Will Iran Unanimity Turn Around to Bite Bush?

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

President Bush has been basking in the unanimity he fashioned concerning Iran among the “Five plus One” countries: the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia, and China) plus Germany. With this diplomatic triumph, Bush is shedding his image of “My way or the highway” unilateralism.
But only at the cost of considerable risk. The more he relies on this success, the deeper he “digs himself into a hole,” if he should veto an Iranian counter-offer that others would accept (even just one or two of the others.)
The unanimity among the six nations was secured only by leaving a key provision unsettled. All agreed that Iran must “suspend” its Uranium enrichment program, but there was no consensus on what this “suspension” would require.
The US insists, in terms that sound non-negotiable, that there is no suspension “while one centrifuge spins.” But, others seem ready to permit some modest spin. It would allow Iran to have stood up for its principle of autonomy–and, equally important, to have stood up to the United States and won.
Iran’s upcoming counter-proposal is, in fact, very likely to include some centrifuges–monitored at a number not considered serious for bomb-making, possibly along with a commitment to forego injecting Uranium gas into the machines. Of the six allies, China is the most likely to accept such an Iranian offer, and after China, Russia and Germany.
If the US vetoes such a compromise, Bush’s diplomatic triumph will implode, the UN sanctions we want will not be imposed, and Iran’s nuclear program can go full speed ahead. The responsibility for this disaster would go to Bush’s no-compromise, no-diplomacy, no-alliance intransigence.
If this occurs, it will be shortly before the mid-term congressional elections.

“Convinced that the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse”

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

In case you missed it…
In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran’s Offer of Dialogue–Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity
By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, June 18, 2006; Page A16
Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table — including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.
But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.
DKo: So far the Bush people have found neither WMDs in Iraq nor a Government on the Verge of Collapse in Iran.
This story ran on Page 16 of the Washington Post, in the Houston Chronicle, The People’s Daily, China, and East Day, China, and nowhere else, based on a Google news search I did on a phrase in the text.

Trickle-up economics

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, State of the Union

Larry Beinart has a good analysis at the HuffPost of how wrong Republican economics are for the U.S. (Bushenomics 102: Reality.
One point I’d like to reinforce is this: If you want to cut taxes, cut it from the bottom up. The money will get spent, stimulating the economy. and the base of the tax cut will be broader. The wealthy will get benefits from this too.
If there isn’t enough revenue available to cut taxes across the board at the bottom (one way to do this is to raise the standard deduction), then maybe the money isn’t there for tax cuts at all.

They laughed at Edison

· Democrats, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

And they laughed at Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy. Personally, I think its essential that the Democracts compete across the entire country and stop ceding entire regions to the Republicans.
For one thing, Red State Democrats are some of the most dedicated supporters the party has. It’s *easy* to be a Democrat in San Francisco. It’s a lot more difficult to maintain that belief system in Alabama or Utah.
Before we can win in those states we have to start losing better, losing by less, building a presence, building an organization, and building momentum.
An email circular I received today cites a number of compelling rewards already realized from this effort:
> MISSISSIPPI: Republican Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Democrats representing competitive districts in the state legislature to various boards and commissions, triggering four special elections at a time when he believed that his personal popularity would translate into new Republican legislators. Just a few months prior, the 50-state strategy had taken the number of Democratic Party staff in Mississippi from one full-time person to five. By organizing on the ground the way Democrats in Mississippi haven’t had the resources to do in a generation, we swept all four special elections. Now Gov. Barbour has four more Democrats holding appointments in his administration and the same number of Democrats sitting in the legislature.
> OHIO: The 50-state strategy means new staff in Ohio who have been reviving the field organizing efforts across the state. In a place where it had been typical to build and tear down an entire campaign infrastructure every election cycle, new staff are creating permanent organizing teams in every single county. These teams will be responsible for various functions during the course of the very competitive campaigns there in 2006 — and won’t disappear after Election Day.
> SOUTH DAKOTA: With the added boost from new staff and resources, Democrats fielded a record number of legislative candidates this year, recruiting challengers in nearly 40% more races than in 2002.
> INDIANA: With fresh resources and energy, Indiana Democrats have been making waves. The Indianapolis Star reported recently that, “Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state Republicans have taken a beating in recent months from the Indiana Democratic Party” thanks to the 50-state strategy, which provided the opportunity to hire a full-time spokesperson. Indiana is also the first state in the country to hold elections under new laws that requires voters to use photo identification that includes an expiration date. Predictably, rightful voters have been disenfranchised by this law. New staff and resources have helped collect data from the May 2nd primary election that will be needed to appeal to the federal court.
> OKLAHOMA: The 50-state strategy has been credited with re-energizing grassroots throughout the state. In April, the new staff paid off when the Democratic candidate scored an upset victory, unseating a Republican incumbent as mayor of Tulsa.
> NEW YORK: In rural upstate New York, which Republicans rely on for their base voters, unprecedented ground organizing is showing that the 50-state strategy means leaving no county behind. Already, new staff on the ground have identified 12,000 new Democratic voters – voters who we will get to the polls this November and in elections to come, helping Democrats up and down the ballot.
> UTAH: Already, 2006 marks the best candidate recruitment for the Utah Democratic Party in over 15 years. Democrats have recruited candidates for every single State Senate race, and Democrats have challengers running in ten State House races that went unopposed in 2004. The recruitment efforts, led by new staff deployed as part of the 50-state strategy, include not only life-long Democrats but also six Republicans who have switched parties.
> NEW HAMPSHIRE: Regional field organizers deployed as part of our 50-state strategy have already racked up important wins. They have already worked hands-on to elect three new Democratic members to the State House – in seats that had been held by Republicans since 1912.

The Looming Pitched Battle for the City of Kirkuk

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

I’ve been following the thread of the story of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, and it seriously looks as if in late 2007 that city is going to move Iraq into a new, bloodier, level of warfare: pitched battle for territory, with full-scale armies on the attack.
It is hard to believe, even for me: If Kirkuk is really this alarming, how could it be getting so little attention? But, here are the signs.

Kirkuk is a city of 1 million that controls 40% of Iraq’s oil reserves and 70% of its natural gas.
It is located just south of the northern provinces slated to become the Kurdish third of the new federated Iraq. The southern third is oil rich, and will make up the pure Shiite component of the federation. In the middle third there is no oil, unless there is Kirkuk.
“Kurdish politicians regard Kirkuk as key to their sustained autonomy; to more militant Kurds, the city is a cornerstone of a future Kurdistan nation.” (“Tensions Simmer as Kurds Reclaim Kirkuk,” 5/12/2006, Los Angeles Times, Solomon Moore)
“Many Iraqi Arabs, both Sunni and Shiite, are adamantly opposed to relinquishing Kirkuk, among them Sadr and his political followers.” (“Shiite Militias Move Into Oil-Rich Kirkuk, Even as Kurds Dig In,” April 25, 2006, Washington Post Foreign Service, Jonathan Finer)
“Iraq’s constitution, …calls for a referendum on the future of the region by the end of 2007, but many key details are in dispute, such as who will be permitted to vote.” (WP)
“Kirkuk, with a population of about 1 million, has long been home to a mix of Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs, both Shiite and Sunni Muslims, and a smattering of Christians….[A]bout 250,000 Kurdish residents [who had been forced] to give up their homes to Arabs in the 1970s…. have returned to Kirkuk…along with as many as 100,000 newcomers.” (LAT)
“Kurdish leaders speak openly of their intention to use force if necessary to gain control of the city, which they consider the historical capital of a vast Kurdish nation also extending into Iran and Turkey…Kurds have already demonstrated their impatience with Baghdad and the U.S.-led reconstruction effort by independently approving at least two oil exploration deals in Kurdistan.” (LAT)
The Kurds already have in place a serious regular army of as many as 100,000 (NYT), the peshmerga “militia,” created in the US protected No-Fly Autonomous Zone, while Hussein was still in power. Much of it has already morphed into the Iraqi Army in their region.
The diffuse Sunni “Insurgency” will certainly concentrate its attention on Kirkuk. It is the only potential oil resource of their middle-third of the country. Even now, Sunni “Insurgents” keep oil production and transport there at a standstill, through sabotage, infiltration, and killings. Real Kurdish economic control would require at the very least a bloody and prolonged counterinsurgency, even after annexation.
For the Shiite forces of Moqtada al Sadr, their primary base is not in the southern third of Iraq, but in Baghdad’s Sadr City. “Sadr’s representative in [Kirkuk], Abdul Karim Khalifa, told U.S. officials that more armed loyalists were on the way and that as many as 7,000 to 10,000 Shiite residents were prepared to fight alongside the Mahdi Army if called upon. Legions more Shiite militiamen would push north from Baghdad’s Sadr City slum…” (WP) And in those circumstances, it would be hard to imagine the competing Shiite Badr brigades just sitting things out.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine the Shiite-led Iraqi federal government doing any kind of neutral “peacekeeping” here. The 2007 preelection census (voter registration) will surely be politicised, ill-defined, contested, and inconclusive–something the usual election observers will be ill-equipped to “monitor. ” Even if it requires a parliamentary realignment of Shiites and Sunnis together against the Kurds, the Iraqi government is at least as likely to actively back the “Arab side” to “enforce law. and order” (according to their own interpretation of events). Or, it is also possible the government would become procedurally frozen and officially immobilized. But then its component militias will simply open out and go to war.
Turkey has already threatened to send its own army in response to any Kurdish annexation of Kirkuk. Turkey is driven by fear of its own rebellious Kurdish minority, ranged along the Iraqi border. They, in turn, would be almost sure to wage at least a local war across Turkish supply lines.
Even if the US wanted to rush its forces back to respond the crisis, whom would they fight for or against, and why?
I know I am assuming that any compromise (joint sovereignty? revenue-sharing?) will be unacceptable to some or all of the parties. Maybe not. But, personally, I just don’t see where compromise will come from. It will take more from the United States than faith-based projections of stability, “standing up and standing down.” (We classify the city as already stabilized, and our troops have largely moved out.) National politics and the press need to face the the reality of the Kirkuk conflict, study it, anticipate it, deal with it. The arrogance of our ignorance has already caused immeasurable grief.