Michael Oren’s attack on the nuclear deal is predictably full of holes:
The alternative was never war, but a better deal. Rather than lifting sanctions on Iran, allowing it to retain its nuclear infrastructure and develop more advanced centrifuges, a better deal could have ramped up pressure on the Islamic Republic. This would have stripped Iran of capacities like uranium enrichment, which is unnecessary for a civilian energy program, and linked any deal to changes in Iran’s support for terrorism, its regional aggression and its gross violation of human rights at home [bold mine-DL].
Hawks are always insisting that the U.S. should have included things unrelated to the nuclear program in negotiations on the nuclear issue. Besides being an obvious non-starter with the Iranians, who have to be willing to accept the terms in order for a deal to be struck, there is not and never will be an international consensus on linking these other issues with the nuclear program. The P5+1 states could agree that Iran’s nuclear program should remain peaceful, but as soon as the U.S. started tacking on other demands that have nothing to do with the program some or all of them would have parted ways with Washington. Including any of these things would have been deal-breakers with Tehran and with other members of the P5+1, and instead of the mythical “better” deal that Iran hawks disingenuously promise there would be none of the JCPOA’s restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place today.
We know that Iran hawks have railed against the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon (and grossly exaggerate the threat it would pose in the process), and we also know that they are among the first to propose military action in response to this or any other international problem. The idea that they would not be clamoring for preventive war against Iran in the absence of the current deal is laughable. Of course they would be. It is not speculation on the part of JCPOA supporters that opponents of the deal prefer war with Iran to the existing agreement. Many opponents of the agreement have said as much before, during, and after the negotiations that produced the deal. They pretend that they aren’t advocating for a course of action that makes war more likely despite making it abundantly clear that this is what they are seeking. In order to distract from their support for an attack, Iran hawks conjure up the illusion of a “better” deal that even they must know would not be possible. The public shouldn’t be fooled by this, and it is important to understand that undermining the nuclear deal makes war more likely because the opponents of the deal will keep doing everything they can to make it so.