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One of the keys to ending the Cuban missile crisis in the sixties was a fake deal. In return for the Soviet Union removing missiles from Cuba, the United States agreed to remove obsolete missiles from Turkey. That looked enough like a legitimate deal that the Soviet Leaders with their controlled media could sell it to their own people as a win. I think it's time to trot out that strategy again and propose a fake deal to Iran in return for nuclear inspections.

I'll pause now to address your main objection. I know some of you will point out that we can't negotiate with Iran, using either a fake deal or a real deal, because some Iranians have an irrational, suicidal religious desire to destroy Israel, create chaos, and speed up the return of the Twelfth Imman. If you need some background on that situation, here's a good explanation from a Canadian academic.

We can't know for sure what sort of craziness is in the heads of the Iranian leaders, and we can't know how that situation might change in the future. If you're a leader in Israel, common sense says you must treat any risk of nuclear annihilation the same as if it were a certainty. We would do the same thing. If the United States thought Elbonia posed a 10% threat of nuclear attack next year, our military would pave Elbonia this year. So from a practical perspective, Israel doesn't need to know the exact odds of a future Iranian nuclear attack. Their strategy for dealing with the risk would be largely the same no matter the specific odds.

Today I'll describe a potential fake deal that gives the international community what it wants from Iran: full and open inspections of Iranian nuclear sites. The interesting question is this: What fake benefit do we offer Iran in return for their cooperation?

My idea is that the United States, China, and Russia - the three biggest nuclear powers - sign a joint agreement that goes like this: The three powers agree that if any country in the world, excluding the big three nuclear powers, uses nuclear weapons, the offending country will be denied military and economic aid for the next hundred years. In return for this agreement of non-support from the big three nuclear powers, both Israel and Iran would be asked to agree to nuclear inspections. Israel's inspections would be handled by the United States military. Iran's inspections would be handled by an international team of inspectors excluding the United States and Israel. That's the fake deal.

What Israel gets in the fake deal is something real: a nuclear weapons-free Iran without full-scale war. What Iran gets, thanks to its controlled media, is the ability to declare victory over Israel's nuclear arsenal. Under the deal as described, Israel could never use its own nukes without losing military and economic support from the United States for a hundred years.

Iran could spin the story internally with news stories such as this: "Iran's nuclear prowess has created a great victory over Israel, by causing the United States to withdraw its unconditional support of the Zionists, thus rendering Israel's nuclear arsenal useless."

One kink in this plan is that Israel wouldn't want to give anyone full access to its nuclear facilities, even if the inspectors were from the United States. So let's assume the fine print of the agreement says the United States can design the inspections any way it wants. That gives us wiggle room under the fake deal to certify Israel's nuclear facilities as "okay" without access to every sensitive site.

China and Russia would presumably have no problem signing the agreement of non-support because they don't want rogue nations launching nukes, and the agreement would not be binding on their own arsenals. Realistically, they could always change their minds and withdraw from the agreement if it suited their national interests someday in the future.

Israel would presumably agree to the deal because inspections of Israeli nuclear sites would be limited, and Israel would still have a nuclear deterrent.

If Iran turns down the type of fake deal I'm describing, it will help generate international support for deeper economic and military pressure on Iran. From a public relations standpoint, a fake deal offer helps Israel and the United States even if Iran rejects the deal.

The only downside to my plan is that the Nobel committee can't award me the Nobel Peace Prize for this idea once it goes into play because it would draw too much attention to the fakeness of the deal. I will be forced to live with the knowledge that I averted war and didn't get anything to show for it.

The interesting thing is that this blog is probably only three degrees of separation from the decision-makers in Washington D.C. Thanks to the Internet, this idea will spread quickly if it is deemed by readers to have merit. I don't know what the other candidates for president of the United States did today, but I just created a non-zero opportunity to avert nuclear war without bloodshed. I'm sure whatever the other candidates did today was awesome too.
 
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Jan 25, 2012
Nah, too fake a deal and US's promises have no credibility whatsoever today, now that they overstepped so many international treaties and principles.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 17, 2012
Scott,

Totalitarian states like North Korea or Iran or Burma thrive on threat perceptions.

If there is anything that needs to be averted, it is the submission to this illusion that threat perceptions can force the developed world to pay for their survival.
 
 
Jan 17, 2012
I wouldn't be surprised if israels nuclear arsenal is nothing but a stockpile of US nuclear weaponry to begin with. And treaty's don't really mean much anyway, their just words on paper. Easily broken if no plausible consequence backs up the treaty.

I think of the 1972 anti ballistic missle treaty with Russia, and how easily the GW Bush administration pulled out of that particular treaty 10 years ago... Just pulling out of that opened up a whole new can of worms ....
 
 
Jan 16, 2012
Of all the oil rich middle Eastern nations, only Iran has decided to use it's wealth to become an INDEPENDANT military power through nuclear weapons. After investing so much in this effort and making so many sacrifices to get this close, hard to see them let it go. Similar to the poker player who cant stop bidding in Texas Hold em, even when the flop suggest that the odds of winning are now very low. I'm afraid Iran goes all in, even though they risk everything. If the psychology is right, then your deal holds no value to them. They don't want merely to survive or have sanctions lifted. They really want the bomb. They want power, not wealth.
 
 
Jan 16, 2012
Wait a minute. I'm confused. Didn't you just get done telling us how much you want to have zero credibility, yet this post seems to want your idea to be credible enough for policy makers to take it seriously? Oh, well. A foolish consistency, and all that.

OK, Scott. Let's deal with your idea.

First off, the deal at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis was not publicly stated as it related to the Jupiter and Thor missiles being removed from Turkey. That was a secret negotiation between JFK and Nikita Khrushchev, and was not made public at the time. Part of the deal was that old Nikki wouldn't go public with that bit of it. The public agreement was that we (the US) wouldn't invade Cuba - something that after the Bay of Pigs, we weren't going to do anyway.

This is the way it often is with negotiations. The public is not privy to what is actually being negotiated. The real work goes on behind the scenes. So even if your idea was implemented, we'd never know the real details. Until, after forty years, it was allowed to be declassified.

Here are some areas to consider when refining your plan. You need to think of Iran as representing two separate positions in the international community. First, there's the Iranian position that you're talking about: Iran as a nuclear power, threatening its neighbor Israel with extinction. A bunch of whack-jobs looking to start Armageddon so the Twelfth Imam will re-appear. Or, failing that, wishing to take over the rest of the oil-producing Arab countries, cornering the world oil market, and re-establishing the Caliphate.

But there's a second position for Iran: a chess piece used by international players to further their national interests. I would suggest thinking not just of what Iran is like as a stand-alone entity, nor of what Israel or the US thinks of them. Think instead of what Iran means to Russia and China. How could Iran's nuclear program benefit those two countries who are looking to advance their own positions and influence in the world?

Your plan, by definition, needs to get the backing of Russia and China. If it benefits us, which such a plan would, then it has to also benefit them, which your plan wouldn't. Look at how China has reacted to North Korea's nuclear ambitions - China has no intent to strip NK of their nuclear program, because it suits their purposes to have an almost-nuclear surrogate that is anti-US in the region. The same with China vis-a-vis Iran. China particularly, because of their skyrocketing demand for oil, but Russia as well. So I think your plan needs a little work.

Now, I'm sure you're asking, "OK, big guy, what's YOUR plan?" Glad you asked, even if you didn't.

Among the most amazingly inept moves of many that the Obama administration has made, his silence when the Iranian people (who are not Arab, as you know, but rather Persians) took to the streets after the rigged re-election of Ahmadinejad. The best thing we can hope for is that the Iranian people, even though most of them are Shi'ites, do not want to go up in a nuclear fireball whether or not it would cause Imam #12 would show up. Although the Israelis won't publicly admit that they have nukes, it's virtually certain that they do. Moreover, I think the number of nuclear-missile submarines they have is four. And the Iranian people know this.

So our secret, hidden plan should be to have the Arab Spring become the Persian Winter, and get rid of those nuts with almost-nukes. The Iranian people are so much better poised to build a democracy than Iraq was. It would add real stability to the region to get rid of the Mullahs and old Achie. As long as those lunatics run Iran, we're going to have a huge problem there.

So there's what I would do, were I president. Get those Iranian nebbishes out of there, and return Iran to its people. Not easy, but the only long-term solution that will prevent a real confrontation down the road.



 
 
Jan 16, 2012
It couldn't work because Russia and China are closer to Iran then to the U.S. At least, both are making business there…
 
 
Jan 16, 2012
It couldn't work because Russia and China are closer to Iran then to the U.S. At least, both are making business there…
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2012
The only change is that the penalty should not be for the "use" of nukes, but for the first strike. Don't want to penalize Israel for retaliating with nukes when Iran launches first. Otherwaise, make the deal!
 
 
Jan 16, 2012
In order to get Iran to agree, we will need to add a provision promising that they will still be allowed to periodically say "We're building a bomb" in order to drive up oil prices when they need some extra cash.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2012
How many degrees of separation from decision makers in Iran?

People who would themselves break agreements, don't trust other people to keep their agreements.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 16, 2012
Like TheBigHenry said Scott the problem with that is that Russia and China both have been supportive of Iran's nuclear arsenal, in fact they have vetoed UN resolutions imposing economic sanctions on Iran.
 
 
Jan 16, 2012
100 years is too long, no leader wants to promise something he will eventually have to retract, if that thing involves such a huge promise as no military aid.
 
 
Jan 16, 2012
Yeah, great idea Scott. Now figure out how to get <i>either</i> Russia <i>or</i> China to buy into it.
 
 
 
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