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It makes no sense to scrap the Iran nuclear pact: better to improve it

Moderation on Iran: Better to improve than scrap nuclear pact http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/01/02/Moderation-on-Iran-Better-to-improve-than-scrap-nuclear-pact/stories/201712300018  THE EDITORIAL BOARD, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette It shouldn’t seem necessary to make an argument to the American people that the United States should not go to war with a nation of 80 million, located far from our shores, with which America once had a fruitful commercial and political relationship and with which, like other parts of the world, it has entered into a nuclear weapons control agreement.

But here we are, and it is useful to suggest that it would be unwise for America to go to war with Iran, whose regime in recent days has been beset by popular political demonstrations.

The Trump administration has criticized the Iran nuclear agreement repeatedly and could scrap it.  However, as far as the agreement having shortcomings, wouldn’t it make more sense to take the agreement — signed not only by Iran and the United States, but also by China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — as the basis for negotiating changes, as opposed to threatening to pull out of it and, perhaps, to attack Iran?

The first problem with the current U.S. posture is that the other signatories like the agreement. China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world have taken it as a green light to improve trade, including major sales, to Iran. America-based companies have considered the continued U.S. sanctions against Iran, and, particularly the continued political objections to it in the United States, including from Israel and American Christian fundamentalists, as a reason not to put the pedal to the metal in terms of pursuing trade and investment opportunities in Iran.

The second major problem in any thought that the United States might attack Iran militarily is that the results would be catastrophic. Of course, the United States would probably win an all-out war against Iran in the long haul — that is, assuming the American people would be prepared to support such a war. That’s a real question, because it would be hard to persuade them that there was any reason for such a war, and it would cost the Earth.

In the short run, a quick glance at the map is worth the trouble in assessing U.S. vulnerabilities in such a conflict.  Iran lies just across the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, in all of which the U.S. has important military installations, including the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet and the regional headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, a short rocket distance away.  Iran also borders on Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. maintains a vulnerable presence as well as long-term investment.

It would be dreamy to imagine that Iran’s first response to a U.S. attack wouldn’t be retaliation against some or all of these key U.S. targets surrounding it. The usual arguments for improving relations with Iran, not worsening them, are otherwise foregone commercial opportunities, the concerns of some of our allies, and regional and world peace in general.  Given that President Donald J. Trump’s principal national security affairs advisers are current or retired military officers, it is also worth looking at the military aspects of U.S. relations with Iran with a cold eye, then determining future U.S. policy, in 2018 and beyond.

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January 3, 2018 - Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA

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