Many stories of great sailing ship battles contain some reference to somebody telling the losing Admiral that the wind has changed but that leader just stuck to his original plan right into disaster. We don’t know if any of these are true or maybe we read these in C.S. Forester’s Hornblower Series or was it Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series but one can easily see how a wind change might offer opportunity and ignoring it bring disaster. A great wind change has occurred with the collapse of oil prices, but we may be led by an Admiral who refuses to acknowledge it. Iran and Cuba suddenly want to sit down and talk. That’s understandable. Cuba lost it’s Venezuelan oil sugar daddy while Iran mired in wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq has lost half of it’s financial resources. They’re scurrying to get their good deals before everyone realizes the change. A Nelson would instantly recognize the wind change and tact to cut the enemy’s line and annihilate him. Apparently, we aren’t being lead by a Nelson. At a time when the sanctions on both that had once pinched now threaten to become disabling injuries, our leader acts if nothing has changed and we are negotiating from weakness. This is nonsense.
Without an influx of American dollars, what exactly is going to keep a long on the edge Cuba afloat? It’s not that we’re against an opening with Cuba, we really want to visit our ’56 Chevie. It’s just that we could get a much better deal. Especially for the Cuban people. Start with those dollars going directly to the Cuban people. At present tourist hard currencies go directly to the government and it pays the workers in near worthless Pesos. Dollars we spend or invest in Cuba should be paid directly to the Cubans. Human rights need more respect. The White Ladies and others need to be able to about their business in peace. We think real progress in these areas are now possible. After all, what’s the Castros alternative. Surely they’re aware of what happened to the Soviet Union and the other satellites when the financial resources ran out and probably to Cuba if Venezuela didn’t come to the rescue. We’ve lived without much to do with Cuba for decades and we can do so far into the future. The Castros can’t say the same about America now.
The Mullahs in Iran were in economic difficulty from the sanctions before the oil price collapse so one can calculate the pressure they’re under now. Iran needs an oil price above $100 just to maintain their present p0or shape. At the present $60 those shop keepers in the bazaars that started the Shah out the door must be getting restive. But we’re told Iran has endured low oil prices before and the Mullahs survived. True but then Iran was in a defensive position. Much easier to rally the people to endure hardship under perceived attack. Think Pearl Harbor. Now Iran is engaged in expensive foreign wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen plus maintaining their position in Lebanon. If guns and butter considerations were present before they must be right on the table now. Think Vietnam or Iraq. Do the people keep doing with less and less while they prop up Assad? When does that get dangerous to the Mullahs? Think about how our leaders would react if we suddenly had to everything with half as much. Lifting any sanctions now only relieves this pressure. Logically an increase in the sanctions would actually to be in order.
But wouldn’t that just make them walk away from the talks and put us in a position to either bombing them or let them build a bomb? We’ve been told by competent authorities for years that an attack on their nuclear facilities would at best buy us maybe five years. Those estimates have been around for years so they can’t take into consideration the present oil situation. A solid attack would cost billions upon billions to repair. Iran might spend this enormous amount again but again consider the guns and butter aspect. In a similar situation Saddam Hussein could’ve restarted his WMD programs, but as we now know he never did, even though our government at the time was sure that he had. Why not? Guns or butter. He reasoned he couldn’t keep his people in line if he spent his limited resources on these weapons rather than on them. The Mullahs would be faced with the same choice. At today’s low oil prices a crash rebuilding would put a huge squeeze on the Iranian people. A slower less financially crushing option be would string their nuclear bombs out a decade or longer. In either case all that expense might be bombed again. Do they really want to be in that situation? More importantly they need know that we know this. From our point of view a maybe 10 year deal if we do a better job of verifying than we did with North Korea versus a certain five to ten year setback to their program with the option of hitting them again. The later looks better and better. Iran has been making as much trouble for us as they possibly can so their isn’t much more they can do. In fact with less resources they’ll be hard pressed to stay at their present level trouble making.
Worse under the proposed Ten year period fixes the minds of Iran’s neighbors. With a deal expiring in ten years, suddenly they all know how much time they have for their own response. Probably their own bombs. An unannounced Mideast nuclear arms race will have begun. After all, they will know that the U.S. isn’t going to bomb Iran during this period. With the U.S. most likely restraining Israel, no bale out from there either. They would know that they would have to protect themselves. If effect we are trading a possible delay on Iran’s nuclear ambitions for the certainty of maybe a half dozen other nations racing to nuclear arms. Does this make any sense? How are we and the rest of the world the least bit safer? The gulf states and Saudi Arabia have contributed greatly the oil price decline in part to push Iran to the wall. Seeing us letting the Mullahs off the hook will make them deaf to to any entreaties to forgo nukes. They gave us the means to get the right deal, only to see us refuse to put it to proper use. Even nations that might be reluctant to increase sanctions would have to contend with a lot of nuclear weapons in Muslim hands. Would Russia and China be comfortable given their own Chechen and Uighur Muslim minority problems. How well will anyone sleep with nuclear weapons spread across the unstable Mideast. It is in everyone’s interest to make a real effective deal. Under these present circumstances, Iran is in no position to resist a much more solid deal that really prevents it from going nuclear and having long range delivery systems.
Our negotiating positions thus are far stronger and we can demand a real freeze in the Iranian program while offering a few trade and financial carrots. Cuba would have to make real reforms to stave off collapse We just have to recognize the wind change and cut their lines by putting increased sanctions on the table for Iran and demanding more from Cuba. Now if only we can find a Nelson.