Over the last week, news reports emerged of a pending deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. In return for some limited sanction relief, the Iranians would have frozen their weapons program with a permanent deal to follow. It might have worked; it probably wouldn’t have. But at least the beginnings of a long-term deal were there.
I’m on record as saying a nuclear Iran is almost inevitable, no matter who is in charge. Even if the Mullahs were toppled and the most pro-Western government imaginable were put in place, Iran would still be surrounded by nuclear powers and they would continue to pursue a nuclear capability. All we can do is delay that moment. We have so far pushed that date back for a decade — Iran has been “X months away” from a nuke since the early 2000’s. This deal would have bought six more months and a “permanent” deal with some teeth might have pushed that date back another decade or more. I realize everyone thinks we should use a military strike to solve the Iran nuclear issue but Iran has learned the lessons of their neighbors and dispersed their program as much as possible. Unless you are prepared to invade and occupy a nation of 80 million people indefinitely, a military strike is a waste of time, money and lives.
The Israelis balked but the Israelis would always balk and the Israelis are actually part of the problem here since Iran has cited the expansion of West Bank settlements as one of their issues. What scotched this deal, oddly enough, was France taking a hard line and refusing to sign on. Whether this was a good or bad thing, I leave up to you. Here is the case that the proposed deal was a bad one. The case that the deal was a good one is that Iran will continue to try to enrich uranium past 20% and to get the Arak reactor online, things they would not have done with a deal.
Ordinarily, this would just be normal diplomacy. Deals fall through all the time. The only interesting part would be that we are moving toward less hostile relations with Iran (a direction we should have moved toward on 9/12 when the Iranians had a vigil for the victims of 9/11 while the Palestinians danced in the streets and the Saudis had “who us?” looks on their faces). But the Obama Administration went public with this deal in a big way before it was signed, trying to pressure all the parties into agreeing and hoping to capitalize on Syria beginning to destroy their WMD arsenal. You could almost hear Obama saying that he had headed off not one but two WMD crises (even though he really hadn’t).
Now their over-eagerness has left egg on their faces yet again. France, Israel, Iran and the gulf states are just as annoyed as if we’d actually made a deal, but no deal actually exists. Iran continues to advance their nuclear agenda and we look like fools.
Remind me again how the Obama Administration was going to be so much better that the Bush team?