Iran: comments on "the deal"
Finally for this week, the deal with Iran.
I have to say that I'm in an odd position to comment on the deal with Iran because the whole business was and is premised on the claim that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, that in fact it's on the verge of doing so and only constant pressure has prevented that.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been peddling that line since 1993, when he claimed Iran would have nukes in three to five years - which would make them 18 to 20 years over due now. He has repeated that claim over and over in the years since, varying only in the always-frighteningly-short time frame - and has done it even when his own intelligence agencies were telling him it wasn't true.
In fact, the Christian Science Monitor came up with warnings about an Iranian bomb dating all the way back to the late 1970s - when the Shah was still in power.
This has been so consistent over so long that I said a while back that the old riddle "What is always coming but never arrives?" now has two answers: "tomorrow" and "Iranian nuclear weapons."
So I'm in a funny position to comment because I was never convinced that the central conceit driving the whole sanctions-negotiations regime - the imminent Iranian bomb - was true.
So to me the negotiations appeared to amount to a group of mostly Western nations bullying Iran over its nuclear program without even any hard evidence that "nuclear" was an adjective for "weapons" rather than "energy," bullying which if it were directed against us, political leaders would denounce as the grossest affront to our national interests and rights and sovereignty and would provoke daily calls for war.
But in a way that doesn't matter now because we are sort of between the proverbial rock and hard place in that the failure of negotiations would have significantly increased the risk of a military attack on Iran, which is what a number of the agreement's opponents - and Israel - want the US to do.
So the success of the negotiations was clearly the better or more precisely less bad option available and so I have to be glad for what has been achieved and to say - I don't say it much, so cherish it - congratulations to Barack Obama.
The right wing, of course, is frothing with fury and full of predictions of catastrophe for the US or Israel or the whole world in some order or combination - none of which will come true unless they succeed in blocking the agreement, which would be likely to make Iranian leaders think hey, damn, we'd better get nukes for our own protection, these people be crazy, which would really ratchet up the prospects of bloody war of the sort the right wing has long wanted.
Asked his reaction to the new deal, House Majority leader John Boehner, Sir John of Orange, said "no deal is better than a bad deal."
In this case at least, no, it isn't. Even if this was a bad deal, which it actually is as it amounts to imperialist bullying, but even if it was a bad deal in the sense our leaders and our pundit class mean, still it is better than no deal. Let's hope enough people in Congress realize that.
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