From the Wright brothers’ flight a few feet off the ground 112 years ago to a three-billion mile journey through space, and from a threatening nuclear standoff to a promised 15-year-long reprieve, which is the greater accomplishment?
The Pluto fly-by required enormous physical power controlled by huge amounts of software. The Iran deal called for the ultimate in persistent bargaining skills and support at the highest levels of U.S. executive and legislative branches.
Now we are at a stage where pundits come forth to proclaim their views. Two of whom, put forward by the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations on its website, are Elliott Abrams and Micah Zenko.
Abrams, a conservative stalwart of long standing, published his views in National Review, the magazine founded by my late friend William F. Buckley Jr. Abrams declared that “the structure of sanctions that took decades to build has been destroyed, but there is no end to the Iranian nuclear program. There has been a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward Iran despite its actions and the nature of its regime.”
Zenko takes a much more optimistic stance in Foreign Policy: “U.S. defense planners were one of the biggest winners of the Iran nuclear deal. The concepts, informal arrangements, and detailed plans that go into defense planning would have all been vastly more difficult, costly and risky if the deal had failed, bringing with it the greater possibility that Iran would eventually possess a nuclear weapon and a reliable delivery system. Now, however, it is vastly less likely that Iran will have the bomb.”
On Monday, July 20, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the agreement with Iran, which had already been supported by the council’s five permanent members—the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and the United States—together with Germany. The council’s action was taken despite complaints that U.S. congressional approval should come first. Congress has several months to express itself before the Security Council’s approval becomes final.
Also early this past week, 48 countries met in Paris to discuss greenhouse gas emissions, in preparation for a final meeting near the end of the year where the objective will be to reach a binding agreement specifying how much each country must reduce its output in order to limit climate change.