The Folly of Applying Cold-War Lessons to Nuclear Talks with Iran

Pursuing a changed relationship with the United States, Mikhail Gorbachev eventually made the major concession of allowing inspectors into Soviet nuclear facilities. Iran, Michael Mandelbaum writes, is quite a different case:

As the result of Gorbachev’s policies, the Soviet-American rivalry was ebbing. Because the Soviet government sought better relations with the United States, it cooperated with the inspectors. The Iranian government cannot be counted on to adopt a similar attitude: while it is seeking relief from internationally-imposed economic sanctions, unlike Gorbachev it does not want to improve its relationship to the United States. Unlike Gorbachev, it shows no sign of reconsidering, let alone discontinuing, the policies that have put it at odds with America.

During the cold war, American arms-control policy was linked to Soviet foreign policy. When that policy waxed aggressive, it became politically impossible to gain the necessary political support in the United States for an arms-control accord. . . . The Obama approach to the Iranian nuclear program has had, if anything, the opposite effect. As the negotiations have proceeded, the Iranian regime has expanded rather than pulled back from the initiatives that threaten the security of countries aligned with the United States. . . . Iran also continues to proclaim its intention to destroy Israel, a project that an Iranian nuclear arsenal would make horrifically feasible. By the terms of the agreement that have been revealed thus far, Iran will get relief from economic sanctions without having to modify any of these policies. . . .

Even if the talks do produce an accord that all parties sign, with the resulting removal of economic sanctions and with the theoretical option to re-impose them being almost certainly unworkable in practice, the mullahs will have no incentive other than the threat of bombardment to exercise nuclear restraint. . . . Asserting [as many do] that the United States should not stop the Iranian program by force because that will only buy time is like saying that medical care is pointless because everyone ultimately dies.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Iran nuclear program, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, Soviet Union, U.S. Foreign policy

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict