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MARCH 6, 2012 6:38PM

If There Existed Deal Between Israel & Iran:What's the ESP?

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For Megan, Erich, and Barry Rich, always. I stayed in PA because I thought I was supposed to, and met Mr. Kendro, and we wrote the book The Da Vinci Model. It wasn't really worth it to miss so much time with you, if I hope it wasn't worthless yet either. Love you, forever and ever.

This post does not claim to be mystical as to ESP, as that is an acronym, Economic, Social, Political within the application of Burt Kendro Jr's Da Vinci Model, although if applying the model works, it has that property in the sense of science having predictive power compared to random choices too, and can explain a fair amount of interactions just as an observer.

When Santorum talks abortion, that is Social, or S for short. When Romney says he can fix the economy, that is E, and when we bomb Iran, that would be a External or Hard P, as opposed to the Internal or Soft P that is the domestic political campaign itself.

As to the title, its all well and good to hope that diplomacy works in general, although its not a magic wand either.

Sometimes what one side will accept simply does not intersect enough with the other side's desires to induce an agreement.

The Parties eventually realize this, and then people start to die in large numbers in some cases, the military being the tip of the spear of the External P variable.

In international relations, given the lack of a centralized adjudicating authority, no "Soft World P, "and therefore no what Germany's greatist thinker Max Weber would have called a "monopolist on the legitimate use of violence," it remains the case that war is still what Clausewitz said in his classic study On War in 1830: "the continuation of policy by other, i.e. violent means."

Soldiers of course have always thought that what they did was rather less bloodless and passionless sounding than that neat phrase, "the continuation of policy by other, i.e. violent means."

Soldiers have always ended up thinking more along the lines of "kill all the brutes!(Heart of Darkness, Kurtz)," if Clausewitz, master that he was, also recognized this limitation of his "early rational choice" analysis too (see On War, p. 20 for an early defintion of a dynamic game with uncertainty,and in the extensive form too, if as a "mere" verbal formulation.) I won't cite stuff too much anymore; only where it helps.

In war however, it remains the case that instead of exchanging notes, as Clausewitz said, one exchanges bullets, bombs, or some day, although one definitely hopes not, nuclear weapons, the ultimate to date Hard P.

Of course, fortunately it has so far not been the latter case of exchanging one final note for a nuclear barrage and then another as the "response function.:

This is just as fortunately it has been the case that it not really very easy to generate a scenario in which both the conflict at issue makes sense to be a serious hypothetical and, and in which using nuclear weapons does make sense, instead of just playing footsie with threats as a signalling game, if maybe in which every now and then maybe some covert operatives get literally sacrificed as proxies, which of course is good news (save for the occasional unlucky flip of a coin, but that's life).

Unfortunately the Persian Gulf in my view is the potentially most serious exception to that rule of the non-rationality and therefore non-use of the nuclear weapons, if so far, so good too. That's good news, as people in the late seventies and early eighties used to scare themselves sick about Ivan coming down to Hormuz, which is why Carter created the command known as Centcom to prevent.

As to the current situation, President Obama in the Israel-Iran case, as with North Korea, can seemingly be described as following a line of policy that could be stated this way:

"At least we'll know. At least we'll know that we didn't go to war when it wasn't necessary, and when that time comes, we'll execute with sadness, and mercilessness born of that too."

That's a reasonable theory in many cases, as it means your own population may well be more behind the use of force than would otherwise be the case: "I saw him make an offer, and it seemed ok to me?"

Its a strategy, like everything in life, also not without risks too, as such "watchful waiting" a la current prostate cancer treatment also always runs the risk that the "cancer," in this case Iran's nuclear program, (and its a weapons program as to its "walks, talks, quacksduck" status), becomes terminal.

For diplomacy to work, there not only of course has to exist an agreeement, or set of agreements, but it often must also be the case in which it both parties prefer the new arrangement to any other arrangement they know of that they feel that they can reach either by their own unilateral efforts (bombing included) or efforts of others (extended nuclear deterrence), violent or not.

That is one way of describing a Nash Equilibrium of Game Theory in the Three ESP dimensions of the Da Vinci Model, with the number of Players itself a variable, although real world diplomacy rarely uses such things other than as decision aides.

No more mention of Game Theory, if not the Da Vinci Model, although it is a helpful tool in applying the Model with the very common sense criterion for a solution remaining the same.

"A solution to a diplomatic bargain has the property that for every Player, they cannot raise their own well-being, considered in broad terms, by unilateral acts."

As to the potential for a bargain then, using a fairly standard model, which in the author's version taught to him by Albert Kendro Jr is called the Da Vinci Model, there are three classes of tools to pursue policy: Economic, Social, and Political.

Economic is fairly straightforward as to say money Iran has in escrow in America and the refinery issue, plus gas routes from Central Asia, and the technology from say Germany and the Eurozone, plus Japan and Korea to develop that, since our extensive presence in Iran is a "little too early" to really make a base of policy, if we used to be such friends, part of the tragedy of what is unfolding to date.

Political includes nuclear weapons, PGM strikes, covert activity, and diplomacy, but also domestic "truces" as give and take as to accepting a deal overseas, if part of the Model expects and therefore accepts that politics never stops at the water's edge, and never has, and never will.

Social is to be thought of as applying culture in a very general sense, ideology being one subset of that variable, which has the helpful monicker Burt created: ESP is for Economics, Social, Political.

So, as to the ESP of any deal between Iran and Israel short of a bargaining of violence, what would that mean?

Its not unique, but more than likely would need to contain these elements, if always driven by the Super Hard P of nuclear weapons.

Beginning there, Iranian nuclear weapons are a non-starter, as the domestic politics of Israel will not in the long run tolerate that, and for good reasons in the end as to understandable fears that if people talk loudly about "effacing you from the sands of time, "and have a history of martyrdom as in the keys in the Iran-Iraq War, you don't want to try Mutual Assured Destruction: period.

Herein lies the rub, because given the power of nuclear weapons, and their threat, States in general are very reluctant to give them up, although Libya did as the best analogy, in which the use of force had just been demonstrated with Saddam, if that's not the only, or in the consensus as it stands now of early scholarship, the main reason Gaddafi gave up an extensive clandestine effort either, and which after he fell it turned out was in fact given up for all practical purposes.

Thus, the inspection regime for Libya or its close equivalent has to be the starting point on the P side, which almost surely requires some understanding that if violated, would authorize the use of force, at least for a good while.

Since that's a lot to swallow for Iran, in return, move to E, or economic incentives.

Right now, President Obama is waging war with E with sanctions, which is a powerful tool potentially, if not as definitive as airstrikes and ground invasion, if its also obviously preferable if it works for a lot of reasons as the policy instrument.

Thus, if one is offering Iran sticks implicitly or not that there is at some point going to be "Shock and Awe II," then carrots matter a lot, especially because the more open the threat of the use of force, the more you call on the Social variable as a risk in the sense of nationalism.

Iran has long complained we owe them money over money seized by at the time of the hostage situation in 1979.

That was a long time ago, as to punishing people, and it is a risk of being an employee or even contractor of the American government that you are a target of opponents of that government as to compensation, and so releasing much of that money as part of a settlement makes sense, if under conditions to induce compliance, i.e. with leverage still attached instead of "here's another $10 billion or so, qnd have fun with your weapons program and Hizballah."

(Note, Hizballah and broader issues like the Palestinians may well be straws that break camels backs to no one's interest, and KISS, keep it (relatively) Simple Stupid is a good acronym for a reason,as to the case for keeping those issues off the table for now, if they in a general sense show why the Arabs need to pressure Abbas to accept some half loaf and legal fiction on Jerusalem, or a lot of people may well die and in the process undo the whole century of building a modern Arab world, as to an important, if indirect player in this situation.)

Thus, as to leverage and E, if Iran is allowed access to the money we hold, it has to be used to address the concern Iran has as to energy, if only for cover, which would mean natural gas in their case, and routes also to Central Asia we keep blocking for understandable reasons, and also gasoline refineries. That means technology transfers, and could be a good stimulus to the Eurozone and Japan and Korea as to building, and would serve Great Power interests, India included, as to energy stability.

Finally, as to S, justice is a rather important consideration for the Shia, since they lost the battle to date over the succession to Muhammad. In fact, Shia until Khomenei were very quiescent in politics, which of course is a change post-Khomenei that a lot of Arabs, and of course Israelis, could do without.

Some concessions by the Saud on this point as to at least more tolerance of the Shia, if not probably political activism sponsored by the Pasdaran,  and their de facto client state Bahrain, and in Iraq as well, would be a pride easing measure to compensate for the giving up of nuclear weapons.

Something like that is probably a reasonable approach to at least consider in order for averting war in a general sense, in which one can see that if one applies all the instruments of national power other than bombing, although its more complicated, it does offer a way around pure zero sum roadblocks that often arise when considering only economics, or only military balances or only domestic winners and losers, and only considering relative status among cultures as well.



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My eyes won't allow me to read all of this. But I agree with Obama. Resist pressure to jump into war. Do all we can through hard sanctions and negotiation. The right-wing always wants war. The ones who suffer are the ones on the front lines and their families. If they do come close to making an operational nuc and delivery system, we must take military action. But remember how easy it is to get into a war, and how difficult and costly it is to get out.
My eyes won't allow me to read all of this. But I agree with Obama. Resist pressure to jump into war. Do all we can through hard sanctions and negotiation. The right-wing always wants war. The ones who suffer are the ones on the front lines and their families. If they do come close to making an operational nuc and delivery system, we must take military action. But remember how easy it is to get into a war, and how difficult and costly it is to get out.
Don Rich, many thanks for this nuanced and (I think) unbiased analysis. Personally I believe that Obama has access to people who think along the same lines, and that all the bluster and threats and AIPAC-pandering is seeking cover to play for time and for a moderate approach.

The point has been made many times on various blogs that it is the amoral military contractors who are pushing this war with Iran, and this is hard to refute because of course it would be in their financial interest. One would need to attribute some humanity to the fat cats in order to not believe it, but strangely enough, I do. During the Cold War, corporate and military executives did honestly believe, "better dead than Red", but I think only the way-right nut fringe thinks it a good idea to provoke an avoidable first nuclear strike.

The industry is not in the bast graces these days due to costly fiascos and starwars-type technical failures. Betta a Panetta than crummie Rummie in the Pentagon, and thank god for a sensible president who draws a fine line between insulting Netanyahu to his face, and insisting on a graduated "ESP" strategy.
I just read that sleazeball Dick Morris' prediction that Israel will attack Iran within the next few months because they can't count on Obama to 'have Israels' back.' I bet Bibi, when he heard that moronic self-consciously tought street cred talk of Obama's probably said later to his aides 'That schwarze, we can't count on him." Bingo. Israel will act soon and, like Morris says, the run up in oil prices will guarantee that Obama is not re-elected and Israel has a better friend in the White House. R.I.P. the Prez....hugs
I'm sure that the Israelis know, down to the decimal point, the probability of America launching planes and missiles under a wide range of possible scenarios. And they know the retaliation probabilities too. No countries play high stakes poker like this without a little help from their friends behind the curtains.

Good radio interview with Noam Chomsky on NPR. He never raises his voice, never imputes motives without good reason. He was led on a bit by the annoying interviewer, but I still enjoyed listening.
Obama is running a not small risk that Israel will act unilaterally, because of the Israeli election cycle, in which Netanyahu thinks his opponents are dangerously naive.
He may be right too.
I don't think the war is pushed by anything but mainly concern that an Iranian nuclear weapon would alter the balance of power in the Middle East in a radical fashion, although of course that balance of power does benefit the Usual Suspects as to weapons sales and contracts and such.
Carrots and sticks usually work best, if how to wield a stick is a subtle art depending on who you are dealing with, as some people don't respond well to being threatened,if that is also an easy act to play to keep doing what you are doing anyway.