Iran

Overreaching on the Iranian Nuclear Deal in Pursuit of a 'Permanent' Solution

Iran is not the only threat here. Our own hubris is equally dangerous.

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Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

The case against the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran is easy to make. It doesn't ensure that Iran will never get the bomb; it doesn't require Iran to renounce terrorism; it doesn't end Iran's hostility toward Israel. Each of these things is highly desirable, and the agreement provides none of them.

What it will do, if all the right details are nailed down and the terms are firmly enforced, is make it harder for Iran to acquire nukes while postponing that possibility for a decade or more. Before the agreement under which the talks began, Tehran's "breakout time" was estimated at about a month. Under the tentative deal, it will be more like a year. 

There is a basic dispute on this accord. The opponents see Iran as a deadly disease that must be cured once and for all. The supporters regard Iran as a troublesome condition that may not be eliminated but can be managed. 

The fantasy of permanently eliminating a security problem is a recurrent one in American foreign policy. It wasn't enough to topple the Taliban and smash al-Qaida in Afghanistan. We had to undertake a long-term military effort to guarantee it would never again harbor terrorists. 

It wasn't enough to keep Saddam Hussein in a cage, where he posed minimal danger. We had to remove him and make his country a model for the Middle East. It wasn't enough to get Moammar Gadhafi to swear off terrorism and give up his nuclear program. We had to bring about regime change. 

None of these ended well. In each case, smaller ambitions would have provided adequate protection at a reasonable cost. But the temptation to banish a danger once and for all caused us to overreach, with painful consequences that we are still suffering. 

Iran is likely to turn out the same way if die-hard opponents of a nuclear deal get their way. Not that the deal is definitely a good thing. Until all the specifics are resolved, it's impossible to know. But the most vehement critics have already made up their minds. Even if Iran abides by the Obama administration's interpretation of what's to be done, they believe we have given away too much. 

Compared with what? It's not as if the detractors have any promising alternatives. "You can ratchet up the sanctions," insists Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

But sanctions are not so potent as all that. North Korea eats sanctions for breakfast. Saddam laughed at our sanctions. Sanctions may induce a regime to consider compromises with its enemies. But they have never forced the complete capitulation imagined by American hawks. 

Nor does economic pressure offer quick relief. If we walked away from the deal, we'd find ourselves waiting for the sanctions to force Iran to surrender—while Iran might embark on an all-out race to build a nuclear arsenal. 

In that case, the hawks would urge that we launch airstrikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. There are two chief shortcomings in this course. First, it would merely delay what we hope to prevent. Iran could kick out inspectors and rebuild its nuclear program in hidden sites. Second, it would mean a real live shooting war with Iran. 

Obama's critics, notably Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., act as though military action would be quick and easy. He told The Atlantic he has in mind "something like Operation Desert Fox"—referring to a 70-hour bombing campaign the U.S. carried out against Saddam in 1998. 

But it was not a rousing success, even though Iraq's regime was far weaker than Iran's is today. Afterward, a NATO diplomat told The New York Times, "Nothing has changed, and no one seems to know where we go from here." Where we went from there was the 2003 invasion, to solve a problem the airstrikes hadn't. 

Cotton and his allies think we can achieve a victorious conclusion in short order. Where on earth do they get that idea? Against far weaker foes in Afghanistan and Iraq, we found ourselves up to our necks in trouble we didn't foresee, incurring far more casualties than the architects had imagined. 

Iran is not the only threat here. Our own hubris is equally dangerous. The tentative Iran deal falls short of a complete cure of the Iran problem. But by now, we should know that some cures are worse than the disease. 

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  1. Related –

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  2. What it will do, if all the right details are nailed down and the terms are firmly enforced, is make it harder for Iran to acquire nukes while postponing that possibility for a decade or more. Before the agreement under which the talks began, Tehran’s “breakout time” was estimated at about a month. Under the tentative deal, it will be more like a year.

    Is there some document somewhere that outlines this or are we still relying on the little truth kernels from the propaganda campaigns of all the countries involved to ascertain the facts?

    1. There seems to be a very big difference between what the President and his administration is saying and what the Iranians are saying.

      That worries me. Especially, since I don’t trust either of them to tell the truth.

      1. first rule of propaganda is to never believe your own.

      2. The French are saying a third thing and the Russians are selling SAMS.

        This is all so thick with spin and lies and propaganda. I can’t believe Kerry thinks he’ll get a noble prize for this. He’s a fucking idiot.

        1. “I can’t believe Kerry thinks….”

          Me too.

        2. He did help negotiate a framework, that if approved, could one day lead to a meeting, where there perhaps would be candid talks that could produce a tentative agreement. And he served in Vietnam by the way. What do you want from the guy?

          1. He was for the framework before he was against the framework.

            He voted for Iraq.

            He is a lying POS.

            What I want from him is to go away.

    2. Negotiating with a group that screams “death to America” as they walk out of the room leaves a lot to be questioned.

      For this “deal” to work requires us to believe Iran will live up to it’s side of the bargain. I have little faith that they will. I envision a decade long charade of a cat and mouse game with inspectors like we had for years with Saddam.

      All this deal accomplishes is to free Iran from the sanctions . They gave up absolutely nothing to get Obama to agree to lift the sanctions. Nothing.

      In every one of Obama’s foreign policy actions and inactions in the Middle East the Islamists have ended up better off than they were before. Only the pushback about arming the “moderate” Islamists’ in Syria prevented that outcome from being even worse than it currently is. ISIS managed to get more than a few US arms and material as it was without Obama giving them much more.

      This is the policy outcomes from a President who publicly stated that the most beautiful sound on Earth is the Muslim morning call to prayer.

      1. Negotiating with a group that screams “death to America” as they walk out of the room leaves a lot to be questioned.

        To be fair, some times they sing it.

        1. I wonder how much of that is akin to the “Two Minute Hate” from Orwell’s 1984.

          Not that I have any doubt regarding the faithlessness of the Iranian regime.

        2. You call that singing ?

          I give it a 65.

          I like the lyrics but it would be hard to dance to.

  3. “[Reality-challenged individuals], notably Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., act as though military action would be quick and easy.”

  4. You want a long term solution to the problems posed by Iran? Give some comsideration to outright conquest. It’s liklier to work better than a treaty with a country that has theological reasons why lying to us is godly. Which isn’t to say it’s likely to work WELL.

    1. I’m for that.

      Put up a Wally World.

  5. Is that a “Final Solution” reference on Hitler’s birthday?

  6. Happy 4/20, everyone. All is right with the world now, as Joan Jett finally enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also, some guy named Lou Reed, although he did not perform live.

    1. Is Lou Reed dead? Why haven’t I been told about this?

      1. I heard Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton are running for President, too. Not that you’d know from REASON’S offerings…

        1. has santorum declared yet?

          1. Declared what?

            1. That he’s all for Tim Tebow starting for the Eagles.

            2. Declared his undying love for sweater vests.

  7. Cotton and his allies think we can achieve a victorious conclusion in short order. Where on earth do they get that idea?

    From Neil Young?

  8. The opponents see Iran as a deadly disease that must be cured once and for all. The supporters,i regard Iran as a troublesome condition that may not be eliminated but can be managed.

    Love your typical, binary view, Chapman.

    I’m an “opponent” of this non-deal who understands we can’t “eliminate” the threat. But I don’t see that the non-deal as it appears now to have taken shape does anything except unshackle Iran. I think engagement might help – sanctions certainly haven’t brought them to their knees, although I’m not sure who thought they would (Tom Cotton, maybe?).

    But – one can oppose the non-deal and NOT think

    1) the only alternative is therefore war
    2) that a sort of….final solution….is possible.

    We want to eliminate current threats if we can. If we can’t, then avoid or minimize them. If we can’t do either – well, then all those trillions we’ve spent on defense might be put to good use if action is taken against. us.

    Typical weak Chapman. Looks like he got Hihnfected by teh Botox….so sad 🙁

    1. sanctions certainly haven’t brought them to their knees

      Actually, that’s what got them negotiating in the first place. The 3rd way that no one seems to talk about (“it’s war or it’s capitulation!”) is tightening up the sanctions even further.

      1. Agree they’ve helped – just pointing out it’s hardly “brought them to their knees”.

  9. Apartheid S. A. Other than that, where have sanctions resulted in getting the stated desired result?

    1. Totally worked in Cuba. They’d be a backwards enemy of the US repressing their citizens and thumbing their noses at the US govt if sanctions hadn’t been applied.

      Duh!

      1. I hear you. No joking, just wondering if they have worked anywhere.

        1. They worked on Indiana!

          1. Yep, everybody who wasn’t going to Indiana stayed away.

  10. If anyone wants to liberate Iran be my guest. But don’t force me to pay for it. And don’t prevent me from trading with Iranians.

    Remove sanctions. Remove ITAR. Don’t get in the way of traders and black market dealers. I’ll even chip in to smuggle arms and foreign media in to private citizens.

  11. There’s too little real information about the agreement to continue to negotiate to produce another agreement to actually comment on it.

    One thing I can see is that Iran and Saudi Arabia continue to fund and support proxy wars against each other in the ME. In Iraq, Syria, Yemen what is happening is just a larger scale Lebanon with Israel and the US acting as Saudi beards. Pakistan, Israel (and possibly Saudi) already have nukes. Keeping nukes away from the Iranians for as long as possible is a worthy goal.

    I’m afraid my conclusion is to let them kill each other until they are done – which maybe forever. It looks like a broader Sunni vs. Shia conflict that could consume them all. Keeping Christians, Jews Hindus, and atheist out of it should be our goal. Preventing a nuclear exchange should be the ultimate goal.

    Keeping the Iranians tied up in negotiations indefinitely while marginally (but not really) easing the sanctions is probably the best tactic, at least from an American perspective.

    If it’s going to be WWIII (Just like WWII except in the ME instead of Europe and Asia!!) then we need to stay well clear of it.

    So, Obama and Kerry’s goals maybe worthwhile. But who knows. They do such a terrible job communicating to Americans what they actually are doing. It’s shameful, really.

    1. I believe Obama’s entire motivation here is to get something on paper that can be called a deal. Part of his original campaign platform was that he would be willing to sit down with America’s enemies without preconceived notions. He is trying to prove himself right at all costs.

      And what if a by product is the Mullahs get the sanctions lifted and strengthen their hold on power ? That’s a feature not a bug.

    2. I’m coming around to the position that Iran vs The Saudis might be the 30 Years’ War for Islam. And my impression is that the 30 Years’ War was what started to teach the Nation States of Europe that Protestants vs Catholics was a losing proposition for everybody.

      Could be wrong there. Not my field of historical interest.

      Of course letting the Islamic idiots teach themselves to get along with each-other could be a bad thing…..

  12. It’s difficult for many people (including the Hit & Run Hawks) to accept that the U.S. government can’t simply rearrange the world to suit it. Sometimes you just has to make do with what you can do. Not, mind you, that I have any faith in the Obama regime to do a good job of that given that they don’t do a good job at anything else.

    1. The thing is, we COULD rearrange the world to suit ourselves. We would need to change drastically. Anybody who calls the U.S. an Imperialist Nation needs to read more about real Empires. I don’t think we should try, but I do get a little tired of people who won’t even look at the possibility, because it could sneak up on us. Get the Nation good and mad, by maybe setting off a really big bomb in one of our cities, and we could find ourselves going all Imperial Rome and the brakes not working worth a damn.

      We need to remind the Islamotwits just how ugly that could get. Right now, in spite of how we took down Saddam’s “Fourth Largest Army in the World” in a couple of weeks, they don’t believe it. More fool them.

  13. I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,

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    1. This just proves sanctions don’t work. Iranians are making lots of money on the Internet

  14. So the ‘road map’ for the ‘talks’ leading to ‘frank discussions’ isn’t really the “historic agreement” that commie kid was crowing about?
    I have a sneaking suspicion that Obo is willing to turn over Pu so long as he has a piece of paper with two signatures on it; it wouldn’t trust that lying POS to negotiate the price of lettuce at the grocery store.

  15. Hi steve,

    There sure are a lot of libertarians here who think that limited government involves launching a[nother] war against a country that has never threatened or attacked us.

    Steve, this deal sucks because everyone knows that the only peace treaties worth a damn in Narnia are written between morally perfect actors and not by real countries with competing strategic interests. Given a cursory look at history over the last 50 years and the rhetoric of right-wingers in Congress I think Iranian noncompliance might be the least of our worries.

    1. american socialist|4.20.15 @ 11:34AM|#
      “Hi steve,
      There sure are a lot of libertarians here who think that limited government involves launching a[nother] war against a country that has never threatened or attacked us.”

      Hi, shitstain,
      no there are very few and they get beat up every time they pitch it, but as a lefty, if you didn’t have lies to post, you wouldn’t have anything at all.
      BTW, I see the “historic agreement” you were crowing about was closer to ‘we agree to talk about some stuff!’; one more lie from commie kid.
      Paid your mortgage yet, or as a ‘new soviet man’, are you still sticking every one else with the bill?

    2. Hey Amsoc

      You’re right. We could instead be using the military to round up domestic dissidents like your heros Mao and Stalin did. In addition to engaging in non-state approved speech and activities it is possible some of them aren’t claiming their entire income and thus are tax cheats as well!

      1. You mean people who don’t pay their taxes shouldn’t go to jail? No worries on that though… All you have to do is show up on foxnews, claim the big bad government is oppressing you, and you’ll have truckloads of armed right-wing and Nazi radicals at your doorstep looking to shoot it out with the police. At least, that’s the way it worked for cliven bundy.

        1. american socialist|4.20.15 @ 11:53AM|#
          “You mean people who don’t pay their taxes shouldn’t go to jail? No worries on that though… All you have to do is show up on foxnews, claim the big bad government is oppressing you, and you’ll have truckloads of armed right-wing and Nazi radicals at your doorstep looking to shoot it out with the police. At least, that’s the way it worked for cliven bundy.”

          Shitstain, other than proving you can’t follow a logical process, what was that supposed to mean?

        2. Hey Amsoc

          No one should pay taxes. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t pay for the goods and services they use. A free market allows for that to occur at the lowest possible cost. Free minds and free markets – where have I seen that before?

          As for mean, what do you think about Mao and Stalin having murdered tens of millions of people? Was it ok as long as they paid taxes?

          The federal government was attempting to take Clive Bundy’s land in some green energy tax laundering deal. And please provide a citation regarding who showed up to defend his right to property. Do you think all the intellectuals that Mao and Stalin murdered would have liked to have armed citizens intervene to stop the state?

    3. “There sure are a lot of libertarians here who think that limited government…”

      Amazing how commies lie so effortlessly.

      Produce ONE comment supporting this claim. I dare you. DOUBLE DARE YOU.

      1. I saw three pretty explicit exhortations to military action right here in the comment section. You don’t have to go far, I guess.

        1. american socialist|4.20.15 @ 1:15PM|#
          “I saw three pretty explicit exhortations to military action right here in the comment section.”

          And if you weren’t such an ignoramus, you’d have immediately seen just about everyone else here beating on Cytotoxic. But if you did that, you’d have to admit your preconceptions are lies, and no lefty wants to deal with truth and facts.

        2. Amsoc

          I agree with Sevo; my observations are that hawks/military adventurists get pounded on here. Sevo is one that goes after them. Myself as well. When one applies the NAP it is easy to oppose such things. As well as domestic statism.

          1. Chumby, the commie-kid doesn’t care. Any admission that l’trarians don’t favor war would mean that commie-kid would have to deal with facts and reality.
            Not gonna happen; he’d than have to admit that communism and socialism are failed organizational systems and he’d therefore have to ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS ACTIONS!
            Like I said, ain’t gonna happen; infantile egos don’t give up easily. Sucking at that teat is a lot easier than any alternative.

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    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.incomejoin70.com

  17. I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,

    ————- http://www.work-cash.com

    1. Darice Stark:
      R + L = J

  18. I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,

    ————- http://www.work-cash.com

  19. Negotiating with a group that screams “death to America” as they walk out of the room leaves a lot to be questioned.

    For this “deal” to work requires us to believe Iran will live up to it’s side of the bargain. I have little faith that they will. I envision a decade long charade of a cat and mouse game with inspectors like we had for years with Saddam.

    All this deal accomplishes is to free Iran from the sanctions . They gave up absolutely nothing to get Obama to agree to lift the sanctions. Nothing.

    In every one of Obama’s foreign policy actions and inactions in the Middle East the Islamists have ended up better off than they were before. Only the pushback about arming the “moderate” Islamists’ in Syria prevented that outcome from being even worse than it currently is. ISIS managed to get more than a few US arms and material as it was without Obama giving them much more.

    This is the policy outcomes from a President who publicly stated that the most beautiful sound on Earth is the Muslim morning call to prayer.
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  20. None of these ended well. In each case, smaller ambitions would have provided adequate protection at a reasonable cost. But the temptation to banish a danger once and for all caused us to overreach, with painful consequences that we are still suffering.

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  22. The fantasy of permanently eliminating a security problem is a recurrent one in American foreign policy.
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