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Bad diplomacy, but hardly a disaster

Reader comment on item: The Geneva Agreement with Iran: A Foreign Policy Disaster

Submitted by Dan Simon (United States), Nov 25, 2013 at 01:53

While I agree that the Obama administration's headlong pursuit of a worthless deal was extremely foolish, I think it's wildly overstated to call it a "disaster". I see the consequences as follows:

  • The Iranian regime will continue its march towards nuclear weapons. That was always a given, and I doubt that the deal will affect it much one way or the other.
  • Neither the Americans nor the Israelis will attempt a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The benefits of such a move would be minimal, and the risks much higher than the potential rewards.
  • The sanctions will be lifted sooner rather than later. This is the main negative effect of the deal, and it's real and very unfortunate. But the truth is that the sanctions' lifetime was always limited--too many parties have too much financial interest in undermining them. I doubt they'd have lasted more than a couple of years even without this deal.
  • Iran emerges from this deal with considerably better short-term financial prospects, but its strategic situation otherwise little changed. It's mired in a horrible proxy war in Syria which is in the process of spilling over into Lebanon; its economy will get a boost from the end of sanctions but will inevitably resume the standard command-economy slide into destitution; and it must reckon with the ever-present threat of domestic discontent erupting into unrest.
  • While keeping the sanctions in place would certainly have been desirable, the most effective strategies for countering Iranian ambitions continue to be support for the regime's many passionate opponents--in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and of course Iran itself--and expansion of global oil production capacity, which ultimately has even more potential than sanctions to lower Iranian state revenues, the latter deriving overwhelmingly from oil sales. Of course,the Obama administration will be of zero help on either front, but fortunately, both paths can be followed quite independently of the current self-castrating White House.
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