Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have offered much in the way of criticism but little in the way of alternatives. Military action, which would be more likely in the event that Congress rejects this agreement, would be a costly and short-term solution at best – and no one knows that better than the veterans who fought the last “three-month war” that lasted ten years.
Like virtually everyone else who served in Iraq, I have no illusions about the Iranian regime. Iran funded insurgents who killed Americans. They gave those insurgents the tools they needed to develop more and more sophisticated IEDs specifically designed to destroy American vehicles.
Because I saw firsthand what they did without a nuclear weapon, I shudder to picture the chaos they could wreak with one. And the best way to ensure they do not get one is the deal sitting on Congress’s desk.
An Iran operating under cover of a nuclear weapon could further challenge the U.S. Navy in the Strait of Hormuz; virtually every sailor who’s traversed the Strait on a Navy vessel can recount the tension they felt crossing under the eyes of the Iranian military. Iranian militias could commit even greater atrocities and threaten our allies without fear of retribution.
Preventing this does not require another costly war. The only thing that’s required is for senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress to have the courage to back tough, principled diplomacy – not sound bites and partisan posturing.
Under the deal, Iran has to give up all the tools it would need to build a nuclear weapon and, for decades, give us access to any site we suspect of involvement in nuclear activity.
The best nuclear scientists in the world will have full access to every Iranian nuclear facility from the mines to the laboratories. And if we catch them cheating, military force will remain an option. In fact, this deal will make any future strike more effective – both by giving our pilots better target sets and giving our effort international legitimacy should Iran attempt to break out.
So this is a good deal. But like every negotiated deal, it’s not perfect.
Some – including those like me who fought Iranian proxies in Iraq and elsewhere –– worry what the Iranian National Guard’s dangerous Al Quds force would do with the sanctions relief they’ll receive. It makes me sick to think that some of that money could end up in the hands of Iranian proxies – the same proxies who took American lives in Iraq. It’s clear that we need continued resolve both to enforce this deal and to confront Iran’s other activities in the region.
But what turns my stomach even more than contemplating what Iran would do with more money is contemplating what they would do with a nuclear weapon – or what would happen if we turned to military force before we gave this deal a chance to succeed.
If we walk away from the deal, our international sanctions regime will fall apart and Iran will get the best of both worlds: access to tens of billions of dollars and the opportunity to pursue a nuclear weapon free from scrutiny.
I fought alongside men and women who served with honor to prevent a Middle Eastern dictator from obtaining weapons of mass destruction: this deal represents a better way.
If Congress endorses this diplomatic victory, we will have stopped Iran’s nuclear program without risking American lives, while preserving the military option if they cheat in the future.
Given the sacrifice war would require, I believe we should exhaust every other option first and ensure that if war comes, it is Iran’s responsibility alone.