A group of jubilant Iranians cheer and spray artificial snow during street celebrations following the announcement of the nuclear deal in July.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have negotiated a treaty with Iran to prevent that country from producing nuclear weapons. As expected, some members of Congress oppose this plan and some support it. Those who oppose the plan are quite vocal.
Last March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress (without a presidential invitation) and said of the proposed treaty, “It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
Columnists Charles Krauthammer and Thomas Sowell are also certain that Obama is wrong about the deal. Krauthammer writes, “With this agreement, this repressive, intolerant, aggressive, supremely anti-American regime — the chief exporter of terror in the world — is stronger and more entrenched than it has ever been.”
Meanwhile, Sowell likens Obama’s action to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II: “Comparing Obama to Chamberlain is unfair — to Chamberlain.”
Finally, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claims the president is marching Israel “to the door of the oven.”
Welcome to the land of hyperbole.
Yes, the plan is imperfect, the situation dangerous and the issues complicated. But is it possible the Iran treaty is the best plan negotiators could hammer out, an opportunity to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, and a chance to improve, if ever so slightly, Iranian-American relations? Yes.
Here’s a quick history. We Americans rightly remember Iran holding 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days beginning in 1979. A despicable act. Do we also recall that the U.S. has interfered with Iran’s political process, including the infamous 1953 coup that put the brutal shah in power? Imagine how Americans would react if another country interfered in our elections in so brazen a fashion. Iran is in terrible crisis now, but I am sad to say we have had a hand in creating that crisis.
Meanwhile the U.S. has the greatest (and most expensive) military in the world, by far. Look up the statistics. Israel’s military, courtesy of U.S. funding and weaponry, dwarfs any possible neighboring aggressors. Any country that would dare to attack the U.S. or Israel with nuclear weapons knows it would be facing its own nuclear annihilation. In fact, as Noam Chomsky points out, the greatest nuclear danger the world faces would be for nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists.
But what about the deal itself?
Robert Creamer explains, “Nuclear experts say the deal has the toughest restrictions of any weapons agreement in history.”
Further, “The inspection regime to prevent cheating is more robust than anything ever negotiated into an arms agreement.”
The vast majority of the world’s nations support this plan. The U.N. Security Council approved it unanimously. Most of the intelligence and security community supports the deal. More than 300 American rabbis have written to Congress in support of the plan. As their letter states, “Most especially, we are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”
What is the alternative to the plan?
War. And we have tried war in the Middle East several times recently, always with the promise from politicians that “this time it will be different.” But every time we’ve had the same results. Thousands of U.S. service members (children loved by God!) maimed and killed. Hundreds of thousands of people in Middle Eastern countries maimed and killed (also children loved by God!). Trillions of dollars wasted. More Middle East instability. The rise of terrorist groups. More hatred.
And rest assured the politicians and pundits who are calling for “pre-emptive” war will not be sending their children and grandchildren to kill and be killed. They will be sending ours.
In the Christian tradition, war is only to be fought as a last resort and only if the evil of war outweighs the evil of not going to war. Let’s give this treaty a chance.
Let’s give peace a chance.
This article was written by Jeff Paschal for Greensboro News & Record on Sep. 6, 2015. Jeff Paschal (jpaschal @guilfordpark.org) is pastor of Guilford Park Presbyterian Church in Greensboro and a News & Record Town Square community columnist.