The Cato Institute’s Justin Logan writes that Doves and Hawks have trapped each other in the mass politics of the (Iran deal) issue. There is a good chance that blowing up the talks would buy the United States a non-refundable one-way ticket to another major war in the Middle East.
The brutal fact is that there is no “good” solution to the Iranian nuclear program. As Lewis notes, we’re not going to get to zero enrichment. The Iranians are going to be left with capabilities that cause us concern. The nature of negotiations is not getting everything that you want, and there seems to be little question that Dick Cheney and Co.’s “we don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it” posture was counterproductive to getting a better deal. To take one example, the Iranian bargaining chip went from a few hundred centrifuges to nearly 20,000 in the intervening decade.
So for doves the question becomes how to put as much time on the clock without producing a war that would cause a regional catastrophe and put less time on the Iran nuclear clock than the JPOA has. It may be the case that liberal deal supporters believe it will transform Iran, but I suspect there are a lot of realist supporters—here, for example—who support it because it lowers the probability of another costly war in the Middle East.
The reason we’re having this peculiar debate instead of the one I’ve described above is that doves and hawks have trapped each other in the mass politics of the issue. There is a very good chance that blowing up the talks would buy the United States a non-refundable one-way ticket to another major war in the Middle East, something that no American politician with any sense wants to own.
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