Seven Realities That Made an Iran Deal Almost Inevitable

The National Interest - July 21, 2015

Shai Feldman is the Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center.

Much of the immediate commentary on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed between the P5+1 and Iran on July 14 focused on the deal’s details as well as its many shortcomings. Most of these reactions, both favoring and opposing the agreement, focused on elements of the nuclear package itself.

A number of commentaries did discuss some “big picture” aspects of the deal: primarily, the extent to which President Obama was “gambling” on its transformative potential—namely the possibility that it will eventually lead Iran to reorient its regional policies in a manner that would make them better aligned with U.S. interests in the Middle East. A different frequently mentioned “big picture” issue pertains to the likelihood that Iran would use the billions of dollars released to its disposal for the purpose of reining even greater havoc in the region.

Missing so far, however, is an assessment of the extent to which a nuclear deal with Iran had become possible, perhaps even inevitable for the United States—once Iran has come around to seriously look for one—due to larger forces at bay. Specifically overlooked is the extent to which the deal and its present timing reflect U.S. appreciation of some important global and Middle East realities of the first decade and a half of the twenty-first century. These realities motivated the United States to seek and ultimately accept a deal that it has been clearly unwilling to even consider over the past decade. Ascertaining these “inconvenient truths” is useful; as much as they explain certain aspects of the Iran nuclear deal they provide even more important insights about the broader parameters and current trajectories of Middle East and international politics.... Read the Full Text