Senator Mitch McConnell said yesterday that “no serious person truly believes” that the US faces the dilemma of either accepting the “deal” with Iran or going to war over Iran’s nuclear program. This is a brilliant statement which is literally correct but irrelevant to the question now before Congress. Should the Congress approve the deal negotiated with Iran or find a “veto proof” majority necessary to reject it?
Of course, McConnell’s statement is correct. There is no requirement for the US to go to war with Iran in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons (even though Congressional leaders and the President have said the US should). And, the likelihood of war would be even lower if the US manned up and asked the country to pay “war taxes” and “ agree to a draft” as conditions to go to war with Iran. But that isn’t the question on the table.
The question Congress must address is “is the specific agreement reached with Iran (and accepted by the UN) in America’s best interest?
Opponents of this agreement have long said the agreement is not good enough. They demand “a better deal”. While “a better deal” is often described as containing a Iran pledge to acknowledge “Israel’s right to exist”, there is nothing in the current agreement which supports Iran’s current denial of Israel’s right to exist either. This agreement is silent on that issue.
There are several aspects of the proposed agreement, however, which make one wonder. For example, the agreement is a 10 year one. Why 10 years and not longer? Why accept a reduced number of centrifuges instead of requiring all centrifuges be destroyed? Why are inspectors not free to go anywhere in Iran at any time and look for possible Iran cheating?
All of these “whys” might make a better deal. Does it require a “serious person” to understand that? Hmmm.
The real world is far more complicated than Senator McConnell would let on. Iran has its views on what its best interests look like. The deal negotiated was the “best” deal available given the efforts of 6 world powers and Iran. The proper question is rather “is this agreement good enough to delay by 10 years Iran’s development of nuclear weapons”? And “a serious person” needs to look closely at the agreement and ask that question.
Alas, Senator McConnell is really asking for “serious persons” to look the other way and let the alliance of GOP Congress members and Israel stop any agreement.
Worse than just stopping the agreement, Senator McConnell has no clue as to how to obtain a better one. And even worse than that, with a rejection of this agreement, Iran is free to resume its nuclear development program immediately and head towards the ultimate deployment of nuclear weapons.
Presumably if this path is followed either Israel or the West will decide to intercede with military force.