This is the worst possible time to relaunch the Iran nuclear deal
The Biden administration’s efforts to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran are completely out of step not only with our own interests in the Middle East, but also with regional developments bypassing Washington. The White House risks eroding our already precarious position in the region and undermining our credibility with regional allies.
Rather than pursue a deal that was bad then and even worse now, the administration should deepen our partnerships in the region to contain and deter Iran.
Just days ago, the United States launched strikes against Iranian-backed militants in Syria – militants who attacked American forces in the region. Tehran is providing material support for Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine – support that will almost certainly expand in the face of White House diplomatic efforts. Iran continues to be an extremely destabilizing factor in Iraq, as evidenced by the latest political crisis in Baghdad. Tehran also actively participated in joint naval exercises with Russia and China earlier this year – an alarming confluence of US adversaries at sea. And let’s not forget the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ recent plot to assassinate responsible on American soil.
Despite all this evidence to the contrary, the White House seems determined to repeat past mistakes, even in the face of Iranian belligerence. Once again, the administration is seeking to circumvent congressional approval for a badly flawed Iran nuclear deal.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached by the Obama administration — many of whose staff now work for Biden — required a level of institutional and willful blindness that defies belief. The Iranian regime has only seen an increase in its interest in sowing chaos, fomenting violence and destabilization in the region since it was approved.
The first agreement aimed to impose restrictions on Tehran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the development of which would be extremely destabilizing for the region. A nuclear Iran will only serve to unleash their efforts to destabilize and threaten their allies in the region. In return for loose monitoring and verification, the signatories agreed to lift sanctions (sanctions imposed, note, for Iran’s hostage crisis, its ballistic missile program, and human rights abuses). man, among others) and arms embargoes intended to limit its ability to engage in devastation in the region.
To achieve this deal, the Obama administration had to ignore Tehran’s support for the deadly civil war in Syria, ignore Damascus’ use of chemical weapons, had to agree to return $1.7 billion in cash to Tehran which the intelligence community knew would support its terrorist activities. around the world and had to sacrifice critical clandestine efforts that were working to stop Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The Obama administration had to ignore the highway robbery to secure a promise from Tehran that it had no long-term interest in following through.
Meanwhile, in the background, developments in the Middle East pass by our country. In recent years, countries in the Middle East have established formal ties with Israel. Think how important this is – Middle Eastern kingdoms and countries are abandoning policies that sought to isolate Israel and are in the preliminary stages of embracing the country as a stable and reliable partner.
Middle Eastern states recognize the strategic reality that a stable, democratic and prosperous Israel is a much safer bet and a much better partner than a theocratic, authoritarian and aggressive Iran. Strategic interests and the threat posed by Tehran – nuclear or otherwise – go hand in hand. This change also reflects concerns about the credibility of US engagement in the region and its security. President Barack Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq created the conditions for the creation of the Islamic State, and President Joe Biden’s disastrous exodus from Afghanistan only heightened questions about whether America could be invoked in the event of a crisis. The Biden administration only reinforces these fears with its misguided policy on Iran.
It was a bad deal made in bad faith that gave Tehran a lot and the West very little, no matter how the administration tried to justify its success after the fact. It’s a deal that should never have been made in the first place and pulling out of it made sense, even if the way it was handled left a lot to be desired.
Rather than seek a deal that will give Iran what it wants, the United States should redouble its efforts to embrace changes in the region’s security and diplomatic architecture. Washington should encourage these developments wherever possible, support Israel and our Middle Eastern partners in this process politically, economically and with military advice and assistance.
Washington must rethink its grand strategy and recognize that despite the White House’s best hopes and fervent dreams, it cannot give up on the Middle East. As evidenced by President Biden’s hat in hand visit to the Saudi kingdom to beg for more oil. Even as the United States pivots to the Indo-Pacific and China, it must play a productive and constructive role in the region’s defense and diplomatic architecture. We can and must do both.
The region and the United States cannot afford a nuclear Tehran, but neither can they afford to be left behind as these historic political and diplomatic developments occur – developments that are entirely within the US interest – even if they arise because of America’s apparent lack of attention. If we do not remain engaged, we risk having to respond to a more serious conflict in the region.
The best insurance for a more secure and stable region will not be a fatally flawed JCPOA 2. It will be an ongoing engagement with our allies in the Middle East as they seek to build a better future for the region.
Mike Rogers was the Republican Representative to Congress for the 8e District of Michigan from 2000 to 2015, including as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2011 to 2015.