A good but not perfect deal on Iran

By Mitchell Blatt
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 17, 2015
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No international agreement is perfect. The very nature of negotiating requires that each side compromise, otherwise deals would never be reached. So of course there are aspects of the deal with Iran that can be criticized by Americans or Iranians.

Republicans particularly hate the idea of a nuclear deal with Iran, but they ought to realize the limits of their power. They can pass a resolution of disapproval in Congress, but President Obama will veto it, making final approval mostly a formality. Notwithstanding the delusions of Ted Cruz - who tried to defund Obamacare while his party was in the minority in Congress - Republican leaders know this deal is a reality, so it would be better for the country if they didn't play politics with foreign policy.

The swiftness with which all the major Republican presidential candidates have come out against the deal suggests that their opposition to it is grounded in part in politics. Of course, that is to be expected; it's how the game of politics is played. I would be a naive idealist to hope that politicians would be more high-minded about issues of war and peace that could directly threaten people's lives.

On the other hand, Republicans are also broadly skeptical about diplomacy in general, thinking that a tough-talking attitude like that adopted by Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush can get America what it wants. Donald Trump is an extreme example of that kind of rhetoric, which is one of the reasons why he is on top in the early polls. Trump has said he would do a better job negotiating simply by sounding tough. "If I were president, Putin would give Snowden back," he said in 2013. If he were president, he would tell OPEC, "You're not going to raise that f*****g price [of oil]." One can only imagine what magical expletives he would send Iran's way to get them to stop developing their nuclear program for nothing in return.

The world doesn't work that way. Iran has national interests, too, as do the other countries involved in the deal's negotiation. The Republicans are very good at pointing out some bad things in the deal, but they are also bad at formulating plausible alternatives. War? It would be a disaster and wouldn't even end Iran's nuclear program. More sanctions? The other United Nations Security Council members wouldn't agree.

Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Obama "has consistently negotiated from a position of weakness, giving concession after concession." Yes, giving concessions is the nature of negotiation. Both sides will argue over such concessions, and Republicans will inevitably find something that would have been nice to include but that was compromised because Iran didn't want it.

America could not realistically have gotten the three American prisoners held by Iran released as part of the deal. One of Iran's red lines was against the expansion of negotiations beyond the scope of its nuclear program.

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