Times columnist Roger Cohen ponders the nuclear talks with Iran; he simultaneously terrifies and amuses with this:
WASHINGTON — Unreasonable optimism surrounds talks between Iran and major powers that resumed this week with the aim of moving beyond an interim deal to a long-term accord that ensures a limited Iranian nuclear program that can only be put to civilian use.
An agreement would be the best outcome by far. The other options are a continuation of the relentless build-up of Iranian nuclear capacity seen over the past decade or war. As Jessica Mathews put it in The New York Review of Books, “The price of an agreement will be accepting a thoroughly monitored, appropriately sized enrichment program in Iran that does not rise over 5 percent. The alternatives are war or a nuclear-armed Iran.”
That choice may sound like a no-brainer. The perfect must not be the enemy of the good. But the distance between the parties is huge.
If the "alternatives are war or a nuclear-armed Iran", then the alternative is a nuclear-armed Iran. Does anyone anywhere think Obama will be leading us into a war with Iran? Let me ask that a different way - can anyone keep a straight face while trying to imagine Obama leading us into a war? The world drew that red line, not him.
As to the news that "[u]nreasonable optimism surrounds" these talks, that seems to be part of the posturing prior to a new round of talks. The WSJ recently ran a story titled "Optimism Grows for a Comprehensive Iran Nuclear Deal" but the third paragraph emphasized that the growth was from a low baseline:
"People are less pessimistic than they have been in the past--certainly, " one European official said. "There are certain areas where some kind of consensus" is emerging. "But in certain areas, there is still a huge gulf."
I guess "Pessimism Shrinks On Comprehensive Iran Nuclear Talks" was less grabby.
The CSM also covered the 'not so fast' spin provided by Mr. Cohen, but added a contemplation of the political background:
Why the effort to squelch the optimism that has grown in recent weeks as the interim agreement reached last November has been implemented and talks among technical experts have progressed?
Part of the explanation is diplomatic realism. The reality is that the talks involve a long list of very complex issues and varying perspectives – everything from the number of uranium-spinning centrifuges Iran would be allowed to how quickly the sanctions gripping Iran’s economy would be lifted.
But other reasons are more political.
On one hand, the Obama administration wants to project an image of toughness to counter Republican critics who doubt President Obama’s resolve on Iran. Officials repeat that the administration prefers no deal to a bad deal that leaves the door open to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Yet failure to reach an accord in July after so much optimism – and only months before the US midterm elections – would be a blow to Mr. Obama’s foreign policy pursuits. It would very likely revive partisan assertions that the talks did nothing but allow Iran more time to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
The interim deal reached last year between Iran and six powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany – does allow the July 20 deadline to be extended by six months. But the midterm elections would make an extension a potential political liability for Mr. Obama and the Democrats, some political analysts say.
Uh huh. Obama will prefer no deal to a bad deal up until the moment that a bad deal is all he can get.