"When we're forced to go back in a couple of years, and please quote me on this, we'll be squared off against a shattered Iraq, a hopeless Afghanistan, and a nuclear Iran. How many troops are we going to need then? I guarantee you'll be adding some zeros."
--Senator Jasper Irving (Lions for Lambs)
Although I am critical of the Obama administration on most fronts, I applaud its leadership in brokering an interim deal with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons.
The agreement calls for Iran to curtail high level uranium enrichment and neutralize some rich uranium stockpiles in exchange for a reduction in trade sanctions. If Iran follows through on its promises, then its capacity for developing nuclear weapons will be reduced.
Predictably, hawks from the Right, and Israel, are protesting that the deal goes nowhere far enough. For example, Iran can still enrich uranium under this agreement. In addition, experience with other 'rogue' nations such as North Korea suggests that Iran could simply use this agreement as a smokescreen and proceed with its nuclear build-up.
Such arguments miss the mark. Neither the United States nor any other country or collection of countries has the right to dictate nuclear policy to another sovereign. Even if nuclear capability is directed toward weapon development, owning weapons is not an act of aggression. Weapons can be rightfully used for defensive purposes.
Many Second Amendment proponents hypocritically oppose weapon build-ups in other lands. The right to bear arms is not peculiar to the US. All have the right to build defense capacity as they see fit. The law tells us that perceiving someone else as a threat does not justify pre-emptive force to quell that threat. That other person must attack or must reasonably be perceived as on the cusp of initiating attack before counterforce is justified. If pre-emptive force is applied to neutralize a perceived threat that has not attacked, then that pre-emption is an act of aggression rather than of self-defense.
I would agree that the present deal with Iran does not go far enough--but in ways that both the hawks and this administration would not admit. A truly radical response to Iran's nuclear program would be this: totally withdraw all trade sanctions with Iran today. Encourage free, unhampered trade with Iran--and with all countries for that matter.
As such, from where I sit, the best part of the present deal is that trade sanctions have been reduced.
Perhaps Iran--and the US--and the world--can learn that the best interests of people in all countries are served when individuals engage in voluntary, peaceful exchange.