There are two refrains that I have heard repeatedly in the past week, not only from President Obama but from his many followers. One is that the only alternative to the deal that Secretary Kerry has negotiated with Iran is war. The second is that the entire world is supporting it, except for Republicans in Congress and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
As to the first, that the only alternative to this deal is war, first I’ll say that I don’t believe that. I do believe that standing strong in the negotiations and pressuring our European allies to keep the existing sanctions regime in place if necessary could have yielded better terms.
For the sake of argument, however, let’s look closely at that premise. Those that do believe that the alternative is war — or those who at least keep repeating it over and over — seem not to understand the true implications of that statement. In order to avert war, it is necessary for only one side to give in; in this case, we did. Had we not done so, the choice to Iran would have been for them to give in, or face war. Those who claim that that the only alternative to this deal is war, are really saying that they believe that Iran would never give in but would choose to face war rather than make a single additional concession.
In other words, Iran would choose war over agreeing to a deal with longer terms.
Iran would choose war over agreeing to anytime, anywhere inspections.
Iran would choose war over allowing American inspectors on the IAEA inspection team.
Iran would choose war over destroying the centrifuges that supposedly will not be in use.
Iran would choose war over closing the Fordo and Arak facilities.
Iran would choose war if the conventional arms embargo were not lifted.
Iran would choose war over coming clean on its past nuclear activity.
Iran would choose war if the unfreezing of a hundred and twenty billion dollars in assets were contingent on cessation of terrorist activity, or at least a guarantee that those funds would not go to terror.
If the only alternative to this deal is war, that means that Iran would face war rather than giving in on a single one of these items.
For those who believe that the only alternative to the deal currently on the table is war, that should tell them something about the people with whom we are dealing. If Iran would choose war over any one of the above concessions, how serious can we believe them to be about dismantling their nuclear weapons program?
With this perspective, it’s easy to see that Iran will surely never adhere to the limitations on its program that have been discussed. The 24-day notice on inspections, the lack of any requirement to destroy nuclear infrastructure, and the $120B pay-out that Iran is about to receive will only help them to evade enforcement on the only real limit that they have agreed to, the limit on enrichment.
Perhaps that is why opposition to this deal comes, not exclusively from Republicans in Congress and Prime Minister Netanyahu as the deal’s supporters would have us believe, but from Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the Israeli left, as well as from many US Democrats.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has opposed the deal and has said that Canada will keep its own sanctions on Iran in place, even if the rest of the world dismantles them. According to the Globe and Mail, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson said that Canada “‘will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words,’ and that the government in Ottawa will examine the agreement carefully before making any policy changes.”
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States between 1981 and 2005, has written what the Washington Post calls “a damning column,” comparing the current Iran nuclear deal to the earlier agreement with North Korea. The agreement with Iran, Bandar says, will “‘wreak havoc’ in the Middle East, which is already destabilized due to Iranian actions.”
Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Obama cheerleader Jeffrey Goldberg that this nuclear agreement with Iran “will unleash a lion from the cage, it will have a direct influence over the balance of power in our region, it’s going to affect our borders, and it will affect the safety of my children.”
Former Democratic Representative Shelley Berkley, who served seven terms in Congress, wrote on Saturday that “President Obama couldn’t bring home a good deal, nor could he bring himself to walk away. The consequence is a deal that will give Iran billions of dollars in cash and relief to fuel its terror and war machines, shred the hard-won sanctions and enable the Iranians to get away with hiding the full extent of their nuclear work, infrastructure and know-how.” She’s also joined four Democratic former Senators to form Citizens for a Nuclear-Free Iran, which opposes this agreement.
Absent outright opposition, lukewarm reception has come from surprising quarters as well. Many Iranian dissidents didn’t support the prospect of an agreement. In India, writes Vijeta Uniyal, although outwardly accepting this agreement, the “defence establishment is bracing up for the real ‘fallout’ and ‘spill-over’ of the Iran deal.” Even the Palestinian public does not support the agreement.
The Obama spin machine, however, will continue to throw irrational accusations at Netanyahu and at Congress.