If you follow the main stream media reporting of the reaction inside the Washington beltway to the president’s deal with Iran you come away with the overwhelming impression that the United States has just made the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the republic.
“Catastrophic”…”Irresponsible”…”Dangerous”…”Naïve”…”Cosmic gamble” are just a few of the terms critics used to describe the agreement. Most of the critics admitted that they had not read the agreement before weighing in. All of the dissenters changed the subject when a reporter asked for their alternative solution.
The best solution any of them could come up with was, “tougher sanctions.” Never mind that while the sanctions in place were having a devastating effect on the Iranian economy they were having zero effect on the regime’s progress toward producing an atomic weapon. In fact since George W. Bush imposed economic sanctions on the “Evil Empire” in 2003, Iran has increased its nuclear material producing centrifuges from 200 to over 19,000. Sanctions brought Iran to the bargaining table but they did nothing to stall Iran’s march to the bomb.
The funny thing is that while the ruling class inside the beltway continued to voice their 20 month opposition to a deal with Iran the rest of the country was expressing an entirely different message.
Check any poll and you will find that 59%-64% of Americans outside the Washington beltway favor reaching a peaceful agreement with Iran. To those who question the political bias of these polls, consider the great state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is politically as red as red can be yet 70% of Oklahomans polled favor reaching a deal with Iran.
As usual the politicians inside the beltway have yet to catch up with the rest of the country.
So why do we have this “disconnect?” Why do we hear such dissent, particularly from the right, to a peaceful solution that bends to the wishes of a majority of the people? There are several reasons.
Gerrymandered districts breed partisan gridlock. Intransigence in Washington is rewarded with job security back home.
Then there is the “Obama” factor. There are those who will do whatever it takes to deny this particular president a victory. The reasons go beyond principled partisan politics. They are based on race and hate and they have no business in our political discourse.
But I believe that the primary reason for the “disconnect” between those inside the beltway and the rest of the country is an unrealistic view on the part of the former as to America’s place in the world order. They see us as the world’s only remaining superpower and somehow equate our military might to our “exceptionalism.” Yes we are a superpower. But in spite of our extraordinary economic success and unsurpassed military might we are not omnipotent. The people that fought the wars in Vietnam and Iraq have learned that lesson. The politicians who sent them there have not.
And so while elected leaders bluster about “American leadership” and “forming the tip of the spear” when it comes to facing our enemies; the American people call for peaceful diplomacy.
Negotiating peace with a sworn enemy is no easy task. There is little trust on either side of the table. There are a million reasons why this deal could blow apart. But Nixon found a way with China as did Reagan with the Soviet Union. The world is a better place for it.
President Obama blocked out the beltway noise. He understood that the country wanted a peaceful solution to a very difficult and dangerous problem. Fortunately for us he listened.
If HE is right, the world will be a better place for it.