When two area academics who have followed the negotiations and ensuing debate talked separately about the Iran deal last week, the similarities in their analyses seemed almost eerie. But Manchester University’s Benson Onyeji and IPFW’s James Toole were making virtually the same points about the agreement to delay Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
Both believe that Americans should review the deal with an open mind. Both disputed the salvos of cynicism congressional opponents were leveling at the agreement before they even looked at it. Contrary to all the stereotypes of academia, Onyeji and Toole were speaking good, old-fashioned common sense.
To the assertion that it’s simply a "bad deal":
Toole, an associate professor of political science: "Of course there are going to be things that American’s don’t like in this deal.
"No deal is perfect."
Onyeji, director of Manchester University’s international studies program: "You can’t have diplomacy without compromise. A deal is a win-win. (The question is) ‘Are we better off with this deal?’ "
To comparisons – made by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, and others – with failed efforts to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons:
Onyeji: "It’s not comparable with North Korea. North Korea is not a regional power. Iran has the potential to create problems in the Mideast – a conflict that could escalate with the potential for World War III."
Toole: "It’s essential that we take each country on its own terms."
To the criticism that the agreement will last only 10 years:
Onyeji: "My impression is that the Iranian people see a new dawn in their lives ... we can see what a new generation will look like.
"It could lead them to become more democratic."
Toole: "Most political agreements have the limit of time. It’s not at all unusual for agreements to be time-bound." Possibly we’ll be facing the same disreputable government in a decade, but there is at least the "potential there for the development of a better long-term relationship with the United States."
To the thought that the whole deal simply wasn’t necessary:
Toole: "The president is right when he says critics need to offer an alternative. And the alternatives to having an agreement like this one are, I think, not good – war, or trying to continue sanctions.
"And, inevitably, the sanctions agreement is going to unravel."
Onyeji: "The alternatives are war and escalation – and since 2001, this country has been involved in perpetual war.
"Sanctions do work ... but sanctions are no longer an option. The other major powers (won’t continue)."
As Onyeji noted, the United Nations Security Council last week voted unanimously in support of the U.S.-Iran agreement, signaling that the international community is ready to end sanctions.
"The U.N. vote sends a message to the U.S.," Onyeji said. "The world is watching."