On Iran: Let's Not Go To War
As the Trump administration mulls over decertifying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the so-called Iran Deal, we should take this decision with as much seriousness as it deserves.
What options do we have if we renege on the Iran Deal? Some suggest that we could reimpose sanctions to force the Iranians to capitulate on their enrichment programs. However, sanctions over the course of years during the Bush and Obama administrations only encouraged the Iranians to work quicker. While sanctions hobbled the regime, their breakout capability of building a bomb was as short as 8-12 weeks. Clearly, the long game wasn't working.
The United States was left with two options: military force or renewed diplomacy. Thankfully, the Obama administration chose the latter. Israel expected that framing nuclear Iran as an existential threat would compel the U.S. to act; it did, but instead of military action, Iran halted their production of centrifuges and the U.S. prevented military escalation.
If we end sanctions now, what will the recourse be? It seems unlikely that Iran would possibly entertain a new deal; the landmark agreement in place now resulted from months of secretive, backdoor meetings. Sanctions ran their course and allowed us to make what peace we could - revisiting them would only encourage Iran to craft a bomb.
The only solution short of diplomacy is war. The Trump administration ran on isolationist rhetoric, but this path leads inexorably toward regime change. If we want to repeat the errors of the past, when we upended stasis in the Middle East by deposing Hussein, then we certainly should decertify the Iran Deal. If, however, we would prefer a peaceful Middle East, maintaining the agreement is essential.