Playing around with the war vs. peace dichotomy is the best option for the US when it comes to Iran in order to secure Washington’s interests in the Middle East. Neither the Middle East states nor their leaders have reached the pro-detente mindset the European Union had several decades ago. The dominant discourse in the Middle East is still that of war. However, through a meticulous engineering the US and its allies in the region have shifted the focus on Israel (as the main cause of war and crisis) to Iran.
In the psychological state of war in the Middle East, a nuclear deal which could be the harbinger of peace is being undermined. In parallel, Iran’s right to missile capability has turned into a pretext to stimulate Iranophobia in favor of US interests. Regardless of who rules in Tehran, the US still needs Iran as a balancing force in the Middle East. Interests between the two countries overlap, as cooperation between Tehran and Washington over Taliban and Daesh have demonstrated.
Even though many believe Iran would be the loser in a full-fledged war with the US, a defeated Iran will not only fail to secure US’ myriad of interests in the region but could also become the root cause of more serious threats for Washington. Therefore, in the ups and downs between Iran and the US, a full-fledge war is quite unlikely.
From this vantage point, in a Middle East doomed with war and insecurity, the nuclear deal was and is a strategic deal for the US more than it was for Iran. If the argument stands, abandoning the deal is just a political game played by Trump aimed at soliciting concessions from Iran, the region, and all the players, rather than a being a serious political decision.
For Iran, the nuclear deal, diplomacy driven by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s “heroic flexibility” dictum, bailed Iran out of the UN Chapter VII, providing a breathing space. Yes, the JCPOA made the dark “shadow of war” fade away but not as much away to bring out hope for peace. It should be noted that the US takes issue with Iran not over the nuclear dossier but over its independence in the international system. However, other countries such as Germany and Japan have managed to find a middle ground and change their destiny despite more severe issues with the US.
The political scene in Iran and parts of the international system becomes increasingly tenser as we move closer to May 12, and anticipation about Trump’s decision has given rise to different and sometimes paradoxical analyses. However, Washington’s exit from the deal which many believe will lead to death of the deal, will not be the end of the world for Iran. Iranians should not surrender to a psychological war before the war starts itself. Iran is not the only country experiencing a sequence of crises. A glance at the contemporary history of Egypt and Turkey shows that few countries in the region have experience calm in the long run.
The US will not abandon the nuclear deal but declines to fully implement it provisions, keeps playing with it, and make controversies about it. The US knows that the nuclear deal has contained a significant part of the Iran’s national power. Washington and its allies know that if Iran achieved nuclear power, only to shift the region’s strategic balance, a nuclear race would launch in the hotspot and the nuclear deal prevented it. If the process that led to the JCPOA fails and a new round of pressure on Tehran begins, public opinions will stand by the establishment more than ever, due to US’ failure to live up to its commitments. In the meanwhile, perhaps some of the other powers of the international community decide not to work with the United States.