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Michael Gerson: How the Nuclear Deal will Fund Iran’s Imperialism

missle-launcher

In the administration’s attempt to secure support from a third of the Congress, the truth is likely to get its hair mussed. But it is rare for an argument to be this comprehensively wrong.

Michael Gerson writes: The realist’s argument for the Iran nuclear agreement is that it is the least bad deal that a conflict-weary United States could secure. Now, with the nuclear issue parked (at least for a decade), we can get down to the business of strengthening friends in the Middle East and pushing back against Iran’s regional ambitions.

“Over the past few decades — without a nuclear umbrella and without a world-class military — Iran has pursued a highly effective, asymmetrical campaign to spread its influence and destabilize its enemies. Early on, the Iranians noted that many Middle Eastern militaries are relatively weak.”

A variant of this position claims that the nuclear deal would actually weaken Iran’s strategic position. In this view, the regime, faced with sanction-caused economic ruin, was forced to give up the nuclear umbrella that would have acted as cover for its export of subversion. An Iran thus defanged is a fundamentally weak country, with little conventional military capacity. The $60 billion windfall Iran would net from the lifting of sanctions is paltry (the argument goes) compared with the strategic blow of giving up its nuclear ambitions. A “yes” vote on the agreement is therefore a contribution to containment.

“Iranian operatives — often through the Quds Force, created for this purpose — have set out to exploit local grievances, encourage sectarian solidarity and export their version of anti-American, anti-Semitic, revolutionary Islamism.”

In the administration’s attempt to secure support from a third of the Congress, the truth is likely to get its hair mussed. But it is rare for an argument to be this comprehensively wrong.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

Over the past few decades — without a nuclear umbrella and without a world-class military — Iran has pursued a highly effective, asymmetrical campaign to spread its influence and destabilize its enemies. Early on, the Iranians noted that many Middle Eastern militaries are relatively weak. In some conflicts, the addition of several thousand well-trained, well-led militia members could have a disproportionate, even decisive, influence. So Iranian operatives — often through the Quds Force, created for this purpose — have set out to exploit local grievances, encourage sectarian solidarity and export their version of anti-American, anti-Semitic, revolutionary Islamism.

The idea that this is a spent strategy would come as a surprise to people in Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad. Iran’s first and best success was the organization of Lebanese Hezbollah into an effective instrument. Through it, Iran changed the regional balance of power by positioning perhaps 100,000 rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon aimed at Israel. Tehran is responsible for the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime, propped up at key moments by Iranian money and Hezbollah ground forces….(read more)

The Washington Post

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