Iran Deal Questions


What are the criteria by which we judge the recently signed agreement between the United States and Iran? Supporters of the Iran Deal argue that it will:

— empower domestic moderates

— open the country to the international community

— curb Iranian power in the region

— avoid a regional arms race by bringing Iranian foreign policy under a diplomatic umbrella

— curb and destroy ISIS

— stabilize the region

— transform Iran from “foe” to “friend”

Will these be the rubrics under which to judge the success of the agreement? These are the claims made by a lot of experts, including President Obama himself. But is there any evidence over the last several years to support this kind of wishful prognosis? Have there been any signs of moderation signaled by the regime heretofore? With these kinds of claims, have the supporters of the deal set the bar too high on their own argument?

I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. Iran is a big and complex country. Lots of things can happen. It remains to be seen, but just as likely, Iran will:

— double down on the revolution

— refuse access to monitor military sites

— pivot east to Russia and China

— step up military intervention in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen

— crack down on domestic moderates

— spark a regional conventional and nuclear arms race, particularly in the Gulf States and maybe Turkey

continue to radicalize large parts of the Sunni world, particularly over Iraq and Syria

— encourage Israeli hardliners

— continue to develop nuclear technologies and their militarization

If this is in fact what happens, then would that mean the deal was a bad one? Maybe. Or is there a way to understand and even support the deal without the hopeful claims put forth by its supporters? It could be that the deal will do none of things its supporters claim, but that it would still be a better arrangement than the alternative of no agreement. I’m not sure. A lot will depend upon the actual terms of the deal as understood and implemented by both sides.

Jeffrey Goldberg asks 2 fundamental question, which you can read here:

Does this deal significantly reduce the chance that Iran could, in the foreseeable future (20 years is the time period Obama mentioned in an interview with me in May), continue its nefarious activities under the protection of a nuclear umbrella? If the answer to this question is yes, then a deal, in theory, is worth supporting.

Will Obama “study the reality of Iranian activity in the region, and begin to push back against Iran’s ambitions with more alacrity than he has done so far”? (He actually put this in the form of a statement, which I’ve turned into a question.) My own guess is that Syria and maybe Lebanon will be the linchpin. If the Obama policy in Syria has been any indication, there’s not much reason to hope. Obama forced the regime there into an agreement about chemical weapons while the government continues the slaughter of its own people.

About the Iran deal, it’s time now to read the details and to wait and see how this plays out in the U.S., Iran, Israel and the Arab capitals. It just seems that the arguments in favor of the deal are bad ones if only because there seems to be little evidence to show for it.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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