Diplomacy should be first

Published 12:10 pm Friday, July 17, 2015

The problem was that we, our allies in Israel, and the most developed nations in the world thought Iran wanted to build nuclear bombs, destabilizing the Middle East and possibly passing the technology on to enemies of the United States.

Iran claimed, and continues to claim, that the oil rich nation seeks only nuclear power plants, not bombs. It would be fair to say that, given our troubled relationship with Iran and Iran’s threats against Israel, that we and others had serious doubts about the nuclear power plant argument proposed by Iran.

So what was to be done about the situation? A couple of years ago the U.S. or Israel, or both, managed to damage greatly the Iranian Internet and its database for its nuclear development program, setting back the program perhaps for years.

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Then the U.S. brought together world powers, including China and Russia, not always US partners, to construct trade embargoes against Iran to encourage Iran to end its nuclear program. By all accounts the embargoes harmed the Iranian economy.

But Iran stubbornly continued its nuclear development program according to Intelligence gathered by several sources, in spite of the embargoes, frozen capital and no access to the world banking community.

Israel has strongly hinted that US military action was the only and next logical step. Israel seemingly thought that attacking Iran would not result in a war, though evidence would suggest the opposite, that a U.S. attack in Iran would be a declaration of war, throwing the entire Middle East into an even deeper conflict and once again placing the US in another Middle East war.

Several U.S. politicians also advocated a US Iranian attack, including Senators Cotton, Graham and McCain.

With that background the U.S. went to its coalition embargo partners and suggested that, with a united front, the coalition approach Iran with negotiations to trade ending the embargo with the end of any attempt to construct nuclear weapons. This week we see the results of those negotiations, a deal with Iran over 100 pages in length that saves the prospect of war and ends the development of Iranian nuclear weapons.

But critics remain and their questions must be answered. Will the Iranian government cheat on developing nuclear weapons? Is war the better choice? Will the agreement just postpone an Iranian bomb by a decade? Will Iran use the release of its monies to advance terrorism? Will republicans approve any deal made by Obama if the entire planet thinks the deal fair?

The president addressed all of these issues in his press conference of July 16, and while his answers may differ, the facts surrounding events would lead us to consider the following:

Yes, Iran may try to cheat and the agreement is aggressive enough to counter any attempt to do so. Read the fine print, the protections are in place.

Is war the better choice? How has that worked out for our economy? Or for Iraq, or Afghanistan? Will the American people accept another ME war?

It is possible that, after ten, or fifteen years, Iran will still develop a nuclear weapon and nothing can prevent that future accept changes within Iran in terms of Westernization or a devastating attack on Iran that destroys its government and capabilities.

Yes, Iran will doubtlessly use released funds, in part, to advance its political goals in the ME, goals the U.S. calls terrorism. But what we call terrorism Iran calls support for its Shiite brothers and sisters. Are the Shiite’s the only terrorists in the ME? Hardly, their Sunni adversaries like ISIS seem at least as prone to brutality as do the Shiites.

Finally, would Republicans set aside the best interests of the US, our coalition partners, and a reluctant Israel who will benefit from this agreement? Yes, as a party they have demonstrated they will set aside reason to oppose all things Obama. For an example simply note the 23 Republican governed states who refused free Medicaid expansion for their citizens in order to fight Obama.

No product of negotiation is perfect, for the very process is one of trading away some issues to gain core agreement, such is the nature of statecraft. This deal is a historic deal, bridging a US-Iranian divide going back 35 years and possibly influencing the ME for generations.

When war is the alternative, diplomacy should always be the first choice.

President Obama has formed what may become known as the Obama Doctrine, a policy of partnerships, diplomacy and a recognition that the U.S. can no longer see its foreign policy as the military solution first.

It is the right policy for the 21st century and this is the right agreement for our times.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.