. For another thing, every attempt to enforce non-proliferation comes off as profoundly threatening and offensive to the people targeted, because it’s inevitably a case of “we’ve got ours, you can’t have yours,” exacerbated by, usually, a sense of entitlement being projected by the people demanding cessation of whatever nuclear program is under scrutiny.

I’m not at all thrilled with the Islamic Republic of Iran having nuclear weapons, but then, I’m positively scared shitless about Pakistan having them, and not terribly comfortable with anyone else, including us. The Israelis are somewhat justified in having a particular interest in the Iranian program, given the Iranian rhetoric about Israel, but they are not above building up the actual threat of Iran to sometimes excessive levels in pursuit of their own agenda. The Arab states in the Gulf? I really don’t care much, frankly. In the long term I’d rather have Iran as a partner than any of them, and really, most of them with the possible exception of Oman are pretty heinous enterprises themselves. Talk about support of terrorism…

As for the military options, again, there are few if any good ones. The Osirak strike in Iraq did more to speed up Iraqi interest and work on nukes than it did to delay it, according to many, and after that effort pretty much everyone, including Iran, started burying their stuff really deep, and dispersing assets. The reason the IAF hasn’t attacked the Iranians yet has to do with both politics (that’s a big sleeping dog to kick) and practicality; the IAF doesn’t have the assets to do it, and they’ve said this repeatedly. Which is why they want us to do it. Which IMO is a bad idea for a lot of reasons.


There isn’t the slightest chance of this happening. Any credibility the US had has been thrown away now that the Iranians are living up to the deal and we’re lying about it. Even if it was possible to trust us, we just don’t have any cards to play. There is no military option other than full-scale invasion and without the support of the Europeans there can’t be any effective economic sanctions.

Releasing frozen assets is not aid. That money belonged to the Iranians.

He hates fair deals. To him, honesty is a sign of weakness. If you make a deal, you have to violate it just to prove to the other side that you can.


I’m not in favor of Trump or reneging on the deal. I was pointing out why he might think saying that ditching it could be beneficial toward getting changes. This was talked about this morning by a few speakers on MSNBC.

So none of it was aid? As I heard it, they described very old money that was expected Iran would never get back, like decades old money. In a sense, giving them something like that … would it not be okay to describe that as aid? Perhaps like slipping a $20 note into a handshake?


My understanding is that we unfroze their assets as part of the deal to release the hostages in 1981, but I’m not sure about that. Either way, I think it sets a bad precedent if we treat that money like it belongs to us.


To your point, I think that money was at least a part of the long standing hostility between US and Iran.


Yes. Their foreign policy has basically been “let’s you and him fight” for the last 10 years if not longer. And it’s not even because they really think Iran is a direct threat. It’s because Iran supports Hezbollah, and because of whatever secret deals they have with the Saudis.


Either Trump told him to say that phrasing directly, or Tillerson really is incompetent and should be replaced.

Who threatens to bomb a sovereign nation in the same exact sentence they are espousing diplomacy?


Could be both