The Path To War – Iran

An article of 15th March in the Tehran Times states that the speech that Netanyahu gave has had the effect of hastening along negotiations with the Obama Administration.

I am quoting the whole article in case it is removed at some point.

The final two sentences read:

The greatest threat to a potential settlement at the moment comes from a Republican-dominated Senate, where skeptics are striving to secure a presidential-veto-proof majority, which would subject any such agreement to congressional review. If successful, such a move could terminate diplomacy once and for all and open up a path to war that cannot easily be reversed.

Why would that open up a path to war? The only circumstance in which the US has shown any interest in what Iran does is if Iran wants to build a bomb. If it does not, then there is no path to war. If it does, then how can these negotiations proceed?

I feel as though more has been said in this article than was intended.

Organized behind the back of the Obama administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech in front of the Republican-dominated Congress has arguably exerted a polarizing effect on how the U.S. will act during the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran. The unconventional letter by a group of 47 Republican Senators — who bypassed the White House to directly address Iranian leaders about the constitutional powers of the legislature – was the most explicit example of such an effect. Any deal on “your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress,” the letter reads, will be considered as “nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei” which could thus be repealed “with the stroke of a pen.”
 
Ironically, however, Netanyahu’s spoiler attempt has also set in motion a parallel political-psychological dynamic, both in Washington and Tehran that is actually helping facilitate negotiations toward a feasible settlement. Both the Obama administration and the Iranian leadership, including President Hassan Rouhani, now feel that any potential failure to clinch a deal will be largely attributed to Netanyahu’s last-ditch “heroic feat”, rather than to irresolvable differences between the negotiating parties.
 
On the U.S. side, Obama does not want to go down in American history as a weak leader, who buckled under the pressure of a foreign prime minister and had to submit to the demands of a “junior partner” at the end of his two-term presidency. With this in mind, it is no surprise that Obama has been exceptionally quick to respond to Netanyahu’s congressional address.
 
“I did not have a chance to watch Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech,” he said shortly after the talk was given. Obama further downplayed the speech as featuring “nothing new” and offering no “viable alternatives” to a negotiated agreement. In a thinly veiled attempt to confront critics with a sort of fait accompli, he had suggested, only a day before the speech, a verifiable suspension of Iran’s nuclear program for at least 10 years as a prerequisite to a final deal. Notably, in a rare yet calculated interview a few days later, Obama cited “progress in narrowing the gaps” during the nuclear talks with Iran. And finally, he was as quick to scorn the open Republican letter to Iranian leaders as an “ironic” indication of an “unusual coalition” between hardliners in Washington and Tehran. Other senior administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, voiced similar criticism, respectively denouncing the letter as “highly misleading” and “absolutely incorrect.”
 
An anti-Netanyahu dynamic is even more easily perceptible on the Iranian side, where opponents of the Rouhani government have generally portrayed Netanyahu’s opposition as a “conspiracy” on the part of the U.S. and its allies to extract even more concessions from Iran. Of paramount significance, however, is Tehran’s subtle volte-face over the 10-year moratorium demand shortly after Netanyahu’s address.
 
While Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had dismissed Obama’s proposal as “unacceptable” and “excessive” before the speech on March 3, he hinted during an interview with CNN on March 5 that in the event of an agreement, “we are prepared to accept certain limitations for a certain period of time.” Further on, Zarif inveighed against the Republican letter, labeling it a “propaganda ploy” and asserting that a potential “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” will be concluded not just between Iran and the U.S., but by “all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.” In yet another sign of the changing atmosphere, Davoud Mohammadnia, a member of Iran’s negotiating team, stated on March 11 that a comprehensive accord, once accomplished, will “definitely” see a halt to the unilateral U.S. sanctions “as from the first day of its implementation.”
 
The irony of Netanyahu’s spoiler speech lies in the fact that it is helping narrow rather than widen the gaps between the negotiating parties, by turning him into a catalyst for both the Obama administration and the Iranian leadership to reach an agreement. This does not mean, however, that a deal is at hand or can be taken for granted. The greatest threat to a potential settlement at the moment comes from a Republican-dominated Senate, where skeptics are striving to secure a presidential-veto-proof majority, which would subject any such agreement to congressional review. If successful, such a move could terminate diplomacy once and for all and open up a path to war that cannot easily be reversed.

Obama Kerry Asad – 2011 to 2015

This is an extract of what President Obama said in a White House statement of 18th August 2011

The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people.  We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way.  He has not led.  For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.

That was before the rise of IS and the uncertain position that Turkey has taken in the region.

Now Reuters reports on what Secretary of State John Kerry said at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt on March 13th:

The United States will have to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a political transition in Syria and is exploring ways to pressure him into agreeing to talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News in an interview.
Washington has long insisted that Assad must be replaced through a negotiated, political transition, but the rise of a common enemy, hardline militant group Islamic State, appears to have slightly softened the West’s stance towards him.
In the interview broadcast on Sunday, Kerry did not repeat the standard U.S. line that Assad had lost all legitimacy and had to go. Syria’s civil war is now into its fifth year, with hundreds of thousands killed and millions of Syrians displaced.

The Imitation Game – Film Review

What to say about it. As a film it kept its pace and it worked overall.

The most deeply-flawed character was Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing. He has to take the rap because the film was built around him. He is obviously capable – highly capable. But something went wrong.

I had high hopes when he first appeared – a highly-intelligent person who did not suffer fools gladly and who was a cruel and expert swordsman with his words.

When we first see him being interviewed for the job at Bletchley he is sardonic and cutting – and when we see him being interviewed by the police about the burglary at his house he is the same.

But at times at Bletchley he is bumbling and hesitant in a way that he is quite simply, another person.

Yes, I know, people have more than one side to them – but not these two sides.

The moment in the film that I knew it was falling apart was early on when the original code breakers were first together and The MI6 man (Mark Strong) makes a parting remark about leaving the children to play with their toys.

That was bad enough, but then when the boys are left and wonder what they should do, the then team leader (Matthew Goode) says ‘Let’s Play’, my heart sank.

So much for the human interactions. What made it worse was the poor attempt it made to show what went on at Bletchley.

For example, can it really be that no one had thought what they would do when they broke the code? Did no one think the obvious – that they couldn’t go around forestalling every German plan because they would tip their hand to the fact of the code having been broken?

And what was anyone to make of the redcap who tips a drawer-full of Turing’s papers onto the desk and then announces – ‘Nothing here Sir.’ – meaning that he hadn’t found the secret codes and tools of a Soviet spy. Oh come on!

I think Matthew Goode was weak because he didn’t carry the conviction that he was a code breaker. Nothing about him suggested it. Mark Strong as the MI6 man was really good, given the parts he has played recently where he has hammed it up a bit too much. Kiera Knightley was a bit patchy, and best in the opening scenes.

I wonder what went on during the making of the film? Did someone come the heavy and force a change of direction? Did the director lose control or interest? There was a real wealth of possibility in this film but it didn’t use it.

Final word for wonderful acting from the young Alan Turing (Alex Lawther). I would give him an intelligent film in which to act and let him get on with it.