This article in the New Jersey Jewish News (click here), by J Street activist Martin Levine, makes an excellent argument for supporting the current negotiations to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, without adding the complications of new threats or hostile statements, which might rattle or enrage the Iranian regime into hardening their positions. The negotiations are a hopeful opportunity to defang Iran’s nuclear threat.
How to make sure Iran gets the bomb
. . . I think negotiations like the ones going on now are the only real hope for heading off a nuclear-armed Iran, but it doesn’t matter what I think. I am no expert in such things, but those who are tend to see the situation similarly. …
. . . What would be the alternatives …?
The first alternative would be even tougher unilateral United States sanctions than those that helped bring the Iranians to the negotiating table. The theory here seems to be that while they came to the negotiating table, their hearts weren’t really in it, and that tougher sanctions would make them negotiate more sincerely.
There are several problems with this approach. First, while sanctions may influence people’s actions, are they really likely to affect their attitudes? If they do affect the Iranians’ attitudes, what reason is there to believe that the change would be a positive one? Isn’t it more likely to make them resentful and suspicious?
Second, sanctions are based on behavioral psychology, which tells us to reward behaviors we want to encourage and not to punish them. Coming to the negotiating table was what we wanted them to do. If that action were followed by tougher sanctions, we would be sending them the message that coming to the table was a bad idea.
Third, . . . This deal would likely fall apart if one party unilaterally decided to toughen the sanctions.
In the absence of negotiations or effective sanctions, the United States and Israel would be left to consider military force. … Nobody is seriously maintaining that military force could prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons indefinitely. In fact, it would do no more than delay them for a few years, and the side effects of the action would be even worse. I would think a military attack would unite the Iranians behind the idea of pursuing nuclear weapons with a sense of urgency, convinced of the need to defend against, or at least deter, future attacks by the United States and Israel. Further, the moderates in Iran would be discredited and the hard-liners strengthened. We would be faced by not only a nuclear-armed Iran, but a much more hostile one. . . .