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Dunsmore: Sixty Days

The clock started this week on the sixty days Congress has to examine the agreement reached between Iran and six world powers including the United States. Based on early reaction, we can expect a summer of torrid criticism that will make it seem that this is the worst diplomatic deal in the history of the world.Even before there was an agreement, 47 Republican senators tried to sabotage it by sending a confrontational open letter to Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Since the deal was announced, there has been an apparent competition among the sixteen people seeking the Republican presidential nomination to determine who hates it the most.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham claims the agreement is ”akin to declaring war on Israel and the Sunni Arabs.” In another interview he said, “This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I’ve seen in the history of watching the Middle East.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush denounced the deal as “appeasement.” And Florida Senator Marco Rubio ominously warns it undermines U.S. and Israeli security.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker vowed he would rescind the agreement on the first day of his presidency.

A strong contender for the top hyperbole prize is Texas Senator Ted Cruz who suggested the deal could lead to Iran launching a nuclear weapon from a ship in the Atlantic, and quote “millions of Americans will be murdered by radical, theocratic zealots.”

This is not to suggest that the agreement to block Iran’s path to obtaining a nuclear weapon for up to fifteen years, in exchange for lifting the economic sanctions imposed by the world community - is a perfect deal. Negotiated agreements inevitably involve concessions by both sides - meaning neither got everything it wanted but that each got enough to make the agreement worth having.

The only kind of negotiations that don’t take that form are those where one side credibly threatens to make war on the other.

That, it seems, is what President’s Barack Obama’s critics in Congress and Israel fault him on. As long as a diplomatic solution was possible, Obama wasn’t prepared to use American bombs to obliterate Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Presumably his critics would be.

The fundamental problem with pre-emptive bombing is that it would ignite a major Middle East war. And further, in the view of most analysts including Israelis - it would at best, set Iran’s nuclear program back for three years. Iranians know how to make a nuclear weapon – and if attacked - will certainly do so.

That would make Iran a much greater threat to Israel and the U.S. than any of the alleged shortcomings of the deal that its critics apparently hate so much.

Barrie Dunsmore is a veteran diplomatic and foreign correspondent for ABC News, now living in Charlotte.
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