Soundtracking the Resistance - Going Their Own Way

Fallout from Pulling Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korean Diplomacy, the NRA, Guns N' Roses, and Jonathan Fire*Eater

May 11, 2018 Web Exclusive By Stephen Mayne Bookmark and Share


Back to Iran as the plug is finally pulled this week, plus the fallout is happening already, North Korea is on, the NRA is as polite as ever, and the '90s make a brief return.

The Big Event 

Surround a man with hawks and he's going to act hawkish. Give him more confidence than ability to grapple with complicated issues and he's going to cause complications. Drown him in insecurity over the achievements of others and he'll go blind to sensible solutions. Put him in the White House and we have Donald Trump.

This week, Trump did the thing we all knew he was going to do because he kept telling us he would and yet we hoped he wouldn't anyway: he announced America is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. That this happens to be a key, if not the key part of Obama's foreign policy legacy probably doomed the deal. That and Trump's aversion to any deal involving more than two parties. If he can't get in a room, bully an opponent, and claim all the glory, he ain't interested.

The deal he hates (and has repeatedly referred to as the worst deal ever) involved seven parties. Signed back in 2015 by Iran on one side and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France) plus Germany on the other, it aimed to prevent Iran building the capacity to construct nuclear weapons.

We're essentially talking a bribe of sorts. By scaling down civil nuclear capabilities, removing enriched uranium and the means to enrich to the levels required for weaponization, the six countries on the other side of the deal agreed to remove all nuclear related sanctions. Play nice and you can have your toys back.

Not that anyone trusted Iran to do it on faith alone. Part of the deal involved allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct extensive monitoring to ensure compliance. According to the IAEA, Iran has been doing what it should. 10 visits, most recently in February, all confirmed they're towing the line.

As for Trump and his Trumpian adventures abroad, the deal is too weak-willed. This isn't the blood and thunder ride of the Valkyries magic little hawkish Trumpians like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton want. They're men of action and they want to act. Israel is with them too, having criticized Iran for breaking the deal after all. They all want to act and there's a decent chance it will go wrong.

Who knows what they'll do. The whole point of the deal was to force Iran to remove nuclear weapons from the table because some action would have been needed otherwise. So, if the deal isn't working, or isn't enough, what is this action? We've had renewed sanctions already but what else? Is it happy marching solider time, or death from above aerial bombardment? Is it empowering Israel to unleash the dogs of war? Is it all bluster by a government with no clear plan beyond sticking it to a hated predecessor?

Here's some more questions: is abandoning the deal going to lead to increased violence in the region? Is it going to further aggravate allies and weaken U.S. influence? Is it going to drag America into more conflict? Is it worth it?

Ultimately there isn't an answer to the last question yet, but there will be. Team Trump is gambling yes, and not with a particularly strong hand. Violence has already intensified, with Syria becoming the stage for an Israel/Iran proxy war this week (see below). For now, Iran and the remaining five signatories say they'll continue to abide by the terms of the deal.

And as for Donald, he'll continue his plotting, and his scheming, and his tweeting, and his bombastic foreign policying and hopefully it won't all go wrong. But if it does, it's probably Obama's fault. It usually is when you're on Team Trump. 

What's Going On

Claims and counter-claims are doing the rounds this week. Israel says Iran directly launched an attack on the disputed Golan Heights. This has yet to be confirmed, and while we wait in suspense to find out, Israel has apparently carried out airstrikes against nearly all Iranian military infrastructure in Syria. This game of chess with real people as the pieces switches back to Iran for the next move.

Mark June 12th in your diaries people because that's when Trumpy sits down with Kim Jong-un to discuss world peace and, if time permits, the secrets of their unorthodox hairstyles. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has set as a target the somewhat ambitious aim of the complete end to North Korea's nuclear weapons capability. Not that it wouldn't be great to secure such a deal. Apparently, a deal, if one can actually be struck, is acceptable in this instance. Sorry Iran.

Who has it harder than the Civil Rights movement? According to new NRA president and former Iran-Contra guy Oliver North, it is in fact the NRA. He certainly doesn't like people calling for stronger gun control laws anyway. "You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things - even there you didn't have this kind of thing." Or to put it another way, "this is civil terrorism." Measured stuff as always from the NRA.

Speak Up!

Lady Gaga, Sharon Van Etten, Jenn Wasner, and Hayley Williams make up just a handful of the impressive list of names donating gear and memorabilia to the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. It will be auctioned off to support the non-profit organization that funds camp and music education programs for female, transgender, and gender non-confirming youths.

It seems all these years later Guns N' Roses is trying to forget an offensive song front man Axl Rose previously defended. "One in a Million" from a 1988 EP came with extremely unpleasant racist and homophobic lyrics. A recently announced bumper reissue of Appetite for Destruction includes all the tracks off the old EP apart from "One in a Million." There's nothing quite like burying past transgressions.

Song of the Week: Jonathan Fire*Eater - "When the Curtain Calls for You"

Jonathan Fire*Eater could be a harbinger of things to come for Trump in different ways. For one, they were big in showbiz circles in decades gone past, then they flamed out as they reached peak popularity. So maybe there's an omen there, fingers crossed.

But one of their lead singles from 1997 could be nicely repurposed to play Trumpy and his cadre of goons off the stage. We need that right now as they go around causing chaos. Also, it's a cool song so you can just listen to it for that.

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