Iran: A bad deal?

earth-newIf you’re a Republican, you’re supposed to think without reflection that the Iran deal is a bad deal, because. And of course if you’re a Democrat, it’s a good deal, automatically, you know, because.

Is there any way to make sense of whether it’s a good or bad deal independent of what we’re supposed to believe based on party labels?

Probably not, honestly. I mean, you can think through some of the things for yourself, starting with, what aside from negotiating a deal with Iran to get something in place to monitor what they’re doing or not doing to develop nuclear capability could the U.S. and other world powers possibly do?

Short of being willing to go to war, that is.

Yeah, there isn’t much. Either get them to agree to allow some level of oversight, or bomb them.

And if you want to think through, then, what the bombing-them strategy might offer in terms of a successful outcome, all we need to do is look at Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq had been weakened severely by more than a decade of sanctions from the first Gulf War by the time the U.S. invaded in 2003, and while that phase of the action went pretty well, here we are in 2015, and Iraq is a shining example of how not to use war as a means of foreign policy.

And then there’s Afghanistan. Remember how the Soviet Union came to cease to be in existence? No, it wasn’t because Ronald Reagan stared down Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviets decided to invade Afghanistan in 1979 and installed a pro-USSR puppet government. Within a decade, the pacification effort had exhausted the Evil Empire’s resources to a point where the government imploded upon itself.

Now, consider Iraq and Afghanistan, one relatively modern, one decidedly not modern, vis-à-vis Iran. If the U.S. and the West couldn’t win the battle and the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, what chance in hell do we have in using war to get Iran to bend to our will?

Um, yeah, none.

No matter how hawkish you might think you are, you can’t argue that it makes a lick of sense to tell Iran to give us the keys to the country to check on whatever it might be doing with regard to nukes, and if they don’t, then we’ll just force our way in, which would basically be declaring war.

So, take war off the table.

What kind of a deal do you expect to get now, if you don’t have war as an option?

Precisely. You got nothing. You can be Mike Huckabee, who seven years ago was arguing in favor of making a deal with Iran to prevent its leaders from pursuing nuclear capability, and is now saying that following his own advice in 2015 amounts to marching Israel to the doors of the oven, and know as you’re saying that out loud that you’re full of crap.

Or you can be any of a number of other critics who aren’t as desperate for attention, and still want to kneecap Barack Obama and John Kerry, just because, and yet you know deep down, what is the alternative?

Iran isn’t easy to deal with. Since the revolution back in the ‘70s, its leaders have been a leading supporter of anti-West terrorist groups, and its internal politics, and disregard for human rights, leave a lot to be desired.

But Iran is also changing. The leaders of the revolution are dying off, literally, and with them the anti-Western fervor that motivated them is tamping down. Its youth are becoming increasingly Westernized, and as the generations born and coming of age in post-revolutionary Iran move into education, careers, starting and owning businesses, they want a freer, more open Iran.

Which gets us back to international policy, and good deals and bad deals. We can rattle the sabers, threaten war, and related approaches, but not only are we not able to follow up to make those threats seem real, with real consequences, but in the process we’re also undermining our efforts at long-term peace and stability with a people that themselves want peace and stability with us.

So in the end, is the Iran deal a good deal or a bad deal? Don’t fail to see the forest for the trees, is what I’d say to that.

– Column by Chris Graham


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