Welcome to the world of America's rabid right
During the current Republican presidential contest, the 17 candidates have pushed each other further and further from reality, toward the most extreme reading of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's position on things.
The most moderate of the leading candidates, Jeb Bush, called the Iran deal "dangerous and deeply-flawed". He vowed to scuttle it, implications be damned.
Senator Lindsey Graham most explicitly signaled the Republican proximity to the Israeli leadership. He said that the agreement was a "nightmare" for Israel. No other consideration matters. There is no sense in his statements of the close collaboration between the Iranians and the West in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Graham and others of his ilk fail to acknowledge that it was George W Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that removed from power Iran's great adversaries - the Taliban and the Baath regime respectively. It was Republican overreach that gave Iran a great advantage in the region.
|Nothing better exemplifies the isolation and irrationality of the Israeli position on Iran than the fealty of the Republican Party to its views.
The EU is an avid backer of the Iran deal. European leaders understand the limitations of sanctions and threats, and they know their policies towards Libya and Russia have threatened energy supplies. Iran is a new market.
The Obama administration also realises that sanctions on Tehran have not worked, and American interests in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq are best served by a rapprochement.
Even the Saudis have grudgingly welcomed the agreement. It is against Saudi interests to take the Israeli view of things, but Saudi policy has shifted towards a more measured approach towards Iran as the kingdom begins to realise its own limitations.
That is the reality. To now try to cage Iran would require a major war against the country, a prospect feared greatly by anyone who lives in the region.
The current frontrunner in the Republican contest, billionaire Donald Trump, has pushed the level of ludicrousness to the extreme. He opposes the Iran deal because he believes that "it will make Iran a force like never before". The point is to humiliate Iran and make it surrender its power.
Trump went on Fox News and announced his plan to deal with IS. "We go in," he said of the Iraq conflict. "We knock the hell out of them, take the oil, we thereby take their wealth. Now we take the oil."
|To now try to cage Iran would require a major war against the country, a prospect feared greatly by anyone who lives in the region.
What is remarkable about this statement is its clarity. Just as people in Iraq took to the streets to protest against corruption, Trump announces the recapture of the country.
This example of unbridled US imperialism only serves to confirm various suspicions in the region. Was the Iraq War of 2003 the exception or is it the rule?
It is a reminder of Muammar Gaddafi's 2008 warning to the Arab League - pointing out that Saddam Hussein, once a US ally, was disposed off when his usefulness expired, Gaddafi said: "Your turn is next." He followed Saddam in 2011. Others must reflect on what might come next.
The tenor of the Republican position is that it would be better to continue to strangle Iran now with sanctions and even to conduct a small war against what Senator Marco Rubio called a "despicable regime" than to allow for a diplomatic solution.
It is one thing to spout rhetoric for an election campaign. It is another to do so when the implication of that rhetoric is the creation of further chaos in an already unstable region.
Just as the Middle East settles into a new diplomatic opening, the Republicans (at the behest of Israel) try to shift the needle toward confrontation and war. This is faith-based diplomacy, a rejection of the world itself for an imagined world.
Vijay Prashad is a columnist at Frontline and a Senior Research Fellow at AUB's Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs. His latest book is The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2014 paperback).
Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.