The JCPOA nuclear agreement didn’t only succeed in heavily restricting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon – it also succeeded in preventing a dangerous slide toward war. But since Trump withdrew from the agreement and began to target Iran with additional sanctions, threats and military action, the danger of another disastrous, costly war in the Middle East has grown.
According to extensive in-depth reporting by respected media outlets, the US came incredibly close to going to war with Iran during the final years and months of the Trump Administration and may have only been restrained by the last-ditch efforts of veteran military leaders.
The New York Times: How Months of Miscalculation Led the U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War
The New York Times: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War
By rejecting diplomacy, reimposing sanctions, assassinating a senior Iranian commander and stepping up threats, Trump backed Iran into a corner, empowered its most hawkish and hardline leaders, and helped push the Iranian regime to increase enrichment and step up attacks against American forces in the region. Far from generating more Iranian concessions as promised, it left the US and our allies – including Israel – in a much more dangerous position.
Even with Trump out of office, if the Biden Administration’s diplomatic efforts are abandoned – or hamstrung by harmful Congressional action – then the risk of a terrible new war remains high. Some opponents of diplomacy have pushed for the Biden Administration to take military action against Iran – which experts have warned would most likely degenerate into a much larger conflict – and likely fail to ultimately prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Danny Citrinowicz, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence’s Iran branch, has publicly warned that strikes on Iran would not prevent it from ultimately developing a nuclear weapon and would be “an opening for an escalation that might lead to an all-out war.”
A 2020 analysis by the Washington Post concluded that a war with Iran “would almost certainly be substantially worse” than the decades-long war in Iraq. Just months removed from President Biden’s withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan after twenty years of war, it’s clear that engaging in a major new conflict in the Middle East would be disastrous – for US servicepeople put unnecessarily in harm’s way, for the US economy, and for the American people in general, who do not want another war of choice in the Middle East. According to 2019 polling by the Center for American Progress, 64% of Americans – including 78% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 46% of Republicans – believe that the U.S. should get out of costly and ineffective wars in the Middle East and shift these defense savings into other areas of our national security, including intelligence, cybersecurity, and diplomatic efforts.
More maximum pressure tactics, more intensified sanctions and military strikes against Iran could lead us toward another costly, destructive disaster in the Middle East – with American, Israeli and Iranian citizens paying the price.
Smart, determined diplomacy is the way to avoid that trap – and to restore the kind of restrictions and inspections that, under the JCPOA, succeeded in blocking all Iranian pathways to a nuclear weapon.