The Real Reason We Shouldn't like the Iran Deal
Obama's decision-making should be questioned, not his intentions.
While reading through the Iran Deal, it is easy to see why many people in the Jewish community feel incensed at President Obama’s decision to move forward with the nuclear deal in its current state. Iran remains one of the biggest threats to the State of Israel’s safety, and the Iranian government has repeatedly welcomed and housed a variety of Holocaust deniers, anti- Semites, and other dangerous people. Additionally, Iran has sponsored several terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, a group which has openly committed acts of violence against Israeli citizens. It is certainly not unreasonable for Jews to feel threatened by an American relationship with such a hostile state. While some would argue that a nuclear deal was necessary, even withstanding the lethal nature of Iran’s leadership, the current stipulations of the deal leave a lot to be desired from America’s perspective. The prospect of fostering a positive relationship with Iran in the fifteen years that their nuclear program will be halted is an extremely difficult one. If President Obama (or his successors as president) doesn’t succeed in making friends with Iran in that period of time, Iran’s legitimized nuclear program will be highly dangerous. In many ways, the deal President Obama wants to make is a big mistake. There is nothing stopping Iran from simply resuming its nuclear progress as soon as the fifteen years are up. And if in fifteen years, Iran feels the same way towards America that it does now, the current hostility between the two nations could escalate to a highly dangerous situation.
Judging by the behavior of certain Iranian leaders, they are surely not in any hurry to form a positive relationship with America any time soon. Iran’s anti-American sentiment is well-documented. A short time after the deal was announced, Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini tweeted an image that showed Obama pointing a gun at his own head, and referred to America as the “aggressive and criminal” United States. At a rally in March, the Ayatollah responded to crowds chanting “Death to America” by saying “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this [economic] pressure!” By all accounts, Iran’s leadership is hostile to America’s interests. But despite Iran’s highly apparent dislike of America, that particular sentiment pales in comparison to Iran’s hatred of the State of Israel. Just this week, an Iranian official stated that Iran’s” fight against the illegal Zionist regime is one of the immutable policies of Iran, which has always been maintained.” A tweet from the Ayatollah in November 2014 referred to Israel as “barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidial”, and claimed that Israel “has no cure other than annihilation”. While what it is exactly that Israel needs to be cured of remains ambiguous, Khameini’s point is abundantly clear: if given the chance, Iran will make every effort to destroy Israel and its citizens. From an Israeli (as well as American) perspective, the potential prospect of a nuclear Iran in 15 years is extremely frightening. Therefore, President Obama’s decision to only postpone Iran’s nuclear capability, rather than to eliminate it, is not wise.
Anyone who feels threatened by Iran’s hostility holds the right to be against this deal. It is important, though to be against the deal for the right reasons. For example, it is foolish to assume that President Obama is incorrect in attempting any deal with Iran in the first place; his error is simply in accepting the deal in its current state, with many stipulations that go against our best interests. Iran is arguably both America and Israel’s greatest enemy, which is precisely why our government needs to be negotiating with Iran: to categorically eliminate the threat Iran represents, and not simply to delay it for a time that they deem convenient. It is either highly ambitious or highly stupid to think that such a belligerent relationship will sweeten in a short fifteen years, and either way, we are definitely far away from that point today. We should be negotiating with Iran, but unfortunately, the terms we have agreed to don’t serve our best interests in the long term. For the alternative to rejecting this deal isn’t war, it’s simply a better deal.
Additionally, President Obama’s policies towards Israel, especially within the Iran deal, have received a large amount of scrutiny, but it is important to distinguish between malevolence towards Israel and general miscalculation. President Obama may be making a huge mistake, but he also realizes that America benefits significantly from having a positive relationship with Israel, the sole bastion of democracy in the Middle East. He may have worsened that relationship on a number of occasions, (especially when he bemoaned “having to deal” with Benjamin Netanyahu to Nikolas Sarkozy in 2011), but to accuse him of making this deal with the intention of incensing Israel is an unrealistic stretch. Ultimately, President Obama truly believes that this deal is what’s best for peace in the Middle East, a region that incidentally also has Israel in it. Malignant intentions and mistaken intentions are very different, and the distinction is vital here. President Obama is just inaccurate and unrealistic if he thinks that the bad blood between Iran and the US, or Iran and Israel, will be solved in a decade and half. It seems highly unlikely that Iran can go from openly and consistently threatening the US and Israel to being their partners in such a short period of time.
That being said, we must understand that while criticizing our president’s policies may be necessary, there is never a doubt that he has America’s best interests in mind. What President Obama considers to be in America’s interests may be very different from our own perspectives, but we must understand that misguided policies are very different from what some have labeled “dishonest arguments”. Ultimately, Obama is acting in accordance with what he believes is best for the United States. While it may appear that he is totally incorrect, Obama’s decisions should be criticized, not his intentions. This distinction is important in reflecting on Obama’s presidency. While his decision-making in important junctures may be questionable, it is unfair to accuse Obama of acting against what he believes is best for the United States. The problem, unfortunately, is that in this instance, his feelings seem to be mistaken.