Kicking the Can Down the Road

“Throughout history, nations and peoples have delayed the critical issues of their day by buying time. But seldom has the ordinance of ignoring a problem resulted in the solution to the problem.”

In a recent interview, former President Jimmy Carter, in discussing the Iranian hostage crisis of the 1970’s, described the Iranian government as a very complicated and politically conflicted entity. That may be the best thing you can say about them. This morning, we awoke to the announcement that the United States had reached an agreement with Iran for what some would call major steps toward normalization of sovereign relations. The debate has already begun in Congress and with our foreign partners as to the particulars and merits of the arrangement.

The simple terms appear to be that Iran will forgo the development of nuclear offensive capabilities for a ten-year period in return for the lifting of sanctions. The treaty will contain numerous details to include verification, snap-back sanctions, and promises for open dialog to address the many issues and problems of the Middle East. But the essence of the agreement is a ten-year time out on the development of a nuclear bomb for the lifting of sanctions and the release of frozen assets. Yet to be discovered in the agreement is any requirement that Iran cease and desist from promoting and supporting terrorism. Nor are they required to enter into good faith negotiations for normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Israel. Most importantly, there is no indication that there was any effort on the part of the United States to state, for the record, our purpose and requirements for full diplomatic milestones, goals of pursuing our principles of nation state relations. Those principles should include rule of law, due process, free & independent courts, a free press, and transparency. These principles are critical to maintaining individual liberty, free trade, prosperity, and peace.

Why enter into this agreement now? Some will say this agreement is like President Reagan negotiating arms reduction through START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) with the Soviet Union. During the cold war, it reduced nuclear warheads and extended détente. Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet leadership, in agreeing to START, never agreed to opening up the Soviet Union, establishing individual liberty, or abandoning their client states around the world.

The difference is that the Soviet Union was a world power with whom the United States competed for the moral authority to advance the principles of a democratic way of life. START did provide détente and made the world a safer place.

Iran is not a world power. They are not our competition for moral authority. And they do not currently have a nuclear delivery system. The question becomes – why would we give them economic flexibility so they can become stronger in ten years to establish a nuclear capability? They have not presented the imperative that they would not seek to purchase or develop nuclear weapons at the end of the ten year period. In fact, they have not yielded or agreed to compromise on any of their doctrines or activities to include support of terrorism, attacks on Israel, or direct negation of U.S. foreign policy interests in the region. At least it would have been worthy to extract from the Iranians a statement that Israel has a right to exist and American foreign policy principles will be taken into consideration.

It may very well be that the Iranian government is in need of cash, that the sanctions are working, and that ten years is a reasonable period of time to build up their economy so they can further explore their nuclear weapon programs. Once the Iranians have taken initial steps to implement the agreement, approximately $100 billion of frozen liquid assets will be released for their unrestricted use. Bill Kristol, Editor of The Weekly Standard, called this a “signing bonus.”

In foreign policy and domestic policy, there seems to be this entrenched government attitude that the only option to deal with our problems is to kick the can down the road a certain number of years. Kicking the can is based on the ill-conceived logic that if we just buy some time, things will work out eventually. Rational thought would propose that, if there is a snake threatening, in order to eliminate the threat, it is prudent to cut off its head, not clip its tail. If there is a systemic problem growing as a cancer in society, the proper course of action is to attack its roots to eliminate the cause of the problem. Building a fence around the problem just to buy some time only allows the problem to gain strength and further invade healthy areas of society.

The approach to solving the budget problems of Greece, world debt, U.S. debt and ongoing deficits, immigration, race relations, and the U.S. economy has been the unprincipled doctrine of kick the can down the road. This doctrine not only doesn’t claim to be a solution for our problems, it doesn’t even provide the hope for a solution. Throughout history, nations and peoples have delayed the critical issues of their day by buying time. But seldom has the ordinance of ignoring a problem resulted in the solution to the problem. What is paramount for the solutions of our problems today is leadership that believes in eternal principles – principles that are worthy of pursuit as a destination. Principles that, when achieved, will provide the frame work, the structure, the process, and the procedure for individual liberty and civility among states worldwide.

The strategy of President Obama when negotiating this agreement is yet to be disclosed or understood. Why is confronting Iran on the issue of nuclear weapons better ten years from now than today? This is not the cold war of the Soviet Union. This is America’s opportunity to establish principles for all nations and all peoples. Securing our way of life is a just cause. Trusting the Iranian government to keep its word is complicated. Ask former President Jimmy Carter.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.

What do you believe?