Over the summer, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry facilitated an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. The United States, Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France made a deal with Iran to reduce the economic sanctions and establish standards to monitor the Iranian nuclear program.
The Iran Deal opens a new chapter in United States-Iran relations that have been dismal at best for over half a century. The deal shows an opportunity for greater cooperation and a chance to bring the regional power of Iran into the global political mainstream.
For over half a century, the United States and Iran have had a troubled relationship. In the 1950s, the United States overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and installed the Shah (“king” in the Iranian language).
Like other United States installed dictators, the Shah lived a life of luxury while his people endured political repression. The Shah reigned until the late 1970s when the Ayatollah and his supporter overthrew the Shah and founded the Islamic Republic that is currently Iran. The U.S. embassy was stormed and the Americans there were held hostage for 444 days. In the 1980s, Iran was designated a “state sponsor of terror” by the State Department.
In short, the two countries have a lot of bad feelings toward each other.
Now on to the current matter at hand, why are people opposed to a possible normalization of relations between two countries with a bad past?
Critics argue that the removal of sanctions will allow Iran to fund terrorist activities. Sounds like a credible argument until one takes into account the state of Iran’s economy. When sanctions went into effect in 2012, their economy shrank by 6.8 percent in one year.
To put this in perspective, the U.S. economy contracted 5.1 percent in two years during the Great Recession and its after effects. With their economy in shambles and with limited growth, the Iranian government wants the sanctions removed as soon as possible.
If not, they worry the economic trepidation will cause them to lose their power in government. Restoring the economy will restore feelings of legitimacy to the Iranian government.
In regard to supporting terrorists, it is worth noting Iran’s stance on ISIS.
Ignorant pundits might try to cast Iran and ISIS in the same mold. In fact, Iran is helping with the ground war against ISIS. Iran, a Shia Islamic country, is supplying the Shia militants fighting ISIS.
Iran has reached out to its Sunni Islamic neighbors to take on ISIS. Iran is trying to turn a new leaf in foreign policy, and the nuclear deal at hand provides a greater opportunity to bring Iran into the international system.
The goal of the deal was to prevent a rogue Iran from having a nuclear weapon. The deal establishes limits on Iran to use uranium for nuclear power instead of weapons. International inspections are required to keep tabs on this. The deal is supposed to last 10-15 years.
Some critics say this is only delaying Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. They forget one crucial aspect - Iran joining the international community.
Over the lifetime of the deal, Iran will be drawn into the international community. As inspections are carried out, the supply of uranium is controlled and Iran joins in solving regional crises like ISIS, Iran becomes less the threatening and “crazed” rogue state and more a “rational” member of the community that abides by the international order.
By bringing Iran to the table and treating Iranian people with diplomatic respect, they are more likely to act in line with the international norm. By the end of the deal’s lifetime, Iran will have enjoyed the benefits of act well within the international community’s standard both economically and geopolitically.
After seeing the benefits of acting within the bounds of international norms, Iran may turn its back on its rogue ideas like destroying Israel or propping up dictators. The deal allows Iran to join the international community and to mellow its rhetoric.
Critics say the deal makes America weak or that the United States has never negotiated with Iran. Diplomacy does not make a country weak; it shows how savvy the country is at getting what it wants. A country does not have to bomb another one just because it doesn’t get everything it wants.
The United States has had relations with Iran. Members of the Reagan Administration broke an arms embargo and sold weapons to Iran and used the profits to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The United States has done business with Iran, whether it is illicit as in Iran-Contra or in synchronization like dealing with ISIS.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Hunter Balczo at email@example.com.
Just over a week from now, the world will note the 77th anniversary of the 1938 Munich Agreement. In this diplomatic deal, a coalition of European powers led by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain ceded an autonomous Czechoslovakia to Hitler’s Germany in an act of appeasement.
At a time when “the sun never set on the British Empire,” this was more than a world leader sacrificing a small, unaffiliated nation on the altar of world peace. It was the most powerful country in the world, bending to the will of a regime with tyrannical goals of global proportions.
As I write, the Congress of the United States is deliberating over passage of the “Iran Deal,” which, like the Munich Agreement, unequivocally diminishes the diplomatic prowess of the last great superpower, emboldens despots and enables repressive empire-building.
The president of the United States is often referred to as “the leader of the free world.” To earn this title, past presidents have served as commander-in-chief during world wars (making the world safe for democracy), spearheading the war on terror and providing aid to people in need from Berlin to Islamabad.
President Obama, on the other hand, seems so preoccupied with earning the Nobel Peace Prize he received upon his inauguration in 2009, he has neglected geopolitical truths of peace through strength for the Chamberlinian dream of “peace in our time.”
By allowing continuation of the Iranian nuclear program, agreeing to a 24-hour wait period between announcing an inspection of nuclear facilities and conducting it and releasing between $100 billion and $150 billion in frozen assets - over a fifth of Iran’s current annual domestic product - without spending conditions, the U.S. and its coalition partners (including China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom) both bend to the will of Iranian interests and cede the moral high ground.
Why should we resist emboldening Iran? Put simply, the Iranian government hates the United States. National figurehead and Islamic cleric Ayatollah Khamenei recently told worshipers, "even after this deal, our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change."
This regime stormed the U.S. embassy in 1979, continues to hold American hostages and refuses to refrain from using “death to America, death to Israel” chants in public forums, even during negotiation of the now contentious economic and military treaty.
In this deal, all Iranian nuclear facilities stay open, the number of inspections is unspecified and ballistic missiles can be built after eight years, pending good behavior.
The deal also includes a number of concessions to known “terrorist militants,” such as removal of sanctions against Qassem Suleimani, who led Iranian troops against U.S. forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Ahmad Vahidi, mastermind of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured hundreds.
Just to be clear, a radical Islamic cleric continues to spout militant anti-American and anti-semitic dogma, expand his regime’s nuclear capabilities and weaponize uranium if he plays nice or wins a game of WMD hide-and-seek for less than a decade. Meanwhile, the Western World pumps funds toward his efforts, shares technological expertise and turns a blind eye to known terrorists. Sounds fair.
Just like the pre-war appeasement of Hitler in 1938, the appeasement of Iran and Khamenei today enables a nefarious empire tomorrow. Iran sees itself as the heir to the Persian Empire, which, at its height spanned from Turkey in the north to northern India in the south and as far west as Egypt. Iran today refuses to recognize Israel, a firm U.S. ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East.
With or without nuclear arms, Iran and its proxies across the region are likely to use their newfound economic strength to tighten their grip on the region and obliterate Israel, which the Ayatollah recently tweeted would not exist in the next 25 years. Iran’s well-trained Shiite militias are already strategically placed in Palestine as well as across Iraq and the Levant in an attempt to garner support and assert dominance.
Should Congress fail to disarm this menacingly lopsided deal, we risk not only damaging our nation’s diplomatic credibility, but empowering a modern-day Hitler, whose long-term goal is the obliteration of not only Israel, but America, as well.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Jacob Schlosser at firstname.lastname@example.org.