Nine reasons, but the first is all you need


In an essay at The Atlantic this afternoon, Graham Allison, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, one of the grand old men of American political science with long experience of thinking and writing about arms control, lays out a list of nine reasons to support the deal with Iran to curtail its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

He could have quit after the first one:

1) No one has identified a better feasible alternative.

That really ought to be the end of the discussion. As I tell my students when I teach international negotiation, the only way to evaluate an agreement is to stack it up against the alternatives to a settlement, not against the wish-list of things you wanted at the outset.

So while the rest of Allison’s analysis is worth reading (and it’s a nice, short, accessible read) you really could stop right there. But if you are so inclined, by all means read the whole thing. And there here are a couple of additional recommendations.

Friends of mine, like Steve Saideman and Bill Ayres have already written some smart analysis on the Iran deal and the tribal gut reactions that are passing for debate on the issue.  Check out their stuff.

And David Lake, another prominent voice from my field, has looked at the agreement negotiated with Iran and come to conclusions that Allison’s piece today echoed. Given the alternatives, this is about as good as it gets.

I don’t have a lot to add to the conversation. Instead, let me urge you to follow the links and read the smart commentary listed above.

“Every time I sing …”


From the Alaska Dispatch News, a short film about a remarkable young man.

Every time I sing, I’m in my own little world, free from the things that are bothering me. I’m in my own little place.

You can find more of Byron Nicolai’s music at his YouTube channel.


More things I want to believe

This Gilmore has a better chance of being elected president than the Gilmore who filed his papers to run as a Republican this week.


1) More people care about the killing of Sam Dubose at the hands of a University of Cincinnati rent-a-cop than the killing of Cecil the lion by a Minnesota dentist.

2) The Hamilton County, Ohio prosecutor’s blunt honesty about the clear facts of this incident marks the beginning of the end of automatically granting cops the benefit of the doubt in these all too common cases.

3) James Gilmore, former one-term governor of Virginia, will be the last Republican to launch a futile bid for the 2016 nomination. Both Happy Gilmore and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have a better shot at getting elected president even though one is fictional and the other spent much of the ’70s on an ashram in Denver studying metaphysics with a teenage Indian guru.

4) An economically developed, stable democratic country will again one day host the Olympics or World Cup. Meanwhile, book your tickets now for snowless Beijing and the 2022 Winter games.

5) Perhaps at the same time as the International Olympic Committee gets its own FIFA style corruption investigation.

6) Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s confirmed death changes everything on the ground in Afghanistan.

7) The New Hampshire focus group in which participants described Donald Trump as “like one of us,” and predicted that a Trump presidency would be “classy” was really an elaborate prank for Jimmy Kimmel Live.


Undefeated … you keep using that word

Seanna Walsh reads the Provisional IRA statement announcing an end to its armed campaign, July 28, 2005.


On Tuesday, ten years to the day after the IRA formally declared an end to its armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland, ordering its units to dump weapons and its members to stand down, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams released a statement in which he again declared:

The reality is that the IRA was never defeated and that again and again it was Irish republicans, including the IRA leadership, which took bold steps to bolster the peace process and to maintain positive political momentum.

On Wednesday, ten years and a day after the IRA formally declared an end to its armed campaign, British soldiers, alongside members of the police, searched homes in Derry as part of an investigation into violent dissident Republican activity.  PSNI Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan said:

There were no arrests – however, a number of items were taken away for further examination. … Due to the suspected presence of munitions or explosives, military specialists were deployed in support of police.

Independent Derry councillor Dermot Quigley told the Belfast Telegraph:

People are disgusted to see the British Army back on the streets of Galliagh and they are livid at the aggressive and hostile response by the police, which flies in the face of the peace process.

British soldiers searching the homes of Irish Republicans. It’s a funny way to mark a decade of victory.