Archive for March, 2015


Thursday, March 19th, 2015


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By Jay B Gaskill


Today AP exclusively reveals heretofore secret details of the Obama-Iran atomic bomb program “negotiations” with the Islamic Republic of Iran.


I must quote Charlie Brown: “Oh good grief!”


Under the deal, it appears that Iran will keep 6,000 centrifuges and the most punishing sanctions will be lifted. No intrusive inspections will be allowed by the regime.  And Iran gets to keep its missile program. 


Details will follow, but I am reminded of a quip from my closest friend in the practice – this was during my “life of crime days” as an urban public defender. This was the era when dark humor was a lifeboat to those of us who toiled in a toxic moral environment. The topic of the morning was the prospect of plea bargain in a death penalty multiple murder case with a hard-nosed prosecutor and a client whose very visage would chill the heart of any juror. This was the era when electrocution was the still method of execution in California. With his trademark irony, Hal, my friend and colleague, noted that the electric chair used about 2,300 volts.


Maybe we could deal it to 1,900 volts.” Such a deal.


Talk about bargaining from a position of weakness. Leading up to the administration’s relaxation of the crippling sanctions that prompted the talks in the first place, Iran agreed to dilute half of its stock of 20% enriched uranium.  No one  is talking, but what happened to the other half? The enrichment time starting from 20% (well above the 5% needed for a peaceful power plant) to the 90% enrichment needed for an atomic bomb is almost an order of magnitude shorter that it takes to fuel a bomb from raw uranium. Here is the last line from the AP story: “Iran already can produce the equivalent of one weapon’s worth of enriched uranium with the centrifuges it now runs. However, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke of eventually operating enough centrifuges to produce what 190,000 of its current models churn out.”


But we should not be bargaining from a position of weakness. The sanctions had Iran on the ropes before Mr. Obama relaxed them. And we have the military capability, using mostly air power, to destroy and degrade all of the uranium enrichment sites in Iran.  Not only has this administration refused to even entertain doing this, Mr. Obama has made it clear that we will not lend or sell the bunker-busting technology to Israel, nor even offer basic logistic and intelligence support if or when that tiny country, her back to the wall, decides to try to degrade Iran’s nuclear bomb capability before it is too late.


And here’s the irony: Saudi Arabia and Jordan, appalled by our president’s naiveté, weakness and irresolution, will support the Israelis on this.

I fondly remember a time when democrats, thinking of Harry Truman and Henry Scoop Jackson were tougher on foreign policy, national security and defending Israel from another holocaust, than the republicans. JFK was a hawk. This president … is clearly cut from softer cloth.


My readers are aware of the rest of the story.  If you are new, please read my two most recent articles, Tick Tick Tisk { }, and Waiting for Moderate Iran { }.


Years ago when the Israeli homeland was under missile attack by the client terrorists of Iran, I wrote, Pray for peace, but first pray for Israel { }.  Little has changed since then except the threat from Iran has reached the point where only the hard-nosed realists among us can prevent a holocaust.




A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.  Learn more about Jay B Gaskill, attorney, analyst and author, at




More from the referenced AP Article


AP Exclusive: Iran limited to 6K centrifuges in draft accord



Mar. 19, 2015 11:42 AM EDT


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A draft nuclear accord now being negotiated between the United States … offering the Iranians immediate relief from sanctions that have crippled their economy, officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. As an added enticement, elements of a U.N. arms embargo against Iran could be rolled back.


Officials said the tentative deal imposes new limits on the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium, a process that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material.


The sides are zeroing in on a cap of 6,000 centrifuges, officials said, down from the 6,500 they spoke of in recent weeks. That’s also less than the 10,000 such machines Tehran now runs, yet substantially more than the 500 to 1,500 that Washington originally wanted as a ceiling. Only a year ago, U.S. officials floated 4,000 as a possible compromise.


… Washington believes it can extend the time Tehran would need to produce a nuclear weapon to at least a year for the 10 years it is under the moratorium. Right now, Iran would require only two to three months to amass enough material if it covertly seeks to “break out” toward the bomb.


It’s unclear how complete the draft agreement is. Iran’s deeply buried underground enrichment plant remains a problem, officials said, with Washington demanding the facility be repurposed and Tehran insisting it be able to run hundreds of centrifuges there. Iran says it wants to use the machines for scientific research; the Americans fear they could be quickly retooled for enrichment.


Iran already can produce the equivalent of one weapon’s worth of enriched uranium with the centrifuges it now runs. However, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke of eventually operating enough centrifuges to produce what 190,000 of its current models churn out.



Copyright © 2015 Associated Press, Inc.




Monday, March 16th, 2015

A new article. Go to either of these links:


This follows and amplifies my earlier post on the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

If Bonhoeffer were alive today, he would say that history ignored risks history repeated.





Thursday, March 12th, 2015



3-12-15 Addendum

Bibi addresses Congress.  The chattering classes chatter.  GOP Senators warn the Iranian mullahs that an insufficiently tough agreement with the Obama administration can be revised or disregarded by a new administration.  The chattering classes go ballistic.  Reports from Israel suggest that Bibi’s party, the Likud, might fall behind its principal completion, the center-left Zionist Union party.


My comment?




Nothing has changed.  The ruling mullahs of Iran are still the same intransigent crowd of fanatics, hell bent on getting (what they believe to be) the irrevocable status of a nuclear power; they remain undeterred by mere economic sanctions.


When the Obama administration complains that its vocal opponents and the Senate letter-writers are blocking the only viable path to containing the Iranian nuclear threat, it has tipped its losing hand to the opposition, to wit: There is no military option that this administration is actually willing to use to forestall Iran’s path to nuclear power status.


Conclusion: Having already endured about 80% of the expected economic punishment on the way to the unholy grail, the mullahs are more than willing endure the remaining 20% in order to get what they have always sought.


The current US President drew a red line in the sand that Syria’s dictator ignored. The same US President must now suffer the continuation of the Assad regime, and the concomitant loss of American credibility in the region and among our European allies and friends.  When this president declares that Iran will not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, he is not believed.


This crisis is – or should be – beyond partisan politics.  Why? …Because the stakes for the US and the world are so dire that intra-party differences are as insignificant as arguing about import tariffs while Hitler seizes Europe, invades Britain, and gets an ally to bomb the US Naval installation at Pearl Harbor.


The principal risk is not that some GOP Senators may or may not have prevented a ‘deal” with the Iranian government over their thousands of Uranium refining centrifuges. [I personally think the letter will make no difference one way of the other.] The truly important risk is that the proposed “deal” will permit Iran’s terrorist regime to game the sanctions, fool the inspectors (if any) and push through to the goal of creating an atomic weapon or two as a fait accompli before anyone in the West can stop them. Then, who will bell the cat?




By Jay B Gaskill


If Iran’s atomic bomb becomes a reality, that fact will transform the world in disastrously fatal ways. The clock is ticking. The president is …worried.

Mr. Obama is releasing his “second and final” national security policy today. “…the report makes it clear that it is not limiting pre-emption to traditional uses of force.” NYT article “Security Strategy Recognizes U.S. Limits” 2/6/15 A7


In that deadly arena where real powers contend over life and death issues, it all comes down to credibility and power. Power, once dissipated cannot be replaced, except by equally effective power. The credibility of a power player, once damaged, cannot be restored except by tough real-world actions over time.  A bluffer only repairs credibility slowly.


In the deadly arena where the real powers contend, lies and bluffs – once exposed – deflate credibility for a good long time. So force often becomes necessary.  Our president has backed himself and the country into a situation in which only the use of force will work….if it is in time.


Tick. Tick. Tick.



The Islamic Republic of Iran is perilously close to attaining the untouchable status of a nuclear power.  The costs of preventing that alarming development by using force are so scary that this president  has decided to rely on economic penalties and disincentives (i.e., “sanctions”), and on the Iranian “reassurances” (i.e., “hints” and misdirection) to save the day.

It is certainly true that avoiding a new Middle East conflict would avoid the blowback from military action, like a spike oil prices and terrorist activity.  Naturally, avoiding that scenario, if possible, is desirable. But what if “soft power” does not work on fanatics?  What if Iran’s rulers just don’t give a damn? What is the administration’s backup plan?

So far it consists of hints and suggestions that the US will use military force.  To the Iranian mullahs-in-charge this is another red line bluff. Not a credible threat.  So they will endure the sanctions.


…Which raises the real question of the day: Can the world live with a nuclearized Iran? The answer depends on the experience, foresight and judgment of the policy makers one asks. No major policy maker in the current administration has lived through the Cold War MAD (deterrence through Mutually Assured Destruction) period. Mr. Obama’s leadership team is out of touch.

The answer to the real question of the day, sadly, is: Of course, the world cannot live with a nuclearized Iran as long as the present regime has control.


The nuclear threat from Korea is contained by distance, and the presence of China. Comparing the two threats is like the difference between a fire in a dry forest surrounded by an ice field, and a huge fire in the middle of a large city of paper surrounded by a gasoline-soaked field.  Iran is a terror sponsoring state. An Iran armed with nukes will ignite the world..


The deadly bomb technologies that placed the entire world at risk during the Cold War can now be purchased on the black market. Iran has already done that.  The rest is an engineering project.


Great progress has been made by Iran’s busy engineers. Missiles and bomb casings are ready.  How long until the Iranian enrichment facilities produce of weaponized fissile materials in bomb making quantities?  The “breakout” event is just months away.  Because the Iranians are lying about almost everything, intelligence cannot be sure just how many months we have.


What would happen if the regime in Iran succeeds in getting nuclear power status? The experts agree: a regional arms race would follow. Iran has taken the whole region to the very edge of the containment breakthrough threshold.


Add one nuclear power like the Iranian regime to the mix, and nuclear weapons will eventually be used on cities.  Will. Be. Used.


Not our problem? …Not, unless we want our children to survive to adulthood.


Using new data and better computers, scientists have recalculated the nuclear winter scenario of the cold War.  It now appears that even a “small” nuclear war (using fewer weapons that are in the Pakistan arsenal) would set off a nuclear winter. Within one year, the dark sun will reduce the world’s food supply to a pathetic trickle. In less than two years, a billion people could starve to death. Wars will surely follow.  Civilization itself might not survive the crisis.




Pause a moment.  I invite you to think like an Israeli. You are living at ground zero.  The president wants you to trust him. …Because he has your back.


But wait? How do you know who among your circle of nice-making neighbors, relatives and acquaintances will be your real friends? …Only under duress, when you find yourself in real need, in a desperate bind. Then and only then your real friends – if any – will reveal themselves. This is the one true test of character. A supposed friend’s character is never truly evident until the relationship is subjected to stress.


A high wind always reveals the weak branches. The Beltway is full of characters who are fair-weather friends of “the Jews” and their refuge state, Israel. If Obama cannot be relied on, who can?


Where is Hillary Clinton? Not a word.  Not a word.


A mortal enemy of the West in general and Israel in particular is trying to stride the Middle East like a colossus. It name is the Islamic Republic of Iran.


For more than a decade a firmly entrenched clique of ruling mullahs has controlled or eliminated dissent while, at great national cost, it has doggedly and consistently pursued a single goal: to acquire an atomic bomb arsenal capable of cowing the West in general and eliminating, if possible, the local Jews and leveling their refuge state, Israel, to the dirt.


Sanctions have not yet worked. The closer to the mullahs’ goal they get, the more sanctions they are willing to endure.  And they are now very, very close.


The naïve among us ask: Why endure such economic hardship for long when the pursuit of material comfort is so attractive? Because the hardened members of ruling clique of Iran are not like the gentle, pleasure-loving peoples of the developed Western democracies of Europe.


Do not underestimate the motivational power of hate when it is linked to the promotion of self-esteem and drilled in, month by month, year by year by an entrenched authoritarian regime seeking to restore a lost empire.


It is not fair weather in Tel Aviv; it is no holiday for Israel. For our friends in the Jewish refuge state, the Jewish homeland project long ago ceased being an experiment. It is home. Israel’s inhabitants and their true friends are clear eyed about the very real, very lethal threats to the tiny Jewish homeland.


For the Jews, Harry Truman was a true friend. For the Jews, Barack Hussein Obama is not. Each modern democrat need to answer the question: What kind of democrat am I?


Our president’s self-regard is out of joint with reality. His ideological predisposition has revealed itself in his early formation and his presidential decisions. I suspect that his character is an amalgam of the Marxist mindset of his biological father, of his new left early mentors, and the thinly disguised anti-Semitism of his former spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright. Mr. Obama is apparently enthralled by a counter-factual version of history concerning Israel and the Middle East, one where Israel is an illegitimate bully that only has a provisional right to exist. Obama appears to want to hold Israel hostage in exchange for demands that, to its citizens, look like a suicide pact. This is not about a few settlement apartment houses near Tel-Aviv. It is about the survival of the Jewish people in their original homeland.  It is about the moral damage to Western civilization if, once again, we fail them and allow another final solution.


If Israel has lost confidence in Obama, can those of us who love Israel trust this president? I note that Mr. Obama’s first and best chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was someone who could be counted on to look after Israel’s back…until he resigned in 2010 to become Chicago’s first Jewish Mayor. His subsequent silence may be a product of loyalty and political calculation.


Rahm Emanuel’s White house role was replaced by the omnipresent, Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett. She is a classic “progressive” activist who tends to see Israel as a bully and the groups attacking Israel as victims. Ms. Jarrett is not a friend of Israel.[1] I believe that she has Mr. Obama’s ear because he thinks he needs to hear her all the time, lest he stray..


I tend use 9-11-01 as a personal litmus test of a leader’s understanding of the terrorist challenge, the enemies, the allies, the friends, and the scope and nature of the war against us. On that day, I was in midtown Manhattan, staying with family, and something became all too clear to me, to those I met in New York, Washington DC, and all those elsewhere who were paying attention: I was that the mass murders on that day were properly labeled as the spawn of a malignant mindset. …A contagious malignancy.


I also knew on a deep gut level that Manhattan’s world famous financial center was targeted, not only because it was an American asset, but also because it was a center for all those hated “rich Jews”.


Sadly, the record reveals that, for young Senator Obama, the 9-11 cataclysm did not spark a surge in patriotism; nor did it spark the epiphany that radical Islam was actually at war with us. [2]


Ms. Jarrett has tended to be more careful in her public utterances, but her private counsel has been to downplay terrorism, and to treat the war started by radical Islam against the West, the USA and Israel as a fantasy construct of the right, a domestic political problem to be managed.[3]




Why did Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu decide to “go around” POTUS to speak directly to the US Congress? Bibi has known all along just how dangerously unreliable an ally of Israel Mr. Obama has revealed himself to be. But many of America’s liberal secular Jews are a bit slower to the realization. As a country, Israel still owes deference to the traditional relationship with the US, especially since the US military establishment is on Israel’s side.  I believe that Bibi hoped for covert support from US forces when the IDF is forced to act against Iran. My personal theory: Netanyahu felt compelled to ratchet up the political pressure on Mr. Obama because the circumstances are desperate. I suspect he has calculated that:


(1) Israel really doesn’t have two years left to for Obama and the Europeans to dither, especially if Iran is within 6 months of breakout.

(2) Given the number of hardened installations now in place in Iran, Israel’s military options are problematic, unless significant American air support and intel are forthcoming.

(3) Hillary will give Bibi political cover with the centrist democrats.

(4) Even if Obama can’t be moved off the dime on real sanctions, that public opinion can still compel POTUS to lend military support to Israel when the current sanctions fail.




At the end of the day, I too, believe that economic sanctions should have been tried first. And they have.


Because of the futility and tardiness of any sufficiently strong economic sanctions, especially those that are unilaterally imposable at this late hour, the sanctions can and will be endured by this Iranian regime long enough to make some atomic weapons. After that game changer, Iran will consider that it is invulnerable.


Therefore: Because of the grave – and probably irrevocable – consequences of allowing Iran to achieve atomic bomb power status in the region – the US will need to impose to “kinetic” sanctions.


A year or two ago, I joked that our president had ramped up his response to the Iran atom bomb program: he had escalated from adjectives to verbs. Now, the hour is too late for jokes.


Sadly, it appears that at this juncture, only action will be effective in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. ..Unless there is a regime change.  But those prospects are close to zero. Once the Iranian regime has the Bomb, it will be even more difficult to dislodge even if an authentic opposition rose up. Which country would dare support the revolution while the entrenched ruling mullahs could use an atom bomb.


In other words, unless the regime makes a full turnaround, we will need to use “kinetic” sanctions. The following steps are outlined as an illustration only.  But what we do next must be decisive and effective; and each must carry a double message: one to the mullahs in Iran, and one to the other regimes that might be tempted to take the same path.


The overall action plan would be coupled with an information blitz aimed at the Iranian population. It would unfold in stages as follows, relying primarily on US air and sea assets:


  1. US air and naval assets take out Iran’s navy (to secure the Strait of Hormuz).
  2. US air assets destroy Iran’s air force and missiles.
  3. Then we destroy the gasoline refinery at Adiban.  Pointedly, we leave the oil fields and the other refineries alone for now.
  4. At this stage , we saturate all possible Iranian information channels – using electronic means and drones carrying and dropping leaflets – spelling our the demands, warning of the pending further sanctions, and setting out the no nukes, no excuses peace conditions.
  5. Then – and only then – we offer to open time-limited negotiations to completely dismantle the Iranian atomic bomb program.
  6. If the negotiation and compliance deadline is ignored by the Mullahs, we demonstrate American capability by bunker bombing one of the enrichment sites.
  7. If the regime is still intransigent, we take out another enrichment site, and destroy the Revolutionary Guard headquarters.
  8. We allow one last opportunity for fruitful discussions.
  9. Then we do whatever it takes. Don’t forget the ultimate stakes, the prevention of nuclear genocide. Note that these actions can probably be accomplished almost exclusively with air power and small units of Special Forces, but not without lots and lots of civilian deaths. But note, also, that the cost in lives and destruction from preventing a nuclear Iran are vastly smaller that the staggering human costs that will inevitably follow the emergence of a nuclear-armed radical dictatorship like Iran in the region.


As “scary” as all this might sound, this military action is very likely to be less costly than were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not coincidentally oil prices are low enough to take the initial economic shock. …Because the low prices are partly the result of Saudi action, a country that does not want Iran to acquire the bomb.  In any event, US oil and gas production can probably be ramped up a bit in the short term. Yes, there will be blowback. Yes, Iran may try to increase terror activity through its proxies.  If so, we take out another gas refinery.  Out capacity of inflict punishment far exceeds Iran’s.


US public opinion will be on board as long as the actions are decisive, effective and the entire process is measured in weeks not months. It has been a long, long time since Americans have seriously been asked to take the long view, and to engage in what many, many critics will falsely claim is an “unnecessary” war.


The lives of Jesus of Nazareth and Hillel the Elder overlapped in the first century.  They lived at what is now ground zero. Some moral questions are bright line clear. This is one of them.


The jihad kills children.


“…and whoever may cause to stumble one of those little ones who are believing in me, it is better for him that a weighty millstone may be hanged upon his neck, and he may be sunk in the depth of the sea.”  Jesus


And leaders temporize.


If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am for myself, then what am “I”? And if not now, when? Hillel



When? When? When?




A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.  Learn more about Jay B Gaskill, attorney, analyst and author, at

[2] Mr. Obama was sensitive. “The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others,” Mr. Obama wrote. “Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”  To be fair Ms. Jarrett’s silence about 9-11-01 can be attributed to the fact that she was still a practicing lawyer-activist and not seeking public attention.

[3] I and many other commentators have seen a report about the run up to the bin Laden raid that portrays the president as ambivalent and reluctant to order the operation. Both Mrs. Clinton and Leon Panetta were persistent in urging the president to take action, but every time Ms. Jarrett got his ear, he temporized. If true, it was a leak, now covered up. I still find it credible.