Having carefully reviewed the lengthy and complex agreement negotiated by the United States and its international partners with Iran, I have reached the following conclusion: If I were a member of Congress, I would vote yes on the deal. Here are nine reasons why.
1. No one has identified a better feasible alternative. Before negotiations halted its nuclear advance, Iran had marched relentlessly down the field from 10 years away from a bomb to two months from that goal line. In response, the United States and its partners imposed a series of sanctions that have had a significant impact on Iran’s economy, driving it to negotiate. That strategy worked, and resulted in a deal. In the absence of this agreement, the most likely outcome would be that the parties resume doing what they were doing before the freeze began: Iran installing more centrifuges, accumulating a larger stockpile of bomb-usable material, shrinking the time required to build a bomb; the U.S. resuming an effort to impose more severe sanctions on Iran. Alternatively, Israel or the United States could conduct military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, setting back the Iranian program by two years, or perhaps even three. But that option risks wider war in the Middle East, an Iran even more determined to acquire a bomb, and the collapse of consensus among American allies.
2. At this point, a “better deal” is an illusion. One can always imagine a better deal. But if the U.S. Congress rejects this agreement and proposes sending Secretary of State John Kerry back to the negotiating table, Kerry will most likely find no one else there. Partners who have negotiated and compromised over 20 months to achieve this accord will conclude that the U.S. government is incapable of making agreements. The international coalition will splinter and the sanctions regime will collapse, with Russia and China leading the way, but with France and Germany not far behind. The United States will have demonstrated that D.C. is in fact an acronym for Dysfunctional Capital. In comparison, Iran will appear to be the adult in this paring.