I just got back to Default World from a four-day weekend at the third annual Playa Pity Party for people unable to travel to Burning Man. During those four-days, I did not so much as glance at my main email box. When this afternoon I finally worked up the courage to ready all the new unread messages, I found the weekly missive from Senator Ted Cruz.
I've been having these semi-serious fantasies about running for Senate against Cruz in 2018. Perhaps by then, the major parties will take a Green candidacy seriously enough to slag it rather than ignoring it. I'm envisioning the Texas Democrats dredging up the information that OMG!!! That Collins guy is a Burner!!! He hangs out with hundreds of people in various states of undress, many of whom may be consuming illicit substances!!! To which I'd reply, "Yeah. So?"
Yes, Ted, I agree with you that our veterans should have the best medical care available. I also agree with you that ObamaCare is a boondoggle, although we differ on the best way to fix it. No, Ted, even my conspiratorial mind finds it difficult to believe that Obama poses any real threat to the Second Amendment, or that "transition[ing] oversight of Internet domains to a global organization that includes authoritarian regimes such as China, Russia, and Iran" (the notoriously apolitical ICANN) poses any threat to the Internet as we know it.
Notice that I asked "why should" rather than "why does." Cruz can't abide sending a plug nickel to "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," and he frets that it violates US sanctions currently in place.
About that "world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" thing: That's according to a list kept by the State Department. It is a very short list, consisting of Iran, Syria, and Sudan, the three nations that the US can positively identify as having bankrolled terrorist organizations and activities. Left-wing regimes in North Korea, Cuba and the formerly independent South Yemen once appeared on it, as did Iraq and Libya, but no more.
Syria is the senior member of the list, having received the designation near the end of 1979, just after the Mullahs took over Iran. Iran's presence on the list dates only from 1984, almost exactly three years after the Mullahs released the 50 American hostages, three months after the Beirut barracks bombings, and just when President Ronald Reagan was gearing up for his re-election campaign.
As you might expect, the official list has never included allied nations that have supported what can objectively be identified as terrorism and terrorists: e.g., Saudi Arabia, Israel. Naturally, it will never include the United States, because that would require divulging the moneys and resources this nation has spent or extracted to support its proxy armies.
If anything, regarding Iran, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have done too little and not taken full advantage of a historic opportunity. Obama and Kerry earned whatever plaudits they may receive in opening Cuba to trade and travel (which I not-so-secretly hope doesn't ruin Cuba with US-style commercialism). They could have done the same for Iran, and in the process turned a cold enemy to a less cold not-quite-ally-but-not-really-enemy. Surveys like this one of Iranian citizens show that a majority want closer relations with the US than the Islamic Republic's governing crew will ever allow.
In a nutshell, the United States should be working with Iran, not against it. The nuclear agreement is a step in the right direction, not the entire journey.
As with Cuba, most of our Western allies do not have the same restrictions on trade or travel with Iran that the US has. We have those restrictions because certain Congressmembers, with ties to certain capitalists, insisting on maintaining those restrictions. A war with Iran would be a calamity, they know, but a sanctions regime can be profitable, especially if you have the resources to get around the sanctions.
Yes, I say that with full knowledge of Iran's 37 years of Death to America! foreign policy. I also say that with full knowledge of what being a US ally entails, what it can turn a nation into—see Romania and its role as a middleperson for extraordinary renditions, for just one example. But mostly, I say it with the hope that the US will not continue to be the warmongering global bully that it has been for the last century, that it will sincerely participate in the community of nations as a partner rather than a patron.
Cruz worries that Iran will just capture more Westerners and make us pony up every time, or that they'll direct the money into their military or toward their terrorist friends. I worry that certain senators don't recognize an investment in international peace when they see one.
There's a very blurry line between a bribe and an incentive. I'd rather have my nation bribing nations into enacting sensible policies than threatening them, and until recently our policy toward Iran since the '80s has been all stick, no carrot. That approach certainly hasn't improved the chances for peace in Southwest Asia.