At 4am Monday morning my cell phone rang like the sound of a man coughing. The
fault was my own as that was what I set the ring tone to annoy myself should I in fact
answer such a call in such an ungodly hour. It was my friend, a reporter from Capitol
Hill. In her breathless tone she reiterated that President Trump may decide to axe the
Obama era Nuclear Deal with Iran. What was going through my mind as I heard the
rationale centered around such narrative was the 2015 Nuclear deal is actually working
for Iran and the United States so why is this President wanting to trash it.
Cynicism in political corridor is hardly surprising but the bewilderment lies in the fact that
when something is indeed working, why would it be best served to create further chaos
by axing it? There are numerous instances in the past and certainly from World War I
debacles specific to five month-defense of Kut when British General Townsend and his
11,000 British-Indian 6 th Poona division Army was on the losing side and were captured
by the Ottoman forces. Too confident in holding on to the front of Kut Al Amare, General
Townsend neglected the more viable alternative to abandon the area and defend the
more strategic front of Basra. Instead, Townsend was determined to show his might
despite massive losses that he had accrued inside a week of arrival in December of
2015. The actions directed by General Townsend afterwards has always guided the
more skilled Generals of modern era. There was no doubt that resignations within the
top brass was to follow, as was the case of General Lake and General Gorringe,
superiors to General Townsend. What was particularly disastrous was that Indian
soldiers of the British Indian 6 th division that were captured by the Ottomans were later
incorporated into the Ottoman Indian Volunteer Corps. Not only would they fight against
their own Imperial Army at the direction of the German General High Command but
were instrumental in rooting out key intelligence of Hitler’s armies. This allowed the
members of the Indian corps a key understanding of the realities of not only where the
war would end but possibly who would end with it.
A hundred years later, the lessons of Kut Al Amare is significant mainly because had
General Townsend made a more strategic decision; loss of lives and betrayal of his own
forces would have been avoided. The lessons are also centered around choosing a
strategic decision over a defensive one mainly because it provides a dividend rich
outcome at several levels.
In terms of axing the Iran nuclear deal is there any benefit?
So far, the nuclear deal has helped the Iranian economy. Providing the Iranian youth
some semblance of a fractured but recovering economy to work to their benefit and also
allowed civil groups to carry a more human rights agenda at the forefront of the Iranian
theocracy. The most ardent outcome has been that the deal has kept the ruling
Ayatollahs content. For the rest of the world the agreement has avoided Iran to become
a nuclear power.
The question however still beckons is there an interest to have a nuclear Iran or do we
want them to do the wrong, as we are eager to punish them?
I certainly hope not. A nuclear Iran is a lot more to contend with than the likes of what
we have seen in their battle-hardened channels in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Even then, to remove the restriction on Iran to produce nuclear weapons is in fact
another act to expedite their consolidation of a faster and a fiercer Nuclear set of
arsenals for the ruling Ayatollahs. Bare in mind that the agreed low-enriched uranium of
3% to 4% concentration can easily be mobilized to be enriched to the 90% levels that is
needed to produce nuclear weapons. This outcome will easily provide the cash capital
that would be denied to Iran from new sanctions that will be in place. The loss of such
revenue from reputable and jurisdiction refined world markets will further reinforce
hardliners in Iran to expand their black-market channels; this is almost as good as
allowing them license to do the wrong.
If the plan is for them to do the wrong, do we want a war with Iran because our allies are
having difficulty taking them on?
I came from an era when proclamation of war by an American President and a British Prime Minister was met with protests and volumes of banners that spoke to the moral encompass that perhaps faded in such personalities. It was this emotion that infused the need for a better understanding for many in the political leaderships in every level of government to really comprehend what the realities of war actually meant. My generation saw two such wars. One in Afghanistan in 2001 and then in Iraq in 2003. Both became the bastions of cancer like venom for policy makers and their electorate. It poisoned the minds of those who were for it but equally those who were against it. It provided rationale, sentiments and a core belief of guardianship of freedom, values and defense of people that were terrorized by regimes and groups alike. Correspondingly, those who were against it partitioned themselves away. The realities however dictated otherwise. Both wars have drained massive public funds. Further costs outside of war expenses have accrued in loss of experts, veteran benefits and the continued decline of state and local infrastructure of Afghanistan and Iraq but also for United States and Britain. Both wars had cost American and to some degree British public funds in such ways where even those who were against it had to grow with the realities of the western economies. The rise of fundamentalism and terrorism in western societies has been the root cause of such decisions; making the priority of defense over the economy. For the last 15-years more terror incidents have taken lives at home than the 15-years before the two wars. The demoralizing factor however is that the same Taliban enemies fought in Afghanistan are now in the resurgence. The eradication of Saddam Hussein and then ISIS from Iraq has produced minimal results but the emotions that galvanized their movement remain at large in key corners with further movements possibly to come. In the beginning we won the war. We failed in the cardinal justification after. The old enemies are back and now more than twice as strong, making it harder to believe it was all worth it.
I would like to believe it was. That is because the generation after United States and
Britain liberated such regimes did produce, some good. Afghanistan has a better health
care system now than it did three-decades before. Iraq produced its first democratic
election, ever. The cost of such luxury to Afghanistan and Iraq has been insurmountably
huge for United States and Britain. Iran has its fingers in both countries. It does have
what many journalists consider a more strategic arm over than that of a defensive one.
To comprehend this stroke of strategy the United States and Britain can be best served
by not attacking the same instruments that has brought Iran in an orbit of limits. After all,
there are still other sanctions that Iran is presently contending with. Let these sanctions
continue to be the stick that restricts the Shia theocracy, if that is the priority. If not,
perhaps one should consider whatever the motive behind terminating the nuclear deal
has a huge political cost. Just like General Townsend who didn’t see accurately the
ramifications of his decision of defending Kut against the Ottomans, perhaps the
present policy makers who are for killing the nuclear deal can recognize how much
General Townsend paid for his actions.