Friday, May 25, 2018

Really? That's All You've Got?

This professor's rebuttal of 4 "bad arguments" to ditch the Iran nuclear deal is totally unconvincing. Let's explore, shall we?

Bad Argument 1: Focus on the Past Instead of the Future

The bad past is indicative of how bad the future built on that foundation would be. The future is the whole point of getting people to accept how badly the deal was negotiated. All the up-front benefits to Iran were seemingly intentional to allow writers like this professor to argue that while the past was bad, we have to stay the course to get the Unicorn of the future benefits. They shouldn't get away with this, and wouldn't have if the agreement had been submitted to the Senate as a treaty.

The argument that slowing down Iran with the deal is better than getting out of the deal ignores that the deal actually requires the West to improve Iran's nuclear technology during the life of the deal, which in the long run may speed Iran up. It also ignores the possibility of doing something actually effective in stopping Iran rather than pretending the deal is actually good.

And pulling out of the deal ends American complicity in the deal that paves the way for Iran to go nuclear. Further, while the ban on Iran having nukes doesn't expire, the ability of the world to have access to Iran to make sure does expire. And the inspections are so limited and qualified that all the IAEA can say is that they haven't seen Iran violate the deal in the limited areas it can inspect. That is not the same as saying Iran is abiding by the deal. Honestly, this "bad argument" is anything but bad.

Bad Argument 2: Ignore Non-American Parties to the Deal

I'm not sure what the point of citing the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 as evidence of critics thinking the deal is a bilateral US-Iran deal since the 1922 agreement was multinational, too.

What critics ignore this fact? But the deal is really an Iran-America deal because Iran is the nutball party that wants nukes and America is the only major power with the desire and power to stop Iran. The rest are supporting players who just don't matter. If not, why is Iran complaining? Shouldn't they be saying "So what? We lost 1 but we retain 6!" Russia, China, and the EU basically don't like America and can be considered Iranian allies on this issue. Germany would never fight to stop Iran if Iran goes nuclear and just wants to sell stuff to Iran. And Britain and France know that America would do the heavy lifting if Iran cheats, so why not get the financial benefits while they can?

Heck, none of them would be higher than third on the list for Iranian targets and surely America would take care of the problem by then, they likely reason.

The fact that Obama blew the multilateral sanctions America had achieved to get the horrible deal is to be regretted but is no reason not to start the process over, accepting that unilateral American sanctions will be less effective. But in time they may grow. Or a lesser amount of pressure could work in current and future circumstances.

Really, if you borrow too much money to ever pay back; you can regret borrowing so much and declare bankruptcy to start your life over. (See? I can use the author's pointless analogy and turn it back on him!)

Bad Argument 3: Assume Iran Will Capitulate

Obviously opponents of the deal assume Iran will be defeated in some way without the deal and prevented from getting nukes! Or that the situation will at least be less bad. Just as obviously, the proponents of the deal believed Iran would "capitulate" in the deal by not going nuclear. I'm going to side with the opponents of the deal on this one, no problem.

His worry that war will result if Iran gets the bomb outside of the deal just glides over his assumption that under the deal Iran won't get the bomb. That's the whole point of those who oppose the deal. The deal doesn't stop Iran and at best delays Iran. Indeed, the author defends the deal on that very point under point one by arguing that the deal at least delays Iran's progress! Which is it? Does the deal stop Iran or doesn't it?

I also am a little amused that he says under Trump war is now the likely result of pulling out of the deal. Obama himself warned that war was the only alternative to his deal notwithstanding the fact that he, Obama, was president at the time! So Obama was arguing, "Stop me before I kill?" Really?

The point is that there will be a war between America and Iran of some sort if Iran goes nuclear. Does the deal stop Iran from going nuclear? Even the author relies in part on the idea that the deal at least delayed (on paper--but maybe not in reality depending on cheating and how much Iran learns during the deal) Iran's nuclear weapons status. So at best there is no war right now under the deal.

And you must admit, Trump campaigned against wars abroad and says he wants a better deal.

But if Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia follows. Egypt follows. Turkey follows. Maybe the UAE follows. And add that to Israel and Pakistan who have nukes. Does nobody think this is a problem that might lead to a nuclear war, even if "just" a local one? A problem that accelerates with Iran getting nukes?

I don't assume Iran capitulates outside of the deal and gives up nukes. What I assume is that Iran--which didn't even admit it had a nuclear weapons program--didn't capitulate under the deal to give up nukes. What I assume is that outside of the deal we have a better chance of correcting the horrible mistake that the 2015 deal was.

Also, the author makes a side trip into the Iraq War, asserting that poor Saddam had to prove a negative--that he didn't have WMD. That description is misleading. We knew what Iraq had acquired to build WMD and the 1991 ceasefire deal required Saddam to account for that material and equipment so we knew he did not hide it. Saddam could have done that fairly rapidly. Saddam refused to do that, and in fact impeded inspectors in an attempt to bluff that he had WMD to deter America (and Iran, for that matter) until we tired of the inspections games and went home under pressure from the sainted international community to give the poor guy a break and move on.

Bad Argument 4: Impending Democratic Revolution

I don't know if a revolution in Iran can save us from nutball nukes. I do know that a lot of Iranians hate their government and that we have refused to help them. I do know that I'd worry far less about a non-nutball Iran with nukes. And I'd hope that a free Iran might decide that using funds for development of the economy rather than nukes or regional aggression might be better, if given the choice.

And I do know that the pro-deal people had their own delusions about the revolutionary effects of the 2015 deal. The Obama administration assured us and our allies that the Iranians would use the financial windfall for domestic investments when in fact a whole lot of that money--far more than Obama people told us--went to fomenting more violence in the region. And President Obama himself said the deal could turn Iran into a responsible and successful regional power! Ah the powers of Hope and Change exported to mullah-run Iran! How glorious the future looked! Until that mayhem and violence was ramped up by Iran instead, including partnering with Russia to further destroy Syria.

Oh, and I enjoyed the author's reasoning that since Iran endured the pain of the Iran-Iraq War that Iran can endure anything Trump does with new American sanctions (but say, didn't the glorious multinational sanctions drive Iran to capitulate to the glorious deal? Never mind, I'm sure I'm confused about the nuance of his defense of multinational sanctions under his bad argument 2 rebuttal). But the Iran of the 1980s is different than the Iran of today.

Sorry to introduce nuance.  But maybe enduring losses to defeat an invader when your people are still hopped up on revolutionary fervor doesn't translate into enduring pain to get nukes when revolutionary fervor is in the rear view mirror for most Iranians who may have noticed that America didn't invade them for the many decades Iran has lacked nukes. Maybe the professor can explain why the Russians endured 30 million dead to win the eastern front in World War II but the Russian leaders are worried about the effect on popular support for losing even hundreds of soldiers to win in Ukraine or Syria?

So maybe a revolution will save us. Maybe not. But I don't count on a revolution saving us.

So strike four, I say. Thanks for playing professor.

I don't assume getting out of the deal will solve the problem. I just know that staying in the deal guaranteed we'd get the problem the horrible deal was in theory supposed to solve.

And probably sooner than we feared. Heck, I didn't even explore whether Iran outsourced key elements of their nuclear program to their North Korean friends, where the IAEA can't even carry out flimsy inspections as they do in Iran.