As the historic Iranian nuclear deal made this week makes headlines everywhere as a triumph of diplomacy over warmongering, the conclusions we can draw from the Iranian negotiation table are ones that are not only contrary to the popular Israeli public opinion of Iran being a “bloodthirsty Jihadist state” but are also ones that enforce a concept many other world leaders have not been comfortable discussing – Binyamin Netanyahu has screwed up for the last time.
The swaths of patriotic conservatives that propelled Binyamin Netanyahu to his re-election have probably already begun beating their chests after reading that last sentence – but hear me out when I say that the once brilliant Israeli strategist (if my sanity may allow me to credit him with that title) has finally committed his gravest mistake- he has been wrong on how to best handle Iran this entire time.
Putting all of the culturally bigoted and racist notions of Iran aside (Iran is indeed a democracy that allows women to vote, provides the right to abortion , protects religious freedom, and the right to overturn Sharia law in spheres of private life) the fact that Iran has even been this cooperative with the international community – unlike other nuclear armed nations like North Korea – and the fact that Iran has agreed to sacrifice so much of its program for comparatively little, is astounding.
It’s not that Iran isn’t an ambitious and opportunistic political power in the Middle East – Bibi is completely right on that, and deserves credit where it is due – it’s the fact that Iran is a cornered political power that has faced enough threats to its sovereignty in the very recent past to justify its belligerency that Netanyahu cannot wrap his brilliant (*cough*) mind around.
Just as Israel has, time and time again, justified her heavy handedness in Gaza with the logic that Israel has been threatened enough times in the past by her Arab neighbours to act in self defence, so too does Iran have a similar excuse for its nuclear ambitions.
After losing democracy and being subjected to two decades of tyranny under a US puppet dictatorship in the 1950s, facing a decades long war with Iraq, which invaded Iran using US equipment, fighting several Saudi Arabia sponsored insurgencies throughout the early 2000s, and having had to endure Israeli bombing of research facilities in 1981 – Netanyahu must now finally open his eyes and see that it was peaceful diplomacy that actually achieved something with Iran, and not violent military interventionism.
The current framework is expected to have conditions that strip Iran of centrifuges that provide Iran a nuclear weapon production capacity, lift heavy economic sanctions and encourage trade with Iran, establish transparency of nuclear sites and boost international surveillance of the Iranian nuclear energy program – these are all things Netanyahu claimed would not be accomplished by the talks.
Benjamin Netanyahu is not a liar, he’s something far worse – an alarmist: someone who picks up bits of incomplete information and paints an apocalyptic picture that forces many to abandon their reason and pile up into a panicky huddle of fear mongers.
But perhaps Bibi’s biggest mistake in the entire Iranian nuclear negotiations process was opening Israel to international scrutiny and allowing questions like “Why doesn’t Israel also provide accurate and internationally verified information of its nuclear arsenal?” to be asked by major political powers, and his recent behaviour has already allowed Palestinian statehood motions to be tabled in France and allowed British parliamentarians to once again question Israeli sovereignty.
Iran has finally dropped its ambitions of developing nuclear weapons and is today, thanks to the efforts of the European Union, the Obama administration, and other nations involved in the strenuous talks, ready to design a framework that allows Iran to once more join the international community as a peaceful user of atomic energy. If this isn’t a precedent for peace that satisfies Bibi, I believe nothing on earth will.
As Ronald Reagan – the poster child of American conservatism everywhere – often said,
Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.