COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | STAN SEWITCH

The Iran agreement seems a no-brainer

OK, so I haven’t read the full agreement, but I’m having a hard time seeing what we lose by ratifying the treaty negotiated with Iran.

We get information, reductions in enrichment capacity and open examination of formerly hidden facilities. We get a commitment that can be verified, that Iran will not pursue a nuclear weapon during the term of the contract.

But most importantly, Iran re-enters the global marketplace, which will cause trade in both directions to dramatically increase.

The world gets access to over 90 million consumers, who should have rising incomes due to increases in exports, access to capital and the ability of Iran to broaden its reserves of foreign currencies, one of which will no doubt be the dollar.

And we want everyone to want dollars, right? Sure, a strong dollar reduces multinational revenues from other currencies, for those organizations that have global operations. But a strong dollar also makes our sovereign debt cheaper than what it would be if world confidence in our buck went down.

A strong dollar, widely coveted, also makes it much easier to require contracts to be in dollars, which again reinforces the value of our currency. In terms of economic influence on the rest of the world’s nations, the country whose currency is preferred wins.

Trade with Iran, as in any relationship built on exchange of value, requires a melding of cultures to some degree. Cultural melding can be dramatic and rapid, such as when China absorbed the capitalistic seed crystal called Hong Kong in 1997. Next came free trade zones in the southeast of China. Then came Gucci, BMW, Starbucks and, yes, WD-40 Company.

China today is unrecognizable from the China of 1965, when Mao Zedong readied the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 to 1976, and created a society bereft of brains, food, security or hope.

History is rife with examples of former enemies coming together to form economic relationships. Those treaties built on economics are harder to get started, but once they have a chance to germinate, the grafted plant is resilient and resistant to returning to mutual animosities.

So the resumption of economic ties between the “West” and Iran will affect Iran’s culture and reduce its motivations to antagonize its economic partners. It may not be a huge impact right away, but it won’t be long, perhaps just a few years, and we’ll be vacationing in Tehran, just like we’re about to in Havana, using our world’s best currency to get bargains and make new friends.

And what is the downside? Even if Iran tries to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon, we have a much better chance with this agreement of identifying that fact. Even if it is indeed a fact, we still have all the other options available to us, which we truly don’t want to have to use, i.e., military action.

Smarter people than me, more experienced and knowledgeable of the complexities involved, probably can offer cogent arguments against this next step in reducing hostilities and providing some chance for improving peace in the world. I’d like to hear from them.

If the pundits and “experts” quoted in the media represent the only arguments that exist, however, I think there must be something else behind the opposition to this agreement.

Perhaps we should ask, “Who loses in the deal?” Who has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are? Well, peace is seldom good news for suppliers of weapons and other military goods. And peace with Iran would threaten the employment of jihadists all over the globe.

If Iran is a financier of conflicts today, and decides to put the money into, say, improving Iran’s infrastructure and investing in industrial growth, then many fighters will be getting a pink slip in their pay packets. Hamas will be bummed.

North Korea probably doesn’t like the idea of Iran getting cozier with its sworn enemy (the United States) and possibly reneging on supplying missile systems to carry its warheads.

Israel doesn’t like the deal or, rather, I should say Netanyahu doesn’t. Several senior leaders of current and former Israeli governments support the agreement, such as Efraim Halevy, whom Netanyahu appointed to head the Mossad (the Israeli CIA) in 1998. Netanyahu’s longevity in office is probably dependent upon his delivering campaign promises to his financial backers — just like in this country.

Our legislature’s debates between elected officials regarding this agreement will be a proxy battle between the interest groups that financed those officials to gain office. It would be interesting if some investigative journalist could dissect the campaign donor history of those on both sides of the question, and see if there’s a common set of factors describing the interests behind their votes.

I hope the deal gets done, and stays done through the next presidency. It would be a significant change in global politics and could disrupt the funding of proxy wars through “extremist” groups. Economic treaties are always stronger and last longer than military treaties, which are just compliance under threat.


Sewitch is an entrepreneur and business psychologist. He serves as vice president of global organization development for WD-40 Company and can be reached at sewitch1@cox.net.

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