Better 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.
I 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.)
Again, 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.
What a drama the world presents. I wish I could see the denouement.