Now that the Iran negotiations have ended with a deal, will US Congress approve or reject it? Opponents think we should have obtained a “better deal,” and demand one.
Clear thinking should show the deal to be security boon and its repudiation a security disaster for Israel.
The first questions pertain to any deal with Iran.
Why would Iran’s own antideal hardliners reject a deal they knew their regime planned to try to violate? It makes no sense.
And why would Iran go to all the time and trouble of these negotiations, apparently done to help their economy, while all along planning to try to violate the highest-profile possible international deal and reinvigorate world sanctions – precisely when these were sagging, and much of the world is tiring of them and wants to trade with Iran. Planned violations would forfeit the very economic gains they had won. This also makes no sense.
Everyone loathes Iran’s regime, so this fact matters little to making a deal, as was the case with all Western arms deals made with the loathsome Soviet Union. But we used “Distrust but Verify” procedures on a country that covered a sixth of the world’s land surface, with perfect success. Why would Iran, a much smaller country, be held to standards higher than the equally untrustworthy and 13 times larger Evil Empire? Congressional rejection would politically destroy Iran’s comparative moderates and vindicate and empower its comparative hardliners. Who would this serve? Most deals are not like Munich but like US-Soviet deals, the return of the Panama Canal that aroused such passionate horror but worked fine, and the deal ending the Cuban Missile Crisis – preventing the outbreak of World War III.
Nuclear deals must be confined to nuclear issues, like with the Soviet Union from JFK to Reagan, setting aside Soviet mischief like supplying North Vietnam with arms killing up to 100 Americans a week. Or there would have been no Cold War arms control negotiations.
A deal could draw Iran into the community of nations. If Iran wanted negotiations to improve its economy, the deal should motivate it to subside the Western-Iranian Cold War and draw it into the responsible community of nations with ever increasing motivation to behave more responsibly. Wars are terrible for economies, shutting oil shipping lanes, transport, travel and trade.
The “wipe off the map” nonsense of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who is in political oblivion – was like the “we will bury you [US]” of Nikita Khrushchev. Hawks and pundits also sold that to an edgy public as having military meaning, but both leaders intended these statements politically and economically.
For Khrushchev, it meant centralized Soviet planning would economically “bury” the “inefficient” capitalist US, and for Ahmadinejad (as he explained), like 1989’s reshaping of the Soviet Union, to redraw Israel’s map with a one-state solution.
Ahmadinejad’s statement was as objectionable as Khrushchev’s, yet no more meant war than Khrushchev’s did.
“Distrust but verify” will work, just as it did with the Soviet Union. Still, why would Iran use such weapons? They would kill tens of thousands of Levantine Muslims, destroy dozens of Muslim holy sites, and, in retaliation, Israel, with its probable 80 to 120 nuclear warheads, launchable from land, air, ships and submarines, would destroy “the world’s only Persian state” – and most of the world’s Shi’ites. It is ludicrous to think Iran worked long and hard to negotiate to improve its economy in order to start a suicidal war against Israel.
IRAN, CONTRAVENING conventional wisdom, came close to breakout under sanctions and had the better hand. Much of the world has sanctions fatigue and wants Iranian trade, so the US couldn’t have sustained the global sanctions regime much longer. An understanding world would let sanctions collapse if Congress demanded a “tougher” deal with Iran, a humiliating capitulation that it could never accept, instead of negotiations’ purpose, which is compromise.
Iran was heading to breakout.
And because indefinite sanctions are impossible and war was non-credible, Iran had the upper hand. There is no “better deal” in this imperfect world, since Iran would simply say no and continue to breakout.
The fact that Iran holds the best hand means that there is no better alternative to this deal, including the impossible, most popular “better deal,” and that no opponent can suggest a viable one shows it.
Details of verification? Again, during the Cold War the West made successful, verifiable deals with an empire that covered one-sixth of the world’s land surface – a landmass 13 times larger than Iran, and plainly has its verifiability “details” down perfectly pat.
Torpedoing this deal and so implicitly any viable diplomacy would be catastrophic.
This is why the West voted “yes” on the deal, and the reason it has so many supporters among Israel’s military and intelligence communities.
What alternative to Congress’s nightmare scenario of rejection can it suggest? Obviously none. In an imperfect world there is no choice and the steps toward Congressional rejection’s nightmarish results have been unflinchingly laid out.
Congress must avoid the rejectionist catastrophe and decisively affirm Israel’s security, trusting in its own long and successful experience and expertise with nuclear negotiations and diplomacy as central to the invocation of all nations as participants and stakeholders in a responsible and diplomacy- based and integrated world.
Obviously this is central to the security of Israel – as one of the deepest of stakeholders in such a diplomacy-based and interlinked although imperfect world as we live in.