The Alternative
by Gamaliel Isaac

was published in Family Security Matters, on September 22, 2015


The most common counter-argument directed to those who criticize the deal the United States made with Iran is that the alternative is worse.  Senator Coons of Delaware explained his support for the deal by saying “The alternative, to me, is a scenario of uncertainty and isolation. “  Senator Cory Booker said “it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse.”    National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that “a bad deal is worse than no deal.”  President Obama said  “the choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war. “  Kerry insisted that “there’s no alternative being provided”  by  opponents of the deal. “They all say, oh, why didn’t you crush them with the sanctions? I will tell you why. Because they won’t be crushed by sanctions. That’s been proven. And because we will lose the other people who are helping to provide those sanctions. They are not going to do that if Iran is willing to make a reasonable agreement....There is a lot of fantasy out there about this — quote — ‘better deal.’ The fact is that we spent four years putting together an agreement that had the consent of Russia, China, France, Germany, Great Britain and Iran. That is not easy.”

Listening to Kerry one gets the impression that the United States tried to come up with a tough agreement but its European partners stood in the way. 

That’s not the way the Europeans see it.  Bruno Tertrais wrote in July 2015 in the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir that "with pressure from the Obama administration" European negotiators' original intent deteriorated from a rollback of Iran's nuclear ambitions to their containment.  Likewise Camille Grand, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research -- a think tank with a reputation for telling truths the French government might prefer to avoid--said: "the Americans gave the impression they wanted the deal more than Iran did. The administration put more pressure on its friends in the negotiations than on the Iranians."

According to Obama the deal cuts off all pathways to the bomb.  But in order for this deal to cut off all pathways to the bomb, the West has be able to catch Iran if it cheats on the deal and be able to apply enough pressure to make Iran stop cheating.  Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes confirmed that:

under this deal, you will have anywhere/anytime, 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has. 

After the Obama administration gave up on that demand lead U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman told reporters

I think this is one of those circumstance where we have all been rhetorical from time to time.  That phrase, ‘anytime, anywhere,’ is something that became popular rhetoric

she said  

Like Mr. Rhodes Hillary Clinton reassured America.  In a speech at the Brookings Institution she said  “if Iran cheats we’ll know it and we’ll have time to respond decisively.” 

But how will we know if Iran is cheating?   American inspectors are not allowed under the terms of the deal, and Iran can choose which inspectors it will allow.  In addition Iran has said that its military sites are off limits to inspectors.  According to the Associated Press a secret side deal lets Iran uses its own inspectors to investigate the Parchin site, where Iran is suspected of developing nuclear arms.  Reuters report on Sept 21 that Iranian experts have taken samples in Parchin facilities ‘without IAEA's inspectors being present,' confirms the accuracy of the Associated Press report. 

Hillary’s statement that “we’ll have time to act decisively” raises the question of what decisive action she is referring to.  Kerry said Iran “won’t be crushed by sanctions”.  That leaves military action.  Originally Obama proclaimed that all options — including military attack — were “on the table.” Later  Obama told Israeli TV “a military option is not on the table and will not eliminate an Iranian nuclear threat.  A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it.”

In an interview with the New York Times Obama added: “We know that a military strike or a series of military strikes can set back Iran’s nuclear program for a period of time — but almost certainly will prompt Iran to rush towards a bomb, will provide an excuse for hard-liners inside of Iran to say, ‘This is what happens when you don’t have a nuclear weapon: America attacks.’”

In the unlikely event that a future American president decides to attempt to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, he or she will be faced with a much more formidable foe as a result of the agreement.  Russia has sold batteries of S300s, one of the world’s most advanced  air defense systems to Iran and the Chinese are already negotiating the sale to Iran of 24 Chengdu J-10 fourth-generation fighter jets. 

Sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program will be a lot more difficult as well, since as part of the deal the West will train Iran on how to protect its nuclear sites against sabotage.  This is according to a copy of the agreement furnished by both the Russians and Iranians.

Even if Iran abides by the deal,  its ability to produce an arsenal of nuclear weapons will increase over time as the West assists Iran in the development of faster centrifuges as part of the deal.  In addition the deal allows Iran to develop and purchase ballistic missile technology.  Nearly 200 retired military leaders, including Bud Edney, the former supreme commander of NATO, signed a letter in which they pointed out that the sale of ballistic missile technology will facilitate Iranian development of ICBMS that can reach the United States. 

Senator Menendez, one of the few Democrats sane enough to reject the agreement, pointed out another problem.  He said: “Within about a year of Iran meeting its initial obligations, Iran will receive sanctions relief to the tune of $100–150 billion in the release of frozen assets…”

Once Iran has that money and the S300s, whatever leverage the United States has will be gone and Iran could openly violate the agreement, build an arsenal of nuclear weapons protected by S300 missiles, and keep the money.  The infusion of funds will be a bonanza not only for Iran but for Iran’s terrorist proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.  In fact in the short time since the deal was signed Iran has already increased financial support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

What if President Rouhani, as Obama believes, is really a moderate?  What if their leaders aren’t mad Mullahs but rational people with grievances?  Secretary of State Kerry pointed out that:

From their perspective, they look out and say, what the hell were you guys doing? You were supporting Saddam Hussein against us. We fought six years of war, we lost a million people, and you guys were giving him the weapons to do it. And when they gassed our citizens, you didn’t go to the UN the way you did with [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad]. … They argue very passionately, they say, look, a certain country has been assassinating our scientists. You and others have been invading us with technical means and trying to screw up our program.

What if, as Obama has suggested, Iran feels vulnerable and insecure and in pain and is worried America will repeat actions that hurt it in the past?  Perhaps if the West agreed to protect the Iranian nuclear program Iran would feel less vulnerable and might even become a friend.  (Protecting Iran’s program is actually part of the agreement).  What if lifting sanctions will reduce the ill will that Iran feels toward the United States?  What if Obama was right when he explained that the nuclear deal with Iran was a good place to start to achieve American goals of everyone “living in peace?”  Maybe engagement will strengthen the moderates in Iran and create good will between them and the United States.

The fallacy of the grievances argument is that radical Muslims always have grievances.  When the West is compelled to defend itself against radical Islamic aggression that becomes a grievance.  The fact that the Iranians still haven’t released the American hostages raises doubt about the good will this agreement will bring.  The brutality of the Iranian regime to its own people raises doubt about Iranian moderation.  The calls of death to America by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei while Kerry touted progress in the talks and the chants of “Death to America” at the Al Quds demonstration attended by  President Hassan Rouhani after the agreement strongly suggest that Iran’s leaders are not as moderate as Obama would have us believe. 

Former president Jimmy Carter also believed the radical Muslims of Iran were moderate.  Mr. Carter perceived Khomeini as a religious holy man in a grassroots revolution.  Andrew Young, Carter’s ambassador to the United Nations said” Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint.” Carter’s Iranian ambassador, William Sullivan, said, “Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure.” Carter adviser James Bill proclaimed on Feb. 12, 1979 that Khomeini was not a mad mujahid, but a man of “impeccable integrity and honesty.”  The  policies of President Carter, resting on such delusions, turned what was once an America ally into the nuclear menace it is on the verge of becoming. 

     The misconception of both Jimmy Carter and President Obama is that there are moderates in the Iranian leadership.  The moderates are among the people of Iran.  In 2009 those people protested and were gunned down.  The Obama administration complained but did nothing.  That was a major mistake.  Hillary Clinton implied that when she said:

I think we were too restrained in our support of the protests in June 2009 and in our condemnation of the government crackdown that followed.  That won’t happen again.

Given the fate of those who rose in rebellion and the lack of support from the West, it is very unlikely that there will be another such opportunity.  So what is the alternative? 

In the short term the alternative is to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, whatever the price, because any price is better than a nuclear Iran.  Obama is right that they will rebuild their capability which is why it is necessary to do whatever it takes to liberate the moderate Iranians from the current Iranian regime.