As we come up to the 70th Anniversary of the atomic bomb strikes on Japan (which I feel were justified and saved American lives and that of many Japanese civilians that would have been lost in an invasion of the island) preventing nuclear proliferation is a critical part of global diplomacy. Even as a liberal Democrat here in Florida, almost everything I have heard about the Iran Nuclear deal has been negative while circulating among other progressives. It’s been quite surprising honestly – I saw the deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and his team as a landmark breakthrough in American diplomacy. Throughout much of the world it was viewed this way even being supported openly by Conservative PM David Cameron in the UK (But some would argue the Brits have long ceased to have an independent foreign policy when it comes to big non-European matters).
No doubt that the clerics who run the show in Tehran cannot be entirely trusted. But the United States has long tilted one way in the disputes that characterize the Muslim world and it what President Obama and Secretary Kerry are accomplishing with the Iran deal is a more balanced, nuanced American policy when it comes to the Middle East. The United States does not need to show definitive tilt in a dispute between Sunni and Shi’a Muslim theocracies, but over the last 30 years has demonstrated one.
Many of the US allies in the region are theocracies (no different that Iran) that do not care for the civil liberties of their people and have held a great percentage of their populations in virtual bondage. Unlike Iran, some of these countries even operate a virtual slave labor market of foreigners and those who are not Muslims. Many Republicans including Florida’s Junior Senator and Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio and some Democrats United States responsibility to help ensure the “security” of these repressive theocracies. One these nations, Bahrain has undergone protests by its Shi’a majority since the beginning of the Arab spring against the Saudi backed Sunni minority government.
My extensive, multi-year study of these issues leads me to believe the proliferation of anti-western, anti-Christian, and anti-Hindu/Buddhist Islamic terror has less to do with Iran and its allies including Bashar Assad’s Syria but its enemies in the region such as the oppressive Saudi regime. (I am not saying Iran/Syria does not sponsor terrorism but not to the extent other states Many Republicans and Democrats imply are our allies do not- still they are an exporter of terror and must be treated as such, but the application of this should be consistent) It is worth noting that in the period after 9/11 Iran was far more cooperative with American intelligence agencies than the Saudis were and had been strongly opposed to the Saudi sponsored Taliban theocracy in Afghanistan who were Osama Bin Laden’s protectors. Iran also provided intelligence about Iraq prior to the infamous George W. Bush “Axis of Evil” speech which unwisely linked Iran with Saddam Hussien’s Iraq even though the two nations had fought a bloody war and were far from allies.
Moreover, the track record of foreign guest workers who are non-Muslim being exploited and oppression toward women is far greater in the Sunni nations under the spell of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States than in Iran or Syria, The west and secular democracies everywhere should be putting pressure on the Saudis to change and to stop exporting radical Islam and various degrees of jihadist thoughts around not only the Middle East but into South Asia, Western Europe and even the United States. The march to war with Iran which has now been stopped cold thanks to this deal would have disproportionately benefited the Saudis and their influence over the Muslim world. It is important from a balance of power standpoint to maintain Iranian strength vis a vis the Saudi threat. Iran is also a critical cog in providing energy to South Asia and China, energy that helps indirectly fuel the US economy, so crippling Iran and further isolating them could impact the global economy in a profoundly negative way.
Nobody is doubting Iran still possess some danger and must be monitored closely. What we however are concerned about is empowering the Saudis and Gulf States. This pivot in US policy authored by President Obama and Secretary Kerry was wise and will not only make us safer but will give us an opportunity to punish states who do not share our values about humanity in the future. Some of these states after discussions with Secretary Kerry have cooled the rhetoric toward Iran and are cautiously optimistic.
The recent shifts in US policy toward Cuba and Iran are welcome changes and potential legacies of Obama/Kerry team. They ultimately will make the US safer and help to improve our economy and the ability we have to navigate the minefield of foreign policy messes. Florida’s Democrats should look at this deal as what it is – a remarkable piece of diplomacy that sets the US up well for the next decade rather than listen to the fear-mongering coming from the right and Republican Presidential aspirants.