The Illogical Assault on Iran Deal

Israel’s domination of U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast is no more evident than in the prescribed hatred toward Iran. But there are also logical arguments on the merits that ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar examines.

By Paul R. Pillar

A major theme of those seeking to kill the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is that Iran is doing lots of other things, especially in the Middle East, deemed undesirable. Such rhetoric flows freely even though these other things are not covered by the JCPOA and are unrelated to the agreement.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

Arguments based on this rhetoric are just as dishonest as many other arguments of opponents, whose motivations involve not the terms of the JCPOA but instead other reasons they want to kill this accord and to oppose any agreement, on any subject and regardless of the terms, with Iran. We know this because death of the JCPOA clearly would not make matters any better according to the very criteria that opponents themselves offer. On some subjects, such as the sunset clauses that apply to certain provisions of the JCPOA, death of the agreement would make matters even worse according to those same criteria.

Dishonest or not, the smoke produced by the rhetoric needs to be blown away for the benefit of those trying to consider the subject more honestly. The undesirable Iranian actions are usually mentioned in very vague, nonspecific terms, such as in referring to “nefarious, malign, destabilizing behavior” — or similar terminology. For stylistic concision, let us label this idea as NMDB. The notion of NMDB as customarily used in debate about Iran is beset by many problems. These usually include a failure to be more specific about exactly what Iranian actions are included, to examine how Iranian actions differ from what other states in the region are doing, to consider why Iran is doing what it does and whether there is any realistic hope of…

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