Friday, November 29, 2013

Nuclear Option: Iran, U.S. Senate

Senate Majority Leader Reid                                         Iran President Rouhani
More signs Iran is going nuclear: the Washington Post, usually friendly to President Obama’s foreign policy, has published an editorial raising serious questions about Iran’s intention to set aside its "nuclear option."  The editorial nevertheless has a closing line cop-out, opining that delaying Iran’s progress toward a bomb “is far preferable to. . . military action.”  That's siding with the administration against a "straw man," since its opponents for now favor maintaining stiff sanctions, not bombing.

A week ago Saturday, the administration boosted Iran’s "nuclear option."  Two days earlier, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) invoked the “nuclear option” in his chamber, enabling the administration for the first time to confirm judges and executive appointments by majority vote.  On this “nuclear option” no negotiations, no compromise with the Republican enemy, just a quick fait accompli that blew up Senate Rule 22, requiring a two-thirds vote to change any rule.  Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), in opposing his party’s action, quoted Levin’s predecessor Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI) in 1949 saying that that if the majority can change the rules at will, "there are no rules except the transient unregulated wishes of a majority of whatever quorum is temporarily in control of the Senate."

Nuke the G.O.P., give nukes to Iran. It confirms what we said here recently: Obama’s real enemy is Republicans. Of course it’s dangerous to appease Iran.  It’s also reckless to allow a simple majority to run the Senate, because in months, that majority might be Republican. Why the misplaced “nuclear options”?

Noah Rothman, writing in “Mediaite,” hazards a guess as to what’s happening in the Senate. It’s in line with “prospect theory,” a predictive model of economic behavior. Prospect theory
stipulates that when a person begins to come to terms with increasingly likely losses, they become risk-takers. Losses sting, the theory asserts, more than gains reward. Thus, risk-seeking behavior increases as the acute pain of an imminent loss comes clearly into focus.
It’s a phenomenon we’ve touched on many times, discussing how animals will fight harder to hold onto what they have than they will fight to gain new territory.

Rothman believes Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” because “the ground is collapsing” from under their feet:
In a panic, they are falling back on maneuvers which mitigate immediate pain and provide short-term gains, all the while acknowledging that the risks they are taking are high and the prospect of long-term advantage extremely low.
The same can be said for appeasing Iran--taking a risk for short-term gain, with “the prospect of long-term advantage extremely low.”

How unfortunate, these misdirected “nuclear options.”

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