Ever since the announcement of the nuclear accord between the P5+1 and Iran was made several weeks ago, two clear-cut, adversarial camps have coalesced. There are those who are vehemently in favour of the deal and those who are just as staunchly opposed to it. Both sides have vociferously made their cases public and have presented starkly contradictory interpretations of the agreement. Feverish campaigns have been waged, lobbyists have been rallied, experts have been summoned and a frenetic war of words has been fomented. Both troupes are using every means at their disposal to infiltrate and influence the collective consciousness and to sway public opinion.
The ferocity with which the two rival factions are appealing to the masses is unparalleled and the convictions on which their respective viewpoints are predicated run deep. Let us be clear: this impasse is not one of an ideological nature but, rather, a methodological one. Both advocates of the deal and those who are against it claim to be representing the interests of the free world. Furthermore, there is ubiquitous consensus among them that an impending war with Iran would be protracted and costly and, thus, should incontrovertibly be averted. Finally, it goes without saying that the cardinal objective of those who seek to ratify the deal and those who are endeavouring to shoot it down is to prevent the Islamic Republic from getting its hands on a nuclear weapon.
The intrinsic difference that underlies this debate is whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will achieve this goal or if it will instead be rendered utterly futile. This question in and of itself beseeches one to examine the foundational nature of the Iranian regime and then to consider whether the inspections program delineated in the deal is stringent enough to verify that Iran is not cheating its way to an atomic bomb. The Obama administration, which is at the helm of the pro-deal crusade, insists— obdurately—that the deal implements a framework that is inviolable and that cannot be breached without detection.
Moreover, the administration posits that the only alternative to the deal presently on the table is military action, in some manifestation or other. The opposing coalition, headed up by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is adamant that the agreement is more than porous enough to be manipulated and contravened. Additionally, it contends that even if Iran adheres to the terms that the deal lays out, it can still ultimately attain an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons once the provisions expire. The Prime Minister and those who share his position on the matter believe the deal does not do enough to stop Iran from not-so-surreptitiously pursuing its nefarious ambitions while simultaneously granting the regime greater international legitimacy. They also argue that the deal’s long-term implications are catastrophic and that once Iran becomes increasingly integrated into the international community and is imbued with hundreds of billions of dollars, there will be no remaining diplomatic and economic initiatives that can be exercised to bring it back to the negotiation table.
All alternate options will have been exhausted. Lastly, they counter the deleterious language that the Obama administration and its cohorts use to garner support for the deal and reject the false choice they put forth between acquiescing to the terms of the agreement or inexorably going to war, maintaining instead that there still remain far more viable options on the table. After going over the conditions stipulated by the deal and reviewing the profusion of commentary that has surfaced addressing both viewpoints, it is my opinion that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the vast spectrum of politicians, scientists, pundits and citizens of the global community who agree with him have demonstrated a far greater worldly acuity than those who unconditionally stand by the deal. They have surgically carved up the agreement and exposed its many deficiencies. They have repudiated the key mainstays on which the deal stands with incisive analysis and have refuted the many mendacious fabrications the Obama administration has churned out and promulgated. They have also articulated with a consistency and openness unmatched by the pro-deal camp the dangers that Iran poses to international security and how this deal will facilitate Iran in becoming a regional hegemon.
The assertions I have made above are bold and certainly in need of substantiation. I will use the following paragraphs to expound my position and to properly elucidate why I believe this is the most reasonable conclusion to be reached. Firstly, I want to dismantle and debunk some of the arguments that the Obama administration has used to make its case for the deal, many of which I believe do a disservice to those who are seeking credible information in order to formulate responsible and well-grounded opinions on the matter. For starters, a large number of the disquisitions in support of the deal are constructed using basic logical fallacies. There are the obvious ad hominem attacks that have been unrelentingly directed towards anybody who stands in opposition to this deal, in which they are wantonly labelled warmongers and traitors. The administration has condoned, by not condemning, the demonization of anybody who dares to challenge its evaluation. Obama has truculently maligned politicians, institutions, journalists, scholars and activists who hold the genuine contention that this is a bad deal. He has ostracized and chastised the Israeli government, alienated members of his own party who question the deal’s credence and vindictively cast doubt on the motives of those who disagree with him. He has used tacit language to veil defamatory smears about dual loyalty and has propagated and fuelled the inherently anti-Semitic charge that Jewish American politicians are in the pockets of powerful pro-Israel lobbying groups. He has also slandered those very groups for their influence in American politics, even though he stood before them at one time beguiling them with flowery pledges and affirmations of his unwavering commitment to the security and prosperity of Israel. That was, of course, when it suited him. Then there is the false dichotomy that Obama continually employs to make his case for the deal, in which he says that the only other option is war. The insinuation, by extension, is once again that anyone who does not support the ratification of the deal axiomatically supports war. Obama also routinely uses observational selection to make his case, emphasizing the idealistic outcome he believes the deal will produce while refusing to recognize the cataclysmic state of affairs it could precipitate— all the while using oblique terminology to portray sceptics as being cynical hardliners. Finally, the ridiculous slippery slope reasoning of the administration manages to permeate every briefing, congressional hearing, interview and speech that takes place. The calculated supposition that the world will blame Israel for the disintegration of a diplomatic solution if the deal falls through, or the invocation of rockets flying over Tel Aviv that John Kerry uses to pressure American Jews into supporting the deal, are instantiations of the shrewd and disingenuous ways in which the backers of the deal are getting their points across. Of course, one could pedantically go over all the rhetoric being used with a fine comb and underscore the plethora of other examples of fallacy— such as the appeal to fear, the appeal to popular sentiments, the appeal to authority and the appeal to consequences— that pervade the Obama administration’s solicitations for support, but that is not the primary focus of this article. Rather, it is just a means with which to evidence how a healthy and necessary debate is being pugnaciously stymied and extinguished by those who possess a militant resolve to get the deal passed.
Instead of getting bogged down in the semantics of the deal, it is far more important to judge it based on its fundamental merits. While diplomats fought intransigently over the incorporation or omission of individual words and phrases from the final text of the agreement and hailed these lexical decisions as monumental triumphs, it is of greater significance to understand the overarching tenets of the deal than it is to get lost trying to navigate the intricacies of its convoluted jargon. The character of the accord is revealed not through its tactful language and meticulous composition but, rather, through the intimations that seethe between the lines and the dire reality of the present situation that remains utterly disregarded.
So, let’s now go through some of the deal’s most disconcerting failings and summarize why the deal, as a whole, fails disconcertingly. For starters, if the United States’ diplomatic team negotiated from a position of strength and principle, as both Obama and Kerry keep perfunctorily repeating, why did they not even endeavour to enforce, let alone bring up, the three principled preconditions that would have verified— at least to some extent— Iran’s legitimate interest in making and adhering to a pragmatic agreement: the emancipation of the four U.S. hostages, full disclosure about any and all illicit activity pertaining to the development of nuclear weapons in recent years and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist? Not only was no attempt made to raise even one of these reasonable demands, which a strong and united United States’ delegation could have easily inked into any deal with Iran, but the Obama administration actually spent its time and energy concentrating on coming up with reasons why the aforementioned prerequisites were inappropriate. Instead of focusing its resources on putting up a fight for its allies and its citizens, the Obama administration opted, in pig-headed fashion, to do Iran’s lawyering work on its behalf and to convince the people of the free world that such terms need be left out of the talks altogether. The attributes that first come to mind when appraising such a disgraceful sham are most certainly not “strong” and “principled”. Apparently, it would not be suitable, constructive or relevant to request the liberation of American civilians, who will now almost surely remain captive in Iran for the rest of their lives, or to mention to Iran that its enmity towards Israel and its anti-Semitic rhetoric need to be toned down. It was, however, deemed pertinent and conducive to the talks to discuss lifting the trade embargoes on intercontinental ballistic missiles. Kerry also insisted that Iran was not obligated to divulge any information regarding the illegal undertakings it had carried out in its clandestine facilities, believing that Iran should be judged according to its future actions rather than its past ones. Not only does this exempt Iran from its covert violations of international law and endow it with a clean slate, it also completely endangers the verification process and calls into question how we will ever be able detect prohibited operations in the future if we do not know how and where they were conducted in the past. At this point, one is compelled to ask what the United States even had to gain going into these talks if its negotiators could not even muster up the will to call to attention some of its most basic demands.
There are several more rudimentary queries the administration has to answer for. Firstly, why were Israel and the Gulf nations not included, even in some small capacity, in the negotiations? At the very least, they could have been properly consulted and had their concerns taken seriously before the negotiators signed off on the deal. None of the six nations represented at the table alongside Iran are even in geographical proximity to its borders. None of them are relentlessly targeted and attacked by Iran’s pernicious proxy militias. In an apparent conciliatory move, the Obama administration subsequently proffered the Arab states and Israel a larger weapon supply. This is both comical in its sheer paradoxical absurdity and alarming. It is a self-evident admission that the United States has made its allies in the region more vulnerable and is now trying to mollify their very real and exigent trepidations. It is virtually equivalent to saying “We have indeed put you in much greater peril, but here are some weapons you can use to fend it off.” Would any American citizen consent to this agreement if Iran and its proxies loomed at their borders?
The entire premise of snapback sanctions is too an unmitigated disaster in reasoning. The deal states that once sanctions are snapped back with the consensus of the P5+1, Iran is officially exempted from abiding by the terms of the agreement. As some critics have already pointed out, this gives Iran a “snapback nukes” capability as it can instantly resume with its nuclear program. This means that unless there is a grave and flagrantly manifest infraction of the deal, the P5+1 will not reinstitute sanctions. The Iranians can easily use this to their advantage. They can perform incremental infringements without fear of retribution, as the threat of the deal falling apart altogether will be too unsettling a risk for the P5+1 to take. In addition to that, the idea of snapback sanctions being a viable deterrent in preventing Iran from cheating on the deal is ludicrous. It is absolutely outrageous. As Obama himself stated in his address to the American public just last week, sanctions are not a plausible way of forcing Iran to be complacent. How, then, can threatening them with sanctions, after they’ve already received a windfall of cash, be considered an effective disincentive?
Likewise, take a moment to contemplate the farcicality of the Iranian regime’s intentions. Why is Iran, an oil superpower with some of the largest untapped oil reserves in the world, so hell-bent on having a nuclear program in the first place? And if Iran is so enthusiastic about complying with the deal, why is it so implacable when it comes to receiving notice 24 days in advance of an inspection? Proponents of the deal will argue mulishly that any potential radioactive stockpile would leave behind discernible traces but they fail to answer the most straightforward, elementary question of all: if Iran is so keen about coming clean and being transparent about what it does in its “peaceful” nuclear facilities, why not allow inspectors anytime, anywhere inspections? If there is nothing to hide then why forestall the process at all? It is incomprehensible. It is equally as confounding that the United States and the other powers at the bargaining table made such a stunning concession; a clear breach of the negotiating precepts that they themselves laid out. Following this line of questioning, one must also wonder why the Iranian regime is being given the prerogative to continue carrying out research and development on its advanced centrifuges. Peaceful, clean nuclear energy programs do not require this faculty. In the same vein, countries that are ostensibly undergoing deep-seated policy reform and are supposedly forging a more moderate and tolerant path forward do not require ICBMs. On the other hand, countries that seek to inflict damage of an enormous magnitude on their enemies overseas require precisely these missiles, on which they can mount fissile material. As a matter of fact, the chief purpose of an intercontinental ballistic missile is to carry atomic bombs across vast expanses of land and sea in order to drop them on long-range targets. Given that the Iranian regime refers to America as the “Great Satan” and chants “Death to America” on a regular basis, it is quite easy to infer what its likely target would be. Iran will be able to legally and openly manufacture these weapons in eight years time as a result of this deal. In case you were wondering, there is not a single conceivable peaceful purpose for the procurement of these missiles.
By failing to adequately tackle the valid concerns listed above, and by brushing off many other tenable reservations about the deal, the Obama administration has not assured anyone that the stability and security of the international community and its citizens is not in jeopardy. Furthermore, by immediately submitting the document to the United Nations Security Council for approval, the democratic process was egregiously flouted and undermined and the people of the free world were not given their chance to express their apprehensions. Iran is now already sanitizing its military sites and eradicating evidence of any wrongdoing and the primary actors on the world stage are remaining entirely mute. Reports are emerging that Iran may have actually been granted permission by the IAEA to provide its own soil samples from its most suspect facilities and, once again, the so-called leaders of the world’s great democracies are too impervious to reason to utter a single word. Russia is preparing to go forth with its transfer of S300 anti-aircraft projectiles to Iran— which is a blatant transgression of the arms embargo that is actually still in place—and Obama, worried about not tearing the tenuous fabric of the freshly signed deal, is silent. And despite the fact that he continues to insist that, if need be, we can take drastic measures against Iran in the future without fear of greater retaliation, the reality of the situation is that billions upon billions of dollars will have inundated Iran’s economy and without a doubt been funnelled into Revolutionary Guard and used to bolster its military. This deal is not contingent on the Iranian regime changing; on the contrary, it only serves to embolden its current behaviour, empower its global network of terror and perpetuate its oppression of the Iranian people. As much as I would like to believe that profound change will be inspired within Iran’s borders, I think it would be sadly naïve to bank on it. Obama’s foreign policy has failed consistently and unwaveringly— it imploded in Syria, was a nightmare in Iraq, completely backfired in Yemen, bombed in Libya, crashed and burned in Egypt and was an unequivocal disaster in Ukraine— and if history provides us with any premonition of the future, it is that it will fail this time round too. Only the stakes are much higher. The man who once spiritedly celebrated the audacity of hope has demonstrated a lamentable lack of audacity and has offered us no hope. In his obsessive drive to hammer out a legacy for himself, Obama has betrayed us all. This deal makes a frivolous mockery of the values we hold dear.