Decision is one of the chief characteristics of leadership which comes with it, reward, consequences and in most cases unintended consequences. According to General
George S. Patton, “being willing to make decision is the most important quality in a good leadership.” This is a very descriptive of present battle raging within American leadership. President Obama with all his charisma and optimistic disposition is finding it very difficult convincing the congress and other interested parties especially the state of Israel to support Iranian nuclear deal. A close follow up of all the activities, speech and general disposition of different interests in this deal, shows that it is a fight between the optimist and pessimist dispositions regarding Iran, the world and protection of interests. Each side, both optimists and pessimists all have good, solid and valid arguments. This has left a narrow chance between healing by a well calculated choices and danger which comes by bad judgement and being too forward.
The nuclear deal among other things will hand an estimated $140 billion dollars in sanctions relief and unfrozen assets to Iran, open its markets, accelerates its regional dominance and ultimately does not guarantee water tight assurances of non-nuclear Iran. It was based on these benefits to Iran without trust of not going nuclear that opponents of the deal like Rick Perry called President Obama, ‘a very naïve man who does not know how the world works.” Lindsey Graham did not mince words when he said that “president Obama is dangerously naïve.” But is President Obama a naïve president or just a desperate optimist? The assertion or belief that Obama is dangerously naïve is rooted in the fact that roguery and virulent Iranian regime that has not changed one bit, that still calls and believes in the annihilation of Jewish state, still supports and arms terrorist organizations around middle east, still suppresses its own people, still shroud its activities in secrecy, is the same regime President Obama is inches away from vouching for. Obama appears not to be naïve as being painted when he recently said that Iran is just “a meddling regional power with some limited ambition and capacity”. The opponents of the deal argue that if he acknowledges the fact they meddle, ambitious and have some limited capacity in destabilizing other states, doesn’t he think the deal will increase their capacity to propel their obnoxious regional ambition.
Those who oppose President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal said that the main problem of the deal lies in Obama’s disposition on Iran. They are apparently referring to his unbounded optimism on Iran. Example was when President Obama was asked what he has to say about his picture with a gun to his head which was twitted by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the Iranian spiritual leader, he only responded by saying, “supper power does not respond to stunts.” He sees that as a stunt but not as a pointer or a call for concern judging by the ginormous influence Khamenei wields over Iranian regime. The level of morbid rants coming from Ayatollah Khamenei is an additional reason critics and opponents of this deal remain unmoved from their position. Apart from Obama being a pushy optimist, history suggests that it is the optimists who tended to be right on many occasions. But the scary concern lies on the thin line between being an optimist and dangerously playing with the ashes of death. Khamenei who recently boasted that there will be no Israel in 25 years from now did not only make mockery of himself, Israeli-Arab-Persian history but confirmed and validated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s skepticism that Iran nuclear deal is “a historic mistake.”
In an essay in 1989, Harvard scholar Samuel Philip Huntington noted then that “the United States was experiencing its fifth wave of this kind of pessimism since the 1950s”. He further explained that by the early 1960s, the congress was convinced that the Soviet Union was on the path to overtaking America technologically, economically and militarily. In the late 1960s and early 70s, as Vietnam sapped American confidence, the Nixon administration urged Americans to get used to multi polar world with diminished place for Washington. During the oil shocks of the 70s, many saw Middle East petro states as the new power brokers. By the end of 1970s, with the Soviet Union modernizing its nuclear arsenal and on the march from Afghanistan to Central America, many commentators predicted that Moscow was winning the cold war. At the time Huntington wrote his assay, it was hugely expected that the invincible Japan would soon become number one economic power house in the world. Of course none of these fears came to past or validated by its occurrence. Dark view always led to overestimation of dangers and risks.
Is Iran’s ambition and capability being over estimated? What are the chances that this deal will bring some level of sanity and stability in the Middle East and what are the chances that it will not end up sinking Middle East deeper into instability? What are the chances that Iran will not end up with nuclear bomb which will inevitably set off Gulf States into nuclear arms race? In 2014 Sen. John McCain was quoted as saying that “the world is in greater turmoil than any other time in my lifetime.” This from the message should include the Second World War, Vietnam War, the rise and fall of Fascism, Nazism, and Soviet nuclear threat. If he was talking about the present state of things across the globe, then it could become a subject of debate but if he was referring to a likely future effects by the super power’s actions and inactions, he probably could be right. But the reality is that the chances of the deal getting Senate’s approval is greatly diminished after the congress rejected it.
What appeared to be the main issue by the opponents of the deal lies in the leadership and regime in power in Iran. Assessment available on Iranian capacity militarily, economically and politically shows that they lack the wherewithal muscle to project significant power across the gulf. Militarily, Golf states outspends them by 8 to 1, the United States outspends them 40 to 1 while Israel outspends them by approximately 3 to 1. The view that radical Islam is existential danger to the world and the conclusion by some influential blocks that Iranian regime is a radical Islamic regime makes any deal with it unacceptable to some powerful interests across the globe.
Obi Ebuka Onochie can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org