Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy or opinion. It is not intended to change anyone’s beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.
One of the keys to ending the Cuban missile crisis in the sixties was a fake deal. In return for the Soviet Union removing missiles from Cuba, the United States agreed to remove obsolete missiles from Turkey. That looked enough like a legitimate deal that the Soviet Leaders with their controlled media could sell it to their own people as a win. I think it’s time to trot out that strategy again and propose a fake deal to Iran in return for nuclear inspections.
I’ll pause now to address your main objection. I know some of you will point out that we can’t negotiate with Iran, using either a fake deal or a real deal, because some Iranians have an irrational, suicidal religious desire to destroy Israel, create chaos, and speed up the return of the Twelfth Imman. If you need some background on that situation, here’s a good explanation from a Canadian academic.
We can’t know for sure what sort of craziness is in the heads of the Iranian leaders, and we can’t know how that situation might change in the future. If you’re a leader in Israel, common sense says you must treat any risk of nuclear annihilation the same as if it were a certainty. We would do the same thing. If the United States thought Elbonia posed a 10% threat of nuclear attack next year, our military would pave Elbonia this year. So from a practical perspective, Israel doesn’t need to know the exact odds of a future Iranian nuclear attack. Their strategy for dealing with the risk would be largely the same no matter the specific odds.
Today I’ll describe a potential fake deal that gives the international community what it wants from Iran: full and open inspections of Iranian nuclear sites. The interesting question is this: What fake benefit do we offer Iran in return for their cooperation?
My idea is that the United States, China, and Russia – the three biggest nuclear powers – sign a joint agreement that goes like this: The three powers agree that if any country in the world, excluding the big three nuclear powers, uses nuclear weapons, the offending country will be denied military and economic aid for the next hundred years. In return for this agreement of non-support from the big three nuclear powers, both Israel and Iran would be asked to agree to nuclear inspections. Israel’s inspections would be handled by the United States military. Iran’s inspections would be handled by an international team of inspectors excluding the United States and Israel. That’s the fake deal.
What Israel gets in the fake deal is something real: a nuclear weapons-free Iran without full-scale war. What Iran gets, thanks to its controlled media, is the ability to declare victory over Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Under the deal as described, Israel could never use its own nukes without losing military and economic support from the United States for a hundred years.
Iran could spin the story internally with news stories such as this: “Iran’s nuclear prowess has created a great victory over Israel, by causing the United States to withdraw its unconditional support of the Zionists, thus rendering Israel’s nuclear arsenal useless.”
One kink in this plan is that Israel wouldn’t want to give anyone full access to its nuclear facilities, even if the inspectors were from the United States. So let’s assume the fine print of the agreement says the United States can design the inspections any way it wants. That gives us wiggle room under the fake deal to certify Israel’s nuclear facilities as “okay” without access to every sensitive site.
China and Russia would presumably have no problem signing the agreement of non-support because they don’t want rogue nations launching nukes, and the agreement would not be binding on their own arsenals. Realistically, they could always change their minds and withdraw from the agreement if it suited their national interests someday in the future.
Israel would presumably agree to the deal because inspections of Israeli nuclear sites would be limited, and Israel would still have a nuclear deterrent.
If Iran turns down the type of fake deal I’m describing, it will help generate international support for deeper economic and military pressure on Iran. From a public relations standpoint, a fake deal offer helps Israel and the United States even if Iran rejects the deal.
The only downside to my plan is that the Nobel committee can’t award me the Nobel Peace Prize for this idea once it goes into play because it would draw too much attention to the fakeness of the deal. I will be forced to live with the knowledge that I averted war and didn’t get anything to show for it.
The interesting thing is that this blog is probably only three degrees of separation from the decision-makers in Washington D.C. Thanks to the Internet, this idea will spread quickly if it is deemed by readers to have merit. I don’t know what the other candidates for president of the United States did today, but I just created a non-zero opportunity to avert nuclear war without bloodshed. I’m sure whatever the other candidates did today was awesome too.