December 1st, 2013
12:05 AM ET

Big fuss over a small Iran deal

By Fareed Zakaria

So what explains the fevered rhetoric and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal? I think the fear is less of this deal than of what it might bring in its wake. Many imagine that this is the start of a rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, which would fundamentally change the geopolitical landscape. It could place the U.S. on the side of the Shi'ite powers, Iran and Iraq, in the growing sectarian divide in the region. It could alter the balance of power in the world of oil–Iran's reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's in the region.

Iran's foes should relax. This is an important agreement, but it is an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program. It is not even a final deal, which will be much harder to achieve. And it is not the dawn of a historic new alliance. Washington remains staunchly opposed to Iran on many issues, from Tehran's antagonism toward Israel to its support for Hizballah to its funding of Iraqi militias. The Islamic Republic, for its part, remains devoted to a certain level of anti-Americanism as a founding principle of its existence. The two countries are still fundamentally at odds.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Steven

    U.S. should not try to do it alone, but together with the NATO alliance. NATO countries have the necessary resources and capabilities to make any deal one success, even to turn around the anti-America propaganda machine.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:32 am |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Most opposition to USA diplomacy with Iran will come from overly zealous supporters of Israel who would prefer to foster hatred and fear of residents of any Arab country.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Sara

      What was the agreement for?
      just cheering for nothing and give them money?!

      December 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  3. j. von hettlingen

    The fuss is big and the deal small, but still significant. For the first time in 30 years Iranian and American officials have been able to have an amiable contact openly, to the dismay of "Iran's foes". Israel and Saudi Arabia had already felt uncomfortable about Obama's extending Tehran an olive branch in 2009. Perhaps he thought it was a mistake that George W. Bush rejected Iran's offer in 2003. There had been setbacks in his efforts to reach out to Iran in the course of the Green Revolution in 2009/2010.
    Yet since mid-March this year Iranian and American officials had held five clandestine meetings in Oman hosted by Sultan Qaboos bin Said. So there was goodwill from both sides to improve their relationship even before the reform-minded Rouhani was elected in June.
    After Rouhani's election, the Obama Administration had decided to find a way to convey goodwill and show respect to the Iranian people by returning a national treasure, that Iran had sought return. It is a 2700 year-old griffen-shaped chalice of silver, looted from a cave in Iran and seized by US customs in 2003. The gift was presented to an Iranian delegation during Rouhani's visit to the UN General Assembly last September. He was very pleased to bring back this artifact with him to Iran. It was for him "a precious historical work that is a sign of the ancient Iranian civilization.”
    The nuclear deal is not final and the outcome of the negotiations unknown. Obama can be proud of what he has achieved with Iran, disregarding Israel's and Saudi Arabia's displeasure. Even if the US and Iran would not be close allies, they could still have a sensible working relationship, like the one Moscow and Washington have.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  4. ✠RZ✠

    A number of more recent significant events, both domestic and global, have clearly highlighted our being prone to think and react erroneously in haste. As a human race, recognizing and coming to grips with this natural flaw is one of the first steps towards achieving any possibility of harmony on any level. I can assure you that the sun will rise again tomorrow, and if we all want to see it, then stop, look, understand, think, and resolve our issues peacefully to everyone's best mutual interest. People appear to be speaking out more than ever before. JUST LISTEN TO THEM BY GOD!

    December 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  5. bobcat2u

    It would seem to me that our people would be applauding the possibility of a peaceful settlement to the dispute on Irans nuclear program. After twelve years of senseless wars and the loss of so many of our loved ones as well as the loved ones of those in the countries we invaded, I would think everyone would be weary of war and would want to try a different approach. But some of those in Israel, Saudi Arabia as well as many of our own lawmakers want to keep pounding those drums. I'm just proud that we finally have a president who chooses diplomacy first. Hey, if this doesn't work, there is always time for war. Mankind will see to that.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • banasy©

      I had a spirited debate with somebody the other day who said I was pessimistic because I recognized that there has always been warfare as long as there have been humans.
      Am I wrong?
      I would love to envision a future without war, I just doubt that's going to happen...people being people.
      That being said, I don't think the US should always be the first to jump to enter a war, (or the go-to nation to ask) and diplomacy should ALWAYS be the first tactic.
      Agree with your assessment of Obama.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      It's sad to say banasy, but it is and has been throughout the history of man to wage war. If it's different, Kill It. If it has something you want, Kill it. If it doesn't agree with you, Kill it. Man has never needed a reason to kill. It must be something that was bred into us. I don't know, but it's sad.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • banasy©

        Thus as it's always been. I took umbrage with this person, preferring to label myself a realist, insofar as to what history has shown us.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        That is also the word I use to describe myself, even in the realm of religion, which if one would be truthful, will agree is, as it always was, a source of the strife in the world. when I get up in the morning, I look at the world around me and see it for what it is. No delusions here. I don't stress about tomorrow, because it hasn't happened yet. That's the most realistic description I can give of a realist. Que Sera Sera.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
      • banasy©

        I have been accused if being a Pollyanna. It's a sobriquet I don't mind.
        Agree with religion being divisive. Anyone who doesn't see that is blind.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        Okay, you lost me on the Pollyanna. Is that like a good two shoes ? Oh, and I meant to thank you for the use of one of my favorite words, as I have officially taken UMBRAGE with TJI.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • banasy©

        A Pollyanna is a very cheerful, optimistic person.
        I, too, have taken Umbrage© with TJI. They are greeting quite tedious.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  6. Jim

    Salehi head chief of Iran nuclear organization in an interview in Tehran told yesterday: dismantle of Araak heavy water site is our Red line like stopping of Enrichment Uranium!
    Araghchi other member of Negotiation team from regime of Iran today told: We stopped 20% Enrichment Uranium temporary because we do not need it now, but we start it in near future!
    Good deal?!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  7. chrissy

    @ Sara, we didnt GIVE them anything. Sanctions were lifted and now match other countries that are at the same level so now Iran can access their OWN money.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      Thank you chrissy. I don't know how many times I repeated that same message here, on yahoo, TJI etc. Where did the people get the misconception that "we" are giving them 7 billion dollars ? It's got to be a reading comprehension thing. It was clear to me what they were saying.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:06 am |

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