Iran: The Deal

20150718_FBP005_0Better had we never negotiated. This deal makes Iran a more empowered adversary than a nuclear-armed Iran would have been. How nukes could have actually strengthened Iran is far from clear, since using them would be suicidal. So Iran traded something it doesn’t need for something it does: sanctions relief and unfreezing $100+ billion of assets. That makes Iran a more dangerous enemy.

But, if we had to have a deal, this one isn’t too bad; not the cave-in that might have been expected from President Obama’s desperation to avoid the unpalatable no-deal scenario – definitive failure, and having his military bluff called. And bluff it always was: no president (least of all this one) would incur the immense costs (not just in money) and risks of an attack likely to prove futile.

The Iranians knew this, yet we did have them by the balls on sanctions; and the five other negotiating powers were not constrained by Obama’s above-described calculus. So Iran, finally, did what it must to end sanctions, and the deal will pretty much, probably, put a 10-15 year hold on nuclear weapons development.

Unknown-1I will not use the cliché “the devil’s in the details.” My instinct is to call the deal’s inspection regime bullshit due to a cumbersome process before inspectors can go in; and likewise for the supposed “snap-back” of sanctions in case of a violation, which would seem problematical in an always messy world. However, the committee deciding these things will have a Western majority; and while snap-back would ultimately be a UN Security Council matter, Russia cannot veto it; instead, America could veto stopping the snap-back.

(The Economist has supplied a fairly lucid explication of the deal: click here.)

Unknown-3Again, I think we’d have been better off never negotiating. But that’s not the world that exists; and in the world that now does, Obama is right that we have little choice but to accept the deal. Opponents really offer no alternative; certainly not military (get real). Having gone through what we went through to get where we are, we can’t just blow it all up now by scuppering the deal. That’s not how grown-up nations behave.

Moreover, I’m an optimist and believer in progress. The world can change. In fact, it always does. And this deal may possibly be a catalyst for positive change. Iran today is a bad actor, but many countries have gone from bad to good. Lord Palmerston said nations don’t have permanent allies or foes – only permanent interests. Why Iran should be our enemy is not, from Iran’s perspective, necessarily obvious (ancient history does not control us). To me it seems obvious instead that behaving differently, and cooperating with America, would be very much in Iran’s true best interests.images-1

What a drama the world presents. I wish I could see the denouement.

9 Responses to “Iran: The Deal”

  1. Rashad Says:

    “How nukes could have actually strengthened Iran is far from clear, since using them would be suicidal.”

    All Muslims believe the world will end when God on doom’s day will destroy earth and the heavens and everyone will die. Many of the details of this day are illustrated in the Quran.

    Furthermore, Sunni Muslims believe the day to be getting nearer and nearer each day, and all the minor signs for its happening has already happened beyond any doubt (if you express doubts get ready to be called a heretic). What are the major signs that are yet to happen and that doom’s day will be right afterwards? Many wars and war-like events in which in one of them Muslims will fight Jews over palestine/israel where trees and stones (I kid you not) will talk to and help Muslims in the war, except for the Nitraria tree (which is a “Jewish” tree). (

    That guy in the video is the most popular middle eastern on Facebook. ( He also wrote this book: which is titled: “The end of the world: the minor and major signs of doom’s day.”

    What applies to Sunni Muslims is very likely also to apply to Shia Muslims, although I have strictly been taught Sunni Islam in school, and haven’t met a Shia Muslim in my life. But indeed, one major doom’s day sign is very entwined in the mindset of the founders and rulers of Iran, that the very constitution of Iran says that the supreme leader is only a temporary person waiting to give up his position at any time when “Al-Mahdi” appears as the sign describes. According to some, “more than 3,000 fake Mahdis were in prison in Iran in 2012.” (

    For Iran, suicide might very well be an option. I hope that by agreeing to this deal, the Iranians are showing that they are not as fanatic as one might be persuaded to believe, and that they are willing to value real world practical concerns over the “if God and talking stones and trees are on our side no one will be able to defeat us” kind of mentality.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    All this assumes the Iranian leadership actually BELIEVES their religion. I doubt it.

  3. JB Says:

    “I wish I could see the denouement.”

    Be careful what you wish for. (I will use a cliche.)


  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    I meant, living forever.

  5. Rashad Says:

    “All this assumes the Iranian leadership actually BELIEVES their religion. I doubt it.”

    I hope they don’t take the fanatic parts seriously. But you have to explain why they act so indistinguishably on many things from someone who does. Certainly it will be out of the main stream to propose that Khomeini or his successors don’t actually believe in Islam. You can safely say at least some of the decision makers there are more rational, but you can easily imagine lots of (Ben Carson)s being among them too, only a lot worse: dangerously combining intelligence and strong will with primitive ideas but with lack of respect for democracy too. In other words, people who do not find principles like the ones in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights constraining: “In 1982, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, Said Rajaie-Khorassani, said that the Declaration was “a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition” which could not be implemented by Muslims without conflict with Sharia.” I hope the deal shows the first faction is winning over the later faction (maybe the large amounts of money had the sole purpose of convincing the later faction out of their fanaticism and satisfy their ego that if they can’t destroy the world now they should at least get something in return), but I also hope you understand the risk.

  6. rationaloptimist Says:

    Religion’s true believers are in the rank-and-file. Cynical leaders exploit that belief for their own selfish purposes. I think this is a truism with regard to all religious movements. You’d be surprised how many religious big-shots are secret atheists.

  7. Rashad Says:

    Nah man, not in the middle east. Just watch MEMRI. I live among these people, always had. I know people from the internet who were Salafists then turned into atheism. They say they believed every fanatic part of Salafism before leaving Islam. Why should these be authentic but the Salafists decision makers in Saudi Arabia are not? They both act in the same way.

  8. Rashad Says:

    It is true that someone like Bashar Al-Assad might be an atheist who fakes believing in religion while talking to his people. King Abdullah of Jordan reportedly offers alcohol to his guests. Queen Rania doesn’t believe the Hijab to be obligatory (contrary to what the schools teach). Here you can find a gap between the decision makers and the people on this matter. But it would be extremely out of the main stream to suppose Khomeini and his successors faked it too. Did people in the middle ages fake it too? It is possible to get a fanatic state. Sure, and we have talked about this before, religious people do not really believe their moral teachings are correct, but they live in the hope that someday their human nature will adapt enough to please God. But this is even worse than believing, because it means sometimes they interpret the “infidel” as the source of the error.

  9. rationaloptimist Says:

    If religious “leaders” really believed what they preach, they would NOT behave as they do.

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