What’s “trust” got to do with anything? My newest piece at LobeLog

Sorry it’s been quiet around here today, but at the risk of revealing how the sausage gets made, these hot takes don’t just make themselves, you know? Sometimes you have to listen to other people’s takes to get the juices going, so I spent most of the day attending talks on the brave new post-Iran deal world. I hope to get a piece out of that for the fine folks at LobeLog in a couple of days.

Speaking of which, though, I have a new piece over there on the early rallying cry in the effort to lobby Congress against a deal, which is the idea that we “can’t trust” those darn Iranians. Which, OK, sure, but isn’t the idea that we can’t trust them already built into the whole “negotiated nuclear deal” part of this situation?

“Trust” ought to be irrelevant at this point in the process. If we all trusted each other to use our nuclear programs for Good and not Evil, or to treat each other kindly and with good intentions at all times, we wouldn’t need to negotiate agreements like this in the first place. The rest of the world could have saved itself over a decade of grief, told Iran, “eh, we trust you guys,” and have been done with the whole issue.

But that didn’t happen, because no country will or should trust any other country when it comes to contentious international situations like this one. These reluctant Democratic senators need to decide if the provisions in the deal are solid enough that, should Iran try to renege on its obligations, it will be caught, punished, and blocked from developing a nuclear weapon. Assuming the worst-case scenario that Iran can’t be trusted, and evaluating the deal on that basis, is the only sensible way to approach their evaluation process.

In the interest of being fair and balanced, I spend about half the piece talking about why the Iranians have as much reason not to trust the US as we have not to trust them, by which I mean that whole Iran-Iraq War episode during which US intelligence helped Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iranian people, often through the use of chemical weapons. So this “trust” thing goes both ways, but again it’s simply irrelevant when evaluating the merits of this deal as an arms control measure.

Hey, thanks for reading! If you come here often, and you like what I do, would you please consider contributing something (sorry, that page is a work in progress) to keeping this place running and me out of debtor’s prison? Thank you!

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