Recapping Views on the Iranian Deal

Over the course of the last several weeks we’ve been discussing the deal on Iran’s nuclear development program in a series of posts, here, here, here, here, and here. A number of contrasting views have been articulated.

I think (see the first post linked above) that the Iranians are not developing nuclear weapons and have not done so for the last decade which means they are as good as their word on the subject. I think they are unlikely to resume nuclear weapons development. From that I draw the inference, counter-intuitive to some, that the deal that has been negotiated gives us precious little and we could have and should have arrived at a deal that was better for us than the one that the president and his team have negotiated. I also think that a better deal will no longer be forthcoming but that preserving sanctions for as long as we can is probably better than relieving them. I neither support nor condemn the president’s deal. I just think it’s weak tea. I do not think we have a cause of war against Iran and do not think we should go to war against Iran.

Andy has articulated the view, which I consider reasonable, that the information we gather through the deal is worth whatever is relinquished through the deal. He has also correctly discerned my view that we should want regime change in Iran.

Rob has enunciated the view that Iran has continued its nuclear weapons development program, that Iran will use sanctions relief to promote mischief throughout their region, and that war with Iran is probably inevitable. We disagree on the issue of preventive war.

steve believes that the president’s deal is a tremendous achievement and that if a Republican is elected president we’ll have war with Iran.

Are those fair statements and have I left any other views out? I don’t consider disagreeing with other people an articulated view.

30 comments… add one
  • Andy Link

    I think that’s fair. I would just add that I’m more concerned about the future than the past or present and this agreement provides enduring benefits should Iran change its strategic calculus. Additionally, I don’t think we give up anything substantial – this deal does not cost us anything except for the hypothetical alternatives we might have achieved at a later date.

  • TastyBits Link

    I do not understand how you can reconcile the idea that (1)the Iranians are not, have not, and probably will not be building nuclear weapons with (2)sanctions to achieve an agreement not to build nuclear weapons. Your position is to keep the sanctions on them seems truly bizarre. They have committed no crime. They are committing no crime. They will be committing no crime, but you want to punish them nonetheless.

    This entire episode reeks of the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Iran/Iraq claims to not have a nuclear/WMD program, but they act as if they were guilty. Iran/Iraq live in tough neighborhoods, and the governments are not hesitant to use force if necessary. These are two very plausible reasons for acting this way. Any sign of weakness will eventually undermine their authority.

    The whole world knows that Iran/Iraq has a nuclear/WMD program or weapons, but nobody has actually ever seen the elusive beast. It could be hiding out with the Abominable Snowman, Lochness Monster, and Santa Claus. The fact that Iran/Iraq does not want the world snooping around in its dirty laundry and sniffing its worn panties proves that they have bad intentions.

    (Is there any chance that the Israelis will let the world do a little snooping in their basement? Don’t answer.)

    Why any country would not trust the US to keep its top secret information safe is beyond me. The private business and the government are apparently in some type of a contest to see which sector can expose the most information.

    For future reference: If you think this is a good deal, you must believe that Iran has, had, or will have a nuclear weapons program, and when the clamoring to bomb them begins, you are part of the problem. Now is the time to examine your premises. If they cannot stand up to scrutiny, they are not very sound. It is time to toss them onto the trash heap.

    Think for yourself. It is not that hard.

  • Because I think we have problems with the Iranian regime other than their nuclear development program.

  • TastyBits Link

    You are the “Just War Theory” guy, but you are willing to string them up for a crime they did not commit because you think they committed another crime. Contrary to popular misconception, there were a number of reasons for the Iraq invasion, but WMD’s were the one pushed the most.

    Saddam was violating UN sanctions. Saddam was brutalizing and killing Iraqis. Saddam was threatening his neighbors. Saddam was mean. Saddam was smelly. Saddam once kicked a dog.

    Let’s see. He did not commit the crime the US charged him with, but we are sure that he got away with something else. So, the US invaded him, and in the larger scheme of things, everything balances out.

    I have done it, but bluffing is a dangerous game. If the person knows that you have something on them, it can work, and if they kick too much, you threaten the other charges. If you are bluffing and they find out, you are screwed. All your credibility is gone with them and everybody that trusts them. You can bluff, but you had better know what you are doing.

  • ... Link

    I remain pleased with my decision to not are about this topic.

  • jan Link

    Ah, but you so rarely sit on the fence, Ice!

    Commenting on the Iranian deal is taking on aspects of the “Do you beat your wife” noose. If you say you’re for the deal then you’re being light-headed in a realistic scrutiny of the deal. However, if one says they don’t like the deal, then they’re simply a war-monger. It’s a no-win kind of question.

    Nonetheless, I continue to not like the deal, believing that a more constructive, long range one could have been negotiated, that would have gleaned more support from the Congress and the American public at large.

  • TB:

    Refusing to trade with someone and encouraging others not to trade with someone is neither punishing them nor “stringing them up”.

  • steve Link

    Tremendous probably overstates it a bit, but fair enough. I remain surprised that someone, not sure who, managed to keep sanctions intact for as long as they did. Note 18 European countries have already sent reps to Iran, many with trade delegations already. Since we had little trade with Iran before the sanctions were enabled, it didn’t affect us that much, but many of the others had significant involvement.

    Query-You really think that if you told the Russians and Chinese that this is a good nuclear deal, but we should still maintain sanctions until Iran behaves nicely, that they (or even the Germans and French) would have gone along with it?


  • TastyBits Link

    @Dave Schuler

    The sanctions are being imposed specifically for nuclear weapons. If they can be held in place for any reason, they can be escalated for any reason. I suspect that you would not endorse a dog training program where the dog was disciplined for things it did not do just because it did something else.

    If you are going to do it, be straight with them. Tell them to their face.

  • The U. S. has imposed trade sanctions on Iran since 1979, long before we were worried about their nuclear weapons development program. We escalated them during the Iran-Iraq War and several times again since then.

  • Query-You really think that if you told the Russians and Chinese that this is a good nuclear deal, but we should still maintain sanctions until Iran behaves nicely, that they (or even the Germans and French) would have gone along with it?

    There are plenty of actions we could have taken (or not taken) to encourage the Russians and the Chinese to maintain sanctions if we’d been so inclined. Clearly, the Obama Administration is not so inclined.

  • TastyBits Link


    I would be interested in what deal you would like.

    There is no concrete (hold in my hand) evidence that the Iranians are actually doing anything they are being accused of doing. Step one will be to produce concrete evidence of their past behavior, but if they are not doing anything, this becomes impossible. Since you and others have decided that this is impossible, there is no way to proceed. You cannot find that which does not exist.

    In the event that it does exist, this proves that Iran is and has been lying, and it can be assumed that it will continue to lie. As such, anywhere that is searched and nothing found will only prove that it was not the place where they are hiding the nuclear program that they did not stop.

    Even if they were at some point to come forth and admit that they kept up a secret nuclear program, this would only be because the inspections were about to find the real program, and after they moved most of the program, they confessed about the secret program.

    It will never end. You can never trust a cheater and a liar, but you can never inspect a country as big as Iran to be satisfied. Until their is a government that is friendly towards the West, there can be no peace.

    It took 50 of the Cold War to change the Soviet Union, and that does not include the years from the Bolshevik Revolution. Today, everybody has decided free-trade and globalization is the new world order. When convenient, we are told that free-markets, capitalism, and free-trade are the bromides to war. If this is true, trade with Iran should increase not decrease.

    The problem is that the “experts” are throwing crap at the wall and seeing what will stick. The Iranian nuclear “experts” are the same housing market “experts”, financial sector “experts”, Libyan intervention “experts”, Syrian good rebel “experts”, and political nomination “experts” that were Israeli military jet “experts” just a few years ago. These same geniuses assured everybody that Israel would solve the problem if nobody else would. Well, it is time for Israel to shit or get off the can.

    I would suggest that whatever is their “expert” position is probably the wrong one, and once everybody realizes it is the wrong one, they will not apologize. Instead, they will claim they were right, blame it on somebody else, and double-down.

  • Zachriel Link

    Dave Schuler: The U. S. has imposed trade sanctions on Iran since 1979, long before we were worried about their nuclear weapons development program.

    U.S. sanctions associated with Iranian links to terrorism and human rights violations are not affected by the agreement over nuclear weapons.

  • TastyBits Link

    @Dave Schuler

    You have not been clear about which sanctions you mean. The recent sanctions were imposed to get Iran to stop any nuclear weapons activity. Your first post should have been an objection to these sanctions, or you should have opposed their purpose.

  • ... Link

    Ah, but you so rarely sit on the fence, Ice!

    True enough. But here I just don’t feel like I understand either side. Two previous foreign policy incidents come to mind.

    First, the Agreed Framework deal that Clinton cut with N. Korea in 1994. (Yes, I had to look up what it was called, though I remembered the year correctly.) I thought at that time it was a bad deal, and that it wouldn’t work. I feel confident enough in the outcome to state that it was in fact a bad deal, and that it didn’t work.

    However, I also came to the conclusion, eventually, that it didn’t matter if we ‘got a deal’ with them or not, or what the nature of the deal was. NKor wanted The Bomb. They were willing to endure much hardship to get it. They were willing to be very patient in getting it. And ultimately, the only people that really mattered in preventing them from getting The Bomb were their Chinese patrons. And we weren’t going to pressure the Chinese into doing anything (our oligarchs and their bought-and-paid-for politicians want to do business with them too much), and the Chinese (for reasons that at this point make no sense to me) are unwilling to rein in their clients.

    So, bad deal, but he really couldn’t get anything better, and it didn’t matter if we kept the pressure on, as they weren’t going to relent. And we weren’t going to go to war with NKorea over that.

    The second one concerns Iraq’s weapons programs, and the sanctions in place to prevent them, in the lead up to the 2003 war. Something that seems to have been forgotten in all the triumphant I-told-you-so-ism of the now, is that the sanctions regime in place at that time appeared to be breaking down. It looked like the French and the Russians had both gone wobbly, probably because of back door dealings with Saddam’s government. The sanctions were about to break down completely. And unless I’m remembering things very incorrectly, the inspectors after the war found that Saddam didn’t have an active nuclear program, but had squirreled away plenty of material and such to restart the program as soon as he could from someplace well beyond the starting line.

    So, the sanctions were only going to work so long, and then fall apart. In that respect, invasion seemed like a good alternative to a failing diplomatic effort.

    But that option doesn’t realistically exist here. Could we invade Iran? I’m sure if we took the time we’d probably route their military somewhat handily. But so what? We’re not going to be able to occupy the country for any length of time, as we don’t have the forces. Iran is a much more populous country than iraq, as I’ve pointed out many times before, they’re more socially cohesive than Iraq, and I imagine that any nascent pro-Western/pro-‘deomcracy’ movement would be crushed by nationalist fervor if we invaded Iran. The best we could hope for would be to go in and completely destroy any known nuclear facilities. And that’s the BEST we could hope for, at huge costs.

    So, if the Iranians really want The Bomb, I imagine they will have learned from the NKoreans that dodged determination will work, and from the Iraqi situation they’ve probably learned that they can crack the sanctions regime eventually. And there appear to be enough cracks with our ‘allies’ Russia, China, and Germany that the sanctions aren’t long for this world anyway.

    So, I suspect that this is a bad deal (simply because I think our leadership is utterly incompetent at best, and on the side of the Iranians against Israel and the US at worst), but that it doesn’t really matter. If the Iranians want it, they’ll get it, and the sanctions regime is probably not long for this world anyway.

    Thus, I don’t care.

  • TastyBits Link


    I think you summed it up succinctly, and you were polite.

  • steve Link

    ice- Fair enough, but I wold note that the deal with NKor was nowhere close to being as comprehensive as this one. People who negotiated the NKor deal made the point that their deal was too open ended and vague. That is why this deal is much longer and more detailed. Can the still get nukes? Probably, but they will need to wait until this deal is over, or abandon it.


  • Andy Link

    via Twitter, here’s an Iranian viewpoint (read the replies, there’s 19 total tweets):

  • Zachriel Link

    : However, I also came to the conclusion, eventually, that it didn’t matter if we ‘got a deal’ with them or not, or what the nature of the deal was. NKor wanted The Bomb.

    Yes, because the Bomb is a deterrent to invasion. Many analysts believe the framework could have been salvaged, but the Bush Administration didn’t understand the underlying political requirements of the North Korean regime, and gave them no way to save face, resulting in the end of the agreed framework.

  • ... Link

    Someday I’m going to find out something bad has happened in the world that George W. Bush had nothing to do with.

  • ... Link

    I think you summed it up succinctly, and you were polite.

    Polite? Couldn’t care less. I’ve got a front row seat to at least three separate colossal trends that are going the wrong way for America, and I see so many people that either won’t acknowledge that there are problems, or they are actively working to make them worse (usually for personal gain, one way or another). Manners don’t rate in my neighborhood (else people wouldn’t call each other ‘nigger’ all the time*), and they don’t rate with me anymore, either.

    * Chalk that up as another libertarian fail, or at least the failure of one libertarian. Heinlein was found of saying, “An armed society is a polite society.” My neighborhood is one of many that prove that maxim dead wrong.

  • ... Link

    Heinlein my try to squirm out by saying my neighborhood isn’t much of a society, and he would be right in the sense that it isn’t very good. But it is a society, and I’d hold him to it.

  • jan Link

    Someday I’m going to find out something bad has happened in the world that George W. Bush had nothing to do with.

    Good luck with that! Bush will always be the straw man to those who want to avert their eyes from others (of their own political persuasion) who equally, or even more so, have made poor administrative decisions.

    As for your own “I don’t care” reasoning, it makes sense, and was cogently arranged in you post. While I don’t disagree with your points, my position that this deal was a poor one remains in place. Most of the up-side of the Nuclear Deal remains in the hands of the Iranians, depending on whether or not they “cheat.” And, IMO, putting so much weight on the ethical behavaior of Iranian leaders is a debatable rationale for this country to hinge it’s hopes on, especially when the safeguards determining their efficacy have been vastly weakened.

    No matter what we hope for or think other Arab countries will most likely see things differently, choosing to be defensively proactive in accelerating their own nuclear programs, creating a potentionally more dangerous world around us. Also, according to Israeli Intelligence Iran will only be weeks away from break-out when this so-called deal expires. What then?

  • ... Link

    Fair enough, but I wold note that the deal with NKor was nowhere close to being as comprehensive as this one.

    Fair enough, in turn. That said, your point that they will have to wait until this deal expires before getting nukes is an unproven contention. There are unknown unknowns out there.

    Further, I think it helps to remember that Iran essentially has two different leadership groups. The political side, such as the Presidency and whatever, are politicians, and subject to the usual political pressures of such offices, and must react to the crisis of the moment as all politicians do. But the Ayatollahs who sit above and beside them can take a more patient view of events, and of the course they want the nation to take. What we don’t really know is their perspective on the need for Iranian nuclear weapons. Their statements have at times been contradictory on the matter. It seems to me they are fostering their own bit of strategic uncertainty so as to keep others guessing.

    If I had to wager, I’d bet that the Iranians are seeking a pause in their weapon programs in return for more business/trade with the outside world. They’ve got economic problems that must be addressed, and this is a way of addressing them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put some effort into indirectly improving various skills needed to build nuclear weapons over the course of this agreement. After all, who can object to Iran improving its capacity to used advanced machine tools & the like? I mean, what country looking to modernize its economy wouldn’t do that?

    And while doing that the Ayatollahs & the pols can continually reassess the situation. When the time comes to risk getting caught with a weapons program, they can re-institute such a program. (If they ever shut it down, that is.)

    So, I’m pretty sure the Iranians think they’re getting the best of the deal, and they probably are. But I still think it doesn’t really matter.

    The one clear benefit I can see for negotiating and agreeing to a bad deal for the US is this: If the sanctions are going to fall apart anyway, we may as well look like we got something for it, instead of having them fall apart while we throw a tantrum and look even more ineffectual than usual.

  • TastyBits Link


    If things are as dire as you state, it would seem that an immediate military solution should be used. There is no other option. The Iranians cannot be trusted, and they will continue on the path of nuclear weapons. Once they have nuclear weapons, their new and improved reign of terror will make their previous version seem like child’s play.

    I really must be missing something, or as is more likely, there are a lot of people who would rather not speak the truth. A third possibility is that a lot of people are able to hold contradictory positions without their head exploding.

    Here is something to think about: Once ISIS gets finished with Syria and Iraq, they will be headed for Mecca (not New York). You just might want a scary-as-all-hell Iran hanging around to stop them. Just a thought.

  • A destabilized Syria is already bidding fair to bring several Eastern European countries and maybe Italy to their knees. We might want to re-think internecine warfare in the Middle East as a viable security strategy.

  • jan Link

    If things are as dire as you state, it would seem that an immediate military solution should be used.

    Tasty, what I’m emphasizing is Iran’s historical untrustworthiness. It’s like going into business with a partner who has screwed other partners, indicating one’s risk aversion should be on high alert along with tons of contractual safeguards in place. Consequently, I would think there would not only be heightened skepticism in tow, during these negotiations, but also an extra thick bulwark of maximum thresholds regarding inspections etc. Also, why were the otherwise nonnegotiable U.N. Arms Embargo lifted in 5 years along with it’s ballistic missile program in 8 years — the latter Iran is already taking issue with:

    “We design ballistic, cruise, and defensive missiles in accordance with our needs and the range of our missiles will be proportional to the threat element.”

    Despite Iran’s assertion that its ballistic missiles are not designed to carry non-conventional payloads – and so are not covered by the Security Council resolution – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has reported to Congress that the intelligence community assesses Iran’s ballistic missiles to be “inherently capable of delivering WMD.”

    Who do you believe?

  • steve Link

    ” an extra thick bulwark of maximum thresholds regarding inspections etc.”

    That is what we did. All uranium going into the country monitored. All uranium in the country monitored. All handling sites monitored. No country has ever had such intrusive monitoring.


    Once again, we don’t need deals with countries we trust. We don’t have one with the UK. We don’t need it. We have one with Russia, formerly the USSR, whom we do (did) not trust. Note that while we had a deal with N Korea, they didn’t get nukes. They first broke the agreement, then developed them. Which was all Obama’s fault, not Bush’s, just to be clear.


  • Zachriel Link

    steve: Which was all Obama’s fault, not Bush’s, just to be clear.

    Most people don’t realize just how much influence Senator Obama had over foreign policy.

  • TastyBits Link


    I am with @Icepick about not caring, but I would go further. I would like to see them get nuclear weapons much sooner than later. I am tired of listening to how the world is going to end. Bring it on.

    If your future business partner has screwed other business partners, you probably should not have anything to do with him. If this refers to Iran, you should never make a deal with the existing government, and this leads us to exactly where I said they would. It is the logical conclusion of the Right’s premises.

    I would like honesty, but at the swell parties, honesty is considered impolite. I do not have a problem with being impolite, and I will say the obvious. Being the turd in the punch bowl does not endear oneself to the hipsters.

    If I am wrong and the Right has a deal they would accept, I would like to hear it, but I want concrete details. Pie-in-the-sky nonsense is not concrete, but if the details are not absurd, they should include a funding and logistics plan to support them.

    Americans are soft and assume everybody else is soft also. Americans cannot fathom living without their luxuries, and they would do anything to get them restored. The idea of sanctions seems to be the greatest thing since sliced bread to Americans. They can bully other people without getting their hands dirty.

    If your military options are actually on the table, use them. Otherwise, you all are only impressing yourselves. ISIS does not talk about which military options are “on the table”. They just send a new video showing the new options.

    President Obama, Sen. Cruz, and al-Baghdadi, which one is not going to flap his jaws about military options. If we were to add Gen. Patton to the list, there would be little difference between Obama and Cruz. Oh wait, they would both give al-Baghdadi a stern warning, but Sen. Cruz would send him to bed without any supper. Sen. Cruz may scare the Left, and he may impress the Right. Other than his own mind, he is not scaring or impressing any of the world’s bad guys.

    Except in fantasyland, the Iranians will not willingly do anything they do not want to do, and without actual force, nobody is making them do what they were not going to do. They are like the raccoons attacking people in California.

    Even if the Right is not being honest, this does not make this a good deal.

    If it is correct that the IAEA has a side deal to allow the Iranians to collect evidence at certain sites, it means the IAEA are working with the Iranians one way or another. Naivete or stupidity are no defense.

    While illegal shipments are required to follow certain protocols, the illegal descriptor should provide a clue as to how those protocols will be followed. Crossing borders with illegal materials and distributing it throughout a country is not that difficult. The Mexican drug cartels could give them a few tips.

    Most criminals are stupid, but they are cunning. They can think up ways of doing things that the normal law abiding person would never dream of. To a criminal, the human asshole is a linen closet to store all sorts of goodies. They will use whomever and do whatever to achieve their goals. (Addicts are probably similar.)

    The Left wants to smile, hold hands, and sing Kumbha. The Right refuses to smile, will not hold hands, threatens to make pouty faces, but wants to sing Kumbha.

    As to whom to believe, I have a vetting process, but it is time consuming. One thing I have found is that the conventional wisdom is usually wrong, and every time, everybody is surprised.

    I also question motives, and I notice small inconsistencies. The article quotes DNI James Clapper from his report to Congress, and it specifically states “WMD”. This usually includes nuclear, but it is not limited to nuclear. In an article aimed at scuttling a nuclear deal, I find it interesting to find “WMD” instead of “nuclear”.

    Had Clapper been able to use nuclear instead of WMD, he would have used it. He used the scariest term possible, and that was WMD not nuclear. If he is rigging the intelligence on this one item, what else is he rigging, and more importantly, who else is rigging the intelligence?

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