It now seems long ago that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned a joint session of Congress on the dangers of striking a deal with Iran that would end its nuclear buildup in return for a lifting of international sanctions.
“I've come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better,” he said.
President Obama ignored the prime minister’s bombast and the chorus of congressional Republicans who echoed his fears. The deal went through, and Iran has poured concrete into its nuclear reactor, shipped most of its nuclear fuel to other countries and recovered billions of dollars in revenue that had been cut off by the sanctions.
Regarding Iran as a nation rather than a pariah has produced immediate returns. Ten U.S. sailors who strayed into Iranian waters were promptly handed back, and a prisoner swap brought the release of three Americans held by Iran and the return of an American student detained by Iran.
These peaceful outcomes are far preferable to an atmosphere tense with standoffs and threats in which one incident – such as U.S. sailors captured in Iranian waters – could trigger a war. And with communications reopened and Iran re-engaged in diplomacy, Iran could also help ease conflicts in the region, especially in Syria.
The cooling effects of the Iran deal should give its critics pause. Obama’s instinct was right: Give peace a chance.