Check out the website:  Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website.  Political Note #336 Georgia and the US Senate, Political Note #341 US and the World – Blinken, Thomas-Greenfield, and Kerry, Political Note #342 US and the World, Part 2 – Mayorkas, Haines, and Sullivan

120320         Political Note #343   Joe Biden Waiting his turn

2020               General election – Getting ready to govern

Not since Ted Kennedy’s wife announced her pregnancy shortly after Chappaquiddick have I been so confident.  Back then, I told my wife that Joan Kennedy would have a miscarriage.  I tell you now that David Sanger was right.   He said it cautiously (after all, he’s writing for the NY Times) — the purpose of the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was to prevent Joe Biden from having the United States rejoin with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.  Iran, the perpetrators believed, would retaliate, leading to further retaliation and conditions that prevented any possible reconciliation.

John Brennan, Head of the CIA under Obama, tweeted:  “This was a criminal act & highly reckless.  It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict.  Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership….& to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits.”  Iran will do that.  The Tehran Times, a voice of the Iranian government, blamed the US and Israel for the assassination and said it would not fall into the Israeli trap.

Nevertheless, the Iranian leadership will seethe.  For good reason.  Assassination of a civilian in a country that is an adversary not at war is a crime against humanity.  Will Joe Biden seethe?  Probably not.  He has mastered the art of focusing on his own responsibilities while exuding confidence that he will make things work out.

The Trump administration, whose level of involvement in this assassination, is unclear has been a violator of norms.  The current attempt to reverse the election through the courts and through intimidation has been an inept violation of norms. There is no way to reverse this election skillfully.   The Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassination is certainly a Trump attempt to affect Joe Biden’s planned policies.  There may be no way to stop Joe Biden’s policies skillfully; at least not so long as Joe Biden keeps his focus.

Was the JCPOA bad negotiations on the part of the western and Asian powers?  Were they acquiescing to a nuclear Iran – just in the future?  Or was it a powerful agreement that, had Trump not withdrawn the US, would have led to so long a delay in Iran developing a nuclear weapon that it would never happen at all?

Many American Democrats, among them Joe Biden and the leadership of countries of Europe believed and still believe that JCPOA was a powerful disincentive to Iran developing a nuclear weapon.  (I would not dare to guess at the thinking of the Russians and the Chinese.).  Joe Biden is sticking to those beliefs.

Joe Biden operates within our norms. There is only one President, say all Presidents-elect.  Presidents-elect do not involve themselves in foreign policy until they take office. (There have been a few exceptions – Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and, of course, Donald Trump.).  Joe Biden will plan on how to avoid being boxed into a corner about the JCPOA.

He could give a speech saying that the assassination of Mohsen Fakrizadeh was wrong.  He could outline plans to address violations of law involved in the assassination.  He probably wouldn’t promise prosecution; he’s already been clear that criminal proceedings should be decided by prosecutors and not for political reasons. He might avoid praise for Iran’s regime which is repressive and, because of its support for terrorists and its nuclear potential, dangerous.

He doesn’t need to make that speech.  He doesn’t need to discourage the Iranian leadership from retaliating directly for the assassination, from creating the conditions for further US retaliation and an escalation that could lead to a war the Iranians cannot win.  They’ve figured it out.  They’ve figured out a retaliation.  They’ve passed a law requiring further enrichment of nuclear fuels, enrichment that approaches weapons grade.  They’ve also set a deadline for when they might bar nuclear inspectors if sanctions haven’t been lifted.

They won’t enrich fuel quickly.  The demands they are making are consistent with Joe Biden’s goals.  He’s ready to renew negotiations – not that they will be easy.  His priorities appear to be: 1) Finding the best route to ending Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations.  2) Finding a route to reducing and then eliminating Iran’s support for terrorism abroad.  3) Encouraging democracy in Iran and elsewhere, including Iran.  If he can get back on board with the first priority, he will have done well.

When we voted for Joe Biden for President, we voted for different people.  Your Joe Biden was different from mine.  We will learn which Joe Biden we’ve elected when we see his actions.  So far, we have seen a man committed to returning the country to stable government and a stable international order.


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