The nuclear power agreement between Iran and five allied countries, including the United States, has been unanimously endorsed by the Security Council of the United Nations. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, over thirty senior U.S. generals and numerous former officials of Mossad, the Israeli security agency, have also endorsed it. These endorsements mean nothing on the Planet Teapublican, and as a result every effort has been made to derail this agreement. And now that those efforts have failed, it is fair to ask, now what?
Historians will one day look back at this near debacle and wonder how presumably rational men and women could lock themselves into an alternate universe where anything that President Obama proposes is wrong, and anything that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says is correct. How is it that the reality of the limits of U.S. power is not crystal clear, even after Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and 9/11. And most importantly, historians will wonder what was the real Plan B that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal had in mind?
When the arguments against the Iran deal are distilled, the result is a single phrase – “a better deal”. Of course, the desire for a “better deal” presumes that over the several years of negotiation a “better deal” was not the goal of the Obama administration. The desire for a “better deal” presumes that the United States can simply impose its will, not only on Iran, but also on Russia, China, Britain and France. The desire for “a better deal” is rational only with the assumption that it is the sole province of these United States to determine what reality is – and is not.
The proposed agreement with Iran has been called “the worst deal in the history of the world”, which upon brief reflection has to be an exaggeration that clouds the American mind but does not change the reality that a negotiated agreement, by definition, does not represent perfection for any of the parties to the agreement. But the Teapublican leadership in Congress and the Republican candidates for president seem to think that the discussions with Iran represented an opportunity to dictate the terms of surrender to a defeated country. Of course, that is not true. But facts and truth never seem to get in the way of a good Teapublican myth.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his supporters in Congress seem to think that the negotiations with Iran, possessed of one of the most powerful military forces on earth, should simply capitulate to the will of America. Since that was never the case, it was absolutely impossible for any rational agreement to get the support of the Israeli prime minister (despite the very clear support for the agreement by Israeli military and intelligence experts) or that of the leadership of the Congress which is mired in the mud of permanent opposition to anything and everything that is associated with the presidency of Barack Obama.
Regarding that Plan B, historians will also have to wonder if the “military option” to the agreement really meant sending thousands upon thousands of American sons and daughters to certain death and mayhem without even giving a negotiated agreement a chance. Is the right wing of the right wing so wedded to the American tradition of defining the world by sheer force that it would be willing to risk yet another blood soaked conflagration in a region already destabilized for the foreseeable future due to misguided military incursions in Iraq and Afghanistan?
There are questions that will never really be answered. But in reflecting on the value of the divergent paths of peaceful negotiation and war, why would anyone choose war?