Bret Stephens doesn’t resort to lazy Munich references in his new column. He builds his entire column around a lazy Yalta comparison instead:
A deal with Iran, arranged via a first-of-its kind meeting with Mr. Rouhani, is a personal and ideological temptation Mr. Obama is incapable of resisting.
Should it happen (I’m betting it will), Mr. Obama will be hailed as a master diplomat and a triumphant peacemaker. As with Yalta, it won’t take long to learn who is betrayed, and what is lost, in the service of an illusion.
If we took the Yalta comparison seriously, that would mean that the U.S. was on the verge of striking a deal with an ally of convenience in the aftermath of a major conflict against a common enemy. Obviously, the U.S. and Iran have been anything but allies, and they are hardly divvying up the spoils of their joint war effort. More to the point, a “deal with Iran” on the nuclear issue wouldn’t involve a single concession to Iran concerning the political independence or territorial integrity of any other country. There is nothing remotely Yalta-like in any agreement that the U.S. could reach with Iran. It would likely require that the U.S. pledge not to attack Iran, but that is not much of a concession when Iran is the significantly weaker party. If there is a deal, Iran will be the one to make most of the “tangible” and immediate concessions, and it will be the U.S. offering long-term promises that Iran has little reason to trust.
It’s true that no one should underestimate “the importance of ideology” in creating and maintaining international differences. Stephens is one of the most committed to promoting needless hostility toward other nations in service to his. We should expect to see Iran hawks driven by their ideology desperately working to derail diplomacy with Iran in the months and years to come, and we should reject their attempts to misrepresent that diplomacy with the ridicule they deserve.