From Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham to other Republican presidential candidates, the reaction to the Obama administration’s deal to get Iran to curb its ambitions for nuclear arms has been uniformly negative. It’s sad, in a way, that whether it’s a judicial nomination or a nuclear arms treaty, the GOP response is utterly predictable.
Part of the reaction from Graham and other GOP presidential aspirants is explained in their need to appeal to the Republican right-wing base. And, it’s an opportunity to pander to Israel, which Graham went over the top in doing, calling the treaty “akin to declaring war on Israel.” Netanyahu believes any discussion with anyone other than Israel is a threat to his country.
But the truth is, this is a good deal. It is not perfect, and it is time-limited (Iran will not be able to build beyond a limit on enriched uranium for 10 years) but it is preferable to war, which seems to be the Republican alternative. President George W. Bush’s shoot first, ask questions later approach didn’t work well, and thousands of Americans perished in Iraq and Afghanistan. And any kind of attack on Iran would inflame the entire Mideast, possibly drawing Americans into another prolonged and deadly confrontation.
The leadership in Iran is changing. It may be that in a decade new leaders will be more inclined to negotiate further limits. The world is changing. Talking remains better than shooting or bombing.