Paul Pillar swats down one of the dumber hawkish attacks on the negotiations with Iran:
Among the criticisms, as if this really should count as criticism, have been observations that the United States has not rigidly held to what may have been earlier positions and demands. This sort of flak is found, for example, in a recent letter to the president from Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker expresses dismay about how the negotiations have involved movement from the administration’s “original goals and statements,” and he voices “alarm” about reports of—you’d better sit down before reading this—“potential concessions” by the United States on some issues on which full agreement has yet to be reached.
The proper response to such statements is: yes, the United States has been making concessions, and the Iranians have been making even more—that’s called negotiating.
Iran hawks are bothered by the fact that the U.S. has been willing to be flexible and to move away from some of its earlier maximalist positions in order to reach an agreement. They claim that they would accept a deal that includes those maximalist demands, but by taking that position they are admitting they would never accept any achievable deal. If they had had their way, there would have been no progress in the talks, no interim agreement, and no chance of a comprehensive deal, because they would not want to give an inch to the Iranian side. They would refuse to budge even if it meant achieving the main goal of keeping Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon, because they are instinctively hostile to diplomacy and the compromises it always requires.
Since Iran hawks are generally opposed to reaching any agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue that doesn’t involve total Iranian capitulation, it is to be expected that they would find fault with making the necessary minimal concessions to secure a deal. Their view of negotiation is that the U.S. should tell the Iranians how high to jump and the Iranians should then eagerly comply, and failure to comply fully should then be punished with additional sanctions. That is, they are offended by the very idea of negotiating with Iran in the first place, and they don’t accept that there are limits to what Iran’s government can and will concede. They cite any concessions from the P5+1 side as proof that the deal is “bad” when they have long ago declared their hostility to any agreement that might be reached. Even though the vast majority of concessions are necessarily on the Iranian side, Iran hawks have no problem misrepresenting any agreement as a “giveaway” to the side that is being forced to limit its nuclear program under pressure. The P5+1 might get the bulk of the concessions it is seeking and Iran might get just a few, but as far as Iran hawks are concerned any deal in which Iran gets anything represents our “surrender” to them. This is an absurd view of any diplomatic process, but it is the one that Iran hawks have had from the start.