October 21, 2012

What to make of this leak from "a senior administration official" to the NYT about a U.S.-Iran agreement to negotiate over nuclear power?

Quite aside from whether there really is such an agreement, why would the administration want to leak the news? There is also an official denial of the agreement, but that just means the administration wants it both ways, and the question remains: Why do they want this?
News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time.
Is it a feint? How is Romney supposed to respond? The Obama team may have figured out the set of possible Romney responses and have Obama prepared to deliver a devastating response to whatever Romney chooses to do.

58 comments:

Paddy O said...

Obama is like Carter

wyo sis said...

What?
The October surprise without Gloria Allred?

pm317 said...

The agreement purportedly includes relaxing tough sanctions on Iran and naming a country, some country (wink, wink Israel) as the one that killed Iran's nuke scientists and Khomeni wants it all in writing. So that is the flexibility Obama is offering the Iranians BEFORE the election. Most people should see this as appeasement for reelection effort. Most people should also realize that if he gets reelected he will do nothing and Israel is hung out to dry, and Iran knows that too. That is the flexibility he offers AFTER the election.

Brent said...

Romney should turn the tables: allow Obama to bring it up, congratulate him, and then not commit to anything. Keep the points on Iran being unstable and press how bad the Biden intelligence - "they don't have a weapon to put the material in" - is. Does anyone trust the intelligence community after Benghazi?

Jason (the commenter) said...

How is Romney supposed to respond?

Romney gets intelligence briefings, if he's not being informed of negotiations he can say he knows the story is untrue and use that as evidence. Then he can respond to all questions about possible negotiations with Iran by denouncing The New York Times as an antiquated, ill-informed news organization.

wyo sis said...

What they can't do is make the American people believe that the Obama administration is capable of accomplishing anything in the face of the evidence.
Romney doesn't have to say anything except "Do you really think the gang that got our ambassador killed is able to take on Iran?"

pm317 said...

Only three questions in the debate on Iran on Monday and Obama has been programmed to answer them (despite the absence of TOTUS).

Another article, different perspective
debkafile’s Washington sources disclose that a large group of former high-placed US diplomats, ex-officials and elder statesmen – Democrats and Republicans alike – has come forward to warn the Israeli prime minister to give up any expectation, ever, of Barack Obama’s cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue. These former top Washingtonians all harbor strong reservations about the president’s foreign policy, especially on Iran.
Some have called Netanyahu in person and warned him that the White House instituted an intelligence-sharing dialogue with Israel only as a device for delaying an Israeli attack on Iran. If reelected, they say, he will weasel out of his repeated pledges to prevent Iran attaining a nuclear weapon and certainly not countenance preventive military action by Israel.
This is no secret to Tehran. Counting on Obama maintaining this posture and Israel’s compliance, the Iranians are certain they can go full speed ahead toward their nuclear goal without fear of interference.
Our sources also disclose that three questions on Iran will be put to the president and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in their third and last debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, Monday, Oct. 22.


mesquito said...

Well, this it off topic, but the last several paragraphs of the Houston Chronicle's endorsment of Mitt Romney appear to be written in Latin.

A lot needs fixing in America, from a broken economy to a broken-down political system. Mitt Romney offers the leadership we require from the White House.

Ilis niamet, volore veriustrud te feum iusciduisi.

Pit, si et aut ver sit venisl utpatin heniat dolobore dio odolor ad et eumsandigna commy num veratem quam, secte dolore corper accummy nullummod dolesto et prat, quat adignibh esectet praesequisi.

Aliquamcon utpat atum zzrilit, con ut alit il iure conummo dolore magna facillum quiscil laoreet la consenis eu feuis ex ea feugait ilit loborem zzrit dolent wissis num iustionse duisl ulputat.Ibh ea facing euipit at et lum nullaore dolendre dunt lorem del dunt lobor sisis aliquis iscidunt nonse core magna consed tatuerosto dit alit doloboreet nulpute dolutatie conum volore modolessi.....


http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Romney-for-president-3965675.php

Pogo said...

We have to pass the agreement so we can find out what's in it.

EDH said...
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garage mahal said...

Is there nothing this great man won't do to keep us safe from terrorists?

I swear, he sweats Red White and Blue!

Now if we could only get Republicans in Congress to stop exposing our covert operations around the world.

AJ Lynch said...

"devasting response delivered by Obama" ...Althouse give it up. Mr. Incompetence could not pull a rabbit out of his hat even if he had Houdini training him.

edutcher said...

I hear they're also rewriting the intel on the Benghazi mess.

Flop sweat.

It never worked out this way in Chi-town.

More to the point, I'm betting the Romster has already seen this piece from Michael Ledeen.

EDH said...

Romney response: "President Obama has promised many of our adversaries 'flexibility' after the election. What has he promised you and our allies?"

Pogo said...

Gosh, possible talks with Iran.

World peace is surely nigh.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Romney should say he's concerned the leaks from Obama's administration are jeopardizing America's national security goals.

McTriumph said...

Every US administration since Reagan's has had secret one on one negotiations with Iran, to no avail. Same ol same ol. Read Michael Ledeen's article.

http://pjmedia.com/michaelledeen/2012/10/20/the-october-surprise/

Mitchell said...

Ordinarily I wouldn't believe there's any such agreement but it turns out there were intense, secret exchanges so I'm on board.

firefirefire said...

If pressed on the Iran announcement Romney should say: "God bless their hearts,but why should anyone believe a word this administration says?"

rhhardin said...

Next leak:

An exchange of women is planned.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Who the hell could possibly give a flying fuck what Iran SAYS they will or will not do?

whoresoftheinternet said...

Attempt at an October surprise.

Attempt to make Obama seem long-visioned----hence the reference to "early" in his fascistic administration, to counter the reality---lefties don't think beyond the next minute, and only for self-aggrandizement.

Attempt to make Jeremiah Wright's best pupil seem competent and good.

God, Easy Annie A., are you really this dumb?

Rusty said...

The first question that come to my mind are what is this going to cost us in security and human lives.
This adminstrtions foreign policy seems to be rooted in giving the advantage to the other side.

deborah said...

Iran is working with Obama to keep Obama in.

(EDH for the win.)

Strelnikov said...

Remember: The error of Munich was not the agreement - it was agreeing to meet with Hitler as though he were a sane individual. It gave him status, which is what all two bit paper hangers want most, and it will do the same here. Obama has just handed Romney the most potent weapon possible for a campaign closer. At the beginning of this campaign, I could have picture Romney passing on this in the spirit of "national unity" - but not at this point. Ass kicking, thy name is Mitt.

Pogo said...

Next: Leaks on the secret economic plans to turn it all around in his second term.

Plus, the inside scoop on Obama's swimsuit.

Tim said...

Romney need not do anything.

If asked about the leak, all he needs to say is, "I, like all Americans, hope the Iranians give up their plans to develop nuclear weapons, but the timing of this leak, denied by the president, is suspicious."

Jason (the commenter) said...

Is it a feint?

Is it meant to take attention away from Libya?

gk1 said...

This just looks desperate on obama's part. Most people here nail it. Why would anyone think this administration of incompetants could pull this off even if the report is true?

Crimso said...

It worked so very well with North Korea...

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough

So how could we heartlessly pitch Obama into the dustsbin of history when he's Just About To do something historical?

He's gonna get tough, just you wait and see, why is everybody always pickin' on me?

khesanh0802 said...
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khesanh0802 said...
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Sam L. said...

There is no possibility of an agreement...that Iran would keep, even if there is an "agreement".

Methinks Mitt could use this as a cudgel.

Mary Beth said...

The bottom paragraphs are some sort of Lorem ipsum, nonsensical space holder.

khesanh0802 said...

This does nothing but stress (again) the confusion and mismanagement of the current White House. I don't see how this is going to help Obama in the Monday debate. In fact I see it as offering Romney any number of openings to crush our amateur president while continuing to appear polite and good humored.

Maybe the Clintons are behind this!

Paddy O said...

The trouble with having a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran is that no one actually trusts Iran. So, in a way, it makes Obama look naive.

Like any agreement with North Korea.

We all know they will break it, so giving them something in return for promises might make Obama look weaker.

Paddy O said...

Also, Romney can use the "why now and not 2 years ago" line.

Drago said...

Garage: "Is there nothing this great man won't do to keep us safe from terrorists?"

Yes, there is something this man won't do to keep "us" safe from terrorists.

He won't provide additional US security (to augment/replace 3rd party outsourced libyan local security provided thru a UK security company)to support an American Ambassador in a muslim country on the anniversary of 9-11 which has a destabilized government (due to the obama admin overthrowing the ruling regime without Congressional approval or consultation) and a significant and increasing Al Qaeda presence EVEN after multiple requests for additonal security requested by the security chief and the (now dead) Ambassador himself.

Is that what you meant?

Dante said...

They want to fire up their base to get out the vote, while not allowing the Rs to be able to refute it.

It's all about firing up the base and getting out the vote.

elkh1 said...

Romney could say: Oh, really! Does Iran agree to stop their nukes or agree to talk later? Talk is cheap, you know? In the mean time, Egypt wants Iranian nukes too. If Iran is going to stop, what are the Egyptians going to buy with our 400+ million dollars that your administration released to them?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

This is so obviously a political ploy it hardly deserves attention. As Althouse says, that it was leaked shows that the administration wants to have it both ways. But this is just par for the course for the politically naive Obamites. I am more deeply suspicious of the Iranians. Since at least 1979 they have been quite aware that they can influence American elections, and this is just the latest example. They have had their way with Obama, and are pleased with his abandonment of Israel. They'll do whatever they can to lower Romney's chances, but this noise about face-to-face talks is just that. After the election, they will delay, temporize, and then walk out. That's just how they roll.

BaltoHvar said...

Unless Bibi and Dinnerjacket are in town lacing up their camping boots for a hike in the Maryland country-side, this means little.

Even Jimmah had that feather in his Billy Beer cap and lost.

The opportunity in '09 was squandered to make real, serious, liberating re-revolution in that sad, oppressed country. All that was heard from the WH then was "fore."

The Drill SGT said...

What this does is freeze the Israelis in place for four months, to the advantage of the Iranians and Obama.

It also allows Obama to duck all iran questions.

After the election, both sides know Obama will have more flex.

Cedarford said...

Mary - "It's not enough that Iran develop, but not use nukes (think Israel); the president can't be seen as "permitting" such an action. Egypt is hankering to join the club too now -- if Israel started the race there, she can't deny others the opportunity to compete likewise.

Or she couldn't without US muscle backing her up. Talk about girls who want to have it all..."

===================
At one time, Keenan and the rest of the "Containment crowd" pretty much had the ME and Indian subcontinent figured out.

Nuclear umbrellas, bulwark against Soviet incursion and Indian expansion offered. A check on Brit, French, Zionist colonialism - demonstrated when we shut down the 3 agressors in the Suez War in 1956. Even in the 70s and 80s, the existence of Israeli WMDs was not seen as destabilizing or something other nations military strategists thought they needed to get the technology, educations, infrastructure - then prograns - to match.

Things have deteriorated over the years. The fear of the Soviets is gone from the Muslims, the Great Islamic Awakening has meant our interests further diverge. The US has failed badly in the post-Soviet world dealing with the rise of Islam as the primary focus of many Muslim nations. Failed to work out how to get a nuclear free ME. (Mainly on the Israel Lobby's intransigience, then Palestinian intransigience, US desire to keep things as they are, then Islamist intransigence)

Now, unfortunately, it makes some sense in the absence of treaties and understandings - for nations in the ME to challenge the Israeli WMD monopoly.

Michael K said...

Cedarford worries about "Israeli intransigence."

When your country is 6 miles across, you will probably be "intransigent" on the things that will kill you.

Cedarford said...

BaltoHvar - "The opportunity in '09 was squandered to make real, serious, liberating re-revolution in that sad, oppressed country. All that was heard from the WH then was "fore."

----------------
You are deluding yourself if you think the "Green Revolution and Martyred Nena" was anything but a modest-sized revolt by mostly well-to-do urban elite youth against a much larger part of the population that has gone along with or completely supports the current Islamist regime.

People that compared crowd sizes to those that rose up against the Shah conclude it was 20-23 times less people demonstrating and marching. (and back then, the secret police, the Savak, was as brutal on people that crossed political lines and lines of authority as the Mullahs and Revolutionary Guard are now).

Going into Iran on that would be akin to deluding ourselves like we did at the Bay of Pigs - where the Batista exiles convinced American leaders and themselves that they would be welcomed as Freedom Lovers! and swept back into Havana with the support and adulation of the masses.

CWJ said...

Tyrone Slothrop@11:03

Nailed it. No more needs said.

BaltoHvar said...

C4 - I did not mean to infer WE needed to do a Bay of Pigs.

I meant that the lack of a serious response in support of the up-rising may have help nurture a larger and more protracted internal response. The sham elections, and indeed the street murder(s?) that took place could have been more of catalyst for the protests to become like those in '79, except in a direction of true democracy.

The "Students" of '79 were also under the thumb of a totalitarian regime, and they eventually had a successful revolution.

The momentum toward a free Iran was beginning, and the opportunity to support it externally was lost.

furious_a said...

"Agreement to negotiate"?

Pretty weak tea for an October Surprise.

BaltoHvar said...

Furious - that's exactly right...

I just watched "The Missles of October" the other night. One of the then Administrations deepest convictions was that to negotiate meant (paraphrase) "giving something up" in return. It was unacceptable. It was blackmail.

Yes - the missiles in Turkey were dismantled, but they were obsolete anyway so they were NOT something in return. Instead they served the diplomatic and political purpose, and even then somewhat after the fact, instead of during the peak of tensions during those 13 days.

Damon said...

Obama loves it both ways always. "...These acts of terror." It isn't a terrorist attack until it is a terrorist attack.

That slight of tongue single-handedly saved Obama/doomed Romney in the last debate.

From Inwood said...

Let me see, what was the name of that movie about a fake WH attempt to help POTUS win re-election? Was it "Wag The Dog" or was it "Eat Tha Dog"? Oh wait, Obama is the one who ate the dog.

Phil 3:14 said...

Sounds like a secret plan.

PETER V. BELLA said...

It is nothing but testing the polling waters.

Alex said...

An obvious attempt at an "October surprise", but it will fail because negotiations != Iran giving up their nuclear weapons program.

traditionalguy said...

The message implies that this is an end run around those dangerous Israeli Jews. The antisemitic Dems will see it as a brilliant Obama redistribution of nuclear weapons umbrella to save the weak little Muslims.

Bibi promptly issued a statement that Israel is not in the loop on Obama's end run.

john marzan said...

how did the last "no preconditions" talks with iran work 2 years ago?