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There Is No ‘Better’ Deal Than the JCPOA

The Bloomberg editors never tire of giving terrible advice [1] to everyone else about the nuclear deal:

With Trump’s policies doing little to curtail this behavior, Democratic candidates should seize the opportunity to push for a new deal. Rather than merely bringing the U.S. back into the JCPOA, they should insist on a broader, genuinely comprehensive bargain that fixes the defects in the original and takes into account Iran’s recent aggression.

Bloomberg’s editors keep declaring the JCPOA dead, but in spite of the administration’s efforts to kill it the other parties to the agreement refuse to let it die. They have urged European governments [2] to abandon the deal, but Germany, France, and Britain pressed ahead and established the INSTEX workaround. As they have done once again, they have repeatedly called for a “better” [3] or “new” deal [4] that Iran would never agree to. Like other opponents of the nuclear deal, they seem to think that all that is required to obtain even more extensive concessions from Iran is sufficient pressure and the will to demand more. The deal’s opponents pretend that Iran can be forced into accepting things that their government believes to be contrary to their interests, but of course that isn’t possible. It isn’t credible to feign interest in negotiations with Iran while actively seeking the demise of the most significant diplomatic agreement with Iran. Iran hawks have often pretended that they were not opposed to diplomacy with Iran itself, but their actions and bad faith arguments prove that they are.

Hawks recoil from the compromise that diplomatic agreements require. They are almost never satisfied with the concessions our diplomats manage to secure, and they usually assume that the other government has outmaneuvered ours. Hawks never want to settle for the available agreement, but insist that there is always some “better,” “tougher” one waiting just over the horizon. In almost every case, this means that they think the other side should surrender and cede all of its rights and claims while demanding nothing from us. It is never realistic, it is never acceptable to the other government, and unsurprisingly the “better” deal never materializes because the other side has no reason to negotiate with unreasonable maximalists. We have seen this with every arms control and nonproliferation agreement over the decades. Thirty years ago, hard-liners denounced Reagan for appeasing the Soviets with the INF Treaty, which also happened to be the most lopsidedly pro-American arms control treaty ever negotiated. The content of these agreements doesn’t matter to them, and the “flaws” and “defects” that hawks say they want to fix are usually necessary to ensure that the agreement is acceptable to all parties. When hawks say they want to “fix” the “defects” in the JCPOA, they mean they want to destroy the agreement and replace it with nothing.

Unless the U.S. rejoins the agreement as it is and begins honoring our side of the bargain, Iran has no reason to talk to Washington and no reason to trust in any U.S. promises. Reentering the JCPOA makes sense for U.S. interests. Beyond the nonproliferation benefits that the agreement provides, rejoining it will help to repair damaged relations with our allies and it will form the basis for future talks with Iran that would be impossible otherwise. As long as Iran adheres to the agreement and the rest of the P5+1 support it, it makes no sense to accept Trump’s irrational, destructive decision to withdraw as final. Trump’s decision can and should be reversed by the next president. Failure to do so would make the next administration partly responsible if the deal ends up collapsing.

If Democratic candidates took this terrible advice and gave up on the existing agreement, that would signal to Iran that they have no reason to wait Trump out. The possibility of U.S. reentry and the lifting of sanctions is not the only thing keeping Iran from exiting the JCPOA, but if that disappears Tehran has much less incentive to abide by an agreement when they have nothing to show for it except more external pressure. Despite a concerted campaign to kill it, the nuclear deal has survived and continues to do what it was intended to do, so it makes no sense for supporters of the deal to act as accomplices in its attempted murder.

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7 Comments To "There Is No ‘Better’ Deal Than the JCPOA"

#1 Comment By Kouros On April 24, 2019 @ 12:29 pm

The US hawks believe their own propaganda, that the US has won all on its own WWII and anytime it talks and pushes for demands, it is a re-enactment of Germany’s or Japan’s surrender.

Yes, Germany and Japan were pulverized, but in their case the whole world was against them (USSR). Japan surrendered because Russians attacked and proved to be unstoppable, not because of the two atomic bombs. Tokyo suffered before a horrendous attack with incendiary bombs and Japan didn’t surrender.

And the hawks forget the Korean war, the Vietnam war and the fact that Cuba also didn’t surrender.

Asking from Iran to fully disarm and not keep its missile program is a fool’s errand. After loosing 1 million people in the Iran-Iraq war, any government accepting the current demands of the US (which probably were pushed by Obama as well) will fall, as a treasonous government and people will be summarily executed. This will be with cause and nobody will blink.

So yes, the US has lost its mind. And it happens because the hawks are always promoted, despite their constant failures. And that is on the American People.

#2 Comment By Myron Hudson On April 24, 2019 @ 2:03 pm

Better or worse deal aside, and I agree that there is no better deal: at this point who in their right mind would enter into a deal with us? Our track record speaks for itself. If the Dems can’t figure that out, and address it, then we are well and truly

#3 Comment By Christian J Chuba On April 24, 2019 @ 2:11 pm

Of course we can get a better deal than the JCPOA. The Hawks want the same deal that we got from Japan on the USS Missouri with the only difference that unlike Japan who got to keep their Emperor, they must eliminate all vestiges of the Islamic Republic.

1. Anywhere anytime inspections.
2. Ask permission from a U.S. officer anytime an Iranian wants to leave their country.
3. No weapons development of any kind.
4. A police force armed with batons and CO2 cannisters instead of tear gas.

#4 Comment By Collin On April 24, 2019 @ 4:54 pm

I still don’t get how the Iranian expect to turn the rest of the Allies around. I always assumed Obama acted in 2013 – 2015 because the Allies, especially China, were going to increase Iranian oil trade and it was better to get the deal done. And now the Allies appears to have any interest in stopping the trade and I believe China is already heavily investing in Iran. And have no idea how Pompeo and Trump think their actions to stop or slow down Ally trading is going to happen.

Anyway, oil is fairly fungible commodity so Iran will have no trouble trading and selling to China or India if other nations stop.

#5 Comment By a spencer On April 24, 2019 @ 8:51 pm

I’m waiting for the hot take that links the clearly Wahhabi-connected killers in Sri Lanka to Iran. You know it’s coming.

#6 Comment By polistra On April 25, 2019 @ 10:40 am

I’m not especially worried about Persia. They’re smart, they know that the world has two sides, and they know how to end-run idiots.

Our aggression only worked during the brief hiatus from 1990 to ~2005 when our victims had noplace else to go, nobody to defend them from our murder and blackmail.

We’re still operating on the one-side assumption after it’s completely extinct. Not a good recipe for success.

#7 Comment By No NYers On April 27, 2019 @ 9:22 am

We should not rejoin the JCPOA. What we should do is withdraw from involvement in all these Middle East messes and let regional actors work out their own problems.

Trump can’t seem to leave it alone, which is strange, because he promised us an America First policy, not a policy of endless Middle East meddling and wars. His advisors seem to have talked him into dragging us deeper and deeper into the messes made by Clinton, Bush II, and Obama.

We don’t have time or money for that anymore. He should focus like a laser on our own borders, on finding and deporting the illegals. If he doesn’t, he’ll be gone in 2021.