Sanctions

Sanctions

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Let’s say that two powerful nations with significant
military forces are at odds. The agonist country and antagonist country have
done bad things to each other over the years. They share no common religion,
language or value system, or at least those in power in the two nations do not.
The actual people do share a common thirst for education, art and culture, but
each society is being dominated by heathens, who cannot grasp the significance
of the commonalities of the populace below them, but view the relationship with
the leadership of the “other” nation as antithetical, dangerous and threatening
in every way. Unfortunately, in practical terms, this is largely true.

         One of these collections of humans is the most powerful such
collections on earth. The other is not, but it is not without resources.

         The first collection sells itself as an agent of good and
peace despite making war on innocents at a fairly brisk pace over the past 75
years.

         The second is a new regime but an autocratic theocracy using oppression to undermine its own people’s better angels. The second nation is led by
people who strive to attain the power of the first nation. They wish to cause
chaos in their own nation’s region of the world and to actually destroy a smaller
collection of humans organized along different religious lines whose very
existence they have pledged to eliminate. This small group is very closely
aligned with the first, most powerful nation, the one with all the weapons.

         This face off is one of many in the world. Even among groups
who would appear to be similar, even sharing a religious tradition, there are
wars and killing plaguing all regions of this part of the world. Brother is set
against brother in a fashion last seen in a similar struggle in the first
nation over 150 years ago.

         The first nation could just sit this one out and see if
their antagonists all manage to kill one another. The problem with that is that
the number of innocents who would die has been and would continue to be
catastrophic and the death has not and would not guarantee any stability in the
region.

         The first nation could invade the second, a tactic it has
used a great deal of late. It has repeatedly failed to solve any problems using
this strategy, because even when victorious and ready to go home, the first
nation has no partners on the conquered ground with whom to leave the governance
and economic development of the ravaged land. This might not be the case in
this new land of threat because that nation has a history of organized
government and centuries of culture, but no one is quite sure.

In
an attempt to get the second nation to bend to its will, the first nation tries
to starve the second by putting ever more stringent limits on its trade with
the outside world and on its financial reserves as well as its ability to sell
its most critical natural resource. These are called “sanctions” and they work.
They have brought the second nation into peace talks with the first. The second
needs to have the sanctions lifted to save its economy and preserve its hold on
its populace for further economic hardships could lead to civil unrest.

         Terrific. So they talk and come to a loose accord. But they
do not announce the accord together and many people in the home countries of
the negotiators on both sides have great doubts about the sincerity of the
other side. This has the promise of progress, but not all that much promise or
progress is likely with this deal.

         So the decisions are three:

1.  Go with the current agreement and see what happens.

2.  Have country 1 invade and conquer country 2 and hand
it over to forces in country 2 more amendable to the will of country 1.

3.  Ratchet up the sanctions until country 2 comes to the
table with a good deal for all.

Just
say for me, I would go with door # 3.

It
is always reasonable in negotiations to begin the process from a position of
maximum strength. When you do not, it usually means you want the deal too much
or worse, you have been negotiating with yourself before the real talking
begins. Both are bad strategies.

Even
if one of the negotiating partners seemingly has all the cards and the other,
though numerous, appears weak, the position of the “weak” partner can be
strengthened with planning, resolve and cunning. The latter would depend on
discerning what the negotiating opponent wants most and try to deny him of it
in the settlement to which the parties agree.

Some
negotiations are really simple.

What
Iran wants most is its economy back. The U.S. shouldn’t care. What the U.S.
wants most is Iran without the ayatollahs and also without nuclear weapons, but
no ayatollahs might equal no nuclear weapons. I would like to hear from Mr.
Obama what he really wants besides “peace.” Peace without freedom and justice
is no peace at all. Peace with Israel under the gun is no peace at all. Peace
with nuclear-armed ICBMs a year away from hitting the National Mall is no peace
at all.

What
Dr. DePinho wants most right now is to somehow keep his job. Unfortunately, the
faculty would like anything but that.

If
Admiral McRaven wants to negotiate the Iran deal, there is some additional
wiggle room that could be generated with tougher sanctions as Prime Minister
Netanyahu has suggested. It would improve the stance of the U.S. and its
partners in making it clear to Iran that they really mean business. No nukes.

If
the former Navy SEAL wants to negotiate a settlement between the faculty and
the MD Anderson leadership, the BATNA has already been reached. The Best
Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) for the faculty is DePinho gone.
Nothing more, nothing less.

If
you want to use sanctions, turn the clinics into Sunday on a Wednesday and you
will starve the leadership of its only requirement—money. Do that, faculty,
and you win! If you won’t do that and risk those BMWs, then I suggest making
the status quo your BATNA and waiting for the cavalry. It could come on
horseback, but more likely by Apache helicopter.

I
think it’s midnight and Zero Dark Thirty is nigh.

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