Any agreement with Iran was going to have to allow the Iranian government to argue that they’d gotten a good deal. Likewise, any agreement was going to be opposed by Israel and Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia’s satellites in the Gulf region. Any agreement with Iran was also destined to be opposed by President John McCain, Vice-President Sarah Palin, and Secretary of State Lindsey Graham. All of that was baked in the cake, and none of it has even a little bit to do with the details of the agreement.

There has been enormous pressure on the administration to join in a regional sectarian fight on the side of the Sunnis against the Shiites, most pressingly in Syria’s civil war, but the administration has wriggled out of that trap and has so far allowed diplomacy to prevail against the desires of the warmongers. Those who preferred Obama to Clinton because of the distinction in their positions on the authorization to use military force in Iraq now have something concrete to point to, to argue that electing Obama would lead to a more peaceful world than would electing Clinton.

Diplomacy may or may not work in these cases, but at least it is being pursued. War should always be a last resort, and I’m glad we have an administration that understands that.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at