Nancy Eubanks: Diplomacy has worked, and can again
Congratulations President Obama and John Kerry for successfully negotiating a nuclear reduction deal with Iran. The headline in the New York Times on a recent Sunday morning focused on this remarkable deal. Despite opposition from the Republican Party here at home and the fundamentalists in Iran, our two country’s brave leaders went ahead with a negotiated deal. The deal was called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to Wikipedia, the plan “is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States — plus Germany), and the European Union”.
The agreement calls for Iran to reduce its nuclear capacity by getting rid of enriched uranium supplies, deactivating a heavy water reactor at Arak, and dismantling centrifuges. The IAEC (the International Atomic Energy Commission) will verify Iran’s compliance. Once all this is done, the P5+1 agreed to lift economic sanctions on Iran. Iran has now met all these requirements, so now the P5+1, in accordance with the agreement, will release between $50 and $100 billion dollars of assets held in foreign banks and normalizing of trade relation will begin. As a side benefit of this negotiated deal going forward, Iran has shown a willingness to become part of the international community by releasing the 12 American sailors that were captured in their territory, and agreeing to a prisoner exchange – releasing five political prisoners from the West including Jason Rezaian, the journalist from the Washington Post. Amazing! I think this shows that diplomacy can work. Yes, it takes longer and for some hawks isn’t as emotionally satisfying as the bluster of brute force and tough talk, but in the end, the United States and the world has achieved the goal of reducing a nuclear threat from Iran without war or bloodshed on either side.
Which brings me to my last point — how to deal with the Syrian/ISIS crisis.
Obama and other countries are trying to work through diplomacy to end this conflict. Yes, it will take time, but here are our other options. One: carpet bomb ISIS, as Ted Cruz suggests – that worked really well with the “shock and awe” of the Iraq War. Not!
Two: more sanctions and embargoes. We had more than 50 years of that strategy against Cuba and we neither got rid of Castro nor spread democracy. All it did was hurt the ordinary people of Cuba and create lots of refugees. Sound familiar?
Three: mission creep (adding 10,000 more of our troops on the ground) as Sen. Lindsey Graham and others have suggested. This reminds me of the quagmire of both the Vietnam War and the Afghanistan War. Not something I want to see happen again to our men and women in uniform.
Four: talk tough, create hate and fear of “the others” like all Muslims with a go-it-alone campaign that can end in nothing but alienating any potential allies we would have in the region and for that matter the world – the Trump plan. In my opinion, this is the worst plan of all.
And of course the fifth plan would be all out war — for which no one is advocating — thank goodness.
As many commentators and analysts have said, there is no easy or quick solution to the Middle East/ISIS/ Syria problem. This is a fight between Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and other sub groups like the Kurds. The best the United States can do is try to negotiate (through diplomacy) a peaceful solution, working with the international community, as Obama is doing (and did with the Iran deal).
Let’s hope the president — and congress if they should choose to actually act — avoid rash approaches that escalate the conflicts in the Middle East and create more hostility toward the West.
Nancy Eubanks, who lives in Rough and Ready and is a member of the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. Her opinion does not reflect the viewpoint of The Union or its editorial board.
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