Covering your backside

The title has been slurred to account for the sensitivities I hear whenever I write like I speak.

How else can we describe the deal with Iran?

Take your pick

  • The requirement of 24 days notice for inspections of sensitive locales
  • Evading Iran's support of terror and revolt against established regimes
  • Evading Iran's development of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons
  • An immediate canceling of major sanctions, without assurance of minimal compliance
  • Leaving Iran with a substantial capacity to move quickly to the development of nuclear weapons
  • Substantial evidence of Iran having violated previous agreements.


Is it possible that the deal reflects Barack Obama's firm belief in negotiations as the way to maximize world peace? Or an expression of his belief that Islam is a religion that is essentially peaceful?

Or is it primarily a way to cover his backside, for enough time to leave office prior to a nuclear explosion in the desert of Iran, or some other indication that the Iranians have continued their evasions of outside control? Thus, he can write a book with the message that he tried his best. His predecessors and successors made errors that he could not overcome.

Take credit for what you can describe as benefits, and pass to others the blame for the problems.

That's another political strategy not too different from covering your backside. And it's another way of describing Barack Obama's approach to Iran.

He's not the only politician concerned with covering the backside. It is as much a cardinal rule of politics as is the concern to maintain balance among domestic and international competitors. Indeed, one seeks balance in part to cover one's backside.

Bibi is as much an artful practitioner as Barack.

Every accusation that he is lying provides the detail. Also, accusations of his obfuscations, or "speaking with a forked tongue."

Does he support the creation of a Palestinian state?

Of course, but not until the Palestinian leadership is ready to accept what he sees as essential conditions.

We all know politicians lie. Each lie, stretching the truth, or not telling all, is a way to cover the backside, at least until the dissimulation has been made apparent.

Is the Iran deal one big lie?

Or--to put it in somewhat better lights--a smokescreen for Obama's opposition to the use of significant military force, or his realization that Americans are tired of costly military adventures in distant places that promise much more than they deliver.

And by the way, "smokescreen" is another expression for a political lie, or a politician covering his/her backside.

Truth be told: democratic politics cannot.exist.without politicians fuzzing the truth and.otherwise.covering their.backside.

How.else to serve constituencies that.compete among themselves for.shares of the same pie?

It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that--since World War II--US Presidents have worked to manage a great part of the world's international relations. With so many contrasting cultures and clashing demands in the President's constituencies, it's no surprise that the office produces something like the deal with Iran,

It takes the skills of an actor as well as a magician to lead--or at least minimizing the antagonism of-- the tensions apparent among what's loosely called a western alliance along with Russia, China, India and a President's own constituencies in the US. At the same time one also has to avoid excessive offense to the lesser lights elsewhere.

Each criticism of the deal with Iran provides detail of Barack Obama and others (key US figures, as well as counterparts in Europe, Russia and China) doing what was necessary in order to achieve an agreement that can be claimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

International leadership in this and other matters has gotten more difficult with the ascendance of radical Islam. Covering one's backside now involves fighting--or supporting those fighting--Muslims without saying that it has anything to do with Islam.

It's not easy penetrating the smoke and making a convincing argument that a politician covering the backside is actually lying.

Opponents of the Iran deal have a job ahead of them. Iran is denying having any intention to develop nuclear weapons. The international entities charged with monitoring are themselves composed of representatives from numerous countries, not all of which are loyal to the same principles. The arguments were good enough to attract support from a range of participants, including ranking officials of leading western governments. To be sure, there were also motivations to facilitate business with Iran. However, that, in itself, is not evidence of deception.

Balancing shrill statements with modest actions is one way of covering one's backside.

Bibi's political genius consists of speaking like a radical rightist, but acting like a moderate. On the one hand this satisfies members of different constituencies. Some are satisfied with fiery language, and some take the language as the price of politics (i.e., living in the same country as those with whom one would not want to spend an evening), and finding satisfaction in moderate action.

The price of covering one's backside is not difficult to perceive.

Bibi's critics, and Barack's critics use their words and actions against them. Netanyahu's dancing around the issue of a Palestinian state is not all that different from Obama's dancing around the achievements and faults in the agreement with Iran.

Our friends in the humanities have provided us with some understanding of what's happening. Professors there can be useful, even though the world over their departments are shrinking or disappearing as students flow to other faculties.

Nonetheless, they developed the notion of post-moderism, which is a cluster of ideas including a critical view of history as written. Rather than true portrayals of what has happened and why, they see competing narratives.

The Palestinian narrative is familiar to us. It holds that 1948 was a disaster brought about by Jews who had no business in this place.

We have our own narratives, most sharply defined by the religious among us, who see it all as God's gift. 

Secular moderates among us see it as the failure of Arabs to recognize realities.

No less dramatic, and no easier to probe are the competing narratives concerned with Iran being promoted by Barack Obama and Benyamin Netanyahu. 

Most likely Obama has the votes, but Bibi has some points worth considering.

Politics being what they are, there is a lot of noise surrounding the details thought by one or another of us to be important. 

Truth is elusive. It's votes that matter.

Our politics are not ideal, but better than the parades of North Korea or the heavy handed bluster that passes for government in much of the Third World..