By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
There are two kinds of Iran deal lovers. Those who believe it represents “progress” and see Iran as essentially a decent country, and those who like the Iran deal because they dislike Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of these groups of people make a fundamentally immoral decision because in bowing down to a deal, either to spurn their political opponents in Israel or the Republican party, or because they just like the Iranians, they abandon millions of Syrian refugees to their fate.
Before we address those let’s address two other groups of Iran deal supporters. In previous posts I have exposed a concept called “dealism”, those who support the deal because they worship a religion in which a deal is a form of god and the concept of a “deal” is an end-all-be-all to the world’s problems. Those are the “an alternative to a deal is war” theorists who posit that the very country that a “deal” is needed with, is the one that is so warlike it requires a deal to prevent it from causing a war. They set up the region for a war by cultivating false hopes with Iran and allowing a situation of bribery to take place where Iran is bribed to be peaceful. Yet Iran is not peaceful and their deal lays the groundwork for more conflict, not less.
A related group to the “dealists” are the “Persianists.” These are the State Department cadres who have lobbied for Iran to play a larger role as a regional hegemon in the Middle East because they are disillusioned with the Sunni Arab elites.
But we need to talk about Syrian refugees. Those who support the deal or who make excuses about Iran’s regime are cementing Assad’s rule in Syria. That rule has produced four million refugees and displaced millions more. It has killed more than 200,000 people. As Iran cements its deal it means billions of dollars flowing to the Revolutionary Guards who are funneling money, arms and men to Syria. Prior to the deal Hezbollah was on the verge of running out of recruits and was even trying to recruit Christians and Druze in Lebanon and persecuting its own Shia Arabs who refused to go fight in Syria. Now everyone is flush with cash and millions will suffer. Even today it seems Russia wants to use the excuse of “fighting ISIS” to further its tentacles in Syria. Take time to read the beautifully written and illustrated article in Vanity Fair about how Assad’s barrel bombs destroyed this wonderful ancient city.
Even before the ink was dry on the deal the Syrian regime was already slaughtering people in Aleppo. But the real shame of the deal-lovers is that they focus too much on Israel and not enough on the region. Peter Beinart claimed: “When Americans lie awake worrying about terrorism, they think about ISIS and Al Qaeda, which Iran fights. When Israelis lie at night worrying about terrorism, they think about Hezbollah and Hamas, which Iran funds. Netanyahu and his Republican allies can talk all they want about how Iran is the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism. But the terrorist groups that will benefit from Iran’s enhanced power — Hezbollah and Hamas — pose a much greater threat to Israel than to the United States.”
There is an obsessive focus on Israel in the West in order to distract from the real role of Iran in the region and make this a litmus test on Netanyahu. Thus the concept is if you oppose Netanyahu you should support the deal. But the fact is that it’s time to acknowledge, those who call the deal “progress” and “the future” are ignoring millions of suffering people.