What Negotiated Solution to Iran’s Nuclear Program Would You Find Acceptable?

 

shutterstock_137764901There were recently reports that the multi-party talks about Iran’s nuclear program were approaching a deal that would have the Iranians pause their nuclear program for a decade in exchange for lifting of sanctions. This was promptly reported in the conservative press as some variation of “Obama Gives Iranians the Bomb in Ten Years.”

It didn’t sound like an especially bad plan to me. A lot can happen in ten years, especially if tensions between nations are allowed to deescalate. I’m also a firm believer in the Churchill notion that “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” But I could be wrong. Perhaps this is a bad deal. However, I’m also a firm believer in the notion that complaining about something without offering a solution is just whining. So I have a question for everyone here on Ricochet: What kind of negotiated solution would you find acceptable?

But before that, I need to remind everyone of some important elements in the equation:

  1. The Iranians aren’t crazy. To the extent that any government is, the Iranians are rational. There’s this idea floating around that the Iranian government is populated by lunatics who want to see the world reduced to a cinder to bring about the Islamic equivalent of the Second Coming. This is simply a fantasy. It’s folly to assume the other side are all crazy. They may be odd, they may be different, they may have different values, but to assume that they are incapable of rational thought is nonsense.
  2. They’re fighting the Islamic State. Iran is a Shia country with strong cultural and political ties to Shia dominated Iraq. Sunni ISIS is a threat not only to their coreligionists, but to their interest in Iraq. As a result, the Iranians are helping to fight ISIS. Negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program have a lot of dimensions, this is one of them.
  3. Agreement isn’t bilateral. The US and Iran are only two parties in these talks. They also include Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. So when you’re tempted to talk about how “Obama is doing X,” remember that these are seven-party talks, and keep in mind the larger context of what is going on in Europe.
  4. The threat isn’t imminent. The Iranians don’t have a functioning nuclear device. They haven’t tested one. (We would know). If they have access to designs that they may have purchased, we don’t even know of those designs actually work. And if you examine their uranium enrichment program, they don’t have the capacity to build a weapon yet.

While reading this, no doubt, some of you are ready to respond that no negotiated solution is possible, and the only thing we can do is bomb Iran. A few points about that:

  1. The Osirak thing isn’t an option here. As we all know, the Israelis took matters into their own hands in 1981 and stifled Iraqi nuclear ambitions by bombing the Osirak reactor. Knocking the Iranian nuclear program out the same way is not an option here. First of all, the Iranian program is spread out over multiple locations. Second, those locations are fortified, in anticipation that somebody might try that trick again. Third, the Iranians have built a substantial air-defense system to defend these nuclear sites. If it can be done at all (which is highly doubtful), knocking out the Iranian program isn’t going to be done by a handful of F-16s.
  2. Airstrikes would mean going to the mattresses. Its well known and well established that the Iranians have no problem supplying and supporting various terrorist organizations. If we were to bomb the Iranians, it would mean a war, and the Iranians would go to the mattresses. They would press the buttons, pull the strings, whatever metaphor you want to use, on their various client terrorist organizations, and they would hit back in a substantial way.
  3. It would mean war with Iran. Bombing Iran wouldn’t be like shooting a few missiles at a couple of aspirin factories, it would mean a war. It would probably mean the Persian Gulf would be closed to oil shipping. Iran has a population larger than Afghanistan and Iraq put together, and a land area larger than Afghanistan and Iraq put together. Occupation is simply not an option, and there won’t be public support for an extended war.

So, with these factors in mind, what is your solution? (Keep in mind that any negotiated agreement now needs to be a treaty that can pass with a 2/3 vote, because 47 Republicans in the Senate just shot to hell any chance of any other kind of agreement).

So let’s hear it. What negotiated agreement would you find acceptable?

Tags:

There are 102 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    The Obama administration’s warning is that if Iran’s nuclear facilities are hit and destroyed it will mean certain war. Meanwhile Iran has dominant political control and influence in Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad and is gobbling up large swaths of territory in Iraq.

    What are the lines from Lord of the Rings?

    Theoden: I will not risk open war. 

    Aragorn: Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not. 

    • #91
  2. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    Fred Cole:

    AUMom:Actually I find no type of negotiated settlement with Iran to be acceptable. The Iranian people may be rational but the government is not.

    So rather than negotiate with them, they should just build a bomb?

    How many times have the Iranians completely ignored treaties and tried to build one any way? Fred, this is not an either/or situation. Iran is going to do whatever it takes to build a bomb. Treaties have not stopped them before. A treaty, an agreement, or negotiations won’t stop them now.

    • #92
  3. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Misthiocracy:

    Mike Hubbard:Ever since the Iranian regime seized our embassy in the Carter years—a casus belli if ever there was one—we’ve been at war with Iran….

    This makes me wonder.

    What are the modern historical precedents for wars which outlast the leaders in charge of both parties at the war’s outbreak?

    I can’t think of any more recent than medieval times (100-years-war, 30-years-war, the Crusades, etc).

    Could that be because first Iran, and now the US are run by executives who think that the Westphalia system is either illegal and immoral (Iran) or passé (Obama, and maybe Bush 43?)

    • #93
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    We did not “die by the sword” after WWII. Or WWI for that matter.

    Come to think of it, WWII was because we did not fully defeat Germany.

    Don’t leave someone behind wounded to come kill you.

    How needs large scale attacks? Wipe out their nukes. How about if we blow up bases instead of bridges?

    I don’t view defensive wars, like WW2, as “living by the sword.” And the interwar period actually points up the importance of strong yet reasonable diplomacy. The victorious nations (led by France) were largely responsible for creating the economic disaster that toppled the Weimar Republic and ushered in National Socialism.

    The result of the Paris Peace Conference was bad, but I don’t see how widespread devastation across Germany would have been better.

    Smaller scale attacks? That’s something that I can support; Israel already seems to be doing this to some degree. There have to be military consequences at some point when a country defies restrictions on nuclear proliferation. But they have to be one tool, not the only tool, and connected to a clear set of diplomatic protocols.

    The Germans did not feel like they had lost. Once we made them feel like they had lost, it was different.

    • #94
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Brian Watt:The Obama administration’s warning is that if Iran’s nuclear facilities are hit and destroyed it will mean certain war. Meanwhile Iran has dominant political control and influence in Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad and is gobbling up large swaths of territory in Iraq.

    What are the lines from Lord of the Rings?

    Theoden: I will not risk open war.

    Aragorn: Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.

    Gosh, you warmonger!

    • #95
  6. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Fred Cole:

    Titus Techera: 1.The US has allowed the Norks to get a bomb.

    So let’s start with this. The US “allowed” them? What is the alternative? The North Korean economy is mostly self sufficient, sanctions can only do so much.

    Bombing them is simply not an option. Ten million people live in Seoul. They’re within range of North Korean artillery. Not aircraft, just cannons. Bombing North Korea would have triggered a war, and Seoul would have been the first casualty.

    There simply were no acceptable options available.

    Mr. Cole, I am not sure you have your facts straight, but let us assume that you do. Consider what it would mean if you spoke for America. You are offering up whoever is fool enough to stand next to you or believe any assurance you make to whatever tyrant comes calling. Why should you pay the Norks in the bargain? Did not the multi-party talks effectively subsidize the bomb? Why make fools of yourselves & of anyone who trusts you instead of just saying, you’re not capable of doing anything when it’s serious? Could not you at least refrain from engaging in this depressive charade? I am advised a person of importance in that negotiation was brought back to help with this new one. Is this kind of diplomacy how you train your foreign policy personnel?
    If your advertisement for seriousness in foreign policy is: We cannot stop the Norks, do you want to be friends?, you will never be taken seriously. I do not say America owes it to the people the Norks tyrannize or to the people in South Korea, or any other people in this wide vale of tears. But decent men should stop talking as if America is Christ risen when she loses fights with small tyrants while bigger tyrants sow terror. Do you not blush to hear your politicians of every stripe talk about principle & dignity while the disasters of your policy are still burning? Your politicians’ high-minded speeches are an insult to the only audience who might be tempted, by desperation, to believe them.
    The world would not be a better place if Americans decided no longer to involve themselves in defending decent regimes. But at least people outside America would become more serious about their own predicament & start dealing with it. Your negotiations humiliate every decent man who is threatened by your negotiation partners. Being merely human, they hope, & come to see that you achieve nothing. What is more pathetic than justice without the sword, more apt to turn men to dark thoughts?

    If you are telling the world: The Norks can have their way, so can the Atomic Ayatollahs, as some wag put it, surely, you’re telling Mr. Putin that he can have his way, too–after all, he is far the bigger tyrant.

    • #96
  7. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Fred Cole:

    Tuck: What makes you think the Iranians are negotiating in good faith?

    Well, it’s the basic assumption that one begins negotiations with. But blind faith is probably a bad idea, which is why the proposed 10-year deal included an inspection regime and carrots and sticks.

    This is simply ridiculous. You believe that a country that is in blatant violation of existing treaties and is the largest state sponsor of terrorism will negotiate in good faith?

    You don’t just assume that the person on the other side of the table will negotiate in good faith. You examine the other party and their past actions. In some cases it is appropriate to assume that the other side will lie, cheat and disregard the deal.

    • #97
  8. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Fred Cole:
    There were recently reports that the multi-party talks about Iran’s nuclear program were approaching a deal that would have the Iranians pause their nuclear program for a decade in exchange for lifting of sanctions. This was promptly reported in the conservative press as some variation of “Obama Gives Iranians the Bomb in Ten Years.”

    It occurred to me that Fred blatantly misrepresented the reported deal in his original post.  Unfortunately, this is a common tactic of Fred when he wants to attack Republicans.  His opening paragraph seems to imply that after the decade pause, we would re engage negotiations with Iran, that is he ignores the very reason why conservative press reported that the deal gave Iran the bomb in ten years.  They reported that because that is PRECISELY what the reported deal did.

    Here is the lede from one article

    Edging toward a historic compromise, the U.S. and Iran reported progress Monday on a deal that would clamp down on Tehran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms.

    And even worse, the reported deal didn’t even ask for a pause for the full ten years.  Iran would be allowed to “ramp up” enrichment BEFORE the deal expired

    One variation being discussed would place at least a 10-year regime of strict controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment. If Iran complied, the restrictions would be gradually lifted over the final five years.  One issue critics are certain to focus on: Once the deal expired, Iran could theoretically ramp up enrichment to whatever level it wanted.

    In other words, the conservative press reported the deal gave Iran the bomb in 10 years because the deal that was being reported DID give Iran the bomb in 10 years, with America’s imprimatur.

    If you are going to defend Obama and attack Republicans on a site that is intended to be center right, you should endeavor to get your facts straight.  Of course, I remain baffled why Fred spends more time on this site criticizing Republicans than he does criticizing Obama.  I’m sure there is an interesting story behind that predilection.

    • #98
  9. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    Asquared:

    Fred Cole: There were recently reports that the multi-party talks about Iran’s nuclear program were approaching a deal that would have the Iranians pause their nuclear program for a decade in exchange for lifting of sanctions. This was promptly reported in the conservative press as some variation of “Obama Gives Iranians the Bomb in Ten Years.”

    It occurred to me that Fred blatantly misrepresented the reported deal in his original post. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic of Fred when he wants to attack Republicans. His opening paragraph seems to imply that after the decade pause, we would re engage negotiations with Iran, that is he ignores the very reason why conservative press reported that the deal gave Iran the bomb in ten years. They reported that because that is PRECISELY what the reported deal did.

    Here is the lede from one article

    Edging toward a historic compromise, the U.S. and Iran reported progress Monday on a deal that would clamp down on Tehran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms.

    And even worse, the reported deal didn’t even ask for a pause for the full ten years. Iran would be allowed to “ramp up” enrichment BEFORE the deal expired

    One variation being discussed would place at least a 10-year regime of strict controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment. If Iran complied, the restrictions would be gradually lifted over the final five years. One issue critics are certain to focus on: Once the deal expired, Iran could theoretically ramp up enrichment to whatever level it wanted.

    In other words, the conservative press reported the deal gave Iran the bomb in 10 years because the deal that was being reported DID give Iran the bomb in 10 years, with America’s imprimatur.

    If you are going to defend Obama and attack Republicans on a site that is intended to be center right, you should endeavor to get your facts straight. Of course, I remain baffled why Fred spends more time on this site criticizing Republicans than he does criticizing Obama. I’m sure there is an interesting story behind that predilection.

    It’s not just that; his initial replies were to the comments that were clearly more radical and less carefully considered than most of the posts on the thread. Reading his first replies felt like watching someone set up and knock over a series of straw men.

    • #99
  10. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    Asquared:

    It occurred to me that Fred blatantly misrepresented the reported deal in his original post. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic of Fred when he wants to attack Republicans.

    It’s not just that; his initial replies were to the comments that were clearly more radical and less carefully considered than most of the posts on the thread. Reading his first replies felt like watching someone set up and knock over a series of straw men.

    Answering real people is not the same as knocking over strawmen. He certainly is not taking the argument for war in its strongest formulation, but we are not either, actually. When I hear myself just conclude, very rational-like, if they don’t want peace, let’s have other people than myself give them war!, I’m not entirely pleased with myself… I’m sure others feel the same way. I am not sure how the man has earned your suspicion–he seems to have aroused a lot it, & anger, but no sympathy, not to say respect.

    Leaving aside suspicion, the two sides arguing here seem to separate on the political question. Mr. Cole seems to think war is not politically possible, & therefore what’s left is mitigating losses. I would say, if you look at America, he’s right. Maybe Reagan would have done what was necessary. Nobody else, though. Would you agree so far? I’d say those of us who think you either start the war or threaten it now & start it later–we’re not considering what can be done in American politics, but what is necessary in Iran.

    So I think it’s worth it to start discussing the fundamentals, who is for war, ultimately, & who thinks it does not even come up as a possibility. & what can be done, if anything, to change the political discussion & the public opinion. How likely is it that someone will turn the American mind to war? Would that be wise?

    • #100
  11. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    It’s not just that; his initial replies were to the comments that were clearly more radical and less carefully considered than most of the posts on the thread. Reading his first replies felt like watching someone set up and knock over a series of straw men.

    I’ll tell you that what I did was start on the first page and work my way down replying to things.  I started after the Daily Shot was done and kept replying until it was midnight or so and then I went to bed because I had to get up in five hours.  There were other comments that I wanted to reply to that I haven’t had a chance to.

    If there’s something specific you want me to reply to, please ask.

    • #101
  12. Guy Incognito Member
    Guy Incognito
    @

    J. D. Fitzpatrick

    It’s not just that; his initial replies were to the comments that were clearly more radical and less carefully considered than most of the posts on the thread. Reading his first replies felt like watching someone set up and knock over a series of straw men.

    Yeah, that’s basically his MO, which is why I stopped bothering to post answers to his “questions”.

    • #102
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.