Iran has dismantled its nuclear centrifuges, shipped is nuclear materials out of the country and released four American hostages. Those who long for war with Iran - in Washington, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and the editorial page of the Wall Street journal- are heartbroken as are the Republican presidential candidates. They talk as if they have no understanding of diplomacy and no use for it. Their definition of a successful diplomatic negotiation seems to be one in which the U.S. gets everything it wants, the other side gets nothing it wants and no American official need ever shake the hand and speak in civil tones to any representative of any nation the U.S. considers its enemy.
Speaking about the U.S. soldiers held briefly after their small boats were caught inside Iranian territorial waters last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, for instance, said he would never trade anything for Americans held abroad, would never apologize for anything and never engage with anyone. No diplomacy would be needed, he said, because the nations of the world would be too afraid of President Marco Rubio do anything America didn’t like. He might as well have added that no nautical equipment would ever malfunction on his watch either.
The GOP candidates’ attitude toward diplomacy matches the attitude of the tea party Republicans in Congress, who seem to think a good compromise consists of Republicans getting everything they want and Democrats getting nothing. Even Donald Trump, author of “The Art of the Deal,” talks on the campaign trail as if every deal must be one-sided in his favor.
But, that kind of deal is no deal at all, which is the alternative opponents of the Iran negotiations seem to prefer. Iran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and submit to UN inspections. Experts say it will be 10 to 15 years before Iran can reconstitute its nuclear program. Before Iran reached agreement with the U.S., Europe, Russian and the UN, Iran was three months away from getting a nuke. Is that want the “no deal” faction – including the GOP candidates promising to rip it to shreds on their first day in the White House – really prefer?
In return, Iran gets the right to do business with other countries, including selling its oil. It gets access to cash, with estimates varying from $55 billion to $100 billion. Opponents act like that money is coming from the pockets of American taxpayers. In reality it is “frozen assets,” a euphemism for money belonging to the Iranian government or Iranian businesses that had been deposited in U.S. and European banks and was seized as part of the UN-imposed sanctions – you might say held hostage.
Now the hostages have been released by both sides. Hard-liners in Iran, Washington and Israel don’t like it, but the world is better off because people who believe in diplomacy have demonstrated that it can work.