Dictatorships, based on brute force, understand force. When they encounter it, the dastards respect it. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev's reformist Soviet government accepted Reagan's zero-zero missile deal: no U.S. missiles, no Russian missiles. Gorbachev also agreed to a binding and rigorous verification regimen. He had to. Reagan insisted.
Which brings us to Iran 2013 and the so-called nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama Administration and Tehran's bazaar-schooled clerical dictatorship.
There are some loose parallels between Tehran today and the Kremlin circa 1984. When they seized power at the end of WWI, Russia's Communists proclaimed a history-changing global revolution. So did the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolutionary regime when the Shah fell in 1979. In its waning days, endemic corruption afflicted the USSR's failed atheist workers' paradise. Today, corruption runs rampant in the Khomeini's failed theocratic heaven.
Since the early 1990s, economic troubles have nagged the Islamic regime. Since the mid-1990s the same regime has sought nuclear weapons.
In 1985, Gorbachev saw the bayonet was losing its efficacy, abroad and at home. Eastern European satellites, like Poland, longed to break the Iron Curtain. Russians openly mocked Kremlin lies. Not so Iran 2013. Regime police have battered the Green Revolution. Iran's proxies, Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria's Assad regime, remain committed to mass murder.
Unlike 1983, America's 2013 leadership failed to back security promises with substantiating action. President Barack Obama proclaimed that Assad's use of chemical weapons constituted a security red line, which Assad could not cross. When Assad crossed it, Obama backed down.
As for assured verification? There are no assurances in this deal. Inspectors will have access to several key Iranian nuclear sites, but numerous experts have found major loopholes in the new agreement. In fact, the new agreement is really an agreement to talk again in six months. The Iranian dictatorship, in exchange for a relaxation in economic sanctions (worth an estimated six to seven billion dollars) has merely promised to restrain its nuclear weapons program for six months.
Is six months Obama's new nuclear red line? If it is, the mullahs are betting it is as firm as his last one, the one prohibiting Assad's use of nerve gas on defenseless civilians.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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