By Paolo von Schirach
December 3, 2013
WASHINGTON – As Washington is enthralled with the political fallout of the Obamacare website debacle, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran may have pretty good reasons for feeling good about himself. Via the accord reached in Geneva –an accord that changes nothing regarding Iran’s underlying ability to produce nuclear weapons materials relatively soon– he managed to achieve two important policy objectives.
First of all, as a result of the Geneva “diplomatic success”, Iran is no longer a pariah state. Sanctions are no longer on the front burner. Diplomacy and normalization of relations between the West and Iran are now the new priorities. And you can imagine that there will be a powerful push coming from a variety of Western economic interests eager to resume business with Iran to normalize relations sooner rather than later. Beyond that –and this most critical– the Western powers have recognized implicitly at least that Iran has the right to enrich uranium. The open issue is by how much.
So, Washington gave away all this. And in return for what?
For nothing, ladies and gentlemen.
No substance from Iran
Expect absolutely nothing of substance from Iran. And this is because with the Geneva deal the Tehran government has changed the atmosphere to an extent that any US military strike targeting Iran’s illegal nuclear installations is a political impossibility. And this dramatic change of climate makes it far less likely that Israel, feeling threatened but isolated, will have the courage to act alone, without any political cover from Washington. So President Hassan Rouhani wins in two ways: 1) Now it is alright to talk to Iran; 2) Nobody will go to war to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Except for the (still powerful) pro-Israel lobby, nobody wants this.
To the extent that US policy-makers want to believe that more negotiations will get us somewhere, expect more negotiations, even though they will not yield the only worthwhile goal: namely the reduction of Iran’s nuclear program to a size and scope that is really compatible with civil use purposes.
Kissinger and Shultz warnings
Here I give you the short analysis. If you want a longer, more polished and extremely well presented version, please read the excellent and cogent commentary offered in a WSJ op-ed piece (What A Final Iran Deal Must Do, December 3, 2013) authored by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. There you can find a detailed analysis of the appalling weakness of the Western position and an equally cogent explanation as to why the Geneva interim deal got us essentially nothing of substance.
Smiles and diplomacy
As I said above, we got nothing. But Iran got implicit acceptance on account of their new softer image conveyed by a smiling President Rouhani who does not appear as he escaped from a lunatic asylum, like his predecessor did.
But that’s basically all we’ve got: a better looking new President of Iran who tells us we should be friends. As for his nuclear program, he will negotiate, of course. But he will not give up the right to enrich uranium. And this is precisely the issue.
This is a good deal, really
I suspect that the West, desperately in need of a deal, will simply rationalize defeat by saying that there will be IAEA inspections and so we shall be able to monitor Iran’s future behavior, and so on. In the end, Western leaders will convince themselves that this is the better course of action, because the alternative is a war with Iran they do not want.
Therefore, as we have already conceded, far in advance, that we shall not take any decisive action against Iran, they have won both the battle and the war. While we worry about Obamacare and millions of Americans without the health insurance coverage they thought they had, Iran will move towards its long term objective to acquire nuclear weapons.