The opposition to the deal arrived at between the P5+1 nations and Iran has been led by the Republicans, the Israeli government and its lobby in the US, and the neoconservatives, all of whom would like the US to go to war with Iran, which is a truly insane idea. (Interestingly, American Jews support the deal by larger margins than the American public overall, showing once again that the Israel lobby in the US reflects the view of the most extreme elements of the Israeli government more than that of American Jews, something we saw before in the run-up to the Iraq war.) The absurdity and shallowness of their statements about the deal reveal that they were opposed to any agreement that Iran would agree to because that would pre-empt war, or at least delay it.
Most telling was that opponents attacked even without having read the details of the deal, saying that it was awful and the Obama administration should have held out for a better deal without specifying what would make it better. It quickly became clear that what they really wanted was for the Obama administration to demand things in the negotiations that were deal-breakers and would force the Iranians to walk away from the negotiations.
Now former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren, who is in the Israeli parliament, has written an article titled What a Good Iran Deal Would Look Like where he also strongly criticizes the deal but actually gives suggestions for what would have made it better.
But Max Fisher analyzes the recommendations that Oren and others who oppose the deal make and says that they are “utter gibberish”.
There are three ways to read these sorts of criticisms. One is that Oren literally does not understand how agreements in general, arms control in general, or this deal in particular work, and has worked himself into a tizzy over his misunderstanding of the facts. Two is that Oren is knee-jerk ideologically opposed to any deal with Iran no matter what, even if that deal is on the merits great for Israel and tremendously effective. Third is that Oren actually does understand what’s going on here, and is making a cynical and dishonest argument against the deal so as to further his agenda of starting a war against Iran.
He lists Oren’s suggestions for what the P5+ 1 nations should have asked for.
- Iran stops sponsoring terrorist groups.
- Iran stops “threatening America’s Middle Eastern allies.”
- Iranian politicians are barred from saying things that could be construed as a “pledge to destroy” Israel.
- The population of Iran is restricted from saying the words “death to America.”
- There will be undefined “monitoring” of undefined Iranian conventional weapons.
Fisher critiques each one and says:
It would be nice if these things happened, and perhaps the US will continue to engage on them separately. But all of these are politically impossible and, in some cases, physically impossible. And, with the possible exception of the fifth item, none of these even makes the remotest sense as part of an arms control treaty.
Try to imagine a US negotiator actually asking for this. “The inspections procedures of uranium mines look good here, and we are satisfied with the limits on centrifuge research and development. But we require a binding commitment that no one in your political system will speak certain combinations of words about Israel anymore.” We might as well demand that Iran give us a unicorn that we can ride all the way to Candy Mountain.
As I noted earlier, Jon Schwarz points out that even the fifth item is absurd and was always a non-starter and no one in the discussions on the P5+1 side would have seriously considered even asking for it.
And what about the fact that there were other nations involved in the negotiations? What does Oren suggest if they, as would have been almost certain, refused to go along with these unworkable suggestions and decide to make separate deals with Iran? Fisher continues:
As for how the US would get Iran and the other negotiating world powers to agree to all this, to Oren’s credit he actually does provide an answer. His answer is that the United States should threaten full economic sanctions against the world powers, including the entire European Union, if they don’t go along:
Russia, China and others might have protested continuing sanctions on Iran but, in the end, it is highly unlikely that they would have forfeited access to America’s $17 trillion economy to cut oil deals with Iran.
This is indeed a specific proposal. But it is also insane. Oren is arguing that Obama should threaten to blow up the world economy, including America’s own economy, just to secure some vague improvements to the Iran deal.
What these people want is for the US to go to war with Iran on Israel’s behalf. All these absurd demands are just a way of creating pressure to do so.