When analyzing President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, it’s important to take Netanyahu’s viewpoint of existential threats in the correct context. While Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo doesn’t think Iran poses an existential threat and stated “the term existential threat is used too freely,” Israel’s PM never refrains from grandiose political hyperbole. According to Ynet, Netanyahu once told his cabinet that “Hamas is trying to start another Holocaust.” He’s compared Iran to the Nazis (even though Iran hasn’t invaded a country, controlled a continent, set up death camps, or persecuted its 9,000 Jews) and also referenced the Holocaust regarding Hezbollah’s threat to Israel. At the UN, Netanyahu stated “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.”

It’s a wonder, then, why any of them have different names at all. Netanyahu’s political paradigm for some reason doesn’t address the fact that Iranian fighter jets recently bombed ISIS or that Iran is enemies with Saudi Arabia. The Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East creates odd political bedfellows, which is why Shia Iran fights against Sunni ISIS. Similarly, it’s a wonder why Netanyahu didn’t protest the America’s (largest ever) $60 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia, especially since MI6’s Alastair Cook has linked the Saudis to the creation of ISIS. Furthermore, during Obama’s negotiations with Iran, one motivator could have been that Iranian backed militias recently helped wrestle Tikrit away from IS. All these reasons, and more, illustrate that we must never let euphemism and grandstanding overshadow the complex nature of Middle East politics. Women can’t even drive a car in Saudi Arabia, yet the US gives billions in weapons to the Saudis.

Also, Israel was the middle man when Ronald Reagan sold weapons to Iran during the Iran-Contra scandal. Imagine if Obama had shipped 1,500 missiles to Iran like Reagan; the political hyperbole from Netanyahu and others would be heard around the galaxy. To say that Iran is a suicidal regime that would risk nuclear retaliation (from one of Israel’s 80 plus warheads) ignores the history of nuclear negotiations. Like Reagan meeting Gorbachev five times in the 1980’s to discuss nuclear weapons, President Obama was wise to negotiate with the Iranian regime. Few can say that Iran poses a greater threat to the world than the former USSR, who almost launched a nuclear strike against the U.S. during the Cuban missile crisis.

True, Israel faces serious danger from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, and other enemies in the region. This isn’t up for debate, nor do I think that anyone is wrong for publicizing their role in terrorism and regional instability. However, when Netanyahu continually evokes the Holocaust, he engages in an irresponsible form of political obstruction. The murder of 1.5 million innocent Jewish children must never be used by opportunists to gain votes or justify military action. The Holocaust is unique in human history; to evoke its name for political purposes is a vile form of propaganda.

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Furthermore, Israel no longer faces a conventional military threat from a large standing army like Egypt’s; 1979’s peace treaty between Begin and Sadat marked the end of conflicts like the Yom Kippur War. It’s important to remember that this peace agreement was signed after years of calls for Israel’s destruction. Nasser and other Egyptians leaders made statements like, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel.” Therefore, simply saying that Iran wants Israel’s destruction ignores the reality that words didn’t prevent peace with Egypt.

True, a nuclear Iran is no doubt a threat to Israel and the U.S., but Obama’s deal makes it difficult for Iran to return to the international community with a renewed nuclear program. According to a Vox article titled This is an astonishingly good Iran deal, Iran must abide by certain critical guidelines:

Iran will give up about 14,000 of its 20,000 centrifuges.

Iran will give up all but its most rudimentary, outdated centrifuges: its first-generation IR-1s, knockoffs of 1970s European models, are all it gets to keep.

It will not be allowed to build or develop newer models. Iran will give up 97 percent of its enriched uranium; it will hold on to only 300 kilograms of its 10,000-kilogram stockpile in its current form.

Iran will destroy or export the core of its plutonium plant at Arak, and replace it with a new core that cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. It will ship out all spent nuclear fuel.

Whatever number of centrifuges Iran has or doesn't have, whatever amount of uranium it's allowed to keep or forced to give up, none of it matters unless inspectors have enough authority to hold Tehran to its end of the deal — and to convince the Iranians that they could never get away with cheating. To say the US got favorable terms here would be quite an understatement; the Iranians, when it comes to inspections, practically gave away the farm.

Iran giving “away the farm” when it comes to inspections, along with all the other parameters, is a good deal. To cry that Iran isn’t trustworthy, or that the world must wait until it changes its political culture to suit U.S. and Israeli interests are relevant points, but Reagan would never have met with Gorbachev if these issues were relevant enough to prevent nuclear talks.

Yes, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani could have duped the world, but he’s on record as stating Iran will abide by the guidelines. Also, as world renown international relations scholar Kenneth Waltz writes in a Foreign Affairs article titled Why Iran Should Get the Bomb, a nuclear Iran (if it ever got these weapons) wouldn’t lead to worldwide chaos:

If Iran goes nuclear, Israel and Iran will deter each other, as nuclear powers always have. There has never been a full-scale war between two nuclear-armed states…

Most important, policymakers and citizens in the Arab world, Europe, Israel, and the United States should take comfort from the fact that history has shown that where nuclear capabilities emerge, so, too, does stability. 

When Netanyahu evokes the Holocaust and existential threats, he’s simply trying to prevent a Middle East where powers deter one another, not a world where Iran destroys Israel. If India and Pakistan haven’t yet engaged in nuclear war, Israel too (if the Iranians were lying during negotiations) can live with a nuclear Iran.

Finally, President Obama managed to get a rogue nation to sign a deal that the entire world can read, document, and hold up as proof of Iran’s pledge never to acquire nuclear weapons. This is especially important since this will ease economic sanctions against the Iranian people, providing further incentive not to engage in a destructive nuclear program. President Obama, contrary to the cries of conservatives, made the right move in a nuclear deal with Iran. Like Reagan and presidents before him during the Cold War, Obama needed to ink a deal in order to secure a framework for future diplomacy. If nothing else results from this Iran deal, the prospect of a closer relationship between Iran and the U.S. helps Israel (Iran’s role in funding terrorism would have to be reduced if it wanted closer ties to the U.S.) since it prevents the Iranian regime from attempting to justify a nuclear program in the future.

Obama wasn’t Neville Chamberlain, he was Ronald Reagan, and the naysayers should read up on US and Israeli history before condemning the recent nuclear deal.


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