The nuclear deal agreed to yesterday after two years of negotiations by the P5+1 and Iran is an outstanding example of true strategic foreign policy success. Given the opposition from multiple quarters against the negotiations, it is good to see some common strategic sense prevail. The details of the deal run into 100+ pages, however what is clear is that the US got what it wanted. That is, a verifiable way to ensure that Iran does not move towards a militarized nuclear threshold for the foreseeable future.
For the opponents of the deal, I have no sympathy. Their ability to critically think and ask the “why question” appears to be lacking. They never had a realistic alternative to dealing with a nuclear Iran. Military strikes, while appealing tactically to those who do not comprehend strategy, would have at most set the nuclear program back just a few months. While at the same time only confirming for Iranians the need to develop nuclear weapons as deterrence. To think that the US intelligence could find every secret site responsible for nuclear production to target is ludicrous. The US intelligence couldn’t even figure out that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction. To accomplish this search for secret nuclear sites, a full invasion would be required. Does anyone sane really think that it would be a good idea? Probably only those same experts that said Iraq would be a cakewalk.
The negotiations were always based on a simple premise. The Iranians are rational actors. If they were not, as many opponents of the deal seem to believe, then they would have no reason to negotiate. If the Iranians where truly irrational and suicidal, then they would just ignore sanctions, don’t negotiate, and build a nuclear bomb in secret. After that they would attack Israel and then watch as their country was turned into radioactive wasteland by the Israeli counterstrike. Such scenario is ludicrous, as is the belief that the Iranians are irrational actors. Now, that doesn’t mean that they are robots in their decision making, they are just people after all, but it does mean they could be bargained with. Ronald Reagan did so in the 80’s as many opponents of the deal seem to forget.
In the agreement the US got everything it wanted without resorting to military force, which in itself would only be a poor temporary solution. For those who thought that other issues should be part of negotiations, such as Iranian support for Shiite terrorist groups or recognition of Israel, they are wrong or naive. The US continuously negotiates or even directly supports states such as China or Saudi Arabia, which are not Jeffersonian democracies. To tie those issues to the issues of the nuclear negotiations only confirmed to me that the people supporting such view are either ignorant or simply trying to sabotage the negotiating process.
What will happen in 10-15 years when the agreement expires, no one knows. If someone tells you they can predict the future they are lying. For all we know in 10 years Iran will be a Jeffersonian democracy. I highly doubt it, but stranger things have happened. For those worried the Iranians will break their word, don’t worry, we still have the ability to exercise military action if required. In that case, the military option would actually be justified if the Iranians cheated. I do not believe they will, as they have nothing to gain from that course of action.
To sum up. The agreement reached yesterday is a text book example of a realistic foreign policy, based on achievable strategy. It is good to see our foreign policy apparatus moving away from the “Star Wars” like foreign policy of the past. One can only hope that this is just a beginning of a realistic US foreign policy, which is grounded in facts, not wishes.