Friday, April 3, 2015

An Agreement with Iran and the Future of Peace

I won't pretend to understand the details of the framework nuclear agreement with Iran, but the experts I respect think it is a good deal, putting very large obstacles in the path of any future Iranian push for a bomb. That this could be achieved despite the intense suspicion between the US and Iranian governments strikes me as almost miraculous. Credit goes to President Obama, to Secretary of State Kerry, and to all other professionals from the State Department and EU who worked so long and hard to make this happen; and to President Rouhani of Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and their negotiating team.

The most intelligent critics of any deal with Iran are not really focused on the nuclear issue. Their attitude is that Iran is too powerful in the Middle East already, and too eager to pursue more power through arming rebels and Shiite militias and generally making mischief, and that lifting sanctions will only make things worse. John Boehner:
My concerns about Iran’s efforts to foment unrest, brutal violence and terror have only grown. It would be naïve to suggest the Iranian regime will not continue to use its nuclear program, and any economic relief, to further destabilize the region.
Reuel Marc Gerecht:
this diplomatic process accelerates the nuclearization of the region, throws jet fuel on the war between the Sunnis and the Shia, and puts America into a much worse strategic position in the Middle East.
But this sort of thinking puts the US back on the side of the Sunni dictators whose rule has kept the whole region in squalor and unrest for decades, the hopeless situation that led Bush to launch his invasion of Iraq, trying to revolutionize the Muslim world with shock and awe. I find a lot to hate about the current Iranian government. But I think the Iranian people are the best hope for peace in the region, and I agree with Obama (and the Pentagon, and the State Department) that our long-term strategy ought to be focused on waiting out the regime until the increasingly pro-western people eventually come to power.

President Obama's speech was carried live on Iranian television, the first time they have ever run such a speech unedited. Thousands of young Iranians were celebrating in the streets last night. We have all learned the hard way not to mistake big city protesters for the majority in any Muslim country, but it seems to me that the agreement can only help the people in Iran we want to be our friends and marginalize our real enemies. One tweet the Times reprinted said
In a party. Most people have a glass in one hand and a mobile with anti filter and Twitter in the other.
Meanwhile the news from Kenya is that the Sunni fanatics -- the common enemies of the US and Iran -- have carried out another massacre, this time of Christian university students.

Who are the real monsters in the world right now? Where are there forces of civilization we might ally with against them?

War between the US and Iran would not only be a disaster in the short term, it would cut off one of the most promising avenues toward peace, betraying the people of Iran with whom the future of the region rests whether we like it or not.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

But Iran is "bad"! They overthrew the puppet dictator we had supported for decades and installed a democratically elected leader! Such actions are fundamentally "Un-American"! Which is why we've repeatedly broken faith and stabbed them in the backs ever since! They can't be trusted! And worse still, they want nuclear weapons! Can you imagine the kind of leverage they would enjoy having a nuclear threat over other, smaller countries around the world? It's unthinkable!