I just listened in to a conference call sponsored by a couple of organizations that are in favor of the Iran deal, and one of the participants made the point that we shouldn’t assume that anyone who opposes this deal is doing so because they’re out for war with Iran. There are definitely areas in the agreement over which reasonable people can disagree, though I would argue that’s part of the reason why you need to get the best deal you can and then observe it in action before you can really make any judgments about it. But yes, plenty of people are going to oppose this deal while also rejecting the extremist position that the only way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and/or its unfriendly government is through military force. Likewise, I’m sympathetic to the pro-deal position, but I also understand that there will be people who support this deal for reasons that I don’t share. Some deal opponents will oppose the deal in good faith, and some deal supporters will support it in bad faith. Life is a rich tapestry and each of us is a unique snowflake.
But look, when William Kristol is out with this blazing hot take at 7:12 this morning, when the details of the deal were only barely emerging:
We have a deal. It’s a deal worse than even we imagined possible. It’s a deal that gives the Iranian regime $140b in return for … effectively nothing: no dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program, no anytime/anywhere inspections, no curbs on Iran’s ballistic missile program, no maintenance of the arms embargo, no halt to Iran’s sponsorship of terror.
…then it’s pretty safe to call it what it is. Kristol has had that three-paragraph pot-stirrer, or something very much like it, teed up for days now, and he had it (or something similar) ready to run every time these negotiations have approached a deadline, just in case a deal — any deal — was announced. He hadn’t read the terms of the deal when he posted it. We know this because the actual deal keeps both the arms embargo and the ballistic missile embargo in place for another 5 and 8 years, respectively, and Kristol easily could have argued that those terms weren’t long enough if he meant to argue in good faith about it (or, well, anything, ever). Kristol doesn’t oppose this deal, he opposes any deal.
Similarly, when Joe Lieberman is testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 10 AM on the day the deal was announced, and is already declaring it a disastrous failure, you know he would have said the same thing about any deal, regardless of its particular contents. When former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren publishes a lengthy criticism of the deal, at 7:28 this morning, that talks as much about North Korea as it does about Iran, and only cites “preliminary reports” when talking about the actual content of this deal, then you know he didn’t really care what that content was. He was ready to publish this piece no matter the actual deal looked like.
Matt Yglesias has a nice run-down of several times that right-wingers have rejected negotiating with America’s enemies over the years, and, you know, maybe these guys aren’t always looking for more war, but they sure do seem to argue against anything that might increase the amount of peace in the world an awful lot. So it is, specifically, with Lieberman (who has been gunning for war with Iran since at least 2006), Kristol (ditto), and Oren (at least since 2012). All deal opponents may not prefer war, but these three? I think we can draw some conclusions about them.
UPDATE: Inexplicably I forgot about Oren’s former/sometime boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose reaction to the deal was predictably hyperbolic. But I want to suggest that Netanyahu gets something of a pass here by virtue of the office he holds. Just as it’s in Barack Obama’s political interest to argue that this deal will mean Iran never gets a nuclear weapon and that it will lead to increased Middle East stability, it’s in Netanyahu’s political interest to terrify the Israeli public and any interested foreign governments about the inevitable doom that this deal will bring. So you have to expect some unwarranted certainty and bad faith argumentation from his end. Anybody who’s relying only on Bibi (or Obama, for that matter) to dictate his or her thinking about this deal isn’t doing themselves justice.
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