On the nuclear negotiations in Geneva with Iran:
That is what the game is about. This is not a complicated game. This is not chess. It is checkers. The rules are simple.
The Iranians are playing for time. Delay is a victory because ever since January of 2006 they have been enriching uranium non-stop. Our objective is to stop the enrichments. Unless it stops they will have a bomb and they’ll have it soon.
So what came out of the meeting today? New talks are going to happen. That is an Iranian victory. New talks is more talks, endless.
And now all this excitement about the inspections at the Qom facility. This is a complete red herring. Until a week ago, nobody here had even heard about it. That facility isn’t even operational, so we’re going to have inspections that will drag on. They will have an IAEA report which will take months. The IAEA will do a report. Its report will be equivocal, as always, and they will give it to the U.N. Security Council. It will deliberate for weeks and months. In the end, the Chinese or the Russians will stop any actions. And we’re not going to have anything.
And that will give them [the Iranians] six months or nine months or a year. Again, an Iranian victory.
And the reason it is? Because Qom isn’t even operational as we speak. The real stuff is being produced at Natanz, and that isn’t even in the negotiations today. They didn’t even mention that.
So this is a complete Iranian victory, and any attempt to spin it the other way is, I think, spin and nothing more.
On the non-use of the word sanctions in the negotiations:
Language is important. Diction is important. If the word sanctions isn’t used it’s a message that the Iranians understand. We never speak about use of force. In fact, our secretary of defense has said all that an attack will do is delay it a few years, implying it is worthless anyway. So that is essentially off the table.
Obama said today we are prepared to move towards increased pressure. Parse that — “We are prepared.” “To move.” “Towards.” “IncreasedPressure.” That doesn’t exactly have the mullahs quaking in their boots, that soft, implied … oblique threat. There is nothing here.
We talk about carrots and sticks. This is carrots and marshmallows. …There is nothing in here that would make them change their position and stop the enrichment, which is the key.
I think Obama has been fairly realistic. He certainly doesn’t want to be remembered as the president who lost a won war, or a war that was on its way to, essentially, victory.
And the key to victory, even if Odierno will not use that term, is a remarkable change in the politics of Iraq.
Remember, Democrats had said, “Oh, yes, the surge has succeeded in the military sense that it defeated Al Qaeda, but it created a political space which the Iraqis had not actually used and were still at each other’s throats.”
ou have the Maliki government making alliances in preparation for the January elections with sheikhs in Anbar, Sunni sheikhs who had been at war against America and the central Iraqi government only a few years ago.
The other main Shiite party is not in alliance with Maliki. It’s looking for alliances with other sects, other religions, even other ethnicities. And if you develop that kind of national politics, it will be a tremendous element in stabilizing Iraq.
And the reason it is happening is because in the last presidential election, which Maliki succeeded in, he moved away from the sectarianism of his own party. He ran as an Iraqi nationalist and he succeeded.
The others have looked at this and understood that in the last elections, all the parties with the word “Iraq” or “national” in their title had increased the vote, and all those that had a religious connotation had decreased.
So this could the basis for a stable Iraq in the future, which would be a victory for the United States.