The Fact-Lite Iran Bashing at the GOP Debate

And can those who call Iran the Axis of Evil be too surprised at being called the Great Satan?


I have written that short of an all out invasion and occupation, the best way of prolonging a nuclear-free Iran is through some kind of a deal. The international sanctions regime

Iran Nuclear Negotiations
IAEA Imagebank / Foter / CC BY-SA

that the United Nations imposed on the country was not going to last forever because China and Russia weren't going to pass up on lucrative deals to build Iran's infrastructure and refining capacity forever. And once the sanctions fell apart, there would be no check on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Hence the world had a small window to get Iran to voluntarily curb its own nuclear program.

I understand that security hawks disagree with this logic and they are entitled to their opinion. What they are not entitled to are their own facts — I'm looking at you Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee lambasted the deal at last night's presidential debate because, he said, it had "given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion." This made it sound like America — and the world — was coughing up aid money to Iran to get it to stop acquiring nuclear weapons. There might be some Coaseian wisdom in paying bad actors to stop acting badly, but that actually is not what's going on here. (Ronald Coase, the late Nobel Prize winning U-Chicago economist had developed a theorem that, in a world with zero transaction costs, it might be more cost effective to pay polluters to stop polluting rather than trying to regulate their activity away.)

But much of the $100 billion that Huckabee is alluding to is Iran's own money that it has been unable to access because its trade partners, led by America, froze its assets.

PolitiFact's fact checkers are not that factual about a lot of things. But they seem to be right when they say:

The $100 billion figure has referred to the dollar amounts of Iran's foreign assets that could be unfrozen when sanctions are lifted. An example is money Iran earned from selling oil but is held by a foreign bank.

It also includes the billions of dollars Iran has lost in revenues and opportunity costs because the country has not been able to fully participate in the global marketplace, said Michael Malloy, a law professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and an expert on economic sanctions, in a prior interview with PolitiFact.

Estimates of the value of Iran's foreign assets start as low as $25 billion, and they run as high as $150 billion. Most experts we've interviewed on this question peg the amount of unfrozen assets at about $100 billion, but no one is 100 percent sure of the amount.

Moreover, Marco Rubio blasted the deal because he doesn't like the Iranian government's attitude. He was outraged that Ayatollah Khamenei that continues to refer to America as the Big Satan and keeps chanting "death to America" even as John Kerry is pushing America to meet the Iranians "half way."

But is what America doing all that different from what the Iranians are doing? Setting aside all the anti-Iran bluster from a party that calls Iran the axis of evil, the administration itself has defended the deal because….it'll make it easier to bomb Iran!

Politico reported last month that Kerry & Co had been arguing in private that: "Inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack Iran."

In other words, the deal is not a good faith effort to avoid war as we've been pretending with Iran. It's a ruse for a military strike!

Now, I don't actually believe that's what's going on. I do think the Obama administration is serious about avoiding war. But it is saying what it needs to in order to placate the domestic hawks who have it in for Iran. Isn't it possible that that's what the Ayatollah is doing as well?

NEXT: The Presidential Candidates and the Syrian Refugees

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  1. Holy shit, what the fu…..oh, it’s Shikha.

    1. She’s got her blinders on a lot of the time, but your comments says even less than her worst articles. You got something to say that’s actually useful?

    2. Her hips don’t lie.

    3. Shikha is a full fledged moron.

  2. “But is what America doing all that different from what the Iranians are doing?”

    You just went Full Retard.

    1. You never go Full Shikha Retard!

    2. America is no different than Adam Lanza.

        1. Timestamp says it’s a tie. We can never know who was first.

          1. I was.

      1. Well, that kind of thing doesn’t happen in other civilized countries.

  3. Most people oppose it just because it’s a really bad deal.

    1. Most people don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

      Obama did it, thus it’s bad.

      1. Hey, speaking of “Full Retard”!

        1. That is the extent of your thoughts on the Iran deal, is it not?

          1. Dreams are a great thing, but you know something? They take a lot of energy. But that’s OK. There’s a job waiting for you down the block from your house that doesn’t require a thought in your head or a hope in your heart. So come on down and work for the artificial flower factory. Why fight it? OK? Thank you.

      2. It’s not a bad rule of thumb.

      3. Obama did it, thus it’s bad.

        As opposed to “Obama did it, thus its good”?

      4. Most people don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

        Yet the will of the majority is sacrosanct.

        1. + 51%

      5. About what I expect from Tony. What a moron.

      6. Obama did it, thus it’s good.


  4. “But is what America doing all that different from what the Iranians are doing?”

    Relativism is so unsexy on a lady.

    1. Depends on who the lady is, don’t you think?

    2. We are all Adam Lanza now

      1. Ich bin ein Adam Lanza!

        1. The Nano Satan!

    3. But is what America doing all that different from what the Iranians are doing?

      Rooting for the ousting of Iran’s mullah leadership rather than for killing their civilians en masse?

      1. I’d throw in “Not promising to finish up Hitler’s Holocaust” as well.

        1. You know who else wanted to finish Hitl- hey, wait a minute.

  5. But much of the $100 billion that Huckabee is alluding to is Iran’s own money that it has been unable to access because Western governments froze its assets, thanks to the sanction regime.

    Right, because it was frozen when Iranian government seized foreign-owned property. Of course, Iran returned it to their owners in return, right?
    Ah, Dalmia, never change. Let your Twitter account forever remain the fountain of delights.

    13 hours ago
    The only difference between Donald Trump and trailer trash is a private jet!

    If Iran is calling America the Great Satan while signing a deal, what names is Iran constantly being called in America?

    Jindal’s INDIAN parents came here legally because they could! Mexicans can’t.

    1. Jindal’s INDIAN parents came here legally because they could! Mexicans can’t.

      so all those second- and third-generation families of Mexican origin who are citizens either through naturalization or birth, how did they happen if, as Shikha says, they can’t?

      1. Look, you nativist shitlord, stop oppressing her with your “facts”! Everyone knows no Mexicans entered US legally since 1848 war!

        1. It’s a well-known fact that Mexicans are legally prohibited from applying for entry through the normal channels other immigrants can use.

          1. Does Mexico have nukes?

            /stomps off triumphantly

          2. No wonder I can’t find any decent Mexican food nearby

    2. shikha sood dalmia ?@shikhadalmia ? Sep 8
      Upper-caste Indians are demanding affirmative action for themselves.Would whites in Trump’s America ever do the same?

      It’s gold, Jerry, gold!

      1. She may become my Muse, like ESB is Irish’s.

  6. I have written that short of an all out invasion and occupation, the best way of a prolonging a nuclear-free Iran is throught some kind of a deal

    Would this be a deal that would be a deal ratified by a representative body of the American people, or just some shit Obama negotiates himself at a wine bar?

    1. I reached that line in the article and couldn’t keep reading for the amount of incredulous laughter it induced.

      1. To be fair, Obama can negotiate all the deals he wants, they’re just not binding without Senate approval.

        So I guess my question is, do we hip the Iranians to this civics lesson or do we keep it from them? Because I could go either way on this one.

        1. I don’t know, I just know that for some reason I’m often ridiculed when I take the Iranians at their word when they claim to want to wipe Israel off the map (and us too if they can swing it). Giving large sums of money to a country with that foreign policy plank just stikes be as wrong. That’s before we get into whether or not the Ayatollah feels it’s his duty to lie to the non-believers to advance the goals of his faith. Being a theocratic tyrant, I wouldn’t bet against him holding such views. That makes me question the ability of any Iranian government in its current form to abide by any deal. Then when the particulars of this deal came out, it was laughable, especially the part where the “surprise” inspections required a month’s notice, Iran approved inspectors and the Iranians were permitted to provide their own soil samples for testing.

          1. Yes, I realize I went from “I’m taking the Ayatollah at his word” to “He’s probably a liar”, but chanting “Death to America” is less endearing to most americans than “yes, we’ll abide by this deal”. So it’s entirely consistant to believe he’s being truthful in wishing “Death to America” and also being a liar in saying they’ll abide by the spirit of the agreement (or even the letter).

          2. Just like you should totally take the United States at its word that it is only interested in spreading freedom and democracy and justice and stuff. Seriously, there’s a difference between the propaganda spewed out by a government and what it actually intends to do.

            That being said, the deal sucks and deserves to be sent back to the table.

            1. The difference being that the U.S. is at least a moderately functioning Democracy. The people who spew these things change from time to time because they get kicked out of office once in a while, so yes, the message changes which could be interpreted as “a lie”.

              Sometimes it’s a lie, sometimes it’s a change in policy.

              Iran, on the other hand is much closer to speaking with one voice: that of the surpreme Ayatollah. Who is replaced upon death, hand-picked by the same religious body that picked the previous one.

              So when Iran says it wants to wipe Israel off the planet, that’s probably a long-term policy goal.

              1. If only Israel had a massive army and huge nuclear arsenal to defend themselves…

                1. Its all relative, of course.

                  Israel’s military is about 1/3 the size of Iran’s, although its much better equipped.


                  1. Israel’s military is about 1/3 the size of Iran’s, although its much better equipped.

                    Me to Israel: And you’re welcome.

                2. Israel can take care of itself. There’s not going to be a mushroom cloud over Jerusalem. The question is, what will be done with $100B dollars? No way they’d ever use that to fund proxies and foment violence elsewhere in the cause of extending their hegemony. No way that would happen. No sir. It will be used for healthcare and college tuition.

                  We have no business doing anything military in the ME, but handing a shitpot of money to a violent dictatorship strikes me as a bit stupid.

                3. Sarcasm fail.

            2. Yet both countries have tried to act upon those policy statements a number of times in the past. They are not mere propaganda. Both have failed in the attempt, but that does not erase the intent.

    2. I am in favor of sending the 100 billion back to Iran…. One ICBM at a time. Turn that evil country into a sea of glass. .

  7. “Iran bashing”?

    I guess at least she didn’t say tyrant shaming

    1. The term is “person of tyranny” you monster.

      1. Tranny? Seriously? I. Can’t. Even.

        1. You gave niggardly attention to your response, didn’t you?

  8. We are all the Ayatollah now.

    I guess we can stop being Adam Lanza.

  9. Has anyone ever seen Richman and Dalmia in the same room?

    1. Paging SugarFree…

    2. Chapman has.

  10. You know who else bashed semitic peoples?

    1. Henny Youngman?

    2. Pontius Pilate?

    3. OMWC was close… I was thinking Don Rickles.

    4. Macklemore?

    5. Charles Martel?

    6. Mel Gibson?

  11. Isn’t Shikha squatting on Sheldon’s stupid?

    1. It’s more of a time share.

    2. They believe in open borders of stupid. Freedom of stupid is a core human right, after all.

    3. Squatting on Sheldon’s stupid what, Bill? SQUATTING ON SHELDON’S STUPID WHAT?

      1. I know right? I’m all “go on…”

      2. Get your mind out of the gutter! I was talking trespass.

  12. Sometimes, you eagerly head for the comments to express an opinion, read the comments, and discover that it’s already been said, better and funnier.

    This is one of those times.

  13. Shihka makes Adam Lanza look sane. – Reasodamus

  14. May the lord help Reason if Shikha Dalmia continues to be one of their writers.

    1. Serious question: at one time, Reason had people like Michael Young writing about foreign affairs. Now it’s the Three Stooges (Richman, Chapman, Dalmia), if the Three Stooges were Curly Joe, Joe Besser, and Shemp.

      What happened?

      1. Liberaltarian moment? Why else do you keep Richman, but boot Evans, who is the only one to call Russian actions in Ukraine an aggression?
        Same reason that they will give you former DNC shill calling Sanders a Libertarian, but would die before letting someone like Theodore Darlymple or Mark Steyn pen an article on any subject.

        1. The writers and editors at Reason are all panty waisted sissies.

  15. “The international sanctions regime Iran Nuclear that the United Nations imposed on the country was not going to last forever because China and Russia weren’t going to pass up on lucrative deals to build Iran’s infrastructure and refining capacity forever.”

    The international sanctions regime wasn’t going to last forever because Iran had burned through its foreign currency reserves and was desperate for access to foreign credit markets in order to stop its economy from going into free fall.

    Incidentally, that’s also why Iran came to the negotiating table in the first place.

    Because the sanctions weren’t going to last forever is certainly no good reason to lift them now.

  16. But is what America doing all that different from what the Iranians are doing?

    I’ll tell you – the Iranians kill Americans whenever they get the chance to get away with it. The Iranians should be thankful Americans do not reciprocate.

    The Iranians over past twenty years have killed American military personnel (Khobar Towers, Iraq antics), and schemed an idiotic plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States right in D.C.

    Not even including the nuclear boogeyman and geopolitical ambitions, the Iranian regime still deserves to get its collective ass handed to them on a silver platter.

    1. Killing the Saudi ambassador in the Saudi embassy would be killing a Saudi citizen on Saudi land. Although, there would probably be “collateral damage” in the form of dead Americans.

  17. She’s convinced me with her histrionics and general idiocy. The Iranian regime is a trustworthy and rational entity with whom we can do business, the jailings and executions of Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Bahais, and let’s not forget homosexuals, notwithstanding.

    Also, Sunnis, Kurds, uppity women, democracy and human rights advocates, and blasphemers. Oh well, if you wanna make an omelet, etc.

  18. There have been times where libertarians under state the “badness” of a country, or try and equate the US as being just as bad, if not worse. In all, the US isn’t nearly as bad philosophically, but it has a lot more resources behind the kind of level and badness that it is. And as far as I go, batshit Iranians half a world a way who can’t do a thing to me isn’t near as bad as the layers of government who take tens of thousands of my dollars/labor, have fiscal/economic/monetary idiocy, monitor me 24/7 (perhaps not actively, but it’s still monitoring), militarization of civilian police authorities, and all the rest that is contained here day in, day out.

    So if Iran is a 100 on a scale of “bad”, and effect my life in any tangible way 0% of the time, and the USG is only a 35 on the scale of “bad”, but is in my face and business about 60% of my life, that’s a 0 versus 20, and the scale of “bad” the USG is will be certain to skyrocket once the inevitable shit hits the fan. So I’ll worry a lot more about the 20 with a large up arrow versus the 0 with the faintest trace of an up arrow.

    In short, I’m much, much more likely to be on the wrong side of the razor wire by the demand of my own government(s) than I have much to worry about Iranians. And I don’t have to overstate my own government, or understate the “badness” of a foreign government to know who I’ve to fear more from.

  19. It’s telling that Reason haven’t offered any arguments that this deal will actually keep Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check. They do set up two false choices, which is “it’s either this or all out war”, but no one’s gonna buy this.

    We didn’t wage any war with Iran without any deals. This Iran deal will affords Iranians advantages they don’t deserve.

  20. The “deal” will give the Iranians 100B which they will use to fund terrorism world wide.

  21. Dear Reason editors; as a sometime contributor to The foundation, I feel compelled to ask why you are a publshing tue work of someone who apparently doesn’t see anydifference between a cuture that kills homosexuals and one that allows them to marry. One that stones women for adultery when they are raped, and one that put their rapists on trial where there is evidence.

    Iran is not “Just Like Us”.

    1. Not just allow them to marry, but the people who are opposed to letting them marry want to let them have civil unions instead (or get the government out of marriage altogether). Not kill them.

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