Listen to the critics. No, not Martin Bashir. He’s too busy dumping on Sarah Palin (figuratively at least) to opine on nuclear proliferation.

Listen to the critics. No, not AIPAC or ADL. Their views on Iran are grounded more in Neville Chamberlain’s diplomatic failures and a world that ignored the Nazi Germany threat. So to engage in a diplomatic negotiation that (at least initially) ends up short of eliminating existing nuclear stockpiles and capabilities is seen as a dangerous capitulation.

Listen to the critics. No, not ECI or its Republican colleagues. Theirs is a world of absolutes. They absolutely hate Obama. This is Obama’s plan. See Obamacare. Enough said.

No, listen to the real critics, those with something to lose. Israel and the Saudis come to mind. This unhappy couple, whose only shared geopolitical alignment — dare I say agreement? —  is over an Iranian neighbor they both fear and mistrust, are hugely upset. Elimination of nuclear weapons capacity means exactly that, so sayeth the anointed and elected ones. Roll back is stasis. It only delays; it does not solve. Continue along this route and we’re going to have to eventually get our own nukes (Saudis) or have to use them (Israelis).

Here’s what generally troubles those who believe the only deal is a final one:

Enrichment above 5% will be halted. Yet, elimination  of the current stockpile of the really dangerous near-20% uranium is not. We get Iran’s commitment, but we don’t get Iran to take any irreversible steps.

Rolling back is only as good as the enforcement of the roll back. Do we really trust Iran to let the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspect whatever we want to inspect? And if it does, shouldn’t we worry more about what’s still hidden? Iran’s disclosure track record is more of a non-disclosure track record.

Whatever actions  Iran has committed to take at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak can easily be reversed in a matter of months.

Any reduction in sanctions loosens the Iranian noose and lessens Iran’s incentive to halt its nuclear activities.

Any official reductions in sanctions risks larger official and unofficial actions skirting those sanctions. Companies will seize any additional Iranian business opportunities.

This agreement furthers the image of the U.S. as a feckless tiger. Iran will use this as an opportunity to drive a wedge between the P5+1 (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China plus Germany) partners. What is now a united effort to pressure Iran will become much less so. The end result will be a nuclear Iran.

But listen to the P5+1:

These are only initial understandings. It’s like a potential Neville Chamberlain redo if things don’t go well.

The agreement is for six months. The P5+1, a country team that stand’s atop the world’s military standings, is now aligned on a tactic to reduce and eventually eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. Better to have that alignment over a short-term tactic you may disagree about, if the alignment extends to the ultimate goal you both share.

This is a diplomatic process that affords us the best opportunity to eventually get to a shared P5+1 and Saudi-Israeli goal — the elimination of Iranian military nuclear capacity.  This isn’t a war where the side that won dictates terms. We are trying to avoid a war by taking step by step actions that build mutual trust and recognize mutual political realities.

A successful nuclear proliferation agreement can eventually lead to more Iranian cooperation in Syria and the rest of the Middle East.

Now listen to this blogger:

Iran today is Israel’s largest military threat so it is only natural for Israeli skeptics to feel dangerously unsupported when countries who aren’t in the nuclear bull’s-eye tell Israel not to worry. The only “back” these countries reliably have is their own.  Their strategic interests aren’t necessarily Israel’s. Yet, there are prominent Israelis, including President Shimon Peres, who support the P5+1 effort. And just because the P5+1 and Israel don’t have all of the same strategic interests and red lines doesn’t mean that, ultimately, these diplomatic efforts won’t work to Israel’s greatest benefit. (Who knows? If this all works out we may even be able to negotiate changing the awkward  P5+1 nomenclature to  just the P6…. or the P3x2… or even the P 7-1….But we  digress.)

If, in six months, progress has not been made, the sanctions that have been reduced can be reinstated. The current tough oil, banking and finance sanctions remain in place and won’t need to be renegotiated by the countries that are upholding them.

Finally, Congress has an opportunity to move beyond its present dysfunction and edge its approval rate above single digits. But  its members must first reduce their  polemical tirades which, while often scoring irresistible political points, can threaten diplomatic results. A Congress that is clear on the type of tough legislation its Democratic and Republican members will pass, if this six month diplomatic effort is pronounced to be a failure, will align itself properly with the “trust but verify” Gorbachev-Reagan message the P5+1 is now sending. But to simply attack the Iranians as untrustworthy and to pronounce the effort as one destined to fail is to disserve the American people and the rest of the world.

We have given the Iranians an opportunity to turn back. Hopefully, they will seize it. If so, the effort to achieve diplomatic peace will have been a success. If not, the effort still provides the greatest opportunity to have the world united in whatever action it must then take. And that is undeniably better than Israel having to go it alone.

 

 

 

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