There is a great deal swirling around us concerned with Iran and the US. It is impossible to know anything for sure, but these appear to be points more or less clear.
- Barack Obama believes strongly in diplomacy. He's willing to use a bit of military power against the ugliest of the Islamic extremists, but shies away from anything like a major threat to use American power. It's hard to believe that all the options are on the table, as long as he is at the head of the table.
- The deal reached has several major faults, that seem especially problematic given Iran's record of duplicity.
- Iran's threat against Israel is apparent, but not easy to read. Various assessments suggest that it is theoretical, meant to generate loyalty to the mullahs as the leaders of Shiite Muslims, without actual intentions to implement the threats. However, the words are fierce, and Iran's efforts to arm clients who make their own threats against Israel are also worrying. With more money coming after the end of sanctions, Iran will have a greater capacity to array the missiles against us.
- Without something dramatic not currently apparent, Obama's advantages with respect to a veto against Congressional rejection appear to be sufficient.
- Obama's claims about assuring Israel's defense are problematic. The US has a number of interests, and Israelis cannot be sure that their security is the highest, or even close to the top of the list. Obama's efforts to sell a blatantly imperfect agreement are not encouraging.
- What we hear from Obama and Kerry reminds us of a simplistic ad campaign, meant to sell a product of doubtful quality.. Claiming that no one has a better idea is nonsense. Saying that war is the likely effect of Congress rejecting the agreement, and that Iran would lose faith in the US carry a flavor of desperation. Focusing on Israel as the one holdout is not true, and does not encourage Jews always suspicious of others' suspicions.
The charge that Netanyahu could have handled things better pretty much follows party lines, whether in Israel or the US. Moreover, it is no more convincing than Obama's claim that no one has a better idea.
Obama's posture, insisting on whatever diplomacy could produce, has been consistent for some time, and left little room for Israel's concerns other than a frontal assault on details of the agreement, expressed in prominent forums within the United States. Bibi himself has been careful to avoid a direct attack on the President, leaving that to hatchetpeople among his political allies.
Claiming that Bibi meddled in American politics carries little weight. There has not been anything like exclusively American politics since the US began meddling in the affairs of other countries after World War II. Leaders from numerous countries have sought to influence what the US does that impacts on them. Obama's statement that Bibi meddles more than others may increase the fever of both Americans and Israelis.
Critics of Bibi's tactics from among leaders of American Jewish organizations (he was right, but should not have spoken to a Republican dominated Congress) seem concerned to maintain their own roles as spokespeople for Israel in the US, and to firm up their organizations among American donors..
What happens next?
Who the hell knows? However, several scenarios are credible, more or less.
The agreement is good enough to provide some time (who knows how much?) until a crisis. Lots can happen between now and then. Occurrences associated with the Islamic State, military actions involving Egypt and Saudi Arabia can precipitate actions not currently apparent.
Claims by opponents of the agreement that Iran will be free to do what it wants in 10 or 15 years are not convincing. That's a long time. Lots of us will be dead by then. Others will climb to the top of US, Israeli, European, and Iranian governments. Politics is an open game, always subject to change. Americans suspicious of Iranian intentions can pressure Tehran to extend something like the present agreement.
Obama leaves office in less than 18 months. Currently the future of American politics looks like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Anyone feeling comfortable with one of another should raise their hands and let us know what to expect.
Despite the confrontation between Barack Obama and Benyamin Netanyahu, there is wiggle room in their futures.
- American provision of defensive and offensive munitions can ease Israeli concerns, parallel to the supply of munitions to Sunni Arab governments also uncomfortable with Iran
- The US can harden its position against Iranian actions in the realm of supporting terror, Hezbollah, and other issues worrying Israel. Some of this may come from the White House, Defense Department, or State Department dealing with members of the House or Senate who are suspicious of Iran, but seek to avoid a confrontation with the President.
Iran isn't any more predictable than the US or Israel. Its population ranges from the most primitive to the most sophisticated, with regional concentrations that vary in religion and ethnicity.
Applicable to all of the above is a Jewish expression, "Don't hurry the Messiah. He (or She) will come in His (or Her) own good time."
In other words, lots can happen to change one's calculations. Don't do anything that a short time later will appear stupid.
Does this demand passivity?
Not completely. But it does caution care, and the initiation of extreme action only under circumstances that genuinely appear to be extreme.
As far as can be read from the comments of people with various kinds of expertise, we ain't there yet.