A Tiny Silver Lining in the Otherwise Bad Iran Deal
I despise the July 14 Vienna deal because it
could do incalculable damage to the United States and its allies. That said, I
find a tiny silver lining in the possibility that it could, if everything goes
just right, end up hurting the Iranian regime more than its enemies.
The drawbacks of the "Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action" are so numerous that listing them requires more space than
the 159-page treaty itself. In very brief, the JCPOA offers the tyrants in
Tehran over the next 10-15 years more money, more legitimacy, more arms, and an
approved path to nuclear weaponry. As an
Israeli analysis sums up the problem, "the agreement unilaterally and
unconditionally grants Iran everything it has been seeking without any viable
quid pro quo."
To make matters worse, the deal includes no
provisions that Tehran stop supporting violent groups, end its aggressive plans
to conquer neighbors, eliminate the Jewish state, or deploy an electromagnetic
pulse weapon against the United States. Indeed, so confident are the mullahs
of their position, they never paused from expressing these bellicose intentions
and insist that Americans
remain their enemies. The country's tyrant, "Supreme Leader" Ali
Khamene'i, even published a book
during the negotiations about destroying Israel. In short, the deal makes war
with Iran more likely.
For its part, the Obama administration
shamefully dissembled about the terms of the treaty, used underhanded methods to
pass it through congress, and became lawyer and spin doctor for Khamene'i.
For these reasons, I am appalled by the
congressional Democrats who sheep-like went with Obama's folly, I join the 2/3s
of the American public that rejects the Iran deal, and I tremble at what
catastrophes the deal might bring.
More than 12,000 attended the "Stop Iran Rally" in New York
City on July 22, 2015.
As for that tiny silver lining: Assuming that
the Iranian leadership does not deploy its shiny new nuclear weaponry, the deal
could end up undermining it, and for two reasons.
First, greater contact with the outside world
and a higher standard of living might erode the regime's stability. The Soviet
and other examples suggest that the more the subjects of a totalitarian system
know and compare themselves to the outside world, the more dissatisfied they
become with the existing ideological and tyrannical order. (There's a reason
North Korea's population is kept so isolated.)
Changes have already started in Iran:
Expectations are "ballooning" for more prosperity and more freedom,
Jafari, an Iranian journalist. "With Iran's recent nuclear deal with
six world powers, many young Iranians are hoping for better days." And it's
not just the youth; "Depending on the strata, there is different emphasis
on contentious matters such as foreign investment, Iran's relations with the
world and the cultural, social and political atmosphere at home." Also,
just about everyone demands a stronger currency.
This Iranian 100,000 rial note is worth about US$3.34.
The regime resists making changes, however. It
political parties and arrests merchants who sell clothing
with the American flag; so much for freedom. It maintains a "resistance
economy" (meaning a domestic capacity so as to reduce vulnerability to
sanctions and not depend on the outside world); so much for consumerism.
President Hassan Rouhani, who is closely
associated with the nuclear deal, has tried to head off expectations by warning
that the road ahead will be long and painful: "We can import pain killers
immediately after the sanctions are removed by spending the unfrozen funds on
cheap imports. We can also use our resources for investment in the
manufacturing, agriculture, and services sectors. We opt for the latter."
Second, as Stephen Sestanovich of Columbia
University argued in a brilliant 1993
article explaining the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West's giveaways in
the détente process destabilized the Soviet regime, even though these
concessions allowed "the realization of all major Soviet military and
diplomatic desiderata" – rather like the Iran deal today. "The
infuriatingly inconsistent West turned out to be an opponent that Soviet
communism simply could not understand, much less subdue. In the end, the
democratic weakness that so many bemoaned may actually have helped to bring
victory in reach."
Ronald Reagan ridiculed the Jimmy Carter-Leonid Brezhnev kiss; the
West's back-and-forth vis-à-vis the Soviet Union wore the communists
Like the Soviet dictators, their Iranian
counterparts may also be undermined by Western inconsistencies and changes. This
possibility does not reduce my vehement opposition to the Iran deal but it does
add meager hope of long-term benefit, a goal that American, Israeli, Gulf Arab,
and other strategists should now exploit to the maximum.