4 Reasons Why the Iran Deal May Be the Worst Diplomatic Decision in History

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The deal the Obama administration reached with Iran is one of the worst in history, according to Heritage Foundation defense expert Jim Carafano:

Rarely has there been a deal like the one reached in Vienna . . . a deal in which all the nations most closely affected by it, including Iran, pretty much start out knowing it won’t end well.

Not only does the deal undermine nuclear proliferation by legitimizing Iran as a nuclear threshold state, it also undermines our allies.

Here are the four most dangerous problems with the deal:

  1. The whole neighborhood will race to go nuclear. This deal most likely will accelerate nuclear proliferation. Because if regional powers feel threatened by the possibility of Iran getting a weapon and the penalty for producing nuclear weapons decreases, then why wouldn’t they?
  2. Tehran gets to keep its vast nuclear infrastructure and its missile program.  And the promises from Iran only confirm the obvious: that the regime definitely has nuclear-weapons ambitions. After all, why have a massive ballistic-missile program and secret military nuclear facilities if the plan isn’t to build nuclear weapons?
  3. Sanctions relief will make the region far less safe. The sanctions relief and the renewed ability to sell more oil on the open market could wind up bringing $300-400 billion into the Iranian economy, bolstering the Iranian government. Essentially, this means the deal will pay for undermining U.S. policy and interests throughout the region.
  4. The deal is temporary, by design. Even the White House doesn’t claim it will permanently keep Iran from getting a bomb. So, what’s the point?

The deal enriches and emboldens Iran — an unstable and unprincipled nation. And it destabilizes the region even further and its puts its neighbors — our allies — at risk. It is a bad deal.  While the Obama administration insists that there were only two choices — the deal or war — the choices were neither that limited, nor that simple.  As Carafano concludes, “This deal is not the antidote to war. Rather, it makes increased conflict all the more likely.”

What do you think of the Iran deal?

‘The U.S. Has Failed at Negotiations 101′

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As the Iran nuclear negotiations drag on past their June 30 deadline, Iran has set new “red lines” that any deal must meet.

America’s negotiating requirements, however, are little more than “pink dotted lines” at this point, according to a panel of experts who presented yesterday at The Heritage Foundation.

The ultimate problem with this deal, Heritage’s Jim Phillips argued, is that the administration has an agreement in principle with a regime that has no principles except to maintain itself in power and export its revolution. By allowing Iran to continue its illicit uranium enrichment activities, we are legitimizing Iran as a nuclear power, he warned.

The Obama administration has failed at Negotiations 101, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph said. The administration is retreating from its red lines even as Iran is adding new red lines to their negotiating demands — including the lifting of the U.N. arms embargo and ballistic missile sanctions on Iran.

Despite President Obama’s repeated insistence, the U.S. will not walk away from a bad deal. This makes the U.S. look extremely weak. Yet the administration is still using the same talking points issued years ago about “walking away from a bad deal,” Joseph said. If you still believe these talking points, then “you must be living in bizarro world.”

America’s power is undermined by this deal, Doran warned. “We are in a Machiavellian no-man’s land. Machiavelli said you should be a loyal friend and a vicious enemy, the U.S. is neither.”

The deal will affect the U.S.’s relationship with our allies and also with our enemies, Doran said. Will our allies look at this deal as a capitulation because they see the U.S. giving in on our interests? And if we’re willing to give up on our own interests, why would we fight for theirs? The media’s images of Secretary of State John Kerry smiling and shaking hands with Iran’s leaders only serves to underscore the friction between our allies and us.

President Obama also assures us that the world will know if Iran cheats and starts making nuclear weapons. But “how long will it take for the world to realize?” Phillips asked. By the time the world is aware, Iran could have a stockpile.

Iran has dug in its heels on critical aspects of the proposed agreement, including inspection arrangements, the pace and scope of sanctions relief and accounting for past nuclear activities. And the U.S. has caved. If the U.S. has any desire to retain any influence in international affairs, it can not agree to a bad deal with Iran.

What do you think of the Iran nuclear negotiations?

Heritage Experts Tirelessly Make the Case for Internet Freedom

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The core infrastructure of the Internet has been managed for decades by ICANN, a nonprofit operating under contract with the Department of Commerce. ICANN’s oversight has allowed the Internet to remain open and free, and now the Obama administration wishes to privatize it.

The danger with this proposal is that a rushed transition could allow totalitarian regimes more control over ICANN, potentially undoing the freedom the Internet has allowed. For more than a year, Heritage experts have encouraged lawmakers to put checks and balances in place to protect these freedoms.

Heritage experts Brett Schaefer and Paul Rosenzweig have made major headway in the fight to maintain Internet freedom. Here’s a summary of their work:

  • They’ve testified before the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees;
  • Published six reports and more than 20 blogs and articles;
  • Made the case for freedom at international conferences in Los Angeles, Singapore, and Buenos Aires;
  • Attended closed meetings, participated in discussions, and helped mold policy positions; and
  • Educated individual House and Senate offices and legislative committees about conservative solutions.

Their persistent work has influenced the debate. Not only have they successfully pressed both ICANN and the administration to abandon the artificial timeline for the transition and agree that it’s more important to get the process correct than to get it done by a certain date, but Heritage’s principles are now driving the debate.

Do you think the government should protect Internet freedom?

This Is One of the Greatest Threats to Property Rights

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Every American knows that in a court of law they are innocent until proven guilty. But that isn’t the case for the accused’s property.

The procedure known as civil asset forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today. It means the government can seize someone’s property on suspicion of a crime — even if the accused is not yet proven guilty.

The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies just released a new informational booklet on civil asset forfeiture. Arresting Your Property: How Civil A$$ET Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers explains what the law is and also provides common-sense reforms to stop the abuse of this law enforcement tool. Here’s a brief description of the unfair law:

Meant to ensure that “crime does not pay,” civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize property they merely suspect was involved in criminal activity. In many states, law enforcement authorities can keep whatever they seize as profits—leading some agencies to treat civil forfeiture as a way to raise revenue, often at the expense of innocent property owners.

Arresting Your Property: How Civil A$$ET Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers takes a deep dive into how civil forfeiture is a law enforcement tool with a dark side where the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.

Be sure to click this link to learn more about the history of forfeiture, how hard it is fight a seizure, the perverse profit incentives for law enforcement, and shocking examples of cops seizing homes, money, and cars on dubious grounds.

Do you think civil asset forfeiture is justified? Or do you think it’s a threat to property rights?

 

 

Heritage Keeps the Pulse on Asian Strategy

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Asian leaders are worried about China’s rise, the spread of ISIS, and the lack of American leadership in the Pacific, Heritage expert Dean Cheng reports from a meeting of Asian defense ministers.

Here’s Cheng’s assessment:

The region is clearly very troubled by China’s activities in the South China Sea. They are primarily focusing on two responses. Politically, they would like to see the creation of a binding code of conduct (which has been in negotiations for many years, and shows no evidence of being concluded). Militarily, they would like to establish closer relations with the United States, but without jeopardizing their substantial economic relations with the PRC.

Several people, both during the sessions and in separate conversations, asked what the US would do if China does NOT cease its current island building. There is no obvious answer forthcoming from Washington.

Apart from China, the other major concern was the prospect for Islamic terrorism, especially if ISIS fighters return from Iraq/Syria. There were reports, while I was in Singapore, that there have been so many Malaysian/Indonesian recruits that ISIS has formed a separate brigade of such fighters (presumably easing language difficulties). A number of defense ministers and staffs emphasized that there is a need to address ISIS now, before those fighters return to wreak havoc in the region.

Finally, there was some discussion of refugee movements, based on the simultaneous crisis involving Rohingya peoples fleeing Burma and Bangladesh and Africans fleeing to Europe. The Southeast Asian states in particular noted the need to develop norms and standards for refugee assistance and repatriation.

Do you think China and ISIS threaten America’s interests?

How Much Could You Save If Congress Removes Obamacare Regulations?

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The Supreme Court could rule later this month that federal subsidies for health insurance purchased on state-run exchanges are unlawful. This could increase out-of-pocket costs for consumers in those states.

Here’s one solution to address the problem: If Congress eliminates three key Obamacare regulations in affected states, premiums could decrease dramatically. Heritage expert Nina Owcharenko lays out what this means:

For example, in Arizona, premiums could drop by as much as $1,044 for a 21-year-old and $402 for a 64-year-old. Similarly, in Iowa, premiums could decline by as much as $1,068 for a 21-year-old and $486 for a 64-year-old. In Ohio, premiums could be reduced by as much as $1,125 for a 21-year old and $633 for a 64-year old.

Use this interactive chart to see how removing these onerous regulations could benefit health insurance customers in your state:

Tell us in the comments: is this the right approach to Obamacare?

Among Bin Laden’s Recovered Reading: a Heritage Report

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A trove of information seized during the 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound was declassified yesterday.  In total, 266 English-language books, U.S. government documents, and think tank reports were found in Bin Laden’s Pakistan hideaway. And among the documents recovered was a report from Heritage Foundation expert Jim Phillips.

Phillips’ report, “The Evolving Al-Qaeda Threat,” is a testimony he gave in 2006 before the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism.

The key to defeating Al Qaeda, Phillips argued, is to discredit and defeat its ideology — not just to target Al Qaeda leaders.  So a two-pronged approach is necessary to truly defeat the terrorist network: we must confront them not only on the battlefield but in the ideological war of ideas.

“The revelation made me feel queasy and surreal,” Phillips said of this uninvited notoriety:

Queasy because I was shocked at how much attention Bin Laden evidently paid to think tank analyses and Washington debates on counterterrorism strategy.  I hope that anything I wrote did not help him.  Also surreal, because I have been reading his writings and video transcripts since before 9/11 and it is odd to think that he also was reading mine.

In a way, the discovery of Phillips’ report among Bin Laden’s reading materials is a testament to the power of ideas. Heritage works to ensure that our analyses, grounded in the principles of the American founding, have as broad an audience as possible, whether we’re making the case for economic reform or for defeating Al-Qaeda.

In his testimony, Phillips quoted conservative thinker Richard Weaver’s dictum that “Ideas have consequences” and explained how Muslims must be convinced that Bin Laden’s ideas have bad consequences, not just for the United States or non-Muslims, but for Muslims themselves.

Gen. Mattis Says We Need a Leader Who Is ‘Unapologetic About American Values’

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Gen. Mattis

Photo: Katie Nielsen

Too many of America’s leaders today lack a coherent strategy for addressing the world’s challenges, General James Mattis said Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation. Instead, America needs a leader who is “unapologetic about American values.”

“The greatest generation taught us that if you don’t talk about something then things will go wrong fast,” Mattis said. But today’s leaders often ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

He warned that ignoring the problems with Russia, China, and political Islam won’t make them go away. Rather, ignoring them will allow them to escalate which could be catastrophic for both the U.S. and our allies.

Though things may look gloomy now, he emphasized we can reverse it through the powers of intimidation and inspiration. He has high hopes for the younger generation, which is why he focuses his attention on universities.

This leadership can be gained through learning, he said, and emphasized the importance of the reading lists Marines are required to read upon advancing ranks.

Mattis, a retired four star general in the Marine Corps, delivered the annual Colonel James T. McGinley lecture. Known as the “Warrior Monk,” Mattis served as Commander of the United States Central Command, Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander.

Mattis said he turns down most speaking requests, but since he quotes Heritage research so often, he felt he should accept this opportunity.

Do you think today’s leaders have developed a strategy to deal with the world’s challenges?

Heritage Brings Together Conservatives from Across the Country

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For the last 38 years, Heritage has hosted the annual Resource Bank meeting to bring together conservative leaders and organizations from around the country and around the world. Attendees talk strategy, share tactics and best practices, and work to strengthen the movement.

This year’s meeting took place last week in Bellevue, Washington. Highlights of the agenda include:

  • Strategy sessions on issues like education reform, restoring federalism, health care, social services, grassroots organizing, educating more Americans about conservative principles, and more.
  • A keynote address by Maine Gov. Paul LePage about state-based conservative reforms
  • A speech by Ann McElhinney, who most recently crowdfunded a movie about abortionist Kermit Gosnell
  • The awarding of the Salvatori Prize to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for their “What Will They Learn” project, which seeks to raise education standards.
  • A dinner hosted by Heritage’s Steve Moore and Heritage trustee Steve Forbes.

As Heritage Foundation Founder Ed Feulner has always said, it is better to add and multiply the conservative movement than it it to divide and subtract. That’s what Resource Bank is all about.

Do you think it’s important for conservatives to work together and share ideas about how to succeed?

President Obama Ignores Iranian Piracy and Neglects an Ally

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Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out cooperation with the U.S. against ISIS. (Photo: Newscom)

The Obama administration is so desperate to push through a nuclear deal with Iran that it is turning a blind eye to the rogue regime’s hostile actions in international waters.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded, hijacked and diverted a cargo ship, registered in the Marshall Islands, to an Iranian port — essentially performing an act of piracy.

Iranian authorities claim the hijacking was due to a commercial dispute with the ship’s owner. Heritage Foundation expert Jim Phillips rejects this pretext involving a commercial dispute and noted that “even if true, that would not legally justify seizing a ship in international waters.”

Phillips believes that Iran has a more ominous motive:

[T]he Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has flexed its muscles to provoke a crisis in retaliation for U.S. backing for the Saudi-led coalition that is blockading Yemen, to prevent Iran from arming and supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which Tehran has backed.

“If Iran violates international law and its own legal commitments in the strait,” Phillips asks, “why does the administration believe that it will suddenly abandon its longstanding effort to attain a nuclear weapon?”

If the Obama Administration ignores this aggression, it will be abandoning its responsibility to defend the interests of the Marshall Islands, a U.S. protectorate under a binding treaty, as well as its commitments to ensure freedom of the seas and free flow of trade.

The Obama administration needs to immediately demand the unconditional release of the hijacked ship and its crew. If they don’t, Phillips warns:

Turning a blind eye to Tehran’s latest provocation would not only betray an ally but would send a dangerous signal to Iran’s predatory regime that it can interfere with international shipping in the strait and violate international law with impunity.

CNN reports today that “U.S. Navy warships will now ‘accompany’ every U.S.-flagged commercial vessel that passes through the Strait of Hormuz.”

How do you think the administration should respond to the hijacking?

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