Home/Daniel Larison/Geneva Is Not “Worse Than Munich”

Geneva Is Not “Worse Than Munich”

Bret Stephens reaches new depths of foolishness:

By contrast, the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva on Sunday by Iran and the six big powers has many of the flaws of Munich and Paris. But it has none of their redeeming or exculpating aspects.

It’s tempting to dismiss this as nonsense and leave it at that, but these sorts of arguments have a way of gaining traction if they aren’t answered. If we were to take these comparisons seriously, we would have to conclude that Stephens thinks that the interim nuclear deal will lead to something worse than the annexation of the Sudetenland or the fall of South Vietnam. I doubt that even Stephens believes such absurd things, but that is what he wrote. Not surprisingly, he has no evidence that would begin to back up such extraordinary claims. Is Iran laying claim to the territory of another state? Obviously not. Is it coming out of the negotiations with more than it had at the beginning? On the contrary, it has come out of the negotiations having given up more than it received. The truth is that Iran is being made to account for its behavior inside its own borders in considerable detail for the privilege of being granted access to a fraction of its own money. The U.S. and the other members of the P5+1 got as much in the deal as they could, and Iran received very little, but then that is what one would expect when the world’s most powerful countries are bargaining with one medium-sized regional power.

The notion that the U.S. has “betrayed” a “small country” in this deal is contemptible. Israel wasn’t a party to these negotiations, but if it had been it would have been on the side of several more powerful countries dictating terms to the weaker one. Israel remains far more powerful in military terms than Iran, and would remain so even if Iran had a few nuclear weapons. The idea that Israel’s security has ever been seriously threatened by Iran’s nuclear program is even harder to take seriously today than it was last week now that Iran’s nuclear program is set to be under even stricter international controls than it was before. If strong-arming a country’s regional rival into making concessions on a major issue is “betrayal,” more countries would like to be “betrayed” by the U.S. in such a fashion.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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