By now, the broad outlines of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, i.e., the “Iran Deal,” are pretty well-known.
In exchange for sanctions relief, Iran agrees to slow uranium enrichment, reduce its stockpiles of uranium, re-purpose various nuclear facilities, and generally limit its nuclear development activities to practices consistent with peaceful purposes … for about a decade.
Supporters of the deal believe that Iran’s agreement to slow things down, reduce its capacity and generally shift its activities into low gear will keep the world safer for at least a decade, even though at the conclusion of that period many, if not all, bets are off.
Opponents of the deal, on the other hand, find Iran’s commitment to dial things back very weak tea and, given Iran’s violent history and consistently nihilistic rhetoric, wholly insufficient to support the massive cash infusions Iran will receive shortly after the deal is signed.
Now, repeat the preceding paragraphs a few times each day, sprinkle in some references to “moneyed interests,” Neville Chamberlain and North Korea, and you’ve pretty much captured the public debate.
I’d like to say that all the rest is commentary, but unfortunately, if you are really immersed in these issues, you will also hear arguments that are less substantive and more visceral, less related to content and more related to personalities.
Many opponents of the deal, for example, find fault with President Obama’s policies on a wide variety of issues and consider him to be a naïf when it comes to the Middle East. For others, the president’s longtime “haters,” this deal is just another reason to start the tape loop of anti-Obama tropes.
As for supporters of the deal, while many will agree with the President that this deal is in the best interest of the United States, for others, it must be said, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is so objectionable that his opposition to the deal alone is enough to justify their supporting it.
For such people, Bibi’s speech to Congress against this deal was an unconscionable interference in our domestic politics. It was all of a piece with his presumed support for Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election.
More recently, the prime minister’s exhortation to his supporters during his own re-election campaign to hurry to the polls because “Arabs were voting in droves” was a blatant playing of the race card.
Finally, add to this his continued tolerance, if not encouragement, of settlement activity – anathema to the otherwise pro-Israel Progressive camp – and you have in the Prime Minister the personification of an Israel that needs to be rebuffed.
Now, I’m not here to defend the Prime Minister’s strategies or his policies; but on this narrow and vital issue, I find myself in agreement with him.
In the comfort of our homes here in the United States, it is easy to look at the proposed Iran deal and say, this is a risk worth taking.
Even President Obama, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders, can go to sleep at night knowing that the world’s most powerful military is protecting us. Safely ensconced thousands of miles from Teheran, he will wake up in the morning leading a country that is as secure as it was when he went to bed the previous evening.
But if you’re the prime minister of Israel, you cannot say with the same assurance that your borders will not have been breached overnight; that tunnels will not have been bored under your towns; that a rogue regime that day in and day out affirms its hatred for you, arms your enemies, refuses to disavow its malign intentions and that has already been caught developing an aggressive nuclear program, will not have taken action the moment your head hit the pillow to wreak havoc upon the people and the nation you are sworn to protect.
So it is fitting and appropriate, I submit, for those supporters of the Iran deal for whom at least a portion of their support is attributed to rank distaste for Prime Minister Netanyahu to take a step back and understand the impossibility of his position.
If Iran turns sanctions relief into ill-gotten gains, if it cheats on the deal, or even if it simply bides its time and fails to change its spots, Israel will continue to be, and may be even more at risk.
Israel doesn’t have the luxury of a do-over or the ability to say, well, the deal’s not perfect, but heck, let’s give it a shot.
So, if you want to support the deal, by all means go for it, but at least support it for the right reasons, and not just because Bibi really, really makes you mad.