The $100 billion no-deal Iran deal

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The $100 billion no-deal Iran deal

What passes for smart diplo­macy these days: For­eign pol­icy deals where the US gives in for noth­ing in exchange.

I have posted here and at my blog on the ease­ment of sanc­tions with Cuba, which was pre­ceded by the release of Amer­i­can hostage Alan Gross in exchange for five cuban spies. Gross was on 60 Min­utes, and the take­away from that inter­view will be lost on the Obama admin­is­tra­tion, but here it is all the same,

How regimes that coerce con­ces­sions are never sat­is­fied. As we’ve seen through­out the year, no mat­ter how many uncon­di­tional con­ces­sions and impunity Pres­i­dent Obama grants the Cas­tro régime, it sim­ply embold­ens it to want more. Repres­sion, refugees and rogue activ­i­ties are on the rise. That is the result of Obama’s coerced policy.

[Embold­ened, indeed: Cas­tro Gov­ern­ment Orders Demo­li­tion of Five Chris­t­ian Churches in Cuba]

Another deal in Havana, still in the mak­ing, is the FARC narco-​terrorist group’s so-​called peace nego­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment of Colom­bia. The White House’s envoy, Bernard Aron­son, appears to be will­ing to rub­ber stamp an agree­ment, regard­less of how much polit­i­cal or eco­nomic power it cedes to the FARC.

While the Cuban Com­mu­nist régime and the FARC are embold­ened, both of those deals pale next to the no-​deal Iran deal, offi­cially called the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action (JCPOA). By lift­ing sanc­tions, the U.S. is releas­ing $100 bil­lion in oil-​revenue assets frozen in banks.

To put that $100 bil­lion num­ber in per­spec­tive, the World Bank cur­rently esti­mates Iran’s gross domes­tic prod­uct at $369 bil­lion, down from last year’s $415 bil­lion. The $100 bil­lion is essen­tially a 27% raise, but Pres. Obama insists,

We’re not writ­ing Iran a check,” he said. “This is Iran’s money that we were able to block from them hav­ing access to.”

Now we find out that there’s noth­ing in writ­ing:

The Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an exec­u­tive agree­ment, and is not a signed doc­u­ment,” wrote Julia Fri­field, the State Depart­ment assis­tant sec­re­tary for leg­isla­tive affairs, in the Novem­ber 19 let­ter [to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Pom­peo (R., Kan.)].

Instead, it is a set of “polit­i­cal com­mit­ments.” Allah­pun­dit looks at the bright side, briefly, of the “not-​treaty-​or-​executive-​agreement,”

So we’re lift­ing $100 bil­lion in sanc­tions in exchange for a legally bind­ing promise of … noth­ing. The flip side of that, I guess, is that the deal’s not bind­ing on us either; if the next pres­i­dent or even Obama him­self wants to reim­pose sanc­tions on a whim, that’s fair game.

But,

The prob­lem with that logic, though, is that no one believes our Euro­pean part­ners, who crave renewed access to Iran’s mar­kets (and vice versa), will rein­state sanc­tions unless Iran cheats fla­grantly and egre­giously on the deal, to the point where it would humil­i­ate the EU inter­na­tion­ally to look the other way. One of Iran’s core goals in all this, re-​opening its trade rela­tion­ship with Europe, will be achieved whether or not ion deal is bind­ing. And once achieved, it’ll be nearly irreversible.

Guy Ben­son has more, much more on the deal, and he doesn’t even touch on the reper­cus­sions it may have for our hemi­sphere.

Back in Sam Gold­wyn’s days ver­bal a con­tract wasn’t worth the paper it’s writ­ten on. In our days of smart diplo­macy, it’s worth $100 billion.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, news and cul­ture at Fausta’s Blog.

What passes for smart diplomacy these days: Foreign policy deals where the US gives in for nothing in exchange.

I have posted here and at my blog on the easement of sanctions with Cuba, which was preceded by the release of American hostage Alan Gross in exchange for five cuban spies. Gross was on 60 Minutes, and the takeaway from that interview will be lost on the Obama administration, but here it is all the same,

How regimes that coerce concessions are never satisfied. As we’ve seen throughout the year, no matter how many unconditional concessions and impunity President Obama grants the Castro regime, it simply emboldens it to want more. Repression, refugees and rogue activities are on the rise. That is the result of Obama’s coerced policy.

[Emboldened, indeed: Castro Government Orders Demolition of Five Christian Churches in Cuba]

Another deal in Havana, still in the making, is the FARC narco-terrorist group’s so-called peace negotiations with the government of Colombia. The White House’s envoy, Bernard Aronson, appears to be willing to rubber stamp an agreement, regardless of how much political or economic power it cedes to the FARC.

While the Cuban Communist regime and the FARC are emboldened,  both of those deals pale next to the no-deal Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). By lifting sanctions, the U.S. is releasing $100 billion in oil-revenue assets frozen in banks.

To put that $100 billion number in perspective, the World Bank currently estimates Iran’s gross domestic product at $369 billion, down from last year’s $415 billion. The $100 billion is essentially a 27% raise, but Pres. Obama insists,

“We’re not writing Iran a check,” he said. “This is Iran’s money that we were able to block from them having access to.”

Now we find out that there’s nothing in writing:

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter [to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)].

Instead, it is a set of “political commitments.” Allahpundit looks at the bright side, briefly, of the “not-treaty-or-executive-agreement,”

So we’re lifting $100 billion in sanctions in exchange for a legally binding promise of … nothing. The flip side of that, I guess, is that the deal’s not binding on us either; if the next president or even Obama himself wants to reimpose sanctions on a whim, that’s fair game.

But,

The problem with that logic, though, is that no one believes our European partners, who crave renewed access to Iran’s markets (and vice versa), will reinstate sanctions unless Iran cheats flagrantly and egregiously on the deal, to the point where it would humiliate the EU internationally to look the other way. One of Iran’s core goals in all this, re-opening its trade relationship with Europe, will be achieved whether or not ion deal is binding. And once achieved, it’ll be nearly irreversible.

Guy Benson has more, much more on the deal, and he doesn’t even touch on the repercussions it may have for our hemisphere.

Back in Sam Goldwyn‘s days verbal a contract wasn’t worth the paper it’s written on. In our days of smart diplomacy, it’s worth $100 billion.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.