THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL. THE BEST OPTION AMONG SEVERAL BAD CHOICES?

There has been a considerable amount of rhetoric, mostly on the “Right”, in Washington, Jerusalem and Tehran, in favor of rejecting the Nuclear Agreement that the six nations have agreed upon with Iran. There are several points, however, that the War-Hawks seem not to have considered:

1.  The U.S. has five partners in the Agreement:  China; France; Germany; Russia and the United Kingdom. So, if America walks away from the deal, that doesn’t preclude the other five nations from dropping their sanctions, and Iran resuming its nuclear program.  Prior to the talks, it was thought to be just months away from building a nuclear bomb.

2.  We know from signals that they have provided that, if the current deal is scuttled, the other nations would probably resume trading with Iran–especially China and Russia.    And, as we have learned from past experience, if the U.S. continues, or strengthens, its sanctions against Iran unilaterally, we would merely be shifting market share from U.S. corporations to other countries.

3. And lastly, what are the alternatives to the current Agreement?  Republicans in Congress have been “working” on alternatives to the Affordable Care Act (signed into Law in 2010), Immigration Reform, since 1012, and now the Nuclear Agreement with Iran.  And hey, we are still waiting!

Before anyone walks away from this Nuclear Agreement, they need to consider that their various options are limited to the following:  a military attack on Iran’s nuclear sites;  more sanctions or some sort of a deal.  There are serious flaws with each of these options; but, the current Agreement might be the best among several bad choices.

Ami Avalon, a former head of Israel’s (Shin Bet) domestic intelligence service pointed-out:  if Israel attacked the nuclear sites, that might put Iran’s bomb-making program back two or three years.  And with the greater firepower of the U.S, it might delay it by four or five years.  Avalon says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wrong to oppose it.  The former intelligence chief points out that the current Agreement would put Iran back some ten-to-fifteen years. That’s much better than military attacks might be expected to accomplish.

Likewise, Efraim Hawlevy, former director of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, agrees that Israel would be the loser if the American Congress were to override President Barack Obama’s promised Veto. Hawlevy further points-out that if the current Agreement can delay Iran by ten years, perhaps we might have other, even better, options by that time.  As he suggests: “In the Middle East, a decade is eternity.”

The political dynamics–both in Jerusalem and Washington–have been an on-going thorn in President Obama’s side.  Republicans have been harping on the Agreement’s potential flaws, both to obstruct Obama as usual, but also to garner support within the American Jewish community.  But, there is one other problem, which is not conducive to a healthy relationship between the two countries.

The Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, is an American who has been Prime Minister Netanyahu’s top advisor since he assumed office in 2009.  Additionally, Mr. Dermer has extremely close ties to the Republican Party in Washington. In fact, he was probably instrumental in arranging Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in March, orchestrating an end-run without advising President Obama.

In a perfect world, the wheels of diplomacy would be able to iron-out any of the differences between Netanyahu and Obama.  Frank discussions between the respective emissaries for the two, as well as between the two heads-of-state, could usually solve many problems. And, that should have been part of the process all along–not just with regard to the Iran Nuclear Agreement, but from when they both assumed office in 2009.  So far, the direct approach has not appeared to be the prime minister’s preferred problem-solving tact.

NOTE:  Trudy Rubin’s linked column, from the Philadelphia Inquirer, provides an excellent discussion regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal.  Ms. Rubin generally focuses her attention on the Middle East, and I don’t believe that she is necessarily a big supporter of either Netanyahu or Obama.  The link is as follows: http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/trudy_rubin/20150724_Worldview__Israeli_support_for_Iran_deal.html

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  1. #1 by maxcat07 on August 1, 2015 - 1:15 AM

    Of course we can NEVER totally trust Iran, but I would much rather see a deal than a war. As you said, the reality is, the other nations will lift their sanctions and resume trade. It would be in our best interests to do the same. The world still looks to us for leadership, and it’s a shame that our Congress provides none.

    • #2 by cheekos on August 1, 2015 - 1:01 PM

      MaxCat07, good points. President Abraham Lincoln (and attributable to many others), in 1861, was questioned as to why he had appointed some of the Opposition Party to his Cabinet. He said: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Any Agreement with foreign countries takes a certain amount of horse-trading: a give-and-take. Surely, President Obama is well-practiced at that, since he has been strongly opposed by his Opposition Party since he entered the Presidency in 2009.

      Also, think of what might have been if President George W. Bush had embraced Iran’s suggestion to come to some sort of an agreement, back in 2006 (I believe), when the U.S. would have had a much stronger hand. Since then, however, the Iranian hard-liners have achieved much more power. And, as Ms. Rubin’s column noted, a total elimination of Iran’s nuclear program never was on the table. Yes, it’s not a perfect world; but, through negotiation, let’s try to make things as “near perfect” as we can.

  2. #3 by cheekos on August 2, 2015 - 12:00 PM

    The fact that Republicans in the U.S. Congress and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are clamoring for a “better deal”–after all this time–is clearly unrealistic. And, as noted in the blog post, any continued sanctions on the part of the U.S. would be futile. Unilateral sanctions never work, especially in the Iran Negotiations, since our partners were already preparing their sales pitches.

    The linked article, from the NY Times, provides some great detail on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/world/europe/after-deal-europeans-are-eager-to-do-business-in-iran.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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