Why are progressives enamored with the Iran nuclear deal?

Former president Barack Obama entered into this deal by executive agreement in good faith.

Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi reacts as he speaks to Reuters during an interview in Brussels, Belgium November 27, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi reacts as he speaks to Reuters during an interview in Brussels, Belgium November 27, 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
If there is an award for a political movement whose name appears to be the antithesis of its actions, it would go to the self-proclaimed progressives; in particular many of the Democratic presidential candidates who vow they would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) if elected. This objective seems contrary to the progressives’ perception that they possess a “superior morality” to other Democrats and Republicans.
Former president Barack Obama entered into this deal by executive agreement in good faith. Last year, we learned that Iran bargained in bad faith; a full-blown written nuclear program was discovered in its secret archives, which it denied ever existed. Iran’s atomic energy head Ali Akbar Salehi stated that prior to the JCPOA, the country purchased and hid replacement parts for the Arak reactor supposedly destroyed under the agreement. It exceeded its heavy water requirements multiple times. More recently, Iran warehoused nuclear material without reporting it to the IAEA. Not exactly the level of trust for which we hoped.
Staged JCPOA sunset dates begin expiring in 2025 (a paltry five years from the next presidential election), when Iran can return to their nuclear bomb program. We cannot verify nuclear activity at military sites where Iran is most likely to hide their program. In the meantime, Tehran unabashedly tests its nuclear capable ICBMs, having exclaimed for years “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Haven’t progressives learned anything after witnessing Iran’s actions and studying history? When people say they want to kill you, believe them.
The US returned $150 billion of Iranian assets that are used to spread terrorism in Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza, Syria and recently, Venezuela. Iraq has become Iran’s vassal; it pays Iraq’s secret police to suppress its population, subjugate its women, hang gays, jail anyone deemed dissident, and propagandize its children. Certainly, Iran must be a regime whose actions are inconsistent with progressive ideology.
Perhaps progressives have short-term memories. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iran sent 500,000 adolescents into battle to clear mines for the IRGC, and to face Iraqi machine guns. Even the Iraqis could not believe the cruelty. More than 100,000 child “combatants” were slaughtered. As a reflection of Iran’s fanaticism, its supreme leader called these children “warriors of God” and presented each one a key to use for a “ticket to paradise.” Iran thus became the modern-day progenitor of human shields.
IRAN’S ACTIONS inform their proxies’ battlefield tactics, including weapons storage in civilian homes, schools and hospitals. One proxy, Hamas, provides cash payments and free Internet in order to bus civilians (including children) into a war zone it created; they encourage attacks on their neighbor including arson (kite) bombs. Who would bring their children into a battle? What normal society would incentivize this behavior? Yet progressive candidates don’t seem to mind propping up Iran by expanding its access to funds that allow the Islamic Republic to export its ideology throughout the Middle East.
President Obama told us this agreement would bring Iran into the sphere of civilized nations by exposing them to the benefits of relationships with the world. Inducing positive changes in Iranian behavior has been proven wrong prior to canceling this agreement. In fact, from the beginning, the Iranians vowed never to change any aspect of it. Expecting this totalitarian theocracy to now moderate its behavior under the best of circumstances is fantasy.
The JCPOA rewarded bad behaviors from the beginning. As past behavior is a predictor of future performance, Iran’s behaviors should tell you not to reengage with it for even a nominal benefit.
I do get it. Progressives hate President Donald Trump and don’t want to give him a win. But do progressives hate him so badly that they’re going to reenter this abysmal deal most Americans did not want in the first place? “War or this deal” was always a false choice. On this matter, Trump is correct. Appeasement is always a bad choice. Just ask Neville Chamberlain.
Progressive candidates will have difficulty explaining to the American people how their rapprochement does not support international terrorism, expansionism, religious fanaticism and continued oppression of Iran’s population, not to mention its intention to destroy an entire country. Is this an example of what we Americans should look forward to from their moral leadership? Isn’t it time progressive candidates align their actions with their purported ideology?
Americans are waiting for some sense of pragmatic reality from progressive candidates – and the Iranian people are awaiting a new dawn. Reentering the JCPOA entails a perverse logic. Extrication from this deal is a gift. Walk away from it. Progressives don’t even have to tell the president “thank you.”
The writer has published numerous articles and opinion pieces in Hartford publications on Middle East and American politics.