The Iran Deal Is The Biggest Middle Eastern Achievement In Decades

Republicans may call President Obama weak over the Iran Deal, but it is the perfect case study of Obama’s Doctrine of intelligently strong coalition-building.
news obama health bill 2 250310

To anyone who still thinks the Iran Deal was stupid:

The Iran Deal was a good decision. A great decision even, along the lines of President Nixon’s normalization of relations with China. It certainly will be remembered as one of the Obama Administration’s crowning achievements.

The simple fact is that Iran has almost 80 million people, and 80 million people cannot be ignored. This is chiefly because of the economic potential inherent in a group of 80 million people. Iran also happens to be relatively secular for a Middle Eastern nation, and has a real middle class eager to buy international products and pursue materialistic livelihoods. Iran is ripe for globalism and American diplomacy.

The people of Iran do not harbor irrational hatred toward the US, and Iran has not been a participant in the global movement of Islamic jihad. Iranians, including Ayatollah Khamenei, condemned the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and some Iranians even held spontaneous candlelight vigils in response. Iran’s designation by George W. Bush as a member of the so-called “Axis of Evil” was undeserved, especially since Iran cooperated with the US-led coalition that toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan and endeavored to restore moderate governance to the Afghan people.

The idea that Iran is some existential threat to America, which Republicans continue to repeat today, could not be further from the truth. Iran agreed to this deal in order to economically improve the lives of its 80 million citizens. To figure the deal out America worked with China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany, meaning it would be entirely irrational at the global level for Republicans to impose new, unilateral sanctions on Iran. Republicans would be squandering this unprecedented success in international cooperation just to try and stick it to Obama.

If a Republican actually were to win the presidential election, I have no doubt, despite the campaign rhetoric, that they would be persuaded out of ripping up the agreement on day one or imposing new sanctions. It is too good a deal of positive engagement. The whole reason the Iran Deal happened in the first place is because our earlier economic sanctions were successful: they brought Iran to the debating table, receptive to American terms. Eager for economic relief, Iran readily agreed to give up its nuclear ambitions and open itself to Western corporations.

And it was just in time, because Europe had been threatening to stop cooperating with the US-imposed sanctions since so much money in trade is waiting for European businesses when Iran is fair game for business. Germany, specifically, will likely regain its role as Iran’s biggest trade partner, and has led the European Union in moving to abandon the sanctions and trade with Iran anyway.

Economic solidarity aside, it is very clear that no other country would be willing to help us bomb or invade Iran if the US torpedoed the deal. There would certainly be no “Coalition of the Willing” to topple Iran’s government with a Republican administration.

Beyond Europe, though, the US also managed to wrangle Russian and Chinese support, getting both countries onboard with the Iran Deal. Both Russia and China were also giving America one last attempt to try and diplomatically engage with Iran, too, and this is why the Iran Deal has been such a success story. The Obama Administration managed to thread the needles of Europe, China, AND Russia, and the world is unified behind the agreement.

The deal is a good one. Obama got Iran to cooperate with the P5+1, align itself with UN stability interests in the region, AND end it’s nuke program. In exchange, the US lifted the economic sanctions and gave America’s blessing to Iran’s inevitable entrance onto the global stage. The entrance that Europe would have allowed regardless of American posturing.

But the kicker is that Iran did not pose a credible nuclear threat to begin with because Israel and the US, on the sly, planted Stuxnet, a covert computer worm, into the Iranian nuclear program, causing a fifth of Iran’s centrifuges to uncontrollably speed up and tear themselves apart years ago. The US proved its capability in thwarting Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium, so Iran came to the negotiating table with few conditions beyond the barest of face-saving requests.

Which was shrewd statesmanship because the Obama administration thoughtfully allowed Iran’s government to save face in agreeing to a seemingly mutual deal with superficial conditions, such as the one where UN investigators have to wait up to 24 days before checking out installations. Conservatives complained about this, but it’s a fake condition. No nuke-making facility could possibly be disguised or dismantled in only 24 days, and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who is a nuclear physicist, explained in a Chicago Tribune editorial that 24 days is “well within our window of high confidence to detect the traces of nuclear materials used.”

The 24-day waiting period, and other Iranian “conditions,” were included within the deal in order to placate Iran’s hardliners, who likely would have thrown a fit over Iran’s submission without any such faux conditions. Iran’s government would not have agreed to a deal that publicly humiliated them, hence why the US gave Iran the political cover needed in order to pretend that the deal was not the capitulation that it was. This is both common sense and a demonstration of good-faith diplomacy, and Republicans’ demand for Iranian humiliation is a smear on America’s diplomatic reputation.

Yes, we still hear anti-American rhetoric from Iran’s hardliners, but America has hardliners saying the same dumb things and working just as hard to provoke an American-Iranian war. Iran has domestic politics, too, and Congressional Republicans are not alone in denouncing the Iran Deal existentially without recognizing the significance of the agreement. The fear mongering must be ignored on both sides because the deal is positive for both nations. American-Iranian cooperation brings greater security to the Middle East, and the region’s stability happens to be a direct and primary interest of American national security.

Republicans may call President Obama weak over the Iran Deal, but it is the perfect case study of Obama’s Doctrine of intelligently strong coalition-building. Rather than the impulsive bombing adventure or occupation of Iran for which Republicans have advocated, Obama has avoided another Middle Eastern debacle. No US troops were put in danger, Iran agreed to our terms, and Iran is quickly becoming a regional ally against Sunni terrorism. That is real American strength.

Let’s please put an end once and for all to the Republican lie that the Iran Deal is bad for America.

A recent college graduate unimpressed with the world his generation is inheriting. Follow me on Tumblr at or on Facebook &Twitter with the same handle.
2 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply



  • Tony Wood
    3 March 2016 at 7:52 pm

    You speak only of the economic potential of Iran, yet ignore the REAL and significant costs of the deal to America. You have spelled out the facts that it wasn’t / isn’t a real nuclear threat, but ignore that the actual benefit of placating them is financial aid to them at the costs of American taxpayers. You act like the old lady at the casino that yells “I hit the jackpot!” but ignore that the “jackpot” is a $100 after years of spending $500/mo on the same machine.

    The only benefit will come to the big corporations who serve them, the CEOs that run those corporations and the politicians that allowed it to happen.
    More big government playing with taxpayer $.

    Leave a Reply
    • Levi Olson
      8 March 2016 at 12:14 pm

      The boost that will go to Iran’s economy via normalized trade relations is not at the expense of American taxpayers. It’s not like companies are going to stop doing business in America–economic growth in one country is not a zero-sum loss in another.

      But again, the rest of the world was already going to open up trade with Iran if the Iran Deal failed, chiefly Europe. It’s absurd to think that this is somehow a bad outcome for America, because America happens to be geographically nowhere near Iran. It makes no sense to stand in the way of Europe, Russia, and China doing business with Iran because Iran happens to be in their spheres of economic influence, not ours. Furthermore, it doesn’t make sense for Iran to ignore those trade partners to focus only on American trade deals, because half the globe stands between the Iran and the US.

      The reality is that normalizing diplomacy with Iran is an unprecedented foreign policy victory, especially because Iran is inevitably going to be a key ally against Sunni extremism in the Middle East, and the economic rationale or ability to continue isolating Iran no longer exists.

      Leave a Reply
    Follow Us On Twitter