A Deal With Iran: Blog Reax

Obama’s remarks last night:

Fred Kaplan approves of the agreement:

The Iranian nuclear deal struck Saturday night is a triumph. It contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest. Had George W. Bush negotiated this deal, Republicans would be hailing his diplomatic prowess, and rightly so.

Juan Cole weighs in:

The only question here is whether the agreement is in American interests. It is. Ever more severe sanctions increasingly risked war with a country three times as big geographically and 2.5 times as populous as Iraq (the American occupation of which did not go well). That danger is now receding, which can only be a good thing. And if negotiations and UN inspections can indeed succeed in allowing Iran a civilian enrichment program while forestalling a weapons program, it is a breakthrough for the whole world and an important chapter in the ongoing attempts to limit proliferation.

Jonathan Tobin, predictably, is against the deal:

It must be conceded that the chances that this agreement will make it less likely that Iran will eventually reach its nuclear goal are not zero. It may be that Iran has truly abandoned its goal of a weapon, that it will negotiate in good faith and won’t cheat, and that there are no secret nuclear facilities in the country even though just about everyone in the intelligence world assumes there are. If so the world is safer, and many years from now, the president will go down in history as a great peacemaker worthy of a Nobel Prize. But since that scenario rests on a series of assumptions that range from highly unlikely to completely far-fetched, the only possible reaction to the deal from sober observers must be dismay. In exchange for measures that only slightly delay Iran’s nuclear progress that don’t come even close to putting them into compliance with United Nations resolutions on the nuclear question, the administration has begun the process of lifting sanctions on Iran. Even more seriously, it has, in effect, normalized a rogue regime that is still sponsoring international terrorism, waging war in Syria, and spewing international sanctions, while effectively taking any threat of the use force against Tehran off the table.

Jennifer Rubin, no surprise, also opposes the deal:

The loopholes and fallacies are huge and obvious. Iran must only dismantle connections to enrich over 5 percent (“dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.”), allowing these to be plugged right back in after six months.  Arak was not set to go online until next year anyway so promises not to move it online are meaningless. And most of all, the time and effort it takes to enrich from 5 to 20 percent is slight compared to enrichment up to 5 percent which is unabated.

That the deal could have been worse is of little consolation. What matters is what it fails to do and that it points the way toward consent to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

Mitchell Plitnick pushes back on these sort of complaints:

There is only one reason to oppose this deal and that is that, whether with weapons of war or sanctions that will lead to a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe in Iran, an all-out attack on Iran with the hope of regime change is what this is really about. The conclusion is inescapable—if you oppose this deal, you are looking for a lot more than the neutralization of Iran’s ability to construct a nuclear weapon.

Christopher Dickey’s take:

There may yet be a war intended to bomb Iran back to the pre-nuclear age, and maybe even to try to change the regime. But it’s ever less likely that the United States will fight it. As the polls show, Americans don’t see why they should, and if this negotiating process moves forward, there’s no reason they ought to.

Uri Friedman looks beyond the immediate agreement:

[W]hat’s arguably a bigger deal, and what’s been overshadowed in all the coverage of the haggling over this interim pact, is just how momentous these last several months have been for U.S.-Iranian relations. Since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office this summer, the two countries have engaged in the highest-level talks since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, first through a meeting between Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry, and then through a phone call between Rouhani and President Obama (the two had previously exchanged letters). Zarif has also pioneered a new approach to speaking directly to the American people, turning to social-media outlets like Twitter and YouTube to defend, in English, Iran’s positions at the Geneva negotiations.

The way the news cycle works these days, we take it for granted that Kerry is now in Geneva celebrating a diplomatic breakthrough with Zarif. But the frenzied diplomacy this fall has truly been exceptional.

Michael Crowley considers the possible longterm consequences:

It’s worth thinking about the long path Obama has trod to get here. When he ran for president in 2008, Obama’s rivals warned he couldn’t be trusted to deal with a nuclearizing Iran. Hillary Clinton would brand him “irresponsible and naïve” for saying he’d meet with Iran’s leader. John McCain later called that a sign of his “inexperience and reckless judgment.”

Six years later, Obama’s Iran policy has the potential to reshape the Middle East and define his legacy. If it proves a success, historians might compare it to Richard Nixon’s breakthrough with China.

Martin Longman adds:

Those who preferred Obama to Clinton because of the distinction in their positions on the authorization to use military force in Iraq now have something concrete to point to, to argue that electing Obama would lead to a more peaceful world than would electing Clinton.

Ben Smith and Miriam Elder’s bottom line:

Now [Obama has] earned the foreign policy legacy he campaigned on. And now perhaps the Norwegians can feel a bit more confident about their hasty reward.