Thursday, July 16, 2015

Iranian Nuclear Deal

I caught a bit of President Obama's news conference regarding the recently signed nuclear deal with Iran.  I found it very interesting on a number of fronts.

First, I happened to catch a question asked by a general, don't recall his name.  His question, to paraphrase, was, Why are you content to let Iran hold 4 American hostages?  I am often amazed at the lack of respect this president has received, from questioning his birth straight through to claiming he hates America.  But here is a general, a man, I assume who may not demand his troops to like him but does demand their respect, publicly disrespecting his commander in chief.  Amazing.  To Obama's credit, he chastised the general telling him he should know better than to assume that the President of the United States is content with American hostages, then rephrased the general's question as, why did we not link the release of those hostages with this deal, a much more reasonable question, which the president then answered.

Anyway, before posting I googled pros and cons of the Iranian nuclear deal.  I found the following article, from a source that I generally find at odds with my own perspective.  See below.

Perhaps the question we should debate first is, why negotiate a deal with Iran at all?  One easy answer is that we negotiated with the "evil" Soviet Empire through both the SALT and START treaties.  In the name of mutual assured destruction we engaged in a decades long cold war that happily never ended in destruction.  Was it the treaties, some ratified, some not?  Was it the process of negotiation whereby the two sides came to know each other a bit better?  My point is that diplomacy is a far better way to get one up on your enemy than open warfare. 

The deal itself is full of compromises, no friend to the GOP presidential field, many of whom have already vowed to defeat or undo the deal before even knowing all the details.  The main points of the deal, as are understood currently, is that we have traded the relaxation of economic sanctions for the legal right to inspect Iran's nuclear facilities.  I thought it interesting that Obama emphasized the legal part of this deal, as it has always seemed his goal to get a signed treaty that can be used to justify future sanctions or other actions with legal backing, should Iran violate the treaty. 

The down side is that the inspections do not appear to be spontaneous, in that the inspectors can not show up without notification.  Also, by eventually relaxing economic sanctions, there may be more Iranian money to fund actions against United States interests, especially Israel.  From what I can gather, these are two of the more important details that opponents are unhappy about.

Curiously, I wondered what the viewpoint of the Iranian citizen was of this accord.  Of course, we have long ago labeled Iran as an enemy, but the fact is that before the revolution in the late 1970's, Iran was very westernized.  It had a vibrant middle class, with an emphasis on education and advanced degrees.  While this middle class has been hit hard by the policies of the various Ayatollahs, there are still millions of Iranians who would prefer a normalization of relations with the western world, especially in the areas of commerce.  My understanding is that they are for any treaty that presents Iran as a willing partner with the world in solving problems.

Unfortunately, Iran also has a large percentage of people who are hardliners.  Who hate America and consider her their enemy.  Like those in America who believe that only with force can we "control" Iran, there are those in Iran who believe that only with force can they fight to retain their sovereignty.
Considering that those extremists in Iran see some American politicians and pundits who blithely talk about "nuking" them, it is no wonder that we are not to be trusted.  And, of course, the GOP reps and senators who some time ago sent Iran's leader a letter telling them that Obama shouldn't be trusted, doesn't help. 


Obama said this treaty isn't necessarily about trust, admitting that it is more of a hope that Iran will comply with its tenants while leaving America and its allies with a legal document against which to hold Iran accountable should they renege. 

But really, how far can we trust a country that we call our enemy, and they us?  From that respect then, perhaps the only basis for negotiation is to make sure that both sides get some of what they want.  Mutually assured satisfaction (MAS) if you will.  It seems to me that only when both sides have something to gain can a baseline agreement be reached.  After all, we wouldn't have signed a treaty that allowed for no inspections, why would we expect Iran to sign one that did not relieve sanctions? 

Now, I know that many people are against this treaty precisely because Obama is for it, but some truly do not like it on its face value.  That is fair, but why is it that they fail to admonish the old saying, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?  Perhaps in the long run this is a good treaty, or at least a good start.




  1. The question was asked by Major Garrett, a newsman. He is not in the military. That is his name.

  2. Tom,

    Thanks for the correction. Do you know what paper or organization he represents?

    Also, nice seeing you at the store. Looking good! Like your mom, you are aging well.

  3. Major Garrett is the CBS White House correspondent.