Anatomy of a Deal Breaker: How Hawks in Washington Want to Sabotage Iran Negotiations

P5+1 negotiating with Iran
P5+1 negotiating with Iran

The cynic in me tried to temper the thrill I felt when the early chapter of U.S.-Iran rapprochement reached its apex last month with the historic phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The leadership of these two belligerents finally seemed to simultaneously entertain peaceful resolution to their disputes. Today, Iran presented a proposal for a deal on its nuclear program to the P5+1, which was reportedly well-received.

But much of the political establishment in Washington, particularly the Republican Party, is dead set against détente. And their strategy for sabotaging the talks is simple: insist on making absurd demands everyone knows Iran would never accept, and then play it up to Iranian intransigence.

The case in point is Marco Rubio’s Op-Ed in today’s USA Today, in which he insists that “the bottom line in any negotiations should be clear: the only way sanctions on Iran will be lifted or suspended is if they agree to completely abandon any capability for enrichment or reprocessing.”

In Foreign Policy, Colin Kahl and Alireza Nader warn against this line of thinking, in which “hawks in Israel and Washington…

…have cautioned the Obama administration against acquiescing to an agreement that allows Iran to continue any domestic uranium enrichment, even at low levels suitable only for civilian nuclear power and under stringent international supervision. In his Oct. 1 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, for example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that only a complete dismantling of Iran’s enrichment program could prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. This position has been echoed by conservative think tanks in Washington and by numerous voices on Capitol Hill. Their collective mantra: “a bad deal is worse than no deal.”

In other words, Iran must surrender its internationally recognized right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and obey arbitrary U.S. demands or else face continued economic sanctions and threats of war. It is hard to fathom how infantile one has to be to really believe détente can happen via total surrender on one side and zero concessions on the other. But that’s what hawks demand.

This tough-guy routine the GOP insists upon is devoid of any utility because “if talks fail because the United States insists on a maximalist position, Khamenei and other Iranian hardliners will likely interpret it as definitive proof that Washington’s real goal is regime change rather than a nuclear accord,” Kahl and Nader explain.

Indeed, how could they reach any other conclusion? As I wrote recently at Al Jazeera, Iran has good reason to believe the main U.S. goal is regime change. Not only does this remove any incentive to make a deal, but it signifies to the Iranians that obtaining a nuclear deterrent is the only means of ensuring their survival in the face of preventive (read: criminal) war by the U.S.

Update: See Michael Crowley at Time on “Four Good Reasons Iran Doesn’t Trust America.”

16 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Deal Breaker: How Hawks in Washington Want to Sabotage Iran Negotiations”

  1. Where do anyone find these kind of bribing or blackmailing, one sided unjust politics a hawkish, naming these people "Hawks" gives a very bad name to nature and hawks. These people been living by each and every wars orchestrated and created by them, I would strongly suggest the emblem "hawks" be changed to what these people really are, vulture capitalism, again don't insult the nature and the hawk, hawks are living by the nature and for the nature, they obey the rules of nature, these people don't, more people respect the nature and have more respect for hawks then these vulture-ish people.

    1. No need to speak ill of vultures, either. They operate by natural instinct and do serve a useful function in the natural world. So what shall we call these people? I don't know–just plain old parasites? Pond scum, perhaps?

      1. pasasites are also a part of nature. how about the soulless creatures or something w/o offending the nature.

    1. Unfortunately these are the people writing the laws – and rule number 1 has always been protect thyself first…

  2. Given our past adventures in Iran beginning with re-installing the Shah after a revolution followed by another revolution that removed the Shah and our our embassy staff held hostage for months and the subsequent involvement in the Iraq/Iran wars it may be time to accept the almost complete failure about our Iran policy.

    The fork in the road is straight ahead either go Israel's way or Iran's way. There is no other way.

    1. And therein lies the problem… The US should be going America's way, doing what is best for the US, not Israel nor Iran.

  3. Iran hasn't launched a war against anybody for at least 200 years. It just doesn't want to be a vassal state of Washington. Is that belligerent?

  4. Try living next door to the USA! They want all our resources for practically free, they buy our governments and they want our young folks to die in wars they create. We don't believe a damn thing that comes out of their media, either–well, the sentient among us, anyway. Most of our media put on their shows and flog their propaganda. It's so bad, not only do I not believe the official version of 9/11, but I don't believe anyone landed on the moon, either. BS and bravado, aimed to sink the population into profitable wars.

  5. I think that one reason, among many, for Romney's defeat last year was his unwavering support for Netanyahu and belligerence toward Iran. Obama, for all his faults, was the peace candidate. My vote for Obama rested on my belief that Romney would blunder the US into an Iranian War at the behest of Israel's mad leader. The massive opposition to Obama's now scuttled plan to destroy what's left of Syria is some cause for hope. I hope the US public remains vigilant. Any presidential candidate (like Sen. Rubio, if he runs) who campaigns on a platform of blind obedience to Israel and more aggression against Iran should be soundly defeated before he/she smells the nomination.

  6. The more information government gathers on people, the more power it has over them. The more government surveillance, the more intimidated Americans become.

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