Iran

Why It's Too Late to Scrap the Iran Deal

It wasn't perfect, but the alternatives are much worse.

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Diplomacy
Credit: U.S. Department of State

To most Republicans, the three scariest words in the English language, after "Ruth Bader Ginsburg," are "Iran nuclear deal." The GOP presidential candidates are so intent on putting distance between them and it that you'd think the document was printed on radioactive paper.

"My No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran," Donald Trump says. Ted Cruz promises, "On my first day in office, I will rip this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal to shreds." Even John Kasich vows to "suspend" the agreement and bring back the sanctions that were dropped. 

When the deal was reached, Republicans opposed it with a unanimity rarely seen outside the North Korean Politburo. It's safe to say that in all their presidential debates since the campaign began, not a single candidate has had anything good to say about it. 

The GOP doesn't trust Barack Obama and doesn't trust the Iranians. So the idea that the two could jointly produce something valuable was beyond belief. 

There was, in all fairness, a case to be made against the agreement. It didn't force Iran to scrap all its centrifuges; it relied on the hope that violations would be dealt with firmly; and most of the limits on Iran disappear after 15 years. 

None of these objections, in my view, was convincing. But at this point, they're obsolete. The question is no longer whether the deal should have been done. It's whether it should be undone. Whether to enlist in the Army is a different question from whether to go AWOL during boot camp. 

What would we lose from renouncing the deal? Just every concession Iran had to make and implement. So far, it has submitted to an outside inspection regime, scrapped some 12,000 centrifuges, shipped 98 percent of its nuclear fuel to Russia and wrecked a nuclear reactor. Without the deal, Iran would be free to evict the international monitors and resume the activities it was compelled to stop. 

In exchange for those curbs, the Obama administration agreed to lift some economic sanctions and release some $100 billion in Iranian funds that had been frozen. The latter is what Trump had in mind when he charged, "We give them $150 billion, we get nothing." That's what Cruz was talking about last summer when he claimed the deal would make Obama "the world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism." 

But we didn't give Iranians that money; it was theirs all along. Regaining access to it was one of the chief incentives for them to negotiate. In any case, they got their money. And it does not seem to have dawned on Trump or Cruz that they are not about to give it back. 

For us to abandon the agreement would mean the Iranians would keep those funds but be released from their obligations. They'd get to keep the new car without making the payments. 

The Republicans talk as though we control everything. But the deal was not just between Iran and the U.S.; it included China, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and the entire European Union. The other signatories might not be content to behave like potted plants. If we abandoned the accord, they'd blame us. 

The U.S. could restore the old sanctions, which wouldn't have much force because we'd be alone. Even our European allies probably wouldn't follow suit—to say nothing of the Chinese and Russians. More likely, they'd all rush to grab the business opportunities created by our absence. Good for Airbus and Lenovo; bad for Boeing and Apple. 

The next president will retain the option of last resort in dealing with Iran: a pre-emptive attack on its nuclear sites. But that's not an inviting course of action. In the first place, it wouldn't stop the Iranians from undertaking a new and more determined effort—this time in facilities less vulnerable to our missiles. 

In the second place, we could expect retaliation, in the form of terrorist attacks on American targets at home and abroad and military attacks on U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, among other possibilities. We could expect, in short, another war in the Middle East whose duration and outcome we can't know. 

At this point, reneging on the deal would be the worst of both worlds. Someone who has decided to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel may have made the wrong choice. But once you're in the water, climbing out of the barrel is no solution.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc. 

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  1. The question is no longer whether the deal should have been done. It’s whether it should be undone.

    No deal was done with the US, a deal was done with His High Emperorness, Barack Obama. When he leaves the White House, the deal leaves with him. No Senate ratification of a treaty, no deal.

    It would make a lot of sense for Republicans, and believers in the Constitution, to make clear to the world at large that “deals” with the US are deals with the US Senate, and not an imperial President.

    1. It would make a lot of sense for Republicans, and believers in the Constitution, to make clear to the world at large that “deals” with the US are deals with the US Senate, and not an imperial President.

      What do you mean…like send a letter or something?

      1. A *strongly-worded* letter, mind you!

    2. Guess you want to give back all that land the imperialist Jefferson purchased from France.

      1. Jefferson paid for it himself?

        No wonder he had to sell his book collection to Congress…

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  3. While the Iran deal was acceptable given the alternatives, as an unratified deal it can be shitcanned by the next administration if they see fit, other signatories be damned. Other nations need to understand that a deal with the US that doesn’t involve senate ratification isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

  4. When I saw the blurb, I figured that the premise was so stupid, it had to be Richman or Chapman. Then I noticed that Richman had another article, so that eliminated this possibility.

    This kind of stupid shit wouldn’t have made it when Michael Young was here.

    1. I wonder sometimes how many potential libertarians Chapman, Richman, and Dalmia scare away when they come to this site and read their dreck. Who in their right mind wants to be associated with those people?

      1. So, Grinch, are you saying that libertarians should embrace the concept that the US is the world’s policemen, and we have the unilateral right to dictate to other countries what they may or may not do? That we should use blunt force to impose our will on other sovereign nations? That economic sanctions and threat of force works better than peaceful negotiations? That we should break our “contract” with Europe, China, Russia regarding how we are going to deal with Iran? Or do we just abandon all of our principles when it comes to protecting Israel? As a Libertarian, I do have a major problem with the deal not being ratified by Congress. But then again, a Republican would never vote for a deal that gives Iran an inch, even if we get 10 miles in return, because, well you know, Israel. There are many countries that have nuclear arms that I wish did not have them. I worry more about North Korea or Pakistan than I would if Iran had them. I even worry more about Israel using nukes on Iran than I do Iran using them on Israel. There would be less retaliation against Israel than there would be against Iran. If Iran were to fire first, their destruction would be guaranteed, not so much with Israel. And speaking of trusting Israel, why, along with Pakistan and North Korea, have they never signed the NPT (non-Proliferation Treaty)?

        1. Bones is for the separation of powers, unless the Heffalumps don’t go along.

          Moron.

        2. Am I saying that? Nope. If I was saying that I would have, you know, said it.

          1. As a libertarian I do not recognize any “deal” not ratified by Congress. Other than that what you are saying seems like a collection of non sequiturs.

    2. Ditto. I haven’t looked at Richman’s pile of stupid yet, I am still catching up.

  5. Back in November, the state department said that Iran hasn’t even signed the deal yet. Has that changed?

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  11. Iran has not “wrecked” the Arak heavy water reactor.
    All they did was to remove the CORE(calandria) and fill that with concrete. They agreed to “redesign” the calandria so it doesn’t make -as much- weapons-grade plutonium as the original core. Arak construction still proceeds. Once in operation,it will still make Pu-239. Plus,there’s no guarantee Iran won’t pull a swap at the last minute,after throwing out the IAEA,and put in another original-design core,or even an improved model.
    BTW,Iran already had international inspections of their nuclear program,under the NPT,the REAL TREATY that they signed and violated multiple times. Iran was never punished for it’s NPT violations. Instead,we got this worthless “deal”,the JCPOA.
    Oh,and then there’s all the secret side “deals”,one of which is that Iran does the inspecting FOR the IAEA at certain sites,where the IAEA is still not allowed. There’s SO many holes in this “deal”,it’s no deal at all,except for Iran.

  12. “In exchange for those curbs, the Obama administration agreed to lift some economic sanctions and release some $100 billion in Iranian funds that had been frozen. The latter is what Trump had in mind when he charged, “We give them $150 billion, we get nothing.””

    Oh no!! Giving them back money that we blatantly stole!!

    “That’s what Cruz was talking about last summer when he claimed the deal would make Obama “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.””

    We kind of ARE the world’s leading financer of radical Islamic terrorism. Just not for that reason. More for the whole Saudi Arabia thing and the “Moderate Rebels” thing and the “funding Al Qaeda back when they were only the Russians’ problem” thing.

  13. I find it amusing, in a bitter way, that no consideration of any diplomatic ‘deal’ in the last 40 years has ever considered the possibility of conquest. I’m not saying we SHOULD conquor the world, or any small part of it, but these arguments only cover a,small range of e possible solutions. The range that a small clique of petty intellctuals can wrap their tiny minds around.

    As I said, I don’t thunk we should conquor Iran. But I do think that a great deal of bushwa could be eliminated if it was frmly established in the mnds,of all concernd that we COULD.

  14. Huh. I thought the 3 scariest words to republicans are “Obamacare”. Well, OK, the “Affordable Care Act”. Has the house held more than 50 votes on the Iran deal?

    As for scrapping the Iran deal, it is and should be the case that “elections have consequences”. Those three words ought to be the scariest for republicans who can’t find a candidate who can win an election.

    1. Ever wonder how, of the three elections since 0blama took office, two of them have been blowouts for the Republicans but the one in the middle, despite 0blama losing 3.5 million voters, went for 0blama and a demoncrap Senate?
      Electoral college votes are counted, largely, on the same scale as votes for Senators – on state-wide tallies. Not counting Republican votes in key states would have the same effect of re-electing 0blama and putting in demoncrap Senators.
      Judging by how enthusiastic Republicans were to rid themselves of him, and how dispirited demoncraps were (3.5 million stayed home) doesn’t it seem odd that it turned out that way?

      1. No, I have not wondered about the 3 elections you refer to. Each election has it’s own consequences. I understand that 0blama got re-elected but that’s because the restupidican candidate, Kittens (“Corporations are People” and “47% of real people are whiners who suck off the public teat”) O’Scumney, couldn’t win a general election. He got crushed.

        None of your interesting facts make a damn bit of difference. President Barak Obama won and Mitt Romney lost. That’s fact, not opinion.

        If Mr Romney had won, we would have his vision of what to do, probably nothing or maybe go to war. I am content to let the will of the people play itself out, even outcomes aren’t great. Even outcomes that aren’t great are better than catastrophic outcomes like the Iraq war. For better or worse and like it or not, that’s just how modern American democracy works.

        It’s 2016, vote for the candidate of your choice and hope for the best. when the outcome is not to your liking, look forward to 2020 and then vote for the candidate of your choice.

  15. The president had the balls to congratulate himself on this deal on Charlie Rose. What a useless tool. The interviewer and the interviewee.

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