Friday, August 14, 2020

You'll Miss It When It's Gone (Iran Deal Edition)

The UN Security Council today declined to extend an arms embargo against Iran, over furious protests by the United States, Israel, and Arab Gulf States. The main opponents of the arms embargo were, naturally, Russia and China. But several European nations -- France, Germany, and the UK -- expressed hesitation, claiming that the United States was no longer in a position to credibly push for sanctions on Iran after it withdrew from the JCPOA (aka "the Iran Deal").

Fancy that. And speaking of the JCPOA, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in its own statement denouncing the UNSC's vote, urged that Security Council consider implementing the JCPOA's "snapback" provisions as an alternative means of blocking Iran from advancing its nuclear weapons program. An interesting idea -- if only a certain country hadn't detonated the JCPOA framework! It's almost like the Iran Deal contained important leverage and hard-won commitments even from countries not otherwise inclined to care about Iranian aggression, and when the United States unilaterally abandoned the deal we lost a ton of international credibility that we can't easily earn back.

Many, many people warned against the reckless decision to back out of the JCPOA, precisely on the grounds that doing so would ruin the ability of the United States to credibly pursue any sort of robust diplomatic containment strategy against Iran going forward. And now we're seeing the real fruits of the Trump administration's decision. Way back when the Iran Deal was initially being debated, I noted that one of the most persuasive arguments I read in its favor was the experts who observed that every time we reject or abandon an "Iran deal", the one we're able to get two or three years later is far worse than the one we left behind. The common cycle is a deal is proposed, conservatives say "how dare you give everything away to the terrorist regime of Iran", we abandon the deal, and then next time around ... we're in an even worse negotiating posture than we were before and what once looked like "giving everything away" now is an unattainable fantasy.

We are, as always, apparently doomed to keep reliving history. Heckuva job, Trumpie.

No comments: