Iran. It’s been an ever-present part of my Boomer life. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi left Iran on February 11, 1979, when I was 21. Fifty-two hostages were taken on November 4, 1979, and released just after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as our 40th President on January 20, 1981. And on and on the Iran story has gone, leading up to the deal which was announced this week.
I have several thoughts about this deal. I offer only my words, and I will share a bibliography of smart writing when I’m done.
First, bad situations should not go on forever. Rapprochement with China came 27 years after the U.S. and China broke up. Relations with Cuba are developing only now, 50+ years after they ended. And with Iran, we have been in a pretty cold state for more than 35 years. When a generation or more has passed, nations need to find ways to move on. There has been no “moving on” with Iran, but this deal is a step in the right direction.
Second, I’d like to see the agreement in which one side gets everything it wants. I do deals at work, and in 35 years I haven’t seen one yet where one side got everything. Here, the 5+1 group—the U.N. Security Council, comprised of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany—that made the deal with Iran knew it was dealing with a bad actor. It made a deal which addresses nuclear weapons. Every transactions has consequences; here, those consequences include the fact that Iran will have money because sanctions are released, and will be able to use that money as it sees fit, and maybe for bad purposes. Unfortunately, you can’t always get (all of) what you want.
Third, there are those—including foreign policy maven Governor Scott Walker (R-Wis.)—who says, basically, that we can cancel the deal on January 20, 2017, re-impose sanctions, and persuade/force other counties to re-impose the sanctions regime. That’s cheap talk from someone with no obligations right now. It may get Governor Walker the 2016 Republican nomination for POTUS, for it makes lots of people feel good. Unfortunately, his notion amounts to poppycock.
Sanctions only work when most/all countries are imposing them. Otherwise, the countries which are imposing sanction are, effectively, engaging in unilateral economic disarmament. The United States has been in that position for decades with Cuba, as Canada and Europe have been trading with Cuba, making money and rendering U.S. sanctions ineffective. That’s a big part of the reason why Fidel Castro and his brother have seen 11 U.S. presidents while they have controlled Cuba.
The United States of America has never had the power to go it alone in this world. Ever! And, by the way, no other country has, either. So when Governor Walker and others talk about forcing our will on others, they’re like the guy betting big with nothing in his hand.
Finally, much of the upset about this deal comes from Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and from Saudi Arabia. The deal does have consequences which are not so good for Israel, as Iran will have the ability to provide more support for Hamas and Hezbollah. And Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Arab state, does not want Iran—with a Shia population—to be stronger. On the other hand, with the verification processes in place, the deal solves for the nuclear problem. And, and I’m sure this will bother some people, the United States of America cannot solve every problem for every friend. Jews and Arabs have been at it for millennia, and Sunni and Shia for more than 1000 years. If bad things happen, it’s not as if we were dealing with a clean slate when the parties reached their agreement.
Here are some of the pieces I read:
Is There a Viable Alternative to the Iran Deal? The Atlantic offers a conversation between Peter Beinart, David Frum, and Jeffrey Goldberg.
More Thoughts on the Iran Nuclear Deal by Josh Marshall, publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com tracks several points about why critics don’t like the deal.
Why the Iran Deal Makes Obama’s Critics So Angry by Peter Beinart for The Atlantic pays particular attention to the upset about the United States of America’s lack of control.
My bibliography includes no comments from political candidates or elected officials. And nothing from Rush, Bill O, or any others, on either end of the spectrum. Readers, if you have links to intelligent writing about this important subject, especially from those who oppose the deal, please share. This deal, Iran, and how the world moves forward matters greatly. The issue deserves an intelligent discussion.