The wait is finally over. Beginning today, the world community can see how Iran intends to honor the deal it cut with the West. Hopefully, those who negotiated the terms appreciate the humor in the news of Iran’s new ICBM test and North Korea’s laughable request for a peace treaty.1 Kim Jong-un may be crazy, but he’s paying attention. Did he finally figure out that signing a piece of paper is more important to us than understanding how useless it is?
Trust the world community on this
This is a good time to remind ourselves how adroitly the world community handled aggression in the 1930s and 40s. Germany joined the League of Nations in 1926. Dachau’s doors opened by 1933. Years passed, the aggression continued, and world war was well underway when the U.S. was dragged into the conflict because Germany and Italy declared war on us. Talking, treaties, agreements, and diplomats didn’t get the job done.
Not a lot has changed since then. We have watched a string of conflicts and aggressors come and go with one thing in common: until a bad situation escalates to war, the world community can’t be trusted to prevent the eventuality of conflict. That doesn’t make war a good thing and it is not an affront to the diplomatic process. It’s how things tend to work out. The world tolerates bullies until it has no choice but to retaliate.
World community waits and waits some more
The threat of nuclear proliferation should take waiting off the table. It won’t, any more than 9/11 kept us from colluding with a terrorist government. We relied on the world community then and we are foolishly relying on it now. Does John Kerry believe that the strength of nations other than the U.S. will prevent Iran or North Korea from doing something stupid? He seems to think so:
It [Iran deal] will ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains under intense scrutiny forever, and we will know what they are doing, and it will ensure that the world community is united in ensuring that Iran’s nuclear activities will remain wholly peaceful, even as we also stay united in pushing back against its other activities in the region which we object to.3
Forever is a long time to wonder what Iran is up to, but the question isn’t how long. It’s what we will do when things go horribly wrong. History tells us that until we see a bright flash the world community will talk a lot, wring its hands, and do nothing, especially in the absence of credible leadership from the U.S.
Old missile threat returns
It’s not like Iran’s ballistic missile threat was never an issue. A July 15, 2014 letter from Senators Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio signed by 26 senators warned of Iran’s “aspirational goals toward ICBM technologies,”4 noting:
Iran’s continued ballistic missile development violates UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1929 of 2010 which clearly stated that “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons….”5
Now here we are again, except that we’re not supposed to be concerned about Iran eventually delivering a nuke on top of a missile because the terrorists we negotiated a deal with agreed not to do it.
What’s a missile without a warhead?
Calling the Iran deal “historic”6 is something Chamberlain would have understood. While assuring us that “Most Americans Support the Iran deal,”* the White House offered a list of need to know items about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action including:
Tools to Counter Iranian Missile and Arms Activity.7
Further, we will continue to aggressively enforce sanctions against Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, missile program, and destabilizing activities in the region.8
We just witnessed a missile launch that, fortunately, won’t violate Obama’s deal because the ICBM didn’t explode a nuke over anyone’s head.
The world community can be trusted to be patient, so Iran can rest assured that there is still time to build a warhead and get it on top of a missile with or without the JCPOA. Is Kim Jong-un about to follow in Khamenei’s footsteps? Let’s hope not. He already has a nuclear capability. We’re better off without an agreement to naively hold ourselves to in the name of a world community united by its inability to stop aggression.
*“Most” is 54% in a poll
Updated April 10, 2017 to remove link from Senator Kelly Ayotte’s website.