Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why The Iran Deal Is A Good One

There has been the usual hyperventilating from the Fainting Couch Brigade over the Iran deal.  But it's so clearly a good deal because of several factors that have to be wrestled with.

First, Iran is not Nazi Germany.  The common complaint is that this deal "legitimizes" the Iranian regime.  But the Iranian regime is already fairly legitimate, at least in the eyes of its people.  While the Iranian regime is repressive, it's not exactly alone in that.  In fact, let's compare Iran to Saudi Arabia, our putative ally.  Iranian women can drive, vote and serve in the Majlis.  Saudi Arabian women can't even drive.  Iran has been a reluctant ally against ISIS and the Taliban.  Saudis helped fund both of those organizations, and Saudis were behind the funding for 9/11.

There is no doubt that Iran sees itself as the regional protector of Shiite interests.  And that makes them troublemakers in the Gulf.  But Sunni rulers in the Gulf have treated their Shiite minorities like crap.  The unrest in Iraq is a direct result of how brutally the Sunni minority treated the Shiite minority.  The sectarian issues in the Middle East are going to require a Middle Eastern solution.  If the Saudis think they have the Iranians isolated with US support, they will never feel motivated to address the issue.

As for the "death to America" and "death to Israel" chanting, at this point there is more rhetoric than reality.  Yes, Iran supports Hamas, but Hamas is probably preferable to ISIS in Gaza and those are your options right now.  Support for Hezbollah at this point is more political than military.  The Iranian people are actually relatively pro-US an less anti-Semitic than most Arabs.  Put another way, if you were Iranian and you heard Lindsey Graham and John Bolton talking about Iran, you'd assume we were going to launch an attack any day now on Iran.  Focusing on the worst voices is simplistic and usually self-serving.

So, Iran is a bad actor, but hardly the worst actor.  It's not 1979 anymore, and it wouldn't surprise me if the next Supreme Leader is more moderate than Khamenei.

If you can get past Iran as the devil, you still don't want Iran to have the Bomb.  And that leaves you three options.

First, do nothing.  Iran gets the bomb.  Doing nothing includes the current sanctions.  Leave those in place and the Iranian people suffer, but the bomb still gets built.

Second, attack and invade Iran.  Military and intelligence experts agree that Iranian nuclear facilities are well shielded from aerial attacks.  So, allied forces would need to invade and hold certain parts of Iran long enough to dismantle the nuclear facilities.  For comparison, Iran's population is close to 80 million.  Iraq's population is about 35 million.  And unlike Iraq, where we had Kurdish and some Shia allies, Iranians are very, very unlikely to fracture in the face of American attacks.  

This would also unleash complete havoc across the Middle East.  Baghdad is closer to Tehran now, and would likely fall further into their orbit, Iraq could further fracture, empowering ISIS.  Iran would be able to greatly restrict traffic through the Straits of Hormuz, crippling the world economy.  Terrorism would increases across the world.

The third option was negotiate.  In many ways, even a weak deal was better than no deal.  But this is a really, really good deal.  If Iran fails to comply with inspections, then sanctions can snap back without a UN vote.  Inspections are rigorous and comprehensive.

This deal gives Iran relief from sanctions.  That was entirely the point of having sanctions.  It was to force Iran to give up their weapons program, which it has.  They can have nuclear power and nuclear medicine, but they can't have weapons.  That is imminently fair.

Opposition to the deal seems to follow the Green Lantern Theory of international relations.  If you use sufficient willpower, you can make anything happen.  But international relations are about negotiations and meeting in the middle.

The fact that the modern GOP can't understand what negotiations and meeting in the middle are all about should surprise no one who has watched American politics for the last 7 years.

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