Iran, “The Bomb,” and “The Deal”

Ah yes, “the Iran Deal,” which isn’t actually a deal yet, but rather an apparently very detailed framework for one.  David Stockman of all people has provided one of the more lucid and detailed descriptions of the “framework” that I have seen.  (Remember Stockman?  He was one of Reagan’s hatchet men who himself eventually got “taken to the woodshed” in Reagan’s quaint terminology for daring to think that the laughable “Laffer curve might not be so funny.  He is now a man of further changed politics.)   Stockman also explains why the deal is nothing like “Munich.” (Actually that deal was not about appeasement at all but rather about an attempt by the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to keep Hitler pointed East at you-know-who.)  If the objective of the current talks is to prevent Iran from “getting the bomb,” at least for quite some time, it would seem (at least until recently --- see the last paragraph below) to have a pretty good chance of doing that.

 Now we all know who the opponents are.  The GOP/Likud Alliance lined up very clearly towards the end of the negotiations, highlighted by the “47 Senators Letter” and the “Netanyahu speech” to Congress.  It is clear that this alliance wants no deal, ever, because so far they have not been able to come up with a “better deal.”  The GOP end of it has yet to come up with any proposal for anything “better,” while the Likud end of it put an end to be taken seriously about finding one when Netanyahu insisted that any deal on limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities had to include an explicit recognition of Israel “as a Jewish state.” 

 So why doesn’t GOP/Likud want a deal?  One prominent Republican, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Deputy, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, thinks that they actually want to go to war.  I doubt that.  As I have said elsewhere I think that there are three primary reasons on the Likud side: doing nothing that would diminish the role of Israel’s military-complex in Israel’s economy;, doing nothing to diminish the maintenance-of-fear level in Israel on which Likud’s political dominance is so dependent; and trying to help elect a GOP President in 2016 following on the very open and clear failure to do so in 2012.  The GOP shares with Likud the dependence on the military-industrial complex as a major reason for its existence.  Further, as is well known some of its elements reach a high level of hysteria in their attempts to discredit anything that has President Obama’s name for it.

 But perhaps the primary reason that both are against it, at least at their more “intellectual” levels, is that they can readily see what a deal would do in terms of the balance of power in the Middle East, and indeed to a certain extent around the world.  First of all, it would show the power of diplomacy to achieve major goals, as among conflicting nations.  Bad example for the military-industrial complexes.  Second of all, the lifting of sanctions would not only strengthen Iran’s economy internally, but would also provide major opportunities for foreign investment, which would further help Iran and also further diminish the possibility of the deal falling apart down the road (see Asa Fitch and Nicolas Parasie, Wall Street Journal [of all places], “In Iran, Western Companies See a Possible New Market,” 4/7/2015). 

 The other “againsts” may or may not be the autocratic Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia.  On the one hand, the Saudis made some fairly loud noises against the deal before it was announced, but then afterwards they seemed to adopt more of a wait-and-see attitude.   There is the concern that the deal might kick off a war, or at least more intense conflict, “between the two blocs.”  (The “two blocs,” by the way, are not strictly Sunnis on one side and Shia on the other.  If you want to get some idea of how complicated this whole situation is, read the just-cited article.)  There are certainly elements on the U.S. side which, some observers think, are intent on creating just such an ongoing conflict in the Middle East, designed to create a “divide-and-rule” opportunity.  “No deal,” with a general increase in antagonisms, would help grease the skids in this direction.  On the other hand, according to the Fitch and Parasie Wall Street Journal article cited above, Dubai, an Arab autocracy, is taking something of the lead in setting up foreign investment opportunities in Iran. 

 But, if the US military-industrial complex can pull together a GOP/Democratic coalition in the Senate to over-ride an expected Presidential veto of any bill designed to kill the deal, and it then falls apart, then what?  Well, first of all, it remains to be seen what “falls apart” means.  There are five other nations aside from Iran that are party to these negotiations: Great Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia.  There is every chance that Iran could come to an agreement with them, or at least some of them (the ever-burgeoning China/Russia alliance, anyone?) on its nuclear program in return for their dropping their sanctions and re-establishing trade.  This is especially so if it is true that their program is indeed primarily designed to develop and implement a major nuclear energy for their nation.  Iran has plenty of oil, but unlike certain other countries that shall remain nameless they know very well that eventually oil runs out.  Coming to an agreement with one or more of the P5-plus 1 members would leave the US totally out in the cold, especially in terms of Iranian trade and investment. 

 Furthermore, Russia and China alone, without the Western European powers, could say “OK, we will supply you banking services and investment.”  Given the frail nature of the Russian economy, suffering from the Western sanctions on it, that would come more from China.  It just happens that the latter has just started its Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, as an intended rival to the US-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund and has signed up these major US allies: Great Britain, Germany and Australia.

 And so, while they seem to be completely unaware of this reality, the GOP/Likud Alliance does have a lot to lose here, whether or not there is a deal that the U.S. is party to.  (There is also the chance that Iran would say “OK, you don’t want to make a deal?  Well in that case, we will go for the bomb.”)  But that would play right into the hands of the GOP/Likud Alliance, and might, horribly, bring Col. Wilkerson’s estimation of what they are after to pass.  Thus, it would appear that Iran may well accept what would appear to be half-a-loaf: a deal with the Five other than the U.S., splintering a major part of the Western alliance which, in the case of the Ukraine sanctions is showing some signs of wear anyway.    In that case, one would be wondering what Sens. Cotton, McCain, and Graham, and Prime Minister Netanyahu would be screaming about next, to an audience paying less and less attention to them.

The above column is largely based on one that was published on The Greanville Post on April 13, 2015.   As a Post-script, here is the last paragraph of a column that I published on The Greanville Post on May 23, 2015.

There may indeed be developing an alliance between China-Russia and Iran, which may account for the sudden severe hardening of the Iranian line in the nuclear-restriction talks.  Such an alliance, with Iranian access to the new Chinese banking and other economic services, might enable them to get around the most severe of the Western sanctions.  The recent rapprochement of Russia with China ended 50 years of separation that began with the China-Soviet split (over entirely different issues, of course) that took place under Mao and Khrushchev in the 1960s.  It will be fascinating to watch as two post-socialist state-capitalist societies, with different forms, work together to combat the other principal capitalist powers, the Western Imperialist Alliance, led by the United States.  And so, if the possible survival of the world as we have known it until fairly recently, is dependent upon the decline, if not the fall, of US imperial power, then at this juncture at least we do have to hope the Russian robber-baron capitalism can win its struggle-by-proxy with US-led imperialist capital, in Ukraine.  Of course, for the long-term survival, not only of our species, but all the rest of the still-surviving ones on Earth, we then have to move on to the replacement of all brands of capitalism.  But that too is another story.

About the Author
TPJ Editorial Director and Contributing Author Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition, he is Senior Editor, Politics for The Greanville Post, a columnist, under “American Politics,” for The Planetary Movement, a columnist for BuzzFlash/Truthout, and a “Trusted Author” for OpEdNews.   His latest book is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel, Brewster, NY, Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, and available on Amazon.