Middle East hawks call for another showdown to derail Iran deal for good

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  • Speculation that the parties to the Iran nuclear deal may soon reach an agreement has led warhawks to denounce the progress.
  • These hawks have claimed that thanks to the failed policies they advocated, the US must now prepare to launch another costly war of its choosing in the Middle East.
  • Jeremy Ben-Ami is the President of J Street.

In view of the intensifying negotiations in Vienna on the Iranian nuclear program and the speculation that the chances of some kind of agreement between the parties are increasing, the Warhawk have come into force, denouncing diplomatic progress and endorsing moves that could lead to military conflict.

These are, of course, the same people who pushed President Donald Trump to withdraw from the JCPOA – to disastrous effect – and are the reason we are in this unfortunate and uncertain situation in the first place.

In 2015, those of us leading the campaign in support of the JCPOA understood that diplomacy, not war, is the only way to deal effectively with Iran’s nuclear program. And the agreement worked. Iran’s nuclear materials have been shipped out of the country and its nuclear program has been subjected to one of the most rigorous and intrusive inspection regimes in history.

The deal not only scaled back Iran’s nuclear program in the short-term, but introduced permanent, increased inspections to prevent the country from doing so always Acquisition of a bomb.

It was a comprehensive non-proliferation agreement that garnered the support of a majority of Americans, including American Jews, and American and Israeli security officials who understood the need for diplomacy rather than war.

Trump Iran

Trump with memorandum to reinstate sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal, May 8, 2018.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


In 2018, Trump pointlessly withdrew from the deal, even though it worked as intended.

The “maximum pressure” approach he chose instead, backed then and now by groups opposed to diplomacy, was a complete failure: it empowered Iranian hardliners, allowing the country to ramp up uranium enrichment to unprecedented levels and escalated tensions to the point where they almost came to an end. blown war.

But instead of acknowledging their gross miscalculation, these same hawkish voices now dishonestly blame the current situation on “failed diplomacy”. They tell us that, thanks to the failed policies that they themselves advocated, the US must now prepare to wage another costly election campaign in the Middle East.

Opponents of diplomacy have for years advanced the same inaccurate arguments, drumming support for bellicose “maximum pressure” policies and even pre-emptive military strikes – in part by playing on serious fears about Iran‘s hostility towards Israel.

In fact, however, a broad spectrum of top Israeli security officials agree that diplomacy with Iran is in the best interest of Israel’s security and that the approach taken by Trump and his right-wing supporters was a dangerous failure.

Tamir Pardo, former Mossad director, sees the US withdrawal from the JCPOA as a “tragedy” and a “strategic mistake” for Israel. Danny Citrinowicz, former Head of the Iranian Division in the Research and Analysis Branch of the Israeli Military Intelligence Service, has described Trump’s maximum pressure strategy as a “disaster”. which has unleashed Iran’s nuclear development and increased the likelihood of armed conflict. Even the IDF’s current intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, reportedly told the Israeli cabinet this month that a nuclear deal with Iran is better than no deal at all.

Those concerned about Israel’s security would do well to heed the words of these and numerous other Israeli military officials. Additionally, a recent poll of American Jews found that more than two-thirds (69%) support US re-entry into the Iran deal.

US-Iran nuclear deal

Iranians in northern Tehran celebrate after Iran’s nuclear deal was signed on April 2, 2015.

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi


Many of those opposing this consensus and inciting Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal are the same voices that pushed for the disastrous US invasion of Iraq.

Not only have they failed to acknowledge the consequences of these unwise decisions, but they are now ready to plunge into the same abyss again by urging military strikes against Iran.

Armed conflict with the Iranian regime would pose a terrible cost to the men and women in the armed forces, to our economy, to the Iranian people, and to the entire region – including Israel, which would almost certainly face retaliation and backlash.

And considering how sick the American people are of needless election wars, that path would also likely prove politically disastrous for politicians who mistakenly believe it is in their best interest to stake out hawkish positions.

Diplomacy has proven to be the only effective way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and avoid war. With a bit of luck, the coming weeks will bring success in the ongoing negotiations.

But whatever the outcome of the Vienna talks, the clearest lesson to be learned from the disasters of American Middle East policy over the past generation is that we must not listen to the same hawkish voices urging conflict and pressure, and be allowed to campaign decisively for diplomacy and peace instead.

Jeremy Ben-Ami is president of J Street, the pro-Israel and pro-peace advocacy group that has been a strong supporter of the JCPOA nuclear deal and diplomacy with Iran.

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