Larry Snider

The Train has left the Station

On July 14, 2015 the Obama Administration and the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the completion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a 159 page document including five annexes that delineate the terms of an agreement to restrain Iranian nuclear development for ten years in return for the removal of economic sanctions as well as the gradual lifting of sanctions on military purchases as approved by the P5+1; permanent members of the United Nation Security Council plus Germany, (United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France).
Completion of this deal represents a fundamental change in the structure of the relationship between world powers and the leadership, governance and future of the Middle East.

It is a BIG deal and the President of the United States has persisted in promoting a Middle East policy that is no longer based on the presence of the superpower in the Middle East. The battles to be fought and won or lost must be undertaken essentially by the soldiers and the nations of the region with support from a United States that has decidedly taken a step away from the battlefield to lessen both its human-military and economic footprints in the region in the aftermath of unsuccessful engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The world is happy to fill the vacuum! There will be an international economic boom that has already begun in Iran with visits of multiple trade delegations with sanctions to be lifted and markets opening to its hungry 81 million people that will not only be busy buying but selling oil and other goods in enormous quantities. This reality will bring more than $100 billion in sanction relief and another matching $100 billion plus in sales revenue that will grow the Iranian economy to be virtually on par with the regions wealthiest nation; Saudi Arabia. There is no doubt either that billions of dollars will be funneled into Iranian military projects/proxies throughout the Middle East and around the globe. It is a stunning reversal of fortune for a country that has been an international pariah since 1979 and already claims that it controls four capitols in the Middle East.

I have read and am busy reading the best information I can on what Israel can do and how to respond and still find myself caught in the reality that on many levels the train has already left the station and cannot be stopped. First, it is important to recognize what the United States government has done, through an explication of the agreement on the White House’s own website:

There are many politicians in the United States as well as Israel that are seriously unhappy with the terms of the agreement, the idea of “managed access” to military sites, the fact that Iran is being accepted as a nuclear threshold state and will be getting rich as it awaits, (or continues its history of surreptitiously finding ways not to wait), to produce its own nuclear weapons. There are many benchmarks in the agreement and many reasons to turn the achievement of an agreement with Iran into a plausible opportunity to rewrite the future of the Middle East by bringing the Persian power in from the cold and addressing the overwhelming challenge of ISIS with its help and maybe only effectively through the direct involvement of its Quds Force. Of course Iran was and remains the original patron of Assad and Syria, which has something to do with the chaos that is spreading across and beyond the Middle East.

I read a smart piece in the Jerusalem Post; and another here in the Times of Israel; , outlining how the government and opposition must work together to oppose a bad deal as it comes before Congress for review in the next sixty or so days. I am certain that both Houses of Congress have enough votes to garner a majority against the Iran deal. As I understand it if that happens it will go to the President who has already promised to veto any effort to alter the agreement. At that point it would need two-thirds plus one to override the President’s veto. That is far less than unlikely because the central argument has been changed fundamentally from no deal is better than a bad deal to a deal is better than no deal. In the aftermath of the P5+1 bargaining it is highly improbable that the coalition would come back together to consider let alone implement a tangible replacement to this deal because of their own national interests in doing all kinds of business with Iran including many American corporations beginning with Boeing. Iran won and would be foolish to give the international community a second shot at improving the terms of the agreement in ways that would stifle its freedom.

To look squarely at the size and the scale of the challenge represents an essential first step toward moving strategically to answer the multiple issues that arise in the wake of this international bargain to return Iran to the family of nations with its pockets full of money and the means to garner additional fortunes and to do irreparable damage to Israel, the Middle East and the entire world.

About the Author
Larry Snider was President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace a non-profit based in suburban Philadelphia. Today he lives in New Jersey and is a Board Member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.