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Guest Column

Iran and ISIS. High Moral Ground or Bloody Trenches?
By Michael Moffitt
Jun 14, 2015 - 1:20:45 AM

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The news on nuclear negotiations with Iran is quiet for the moment. Before the approach of the negotiators self-imposed June 30 deadline raises the volume, perhaps it is timely to stand back and re-examine what America has to gain or lose in this process.

Iran is in this conversation for only one reason, to rid themselves of economic and political sanctions. They do not need a conclusion or an agreement to achieve this goal. Russia and China are already violating the sanctions. Europe has internal pressures to fold, and they will do so. There are limits to what America can do alone. Deal or no deal, the sanctions are likely to be emasculated by year-end.

Even if this was not the case and Iran miraculously agreed to all demands, they have little reason to abide by any agreement. The west is evil Satan personified, to be destroyed not honored or respected. Iran has an unblemished record of ignoring agreements on nuclear proliferation. Is there any chance a new agreement is more than a meaningless scrap of paper? We must recognize that Iran has the resources to become a nuclear power. If they want to, they will do so regardless of our objections. We can only affect their progress by making them want it less, by making their nuclear efforts more expensive or by reducing the resources available to these efforts.

So why are we sitting at the table having these inevitably fruitless conversations? Does the fact that we cannot trust Iran to honor any agreement or to allow verification mean we should not engage them? Diplomacy has always been a circuitous process, with the principal goal of increased communications and understanding. No particular breakthrough is necessary or even important. What is important is to use the process to gain understanding, intelligence and time. The course of history is driven far more by the accumulation of many small influences than by watershed agreements or events. When we look back it is easy to see watershed events, but we misunderstand if we ignore the thousands or millions of people, ideas and events that enabled the watershed. Looking forward we should realize that trends and momentum do not rise out of inflection points, but rather create them. Diplomacy is useful because it can effect trends and momentum in the eyes of people and thus in the course of history.

The Iranians understand this and they are winning the diplomatic duel. They cast themselves as the powerful force that can stand up to the evil Satan of the West. We are allowing them to cast us as an evil Satan, trying unsuccessfully to isolate and impoverish the Iranian people, but unable and weak in the face of the power of Islam. There are only two possible outcomes. Perhaps we reach an agreement that Iran will immediately skirt or ignore. Or, perhaps we reach no agreement. Either way, Iran wins and we lose. This situation is not a failure of our current administration. It is a result of over a half century of history beginning with, or perhaps even before our role in the 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh and the return of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to the dictatorship of Iran. But the current administration is not helping!

Iran is not just a nuclear wannabe. Iran is the principal enemy of secular law and freedom throughout the Middle East. They are the sponsor and financier of terrorism via many surrogates, including Al-Qaeda descendants and Hezbollah. The fact that ISIS is not a surrogate does not negate its lineage from Iran or their shared membership in the family of Islamic terrorists. The same corruption of theology is used to justify all Islamic terrorism. The success of ISIS strengthens Iran as the powerful savior of Islam. Yet ISIS is a child out of control. Their goal is the complete breakdown of all democratic structures and a final and fatal struggle to establish an Islamic caliphate. ISIS and the mythology that enables it is the mortal enemy of peace and freedom for all Islamic people and an existential threat to every nation in the Middle East, including Iran.

If we are to win the battles against nuclear proliferation and against Islamic terrorism we must change the diplomatic narrative. We must take the conversation to where it can change the course of history without adding to the violence. To do this, we must stake out the highest possible moral ground, and not be naive about how strong we must be or how long it may take. Our strategy to deal with the dangers of ISIS and Iran should be one strategy, and contrary to our President's claim, it should not depend on Iraq or any other nation. Five simple principles should guide us.

First, extensions beyond the June 30 agreement deadline serve no purpose. Any agreement on that date or subsequently must begin with ratification and reconfirmation by Iran of previous commitments in international agreements regarding nuclear development. The sanctions result only from Iran's violation of international treaties and United Nations resolutions. The United States should only participate in discussions beginning with that understanding.

Second, we need to call Islamic terrorism what it really is. It is a cancer within Islam and the enemy of freedom, peace and prosperity for all Islamic people. As with any cancer, the only cure is for the host of that cancer to rend it from its source of nourishment. Only the leaders of Islam and the secular leaders of Islamic peoples are capable of excising this cancer. The United States cannot and will not attempt to lead this battle. We are, however, committed to help where we can. We will take the counsel of democratic governments of Islamic people, as to how we can best be of service.

Third, we should stop talking about war. If there is no agreement with Iran, they will not attack us and we will not attack them. We cannot, from America, defeat ISIS either where they live or where they are attacking. The principal military role we can effectively play is one in support of Islamic countries who eschew terrorism and violence on their neighbors and on their own people. We accept this responsibility and will maintain our strength to fulfill it.

Fourth, we will use our economic power to defeat sponsors of terrorism. The most simple and most effective tool in our arsenal is to immediately implement a policy of North American energy independence and to relax restrictions on the export of crude oil and natural gas. Removing American consumption and adding American supply will put additional downward pressure on oil prices in the Middle East and Russia, thereby reduce resources available for mischief. It will put some upward pressure on prices of energy in the United States, but that money will also re-invigorate the oil and gas production boom, accelerate conversions from oil to more abundant and cleaner natural gas and the money would all stay at home. Clearly this is a less bloody and more pleasant way for the American people to win the war on terror.

Finally we should remind ourselves that many victories in war and peace have been won more with intelligence than with military might. In any contest it is nonsense to believe that intelligence about ones adversary's thoughts, plans, networks, resources and objectives is less than crucial to victory. We should respect that gathering such intelligence is a noble and patriotic activity and must necessarily be both opaque and intrusive. Our leaders must learn to command respect and confidence that they will effectively balance needs for intelligence to protect our national interest and privacy of our citizens.

This is not a complete tactical plan, but it is a complete strategy to fight both terrorism and nuclear proliferation from high moral ground rather than from bloody trenches. Pray we will give it a try.

Michael Moffitt
Author of Granddad's Dictionary: Reflections on Life in America"

Granddad's Forecast for America in 2015
by Michael Moffitt
Jan 28, 2015

Perhaps 2015 will be best remembered as the year we realized that modest growth and slight deflation are most laudable economic goals. Robust growth usually is followed by robust crisis and slight deflation means that each of our dollars goes slightly farther every year. This may be the only way we can moderate the disaster that inevitably follows excessive printing of money. Excessive printing of money, first in the U.S. and now in Japan and Europe increases the specter of inflation, but we will see stable prices and interest rates at least through this year. There will be currency instability and turmoil, because of overactive central banks, and the dollar will continue to be strong. This will be a drag on our exports, but will also be seen by American consumers in lower import prices. The result of this turmoil, probably not in 2015 but the inevitable result, will be a new international currency regimen.

Terrorism and The Reformation of Islam
by Michael Moffitt
Jan 21, 2015

There are signs that leaders of Islamic countries are coming to realize the threat to their existence from radical Islam. Christianity was once cruel and corrupt. Most Christians were not cruel. The teachings of Christ were not corrupt. The Christian Reformation was a rebellion against the power of The Church. It was only complete when Christian governments recognized they could not have domain over the thoughts and beliefs of their people. The Law of the Realm that once governed our beliefs has evolved to its proper role of governing only our behavior toward each other.

Immigration, The Red Cape, The Bull and The Master of The Bulls
by Michael Moffitt
Nov 25, 2014

How can we be surprised that the President plans to continue a unilateral program that has met with so much success and so few consequences? How can a "reasonable" Congress object to expanding this prosecutorial discretion regarding citizens born in this country? How could we be so cruel as to separate these child citizens from their illegal biological parents? This "red flag" may be in defiance of the Constitution, but Republicans are already painted into a corner, hardly able to slow or stop practices already in place. What they must do is to not allow the "red flag" of executive action divert us from the real danger of a neglected border and a failure to identify and track millions of anonymous illegals already among us.


Michael Moffitt is the author of Granddad's Dictionary: Reflections on Life in America. In addition to being an author and grandfather, Michael Moffitt has been an inventor, entrepreneur and community leader. He received a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Rather than accepting partisan stances, Moffitt encourages Americans to reflect on how they can come together as "We the People" to make real change happen. He believes that by coming together and looking to history and the values of our Founding Fathers, we can revitalize our nation. I want to make a real difference in the way people think about the relationship between morality and politics and the need to focus on "We the People" versus the government and what it needs to do for me. "Granddad's" reflections is meant to inspire younger generations of Americans to think independently and rationally about events and trends in their country. I encourage readers to investigate current events and policies and come to their own conclusions through rational discussion and independent thinking, rather than letting others think for them.

"Granddad's Dictionary: Reflections on Life in America"
by Michael Moffitt
ISBN: 978-1-4908-2916-6 (sc)
978-1-4908-2917-3 (hc)
WestBow Press
Published April 7, 2014
170 pages
Softcover: $12
Hardcover: $23


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