Iran, America, and the Negotiating Table

As I write this, news is breaking that a nuclear deal with Iran has been struck. The content of the deal is available online through news outlets like Mother Jones.

Negotiating with Iran has been a controversial decision and I’m sure there will be pundits on the left and the right that will have issues with the deal. As we analyze the deal and think about its implications for foreign policy and global security, it’s vital that we remember why the negotiations themselves are important.

First, as Obama pointed out in his address this afternoon, we should not forget that at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union struck arms agreements that “may not have been perfect but they made our world safer.” Meeting with an adversary is not weakness as Obama critics love pointing out. Meeting with an adversary is a strategic choice that can mitigate future disaster. Open lines of communication during the Cold War played a role in preventing nuclear war between rivals. There is no reason to think this will not hold true in the contemporary era.

Second, talking to Iran may be a fruitful endeavour because, as I argued in a previous blog post, the Iranian regime is more pragmatic than many of its critics acknowledge. Just this morning Peter Beinart wrote a very good article describing the Iranian regime as despotic, tyrannical, and oppressive but not totalitarian. He offers excellent insight into this crucial distinction.

Keeping that in mind, it’s time to parse the specifics of the deal and see where things stand. Let the punditry begin.