Having been thoroughly discredited over the course of the last 15 years with their disgraceful misreading of events and propelled by a discredited imperialist idea of what America is all about you would think that that the Neo-Cons simply shut up and sit quietly in their corner. But they are back and this time the attack is being led by the Prime Minister of Israel, war hawks like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain and columnists like Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. According to them, we need to squeeze Iran until there is wholesale capitulation on their nuclear ambitions or simply bomb that country back into the Stone Age.
Their argument is simple. Sanctions have worked to bring Iran to its knees. The glut of oil with declining prices has placed unbearable pressure on the Iranian government and its economy to the point where negotiations for relief became an acceptable alternative. This is the time to press for permanent surrender on all claims to develop nuclear power. The Iranians cannot be trusted to keep their word and despite the fact that they are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty any semblance of nuclear technology will be surreptitiously used to press for bomb making capacity.
What has incited the latest outcry is the disclosure that there is a sunset clause in the current disarmament negotiations lead by Secretary of State John Kerry. Not only will the agreement's nuclear restriction end in 10 years but Iran will be permitted to keep some measure of its centrifuges (the machine needed to enhance nuclear stockpiles from what is needed for science and electric generation power to weapon grade material) and be allowed to continue its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Thus, the argument goes, the proposed agreement simply postpones the inevitable entry of Iran into the nuclear warhead club and touches off a Mideast arms race which would include Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
There is a compelling element to this line of thinking. It would be a comfort to think that the greater Middle East was free of nuclear warheads but there are a few nasty little facts or reasonable conjectures that constitute reality, namely, it's not nuclear warhead free now. It is an open secret that Israel possesses at least 100 warheads and the missiles needed to deliver them to neighbors. It is also rumored that contraband warheads secreted out of the USSR after its demise have somehow been acquired by Turkey and the Saudis and who knows who else. Our national security teams are constantly warning us that terrorists are on their way to bringing suitcase sized warheads into our midst as they pursue their jihadist objectives. We are not told the jihadists have these weapons, but they might.
The Neo-con argument is simply one more display of the abject naiveté of their logic once again ginning up fear in the public and attempting to define the president as craven and feckless. The facts of the matter are that the United States foreign policy has accomplished nothing other than to totally upset the political landscape of an entire region, failed to provide stability in any part of that world, antagonized virtually every sectarian element of middle east society and mired us in a political quagmire with few options other than to ally ourselves with authoritarian regimes.
The option of withdrawal or containment seems to have occurred to precisely no one other than the president and a few American scholars but it is an option. An agreement with Iran to forestall its nuclear ambitions for ten years gives the U.S. time to withdraw and allow the regimes in the region decide on paths of peace, accommodation or mutual destruction none of which are essential to American national security.
If this sounds harsh one need only to go through the cast of state players in the region to realize how hopeless and inappropriate our concepts of a "higher moral ground" or "American exceptionalism" truly are. This extends even to allies like Israel. Has there been one word out of Israel that sounds like mutual disarmament? Has there been any effort for that country to settle with its neighbors on a basis other than the pugnacious style of Benjamin Netanyahu? Does anyone think that U.S. support for 25 percent of Israel's military budget sounds like a peaceful overture toward Islam?
Who is kidding whom?
To follow Neo-con prescriptions for the terms of a deal with Iran contemns this country to protracted engagement in a region where we simply cannot solve its problems. A better course is to step back as this agreement appears to be signaling, to refer as many of the issues as we can to international institutions like the WTO, the UN or the World Court and to force the regional players to confront each other to determine amongst themselves what manner of stability they are interested in pursuing.