Don’t Expect Any Quick Miracles on Iran

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Andrew Sullivan writes today that there will be plenty of opposition to negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran:

But the resistance from the Greater Israel lobby will be intense, as will opposition from Christianists and the 20th Century faction in the GOP, like McCain and Butters [this is Sullivanese for “Lindsey Graham” –ed]. Hence the president’s remark in his UN speech right now about how “the roadblocks may prove to be too great.” But Obama needs to drop some of his caution and defensiveness on this — and embrace the “Yes We Can” of his 2008 campaign. Those of us who supported him back then in the wake of neoconservative catastrophe dreamed of a moment like this one. He must not let it pass.

I don’t think this is right. Obama’s caution is precisely the right attitude for two big reasons:

  • Reality. Regardless of how promising Hassan Rouhani’s recent statements may seem, we’ve seen this movie before. There’s a tremendous amount of mistrust on both sides, and a tremendous gulf in actual, concrete demands between Iran and the West. Nobody in his right mind should dismiss the Iranian outreach—especially since much of it seems to be motivated by genuine hardship caused by western sanctions—but neither should anyone in his right mind take it at face value. It’s highly unlikely that an agreement will be reached soon.
  • Politics. Obama is a Democrat, and Democrats have to take greater care to avoid looking naive in foreign affairs. Is that unfair? Sure, but the world is unfair, and this is the way it is. If Obama wants to gain broad support for an eventual deal—which will be hard enough already given the reflexive anti-Obama sentiment among Republicans these days—he has to conduct tough, tortuous negotiations. Rouhani is likely working under the same conditions.

Unfortunately, this is not a “Yes We Can” moment. It’s a moment when Obama’s native caution and pragmatism will serve him well. Nobody should expect miracles here. It’s going to be a long, arduous grind.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate