Congressman Nadler Comes Clean
A 2-hour 'listen' and Q & A with Congressman Jerold Nadler, Dem., NY, Upper Left Side regular, occurred on the first day of winter 2013. The talk, one of two on the Iran nuclear issue, took place at the West 95th Street Ohav Tzedek synagogue, fondly referred to as OZ.
Nadler would not discuss ObamaCare, uppermost in the minds of many in the country. We had been warned before he got up to speak not to bring it up, that he would be speaking only about the Iran sanctions removal and the nuclear 'deal' brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranians. He was forthcoming to the extent he could be.
Among other things, Nadler seems to be in favor of this rummy proposition, but many in the Upper West Side audience (about 100 or so, and SRO) caviled at the unlikely scenario of trust that cannot be guaranteed, and the flimsiness of the whole arrangement, based on the fact that the six-month deal has not yet even begun. So Iran can, and does, put 24/7 maximum pressure on her scientists in all centrifuge sites to refine uranium to the percentage needed for a nuclear device. It is not subject to rigorous inspection. The deal supposedly limits the Iranians to a level below that needed for a usable nuclear weapon. Raising the level for nuclear bomb-assembly is possible, with effort; and checking that the Iranians are or will be sticking by their word not to refine beyond the permissible level is a once-a-day little pirouette and pavanne that most observers recall from Saddam Hussein days. Chief IAEA inspector/investigator Hans Blix, back 10 years ago, was easily snookered, stonewalled, gamed, or diverted.
One thing Nadler surprised us with was that he said (I don't know that any of his listeners believe him) that Kerry is actually not a schmendrik (my chutzpah-tainted assertion to Nadler, making for loud chortles), but "is knowledgeable as a diplomat," by virtue of long experience in the runabout biz of statesman for many years, and tries hard. (Yeah yeah.) As a longtime staunch amen-corner support-pole of Obama, however, the congressman did acknowledge to me that, as opposed to Kerry, who "does know the diplomacy game," Obama does not know the history or context of the regions we are discussing. That was a startling acknowledgment, coming from a class-A dyed-in-the-wool'er. One man mumbled "Obama is a Muslim, so of course he does not fight on our side," but Nadler grew irritated and repeated under his breath, "Oh, my G-d, 'Obama, a Muslim'...." Less than two feet from him, I heard his irritation. Save me from truthers, said his body language.
Nadler, for those not acquainted with him, has been in office 21 years, representing our district, has lost a ton of weight a la Chris Christie; so now he is merely quite corpulent, not humongous, as he was for many decades before the bariatric minimization. He is also quite pro-Israel, speaks Hebrew and Yiddish, has been many times to Israel, and cautioned the audience that we (his present listeners) "are not (his) major constituency on the Upper West Side." Laughter all around. We know that. His other constits in the neighborhood he represents are largely lefties and uber lefties. The people he was addressing in this instance, of course, are not. Nadler is exceedingly high-IQ, a view shared by most in my circle. That is partially why we are so dismayed at his staunch, consistent support for Obama and his troubling policies. He did surprise us, however, when one tough questioner asked if he was not always and forever a knee-jerk yes-man to all that Obama suggests or proposes. He said that is not accurate, and that he has several times voted against Obama policies and legislation, often with regard to Israel. On most issues, however, he appears to be a rotund party man. Immigration "reform." Gun control. Taxing the successful. Regulation-happy overdrive. Obamacare. Surveillance.
On the whole, Nadler does somehow seem more sanguine on the arrangement than any of his listeners, probably 99% non-Democrats. He also insists that the ability to create a plant to process the plutonium is an easy mark for surveillance to find and ID, since it requires massive supplies and processes that would be "impossible" to hide or masquerade. To the question of whether the plutonium could be somehow delivered to Iran via North Korea or other unfriendlies, he shrugged.
As readers know, the November 24 interim agreement inked in Geneva, between Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany [G5+1] calls on the Islamic Republic to halt production of near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel in exchange for 'some relief' from harsh economic sanctions that have strongly impacted the country and its industry, economy and population, amounting to some $7 billion. The congressman assessed the 'relief' to somewhere around $1 billion from prior strictures. From $7 billion lost to a new low of $6 billion. Not, one would say, all that big a whoop. Some hailed the deal an historic achievement. Many others, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, have characterized it as an incalculable mistake on the order of the September 1938 Munich blunder of British PM Neville Chamberlain, axiomatic for a colossal misstep leading to cascading disastrous events and sequelae. Nadler acknowledged that the U.S. had suffered a fall in prestige with the "red line" statements of the president, not standing up to our own word on Syrian abuses and gassings of its people. He stated also that the deposing of Libya's Qaddafi, who had dismantled his nuclear weapons program, was a huge mistake and learning opportunity.
"What message," Nadler asked, "does that send to the Middle East?" If you dismantle your problem weapons, we'll still unseat or drone you. Obviously, the megaphone says, Develop a nuclear capability, and they won't kick your backside. That starts all the nation states in the neighborhood cacophonizing for nuclearization.
The deal further calls on Iran to halt construction of the heavy water nuclear facility at Arak, limit its uranium enrichment activities to 5% and to dilute or convert existing stockpiles of 20% enriched uranium. Iran also agreed to refrain from installing more sophisticated centrifuges and to allow U.N. inspectors daily access to nuclear facilities. Last count on centrifuges that we know of: 19,500. Plus unabated development of nuclear warheads capable of reaching Israel and farther. All busily at work, no time off for Xmas or Chanukah. Or even Eid.
To my statement that the NSA had just admitted that it listens in on the inner precincts of our close ally, the Israeli prime minister and his aides, Nadler made a tiny joke: He quotes Ehud Olmert saying "We assume they're already doing that -- what's the big deal?"
When the bulk of the audience had departed, after about 45 minutes, Nadler stayed with a hard kernel of news-knowledgeables, 12 of us -- 4 women, 8 men -- for well over an hour, as we pelted him (fairly respectfully) with questions on the timing, the refining of the uranium, the sources of plutonium, the likelihood of whether Iran will stick by its 'commitment,' and inspection protocols extending far into the future. He did not pretend to think the Iranians are bent on peaceful uses, and in fact for anyone who already did not know the drill, repeated the 12th Imam stuff and their willingness to sacrifice millions of lives to bring the incoming mystical imam closer, sooner, faster. He limned the differences between Russia and China with their aggressions, unwilling to die to achieve their goals, vs. the Iranians, whom he called loonies, but smart, and willing to die for their theology and particular narrative. "The Iranians are not fools. They may be crazy, but they are not stupid," he stated several times.
One gathers that Kerry, though he is apparently not a total idiot, as we had surmised, is outclassed and outsmarted in general by the Iranians. We will see whether the Iranians sign on, whether the daily inspections occur unmolested, and whether the one minute to midnight exigency is eased.
We all agreed that the Iranians cannot be trusted to keep their word. The audience all thought sanctions should never have been lifted, since they were effective enough to bring the Iranians to the table. Nadler said it is "relatively easy to reinstate them." Ha. The whole difficulty would be, he says, to get Russia and China back onboard. Europe will go along. Listeners disputed the 'ease' of putting the toothpaste back into the tube.
There is more than an even chance, he acknowledged, that the 6 months will come and go, and nothing will have been fixed or changed or agreed upon.
Maalesh, as the Arabs say.
The other thing he has been pushing all along, he told me, is that if the Palestinian Arabs insist on remuneration for their 'lost' land and 'lost' property, he insists that the 1,000,000 (his number) Jews ousted from Arab lands be paid dollar for dollar for their being expatriated and deprived of all their possessions and property. Most people agree the number of Jews ousted from Arab lands peremptorily ranges from 800,000 to a max of 1 million. "Nobody talks about them," he said. But that effectively put a lid, for the time being, on talk of restitution and 'return' for the expanded number of one-time Arab refugees.