Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Kissinger is Skeptical of the Iran Deal

It must be a good thing.

By Daniel Larison

The American Conservative

The Kissinger/Shultz piece from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal makes the best case I’ve seen yet against making a deal with Iran – one that doesn’t rely on apocalyptic rhetoric or fantasies about the efficacy of alternative approaches, and that traffics exclusively in terms that realists accept. The piece doesn’t actually say it’s against the deal, but the tone is consistently one that suggests this is a bad deal that will have negative consequences. How strong is the case?

The argument has four parts:

  • Verification of compliance will be complicated by the diversity and scope of the permitted facilities, to say nothing of the size and sophistication of the country as a whole.
  • Enforcement will be made extremely difficult first by the fact that violations will rarely be clear-cut and then by the fact that assembling a coalition to reimpose sanctions, particularly in the case of disputable of ambiguous violations, will be much more difficult than assembling the initial coalition was.
  • Even under the terms of the agreement, Iran could establish itself as a nuclear threshold state after a decade without material violation.
  • Saudi Arabia and some other American allies in the region may well view the deal as a sign either of an American tilt toward Iran or, at least, of American acquiescence in Iranian hegemony; either could lead them to pursue alliances with rival powers or to seek to go nuclear themselves.
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