FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US-Iran Deal: a Victory for Peace?

by

shutterstock_139772101

The nuclear deal with Iran has been debated like crazy in American politics. The Republicans say that the American side gave up too much without getting anything in return because it still allows Iran to have a finger in the development of nuclear technology and slowly undoes sanctions against Iran. So what does it mean to say that “we” gave Iran what it wanted and “we” got nothing in return? Obviously, the American leaders who negotiated this deal thought they got something because they concluded it. In any agreement, you give up something and you get something. So what did the US get?

Iran’s position before negotiations was that its nuclear project is a matter of its national sovereignty; it is complying with international agreements, so there is nothing to negotiate. America then lead a sanctions regime against Iran, waging war by economic means instead of military. Iran then said it would agree to talk. “Talking” means negotiating Iran’s sovereignty over what it can and can’t do. This was already a political victory for the USA.

The sanctions can now be removed because they had their effect: they brought about an end to Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program was internationally legal and to the possibility of Iran producing high grade uranium. Iran has now agreed, on the basis of sanctions, to a 15 year pause in the development of fissionable material. Of course, the US might have gotten more, but it was already a huge blow to Iran that it has put its sovereignty up for negotiation with the Great Satan.

The Ayatollah demanded that Iran’s parliament debate and pass the treaty – this is similar to the American system in the sense that they don’t want this to be just a matter agreed to by heads of state, but by representatives of the people. Another victory for the US: Iran has to somehow sell this as a good thing for Iran because it can be back in the world market with its money, when Iran has capitulated to US demands in every way.

Iran’s self-mythology is that it is a kind of anti-western alternative state. The Ayatollahs, the moral force against the hated US-client state under the Shah, set up a state with veto power in the upper levels of the clergy. Other than that, its a normal state interested in wealth and influence. However, it isn’t making territorial claims; it wants power over parts of Iraq because Iraq invaded it in the 1980s with Israeli and Saudi support. It doesn’t represent itself as the leader of Islam like Saudi Arabia, but as the most steadfast enemy of Israel; part of this claim is its support for the Syrian state, or what’s left of it, and the Islamic part of Lebanon. This has a defensive aspect.

From the Iranian point of view, years of sanctions and sabotage and the destruction of its Syrian ally having taken their toll; not being attacked militarily starts looking like a positive thing. Its like somebody sticking a gun in your belly, taking your money, putting the gun away, and calling it even.

From the Republican point of view, America got nothing from the deal because America is in all-out war with Iran, so only the complete capitulation of the Islamic Republic would be an acceptable outcome. An enemy state has to be destroyed; removing sanctions is “giving in” to Iran, as if the normal state of affairs is to use whatever means it takes to destroy it. Good Republicans don’t negotiate with enemies of America; they just bomb them.

The Obama administration has decided not to destroy Iran, but to nibble away at its sovereignty. Obama says there is no urgency to destroy Iran and, besides, the US doesn’t need to because, ultimately, Iran should be useful for the US. This means it should use its sovereignty for America’s benefit.

The Republicans say that Obama showed “weakness” by negotiating with Iran at all, instead of using war to make demands. But this is actually the opposite of weakness. It is the strength of a state that it can decide when war is worth it. The US is in the luxurious position of deciding: should we go to war or not? The whole nation is invited to take part in this debate. What are the chances to win? What will we win? In a war that is about defending a state under attack, nobody has these questions. They just rally round. These are wars of choice, not wars about the existence of the nation. Iran can’t do this; the basis of its power is at stake and it is weak in relation to America.

The US can also pick the means that it wants to use for extending its reach in the Middle East. Obama says that its better to have allied states do its dirty work, support subversion, and hold negotiations. Obama’s diplomatic triumph is showed by the make-up of the negotiating committee: the European Union (with Germany recognized as a special interest), Russia, and China. Obama has gotten the whole world together by using “hotspots” to organize competing interests under America’s umbrella. Obama wants to make a world order by gathering countries together to isolate another country and getting concessions.

It is a peculiarity of the USA that it takes positions on the weaponry of the rest of the world. It installs itself as the superpower referee who defines which weapons are legitimate or illegitimate, as if America is a power above conflicts. This suits its goal to be the world’s superpower without challenge. That’s not how it looks to most Americans; they see the whole world as a place for the US to judge whether there is war or peace, and a recalcitrant state is by definition a disturbance of the peace.

The press has hailed the deal with Iran as a victory for diplomacy over force because Obama is sparing the USA from another un-won war. Many people think that diplomacy has to something do with non-violence because diplomats don’t carry guns. But what kinds of demands are being raised in diplomatic negotiations? The same demands that lead to war. The basis of all diplomacy between states is the threat they can bring to bear; and America uses all the means at its disposal, diplomatic as well as military.

The carrot is that a state can enter into the capitalist world market and try its luck there; the stick is American intransigence at all places. If anyone thinks that Obama is a peacenik because he offers a carrot to those in conflict with the US, it should be remembered that this only leads to an American-defined peace if the other side agrees to concede.

The nuclear agreement with Iran changes nothing in the basic hostility between the USA and Iran except that this is a victory for the US and for Obama’s strategy. Obama is using the occasion of the deal to make even more demands on Iran. Its should be clear that this is not going to end until the Iranian state turns into something that America finds agreeable.

Geoffrey McDonald is an editor at Ruthless Criticism. He can be reached at: ruthless_criticism@yahoo.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail