For more than a decade, Iran's nuclear program has been near the top of the United States' Middle East agenda. To be more accurate, Iran has been near the top of the United States' Middle East agenda. That is to say, the nuclear issue has been vastly inflated - in part as a logical extension of the prevailing view of the IRI as a rogue state driven by demonic impulse; in part, because it was crucial to an all-out campaign to crimp Iran, to deny it the normal prerogatives of a sovereign state, and ideally to topple the current. This view prevails to this day - indeed, the representation of Tehran by Washington as the source of disorder in the region has intensified over time. The nuclear accord has changed nothing in the rhetoric of President Obama and his senior officials. In fact, he has taken several steps to align the United States with the Sunni cause against a purportedly Iran organized and directed shi'ite bloc in Islam's incipient sectarian war. The most extreme, and logically unsupportable example is participation in the Saudi led air campaign against the Houthis (and civilians) in Yemen.
There is ample evidence that: the IRI never had a dedicated nuclear weapons program; its potential weapons relevant activities ceased by 2003; its possible pondering of a nuclear option is no different than what every theoretically nuclear capable state has done since 1945; Iran's cardinal sin was in the nature of a technicality that placed it in violation of the NPT (a misdemeanor that several countries have committed, e.g. Brazil. Argentina. Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan) - like Al Capone's indictment for tax evasion when they really wanted him for bigger stuff. (In Iran's case, there has not in fact been bigger stuff beyond what every country does). Bigger stuff would be attacking, invading and occupying another sovereign state without an enabling resolution from the UNSC or any other collective security body - as the US did in Iraq.
So, let's get real and turn around the logic by posing 6 questions for Washington:
1. Will the United States recognize the convergence of interest between Tehran and Washington re. ISIL, al-Nusra-al-Qaeda, Yemen, avoiding a region-wide low-grade sectarian confrontation, and Afghanistan?
2. Will the Obama people begin to make independent judgments about these and related issues from the perspective of American national interests and cease deferring automatically to Jerusalem and Riyadh?
3. Will the White House realize that it is pursuing contradictory objectives by giving priority to cultivating "good will" in those capitals unrelated to the actual policies of Saudi Arabia and Israel?
4. Will the White House realize the contradiction between its crusade against Islamic terrorism and turning a blind eye to Sunni states' overt support for al-Nusra and covert sympathies for ISIL?
5. Will the White House realize the contradiction between pursuing the stated goal of achieving zero threat to American security originating in the Middle East and its actions (especially the kinetic ones) that have markedly reduced our national security?
6. Will President Obama realize that the current make-up of his national security team leaves the United States incapable of giving constructive answers to these questions and reorienting American foreign policy? Michael Brenner