Yesterday’s announcement of a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program doesn’t solve everything, but it nevertheless was a powerful, historic moment and a tremendous shift toward de-escalating a grave threat to U.S. national security. And well worth celebrating.
A U.S. president appeared live on Iran state television for the first time since 1979. Iran agreed to stringent inspections by the IAEA for at least 15 years, with no sunset on its agreement to adhere to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) restrictions and prohibitions. (Plus many other clear reductions and restrictions specified in the full framework, which you can read HERE.) And, most important to Iran: as the IAEA verifies Iran’s compliance, nuclear-related sanctions will gradually be lifted. This was undoubtedly a profound moment in history.
Last fall I wrote about nuclear negotiations with Iran in Talking Points Memo:
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.
And I’ve also written on this blog that we have too much at stake here to screw up nuclear negotiations with partisan power-jockeying, or continuing on a trajectory of missed opportunities to improve the U.S. relationship with Iran. I’ve also written about the approach that Thomas Pickering and other prominent former diplomats have recommended (and that Iran appeared open to even before the election of Pres. Rouhani) to de-escalate Iran’s nuclear program and reopen dialogue between our countries.
Why am I so invested in this? Bottom line: no American lives should be lost in a war with Iran when it is fully within our capabilities to negotiate, de-escalate, and potentially resolve the critical issues at hand. We have smart diplomats who have been working on this for years. We have an open window with Iran right now to negotiate. My wish is for America to get as strongly behind our diplomats serving us abroad as we have behind our troops. Their job is incredibly important, too, and they deserve to have our full backing of these vital efforts.
My other personal investment here is maybe a tangential one, but also important: I think the U.S. needs more Iranian/Persian cuisine. Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionately in favor of a good meal. To celebrate yesterday’s preliminary nuclear deal, we went out for dinner at Ravagh Persian Grill‘s 30th Street location in Manhattan (they have five restaurants in the NYC area). Although the menu had all flavors of amazing meat kabobs–I nevertheless don’t eat much meat. But there were still plenty of choices to make us very, very happy. Here are the items we shared:
Ash Reshteh, a traditional Persian-style gumbo made of chickpeas and red beans, pureed mixed greens, some noodles, and topped with yogurt and fried onions.
Shirazi salad of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and chopped parsley.
Mirza Ghasemi, a dip made of pureed grilled eggplant mixed with tomato, garlic, and egg, along with warm pita bread.
Salmon Kebab, made up of cubed salmon grilled on a skewer with tomato and onion, served with aromatic rice pilau.
Zoolbia bamieh, fried dough with saffron and rosewater syrup.
Whether you feel happy or unhappy with the deal (and there remains much to discuss as negotiations move forward–see this morning’s great “skeptic’s guide” unpacking of the framework HERE), I highly recommend that everyone in the U.S. sit down for a good Persian meal and imagine a world where a final and fair nuclear deal with Iran is possible, and where we can begin to normalize U.S. relations with the Iranian people. It’s a sweet thought, and there should be plenty of zoolbia bamieh for everyone.