Was the Iran Nuclear Agreement a Smart Move?
Obama needed a win. Renewed diplomatic relations with another state usually fills that ticket. However, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, which the Obama administration hoped would be a crowning achievement, continues to hit the global community with more of a thud than rapid applause.
Obama’s largest challenge with the deal continues to be the high levels of skepticism surrounding it. A recent CNN/ORC poll shows that a bipartisan majority of Americans are concerned by the deal. Sixty percent of respondents indicated they believe Iran is either extremely or very likely to violate the deal, while only 10 percent of respondents believed that Iran is not likely to break the deal. Additionally, 59 percent disapprove of the way that President Obama is handling our relationship with Iran.
Moreover, an even bigger indicator of the public’s displeasure with the deal is the fact that the divide is not partisan. While Republicans are wary of the deal, independent voters are, too. According to the CNN/ORC poll, 58 percent of independents believe Iran will violate the deal. In Congress, Nancy Pelosi had to whip the votes of House Democrats to ensure that the Republicans were not able to get enough votes to secure a veto-override. Even then, 25 Democrats voted with Conservatives against the deal.
In Tehran, enthusiasm for the deal was likewise muted. On the same day as the Congressional vote, Iranian Ayatollah Mohammed Ali Movahedi-Keramni issued a warning of sorts. While speaking to a crowd, he insisted American efforts to alter the deal would be met with resistance from Iran. He warned of the U.S.’s existence as a “bullying power” in the world. The crowd responded with “death to America” cheers. This rhetoric does not incite confidence that Iran is willing to work and cooperate with the U.S.
The skepticism on both sides of the deal raises questions about its future. The coverage of the deal was central in the summer’s news. Yet, the nation still seems unconvinced. For most of the public, the concessions are too high and the assurances too low. From both the rhetoric and polling it is clear: the U.S. does not trust Iran and Iran does not trust the U.S.
On the surface, this deal is for the international community. Almost every state will agree that a nuclear-armed Iran is detrimental. However, very few seem to believe that this deal will prevent it. At best, it kicks the can a bit farther down the road. At worst, if the deal implodes and Iran goes against its word, the CNN/ORC polls show that the majority of Americans believe that military action would be appropriate retaliation. It seems plausible that a breakdown of the deal could result in an even more fractured relationship between the U.S. and Iran in the future.
By this measure, the deal is much more about history than security. The Obama administration has been plagued by less than stellar foreign policy. From tensions between Ukraine and Russia to cyber attacks from China and the rapid rise of ISIS, there has been more negative foreign policy news than positive. The Obama administration needed a policy to boast. With its economy crumbling under sanctions, Iran was willing to come to the table.
The deal is extremely risky. Only time will tell how it will play out over the next weeks, months and years. But for everyone’s sake, let’s hope that President Obama’s gamble pays off. For Obama, legacy is at stake, but for the international community, the stakes are infinitely higher.