The Best Iran Deal Is Unilateral Hands-Off Iran

Trump wants to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal and/or “dismantle” it. Why? What good does this do Americans? Why not continue to follow the path of peaceful trade and cultural exchange? Why not continue to build mutual respect and understanding with this historic nation with its rich culture and peace-loving people?

It was wrong to have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. It was wrong to have treated Iran as an enemy. That only creates an enemy. It was right to have removed those sanctions. It is wrong to commit America against Iran because of Iran’s frictions with Israel. America should not be the protector of Israel. America should not be protecting NATO countries either or Taiwan or South Korea or Japan. If government has any basic purpose, it is to protect the rights and persons under its charge. This doesn’t include protecting foreign nations or attempting to create a safe world everywhere on the faulty theory that this makes America safe.

Trump wants to pressure Iran further on its nuclear activities. That’s why he wants to renegotiate. He assumes that the U.S. has a right to control Iran’s defense and military position; but the U.S. has no such right. Trump cannot renegotiate without either threatening to reimpose sanctions or actually doing it again.

Trump assumes that suppressing Iran in this way will be a good thing. He thinks it’s smart to make sure that Iran cannot have a nuclear bomb and to force it not to. Is it smart? What if pushing Iran into a corner, a humiliating corner, causes Iran to become more militant and more likely to develop a nuclear weapon or ally with some country that has one or develop alternatives that are just about as devastating? What if such moves on the part of Iran cause countermoves in Saudi Arabia and Israel? Why doesn’t Trump leave well enough alone? What does breaking the deal wide open accomplish that is so sure and so beneficial that it outweighs reinstating Iran as an enemy and restoring her as a constant source of trouble?

We will surely be hearing any number of criticisms of the existing deal from the Trump camp. The idea will be that Iran got the better of the Obama and the U.S. and that secret understandings were reached that allow Iran too much latitude. But all such criticisms are irrelevant and beside the point. These details don’t matter. What matters is the basic posture of the U.S. government toward Iran. Will Iran be treated as a junior state and people to be browbeaten and sanctioned for the ends, however mistaken, of the U.S.? Or will the U.S. build upon the existing agreement?

However flawed it is from the perspective of reducing Iran’s nuclear capacity to nil, that agreement comes closer to the ideal deal. The ideal is a unilateral hands-off policy with respect to Iran. Let Iran alone. Stop bothering Iran. There’s nothing in it for the U.S. to be bothering Iran, nothing but more and worse trouble.

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2:51 pm on November 16, 2016

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