One thing missing amid the Republicans’ attempts to miscast the Iran nuclear deal as “bad” and their belief in the necessity for building a “great wall” on our Southern border is common sense.
Let’s consider the wall. This country’s resources will be misspent in building a structure that will be breached in short order—whether by tunnels, some sort of catapult system, or just plain old determination. The money, time, and effort would be better spent to bolster cybersecurity. Cyber threats with respect to our power grid, utilities, water treatment plants, nuclear plants, hospitals, and the like, is far more crucial to our safety and has the potential to impact millions of our citizens at one time. Additionally, a wall across the border would not keep homegrown terrorists from becoming inspired via the internet to commit acts of terror here. It’s also crucial to remember that a determined terrorist abroad (with specific knowledge) doesn’t even have to enter our country in order to carry out a cyber attack.
Now let’s consider the Iran nuclear deal. Trusting Iran to always keep its word with respect to the treaty that forced it to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium for 15 years will be challenging, if not impossible. In the end, however, it’s better to have a deal that we can hope buys us time to deal with whatever the future brings vs. no deal. Before the deal, Iran had enough low-enriched uranium to develop a nuclear bomb within 2-3 months. A 2-3 month timeframe would have made it virtually impossible to avoid a terrible war. If the Iranian’s adhere to the other parts of the deal, then we have at least 15 years to figure out a better approach and hopefully, avoid war. It’s far more important that Iran reduce the stockpile now. The most important outcome of the Iran deal is that sanctions imposed by a broad coalition of U.S. allies in order to bring the Iranians to the bargaining table specifically to discuss reducing the probability of expansion of the country’s nuclear program worked. These same allies were not willing to continue the sanctions, and any sanctions imposed by the U.S. in a one-sided effort would not have been sufficient to move the needle. Once they were at the table, the compartmentalization of the nuclear program negotiations, which separated our various grievances against the regime, was probably a major contributor to the success of that deal. The fact that the Iranians chose — as would be expected — to spin the other payment deal that came about because of international litigation — is irrelevant to the criticality of the end result. The free world got what was needed at least for now—a reduction in the stockpile of low-enriched uranium—thereby giving the U.S. and its allies some time to figure out how to manage the rest of the challenge should Iran renege on the other parts of the deal. If anyone thinks that engaging in a war with Iran while we are still embroiled in dealing with the rest of the problems in the Middle East, as well as the potential for a confrontation with North Korea given its leader’s saber rattling and growing nuclear capability, and at the same time meet the enormous expense and effort in dealing with cybersecurity threats, while handling any other military or security threats that pop up…well, to me, trying to engage on all of these fronts simultaneously would pose a great danger to the U.S. Pursuing a series of diplomatic efforts to contain whatever threats we can is a wise and prudent approach. Engaging all threats full-on with military solutions or ineffective sanctions that cannot be imposed ad infinitum would be reckless and seriously imperil the United States’ ability to defend itself against existential threats.
As a side note—much has been made of the payment made to Iran as the result of litigation dating from the deposing of the Shah of Iran. I agree, it’s unfortunate that the timing of the delivery on the judgment made it look like ransom for hostages. But quite frankly, no matter what we do (or who is the U.S. President), it is highly likely that the Iranian leadership will do all it can to spin the end result of any deal or situation to make it look like they won something. What I can offer is the often cited, but I believe correct, assertion that diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a manner that they look forward to the trip.
In summary, the Republicans’ faulty logic on both the immigration and foreign relations fronts will not only endanger our nation’s fiscal health, but will do a double disservice by placing too much emphasis on the wrong priorities. Expending time, money, and human endeavor on the wrong priorities or ineffective solutions will only serve to weaken our country.