What’s The Deal?

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clinton.davutoglu.jpg
(Photo Credit: State Department Photo by Michael Gross)
This post also appears at The Race for Iran.
The New York Times, among others, is reporting that Turkey, Brazil, and Iran have agreed “in principle” to a nuclear fuel-swap that the three countries hope can placate the United States and its P5+1 partners at least enough to avoid a new round of Security Council sanctions on Iran.
More details will be available tomorrow, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The deal was reached after Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan – who said on Friday that he would not attend the talks in Iran this weekend due to insufficient progress in the negotiations – canceled a trip to Azerbaijan and joined his Brazilian and Iranian counterparts in Tehran today.
This is big news and geopolitical drama at its highest – but questions remain: “What precisely is the agreement – and is it something the United States will support?”
If the Obama administration considers the agreement merely what Steve Clemons has called a “political backdoor” that allows Iran to halt the momentum toward further sanctions without making meaningful concessions on its nuclear program, then there will be a very interesting divide between the Western P5+1 powers and the emerging power centers in Ankara and Brasilia.
Given the close coordination between Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I would be surprised if Davutoglu reached a deal with Tehran that the United States cannot accept. On the other hand, Clinton’s prediction on Friday that he Brazilian effort would fail perhaps suggests otherwise.
More soon.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

13 comments on “What’s The Deal?

  1. Dan Kervick says:

    Right now, the administration’s wrong-footed first reaction has made it look like our entire diplomatic stance for the past several months was undertaken in bad faith. If the credibility of the US government depends on backing words with deeds, then the White House is going to have to work out a graceful way of taking yes for an answer.
    Obama has allowed himself to be maneuvered into isolating our country. This gave Turkey and Brazil a diplomatic opportunity big enough to drive a truck through. In economic affairs, he understands he had to broaden the decision-making nexus from the G8 to the G20. But in the security area, he is acting like the world is run by a G4: the US, UK, France and Germany.
    We don’t live in a bipolar world any longer, one in which the US can exert leadership by positioning itself simply as the chief power in the “free world”. Obama needs to do a better job understanding where the globe’s center of political gravity lies.
    Unfortunately, the US public has been so provincialized and radicalized in recent years, and so indulged in their nostalgic and chauvinistic fantasies about the nature and extent of US power, that I don’t know how a US president now brings them into the 21st century.

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    Dan, you seem to think that global leadership consists of saying the right words to find “the center of these global debates,” instead of having won respect and credibility based on past performance, including the willingness to back words with deeds.
    The actions of Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Brazil clearly spell out Obama’s total lack of respect and credibility.

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  3. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, we’ll have to see what the deal is. But if Obama does suffer a loss of face as a result, then as I wrote in response to Steve’s original post on the Lula intervention, Obama will have only himself to blame.
    If Obama’s goal is to re-establish US credibility and global leadership, and put himself forward as the arbiter of global rectitude and sanity, then then he is going to have to work harder to position the US in the center of these global debates, instead of on one of the two extremes.

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  4. nadine says:

    Dan, on this issue JohnH is closer to the truth than you are. “Everybody” has not saved face — the US has lost face, badly, while Iran, Turkey and Brazil have gained face. Now we will have four to six months of negotiations, at the end of which this transfer deal won’t happen, any more than the Russian transfer happened last year. But Iran will have gotten another six months of time to advance its nuclear weapons program, which is what it wanted in the first place.
    If you think Iran is looking for a face-saving deal then you are an even bigger fool than I took you for. Iran wants more time, and has gained seven years already through “negotiations” that never lead to an agreement and “deals” that always fall through.

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  5. JohnH says:

    Obama has really painted himself into a corner. His campaign was premised entirely on Iran

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  6. Carroll says:

    It doesn’t matter, well it matters somewhat, if Turkey and Brazil consulted with Obama or Hillary beforehand or not…but it’s still good.
    If they did, Obama is using “others” to get to his goal while maintaining some domestic political cover…if they didn’t…well then, it’s about time the world side stepped Isrmerica and our zionista congress on Iran and Israel.
    In a way it would be even more encouraging if they didn’t consult with Washington beforehand on this deal because the US needs to have it’s superpower tutu shrunk to the proper size.

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  7. DonS says:

    Dan, you lack Nadine-logic. Nothing is good that lowers the temperature or favors accommodation over threat.
    Maybe another ‘sanctions-war’ escalation track has been averted. If so, I agree that it looks like a good thing. And Obama can certainly claim pressure contributed to the outcome. That’s what diplomatic language is for, isn’t it?

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  8. Dan Kervick says:

    “Um, Dan, you missed listing the one outcome which actually would have strengthened the US: having its deeds match its words by succeeding in imposing sanctions on Iran. Now, once again, Obama looks like a fool.”
    On the contrary. If this deal holds up, the US will be able to say that Iran would never have made the deal without the US-sponsored threat of sanctions hanging over its head.
    Everyone saves face. No pies. And the world gets a deal that is perfectly adequate to address legitimate nuclear security concerns.
    Nobody ever expects the initial tough negotiating stance to be the view that prevails in the concluding settlement.

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  9. jonst says:

    If Nadine is unhappy, and on the attack, good things are in the air. We may avoid putting sanctions on one more nation yet.

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  10. nadine says:

    “The US would surely appreciate a graceful way out of the corner into which they have backed themselves, one that allows them to accept a reasonable compromise on an overhyped security threat without the political cost of moderating their hard-line public stance, or having to back down in direct negotiations with Tehran.” (Dan Kervick)
    Um, Dan, you missed listing the one outcome which actually would have strengthened the US: having its deeds match its words by succeeding in imposing sanctions on Iran. Now, once again, Obama looks like a fool. Was this what Obama praised Lula for, so Lula could demolish the last chance of imposing those sanctions that Obama has been saying he wants all this time?
    Yet Ben Katcher says blithely: “I would be surprised if Davutoglu reached a deal with Tehran that the United States cannot accept.”
    The US doesn’t have much choice, does it? It’s a done deal.
    Barry Rubin sums up the situation:
    “Now Lula has just visited Tehran in person and proposed that Brazil should provide Iran with equipment and parts to modernize its oil production while Iran assists Brazil in deep-water drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean. Lula also said he would urge Brazilian companies to invest in Iranian refineries. There can be no doubt that Brazil will oppose sanctions in the UN.
    Seems Lula is a “great admirer” of the Islamist regime.
    So once again

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee. Alfred E Newman has certainly aged gracefully, hasn’t he? He still looks rather young for his age.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    “Given the close coordination between Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I would be surprised if Davutoglu reached a deal with Tehran that the United States cannot accept.”
    Let’s realize that despite all of the public posturing and media campaigning about how upset the US supposedly is that Lula and Erdo?an have gone ahead on this front, in all likelihood Washington has given plenty of discreet go-ahead winks to their Brazilian and Turkish friends.
    Zaman reported conversation between Lula, Erdo?an and Obama at the nuclear security summit:
    ” … Although Lula and Erdo?an did not obtain a firm commitment from Obama that he would

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  13. ... says:

    …”””that the three countries hope can placate the United States and its P5+1 partners…”””
    forget about trying to placate a frothing pit bull…

    Reply

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