2015-07-16 – A friend of mine wrote a thoughtful post on Facebook lamenting the debate over the new deal between the United States, other world powers, and Iran. He asked if anyone had read the agreement before shooting off their mouths. He thought it odd, as a Jew who lives in Israel, that we wouldn’t use the same skills we apply to the study of the Talmud to dissect this nuclear agreement. And he gave a link to an article that thoughtfully analyzes the pros and cons. He thinks the issue is too important to have people out bashing each other without understanding what’s in the agreement.
I agree—as far as it goes.
This whole brouhaha reminds me of my first visit to a foreign country. My guide was also American but he had visited the foreign country once before. He said, “follow me.” So I followed him. He said our destination was five minutes away, but an hour later we hadn’t reached it. People in our group had to go to the bathroom and asked if we could look for a bathroom first. And he said, “No, no! We’re almost there. There will be bathrooms when we get there.” Some of us were laughing, some of us were crying. Between the two, there were plenty of tears.
The critics of Obama’s deal remind me of my guide. We’ve been following their path of sanctions and belligerence for decades and they say, “we’re almost there.” But I have an urgent need, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t want to follow that path anymore.
So I stop following my guide and open the guidebook to look for a bathroom.
And—Oh. My. God—bathrooms aren’t marked in the guidebook!
Sure, the streets and turns that will take me to a bathroom are right there on the map, but the ultimate destination is not to be found. The same is true of the Iranian nuclear agreement. The path is there, but no one knows which roads will be followed or if they will be followed at all. We can’t know the future. We can only know the past.
And we know that the policies of the past didn’t get us where we need to be.
The problem with the debate over the Iranian nuclear deal is that Netanyahu and the Republicans in Congress and all the other critics want us to hook up with our old guide. The one who didn’t know where he was going. The one who kept saying “we’re almost there” but we never got there.
Are there no other alternatives?
Obama’s alternative is a promise but not a guarantee. It’s a map, not a journey. It could be a breakthrough. I have hope. But it’s pretty scary.
I wish the naysayers had more to say than nay.