In a disappointing move, nuclear negotiations with Iran have been postponed another seven months, giving hardliners in both the U.S. and Iran the opportunity to screw up what could otherwise be the most positive development in U.S.-Iran relations in nearly 40 years.
Last Friday I had an op-ed in Talking Points Memo voicing my support for the negotiations that were slated to restart this week. With Iran’s nuclear program frozen over the last year, and their destruction of weapons-grade nuclear materials a few months back, we’ve seemed on the cusp of major success in getting Iran to abandon their plan to attain a nuclear weapon. Sanctions have worked to get Iran to the negotiating table, and with incremental steps toward building trust in the process on both sides, there appeared a real possibility for deescalating one of the most profound threats to the security of the U.S. and our allies.
I wrote in TPM that a military option in Iran is the last thing we want:
I spent nearly three years deployed as a soldier in Afghanistan, and if nothing else has been clear to me, it is that military action has profound costs and consequences for our men and women in uniform, as well as for civilians caught in the midst of conflict. Air strikes may take out objectives, but they also can leave behind a void of destruction, hatred, and a ripple effect of continued violence that may prove worse than what we sought to destroy in the first place. Diplomacy is our best and most promising tool right now — but it will take the full support of the American people to succeed.
My full op-ed is here: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/iran-nuclear-negotiations
With a new seven-month extension of talks, Iran’s nuclear weapons development will continue to be frozen (and be verified as such), but with more time will come more opportunities to create barriers to the negotiations succeeding. What we should be most concerned about is the new sanctions that appear inevitable with the incoming Congress. If the U.S. government fails to show a united front behind diplomatic talks, Iran’s Supreme Leader, already impatient with delays and decades of mixed messages from Washington, is likely to withdraw his government from negotiations and restart Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Iran has come to the negotiating table. The right way to move forward is with responsible, tough diplomacy–not saber-rattling, arrogance, and swagger. The U.S.–and the world–has far too much at stake here. We can’t screw this up.