The Iran nuclear deal has generated an abundance of extraordinary insights. Here’s a sampling.
We shall start with a headline which, for me, sums up all the excruciating years of accusations, pre-negotiations, and negotiations, as well as the deal itself (which, as I observed yesterday, has no name, but which, I’ve since learned, goes by the singularly undistinctive name Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Iran Won the Vienna Accords By Agreeing to Stop What It Never Was Doing
That the title of a piece at New American Media by William O. Beeman, who noted:
It was … easy for Iran to give up a nuclear weapons program that never existed, and that it never intended to implement. As a bargaining position this is unassailable as your counterpart at the table insists and insists on something that has no value, it is possible to use giving way on such an empty demand to extract other concessions.
At Middle East Eye, Gareth Porter, the journalist who has been our most trustworthy guide through the years of U.S.-Iran nuclear tensions, wrote:
The news media have adopted the Obama administration’s view that negotiations were the result of Iran responding to international sanctions. The problem with that conventional view is not that Iran wasn’t eager to get the sanctions removed, but that it was motivated to do so long before the United States was willing to negotiate.
In fact, Iran had long viewed its nuclear programme not only in terms of energy and scientific advancement but also as a way of inducing the United States to negotiate an end to the extraordinary legal status in which Iran has been placed for so long.
At Foreign Policy in Focus, John Feffer pointed out a parallel:
The recent nuclear agreement with Iran, the culmination of months of laborious negotiation, could represent this century’s equivalent of Nixon’s détente with China. Of course, Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are by no means the odd bedfellows that Mao and Nixon represented. They are both centrists disposed to compromise. The deal they’ve pushed for has been the culmination of visible negotiations not the kind of secret back-channel conversations that Kissinger favored.
The Iran deal marks a pivot in American foreign policy. It is a death warrant for the hubristic foreign policy course charted by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
At the Atlantic, Peter Beinart observed:
When critics focus incessantly on the gap between the present deal and a perfect one, what they’re really doing is blaming Obama for the fact that the United States is not omnipotent. This isn’t surprising given that American omnipotence is the guiding assumption behind contemporary Republican foreign policy.
At Politico magazine, Afshon Ostovar wrote about the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s likely reaction to the nuclear deal:
Sanctions hit the IRGC hard and it is unsurprising to see that the organization stands to have many of the sanctions imposed upon it lifted as part of a deal. Beyond sanctions, a deal also fits with the IRGC’s strategic goals. … With Washington no longer a threat, the IRGC will be free to concentrate its resources on other enemies and strategic concerns, particularly in the region—as even President Obama appeared to acknowledge in his news conference on Wednesday when he said there was a “likelihood” that groups such as Hezbollah would get more Iranian money once it is freed up.
… the IRGC does not view the nuclear deal to be a triumph of diplomacy alone. Rather, it was the organization’s forward-leaning posture against American influence in the region that ultimately compelled the United States to rethink its approach toward Iran.
Former Iran prisoner Joshua Fattal in the Washington Post:
A deal would make Iran accountable to international monitors. This is crucial, because my time in Iran showed me that the country’s politicos are eminently concerned with the international image of Iran. They allowed international media to film and broadcast the one instance when they granted my mother visiting privileges. They also timed my rare phone privileges with publicity about my case.
… A nuclear deal would force the Iranian government to follow strict protocols or face international shame. Indeed, they have followed the interim nuclear deals scrupulously, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.