23 October, 2009

Friday tab dump

There's too much shit cluttering my browser:

  • A little while back, I said that "sanctions by themselves won't achieve much of anything, but they can have a beneficial impact when presented as a suite of positive and negative incentives. Provided - and this is the key - that that suite of incentives lead to real negotiations." Well, it certainly looks like the Obama administration's efforts to cultivate the support of Russia, China, and France for harsher sanctions on Iran, combined with Obama's personal outreach to the Iranians, has indeed led to real negotiations. Iran seems close to a deal that would ship most of its uranium out of the country, where it would be processed into non-weaponizable fuel and then returned. However, today Iran stalled for time - probably in response to its delicate balancing act at home - and a final answer is expected next week.
  • John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since the departure of Joe Biden, has taken on an out-sized role in implementing Obama's foreign policy - most importantly by convincing Hamid Karzai to accept a run-off election in Afghanistan. Is the groundwork being laid for a post-Clinton secretariat of State? Or is Obama just using all tools at his disposal?
  • Remember when we debated whether it was appropriate to impute to radical Islamism a strain of nihilism? Well, here is a fascinating argument that the true predecessor of Islamic terrorism was secular Anarchist terrorism. And how did we defeat Anarchist terrorism? Hint: not through a global war.
  • Fareed Zakaria on why deterrance will be the best policy for dealing with Iran. He argues that a nuclear Iran is quite likely since a military response will certainly not prevent it and a policy of engagement, while it should be tried, is realistically not too likely to work. And when it happens, the same strategy that maintained global order while holding back Soviet expansion should be how we deal with it: "we must stop exaggerating the Iranian threat. By hyping it, we only provide Iran with 'free power,' in Leslie Gelb's apt phrase. This is an insecure Third World country with a GDP that is one 40th the size of America's, a dysfunctional economy, a divided political class, and a government facing mass unrest at home...Deterrence worked with madmen like Mao, and with thugs like Stalin, and it will work with the calculating autocrats of Tehran. The Iranian regime has amply demonstrated over the past four months that it is interested in hanging on to power at all costs, jailing mullahs and ignoring its own clerical elite. These are not the actions of religious rulers about to commit mass suicide."
  • Obama looking to be very involved in crafting the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that will define US nuclear policy going forward. Ambinder, with some great reporting, delineates the fault lines between Obama, who is serious about reducing our stockpiles and who is against the further development of nuclear weapons, and the Pentagon, which wants to continue violating our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and wasting taxpayer money by developing fun new nuclear playthings.
  • Polish and Czech leaders are rallying behind the administration's new missile defense arrangements after an awkward transition.
  • Joe Biden knows how to respond to the likes of Dick Cheney: "Who cares?"

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