Opinion Columns & Blogs

Carrot or stick

We are on the verge of a historic nuclear arms agreement with Iran. It is a testament to President Obama’s foreign policy bona fides. If realized, this diplomatic coupe will rival Nixon’s establishment of relations with China 43 years ago.

We went from a cold war footing with China to trading partners, from arch enemy to economic interdependent. Had Nixon’s congress been of today’s Neocon and Tea Party persuasion, they would have prevented Nixon from negotiating with the enemy in 1972. China would have remained an arch enemy and become the greatest nuclear threat of our time. China is one of nine nuclear weapons states and could easily rain nuclear terror on the world. What stops them? They now have a lot to lose.

Being the second largest economy in the world, they are not about to risk it all. Although not quickly enough, prosperity is spreading creating a new Chinese educated middle class. That middle class is the greatest threat to China’s autocratic regime and is the best chance at a democratically reformed China.

The same goes for Iran. Regime change resulting in lasting peace, democracy and security can not be coerced by an external force. It has to originate from within. History has demonstrated that time and again. We’ve witnessed how the carrot is working with China, yet the Neocon and Tea Party faction of the Republican Party continue to embrace the stick. It didn’t work in Iraq.

Bush, Cheney, Bolton, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, and the entire Republican Neocon establishment sought regime change in Iraq through force. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the Iraq war would last five days, five weeks but no more than five months. He and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz said no more than 50,000 troops were needed. Twelve years later with 4500 dead, 100,000 wounded and $4.4 trillion spent, we are left with an Iraq in chaos, the entire region destabilized and more terrorists than ever. In spite of getting everything wrong, their narcissistic arrogance compels them to wield the big stick again.

Cuba didn’t bend to the will of the United States after a 55-year embargo. Unless you are driven by ideology, rational people understand that after repeating the same thing for 55 years and getting the same result, it is time to take a different approach. Another feather in Obama’s foreign policy credentials is opening relations with Cuba.

Obama, perhaps taking a cue from Republican President Richard Nixon, has set the wheels in motion to transform Iran from within, starting with this nuclear disarmament framework. You can read the details by searching “Text of Agreement With Iran on Its Nuclear Program.”

There are many vociferous dissenters against the Iran deal. Leading the charge are John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, and their standard bearer and surrogate president of the United States, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Consider this. If sanctions are lifted, Iran’s oil floods the market, further lowering oil prices. Maybe this is really about protecting the interests of the GOP’s big oil donors much like the Iraq war.

Netanyahu said Iran is a country of “congenital cheating” and it can’t be trusted. Netanyahu then said a completed deal must include an “unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.” Doesn’t insisting that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist require that Israel trust Iran? This contradiction shows Netanyahu is just playing politics.

In 2009, Netanyahu committed to supporting George W. Bush’s top priority, a two-state solution for a Palestinian state. In 2015, to win re-election, Netanyahu said as long as I am Prime Minister there will never be a Palestinian state. Can Netanyahu be trusted?

As Reagan said, “trust, but verify.” That is exactly what this framework agreement does. It contains the most comprehensive and intrusive inspections ever. It gives access to impenetrable bunkers and secret sites never before attainable.

Individuals turn to crime when desperate and hopeless, nations turn to terrorism and radicalism. Squeezing Iran with more sanctions makes them more desperate and hopeless and will only accelerate their desire for a bomb. Lifting sanctions does the opposite. As with China, if you have something to lose you won’t risk it. It’s only human nature.

Iran is no threat to America nor is it a real threat to Israel. Israel has 400 nuclear warheads, Iran has zero. If Netanyahu wants war with Iran, then do it with his own country’s blood and treasure, not America’s. Have Boehner and McConnell learned nothing from Iraq’s $4.4 trillion colossal disaster?