Peter Beinart in The Atlantic wrote an excellent article about why Barack Obama's deal with Iran is the best one we're likely to get. He argues that the reason we're where we are is that the president convinced foreign countries to start joining with the US policy of economic sanctions in 2010 - and that ratcheted up the pressure on the Iranians. "But if the United States walks away from a deal that European and Asian governments support," he adds, "those governments will not indefinitely maintain a sanctions regime that lacks domestic political support and costs them money." They'll be doing business with the Iranians again, so any attempt to negotiate will have less leverage behind it. Also, 29 of the nation's top experts in nuclear weapons and arms control sent the president a letter praising the deal as tough and realistic.
But ignore all that for a moment. Let's make this simple:
You already know what the alternative is to this deal. We've been pursuing the alternative to the deal for 35 years now.
Did it work?
Three Republican presidents and one Democratic president have been conducting a junior-grade cold war against Iran. We've had sanctions, threats, covert operations, secret deals, aid to their enemies, aid to the dissidents, toppling governments on their border, and absolute piles - a richly manured pasture's worth - of rhetoric about democracy and freedom.
Are you safer because of it? Did we beat the bad guys and set up those pro-American regimes in the region yet? Because - don't kid yourselves - without the deal, this is exactly the policy we're going back to.
Each of the 141 Republican candidates is promising that when he or she gets in that big chair, the new administration will finally get tough with the Iranians, right? Except we've had three Republican administrations already do that sort of thing. We all remember how Reagan put that nation's leaders on the run, don't we? We all remember how George W. Bush's invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq really, really tightened the screws as well.
Yeah. Okay, here's what actually happened as a result: The Iranians developed their nuclear capabilities in secret and they interfered with US efforts in the Middle East - often helping to kill Americans and thwart our efforts. We continued our policy of intervening every couple of years in the region to promote our interests, bring stability, and suppress our enemies.
The enemies multiplied. We did this for decades. We squandered billions of dollars. We made a large portion of the planet hate us. Thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines came back from their tours as cargo, and their kids got those impressively-folded little flag triangles instead of mothers and fathers. And all of that accomplished nothing.
It did absolutely nothing to make you safer or freer. Yes, that sounds harsh to say it like that, but that's the only decent way to say it, because those kids are getting old enough now to go off and start a new round of bloodletting.
If only we could get a new, strong-willed president?
If only we could launch a new operation? Or a new intervention? Or the next bright idea Bill Kristol can cook up?
No. We did that. Support the deal so we can stop wrecking this country.
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