Academic journal article Social Justice

Anatomy of a Done Deal: The Fight over the Iran Nuclear Accord

Academic journal article Social Justice

Anatomy of a Done Deal: The Fight over the Iran Nuclear Accord

Article excerpt


This article explores the political forces most involved in the contest over the Obama administration's landmark signing, on July 14, 2015, of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, along with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany. The accord codifies in international law Iran's reaffirmation to refrain from seeking, developing, or acquiring nuclear weapons, in exchange for relief from Western sanctions. It represents a departure from the post-Cold War dominance of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists over US foreign policymaking, but the 2016 presidential campaign will keep the issue in the limelight. The author suggests alternative future directions for US foreign policy in the Middle East, the inertia toward war versus containment in the military, intelligence, and national security bureaucracies, as well as the contradictory interests of transnational corporations, many of which will continue to chafe under a sanctions regime that has freed up European and Asian firms. So long as Congress does not reverse states of emergency, including anti-Iran measures in the Patriot Act, true detente and full reintegration of Iran in the world economy will remain elusive. A powerful constellation of states is ready to move on without the United States to stabilize the Middle East.

Keywords: nuclear nonproliferation, sanctions, Iran, foreign policy, neoconservative-Likud nexus, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPO A), oil, BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, 2016 election


UNTIL TRUMPED BY ANTI-IMMIGRANT AND BORDER SECURITY ISSUES (THEREBY jettisoning the Republican 2012 "autopsy" calling for greater tolerance and inclusion), it was presumed that Republican foreign policy strategy in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections would question Democratic policies on the threat posed by ISIS and Iran, as well as the halting approach to making America number one in energy production via fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline. But the Obama administration's recent nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic of Iran removes the Iranian dimension to that strategy. It represents a return to President Obama's initial foreign policy promise of engaging rather than confronting adversaries (if not ending "the mindset that got us into war") and fulfilling the popular mandate to extract the United States from costly wars abroad. Critics of the deal refuse to recognize Iran as an equal in the international system of states, make the policies of right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party the litmus test for being pro-Israel, and identify Israeli national interests with US interests.

Beyond its staggering oil and gas reserves, Iran is about to emerge as one of the world's most technologically developed nations, boasting a successful space program, and is already contending for regional leadership along with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. However, Israel's nuclear arsenal and public promotion of regime change in neighboring countries create disequilibrium and the impetus to neutralize US and Israeli nuclear weapons, or at least to maintain the option of developing them in the future. Following the Iran accord, Egypt and other Arab and Muslim states reintroduced a resolution to subject Israel's nuclear facilities to international supervision at the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference in mid-September 2015. The non-binding resolution calls for an international conference on making the Middle East a nuclear-weapons-free zone. In the past, Israel has defeated similar resolutions (proposed by Iran and Egypt), with the aid of the United States, Britain, and Canada.

When fully implemented, the nuclear agreement may have a far-reaching impact for the prospects of peace in the region and beyond. The United States fashioned the accord along with the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council--Britain, France, China, Russia--and Germany. …

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