John Hulsman – The Iran interim deal: Lessons in realism from JFK

Raleigh Addington
Raleigh Addington
editor at Chartwell Speakers

John HulsmanYesterday in Aspen Italia, John Hulsman analysed the significance of the Iran interim deal that concluded last weekend. Using the 50-year anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination as a point of comparison, John explored the parallels between these two historic events.

One of JFK’s foremost triumphs was averting the Cuban Missile crisis. John asserts that this was achieved through understanding that in global diplomacy, the perfect must never be the enemy of the good; JFK was a realist, and settled for what could be done at a time of need. Through this philosophy, a flawed yet workable deal was established between the US and the Soviet Union.

John compares this to the imperfect, yet progressive, deal that was struck between the US and Iran last week. The West has long suspected Iran’s uranium enrichment programme is geared towards making a weapon, but Tehran insists it only wants nuclear energy. After weeks of negotiation, “the Iranians have kept their nuclear infrastructure, and the Americans have kept their sanctions regime.”

According to John, JFK grasped that imperfection must not allow for catastrophe. With regard to the Iranian nuclear programme, the foundation has been set and progress can be achieved, and whilst no definitive deal may yet be reached there is cause for hope. John highlights that this is due to an important aspect of the interim deal, which states that it can be renewed at both sides urging every six months. Consequently, though a slow tug-of-war may ensue, both sides should get enough of what they want along the way, bringing about optimal solution rather than a continued stalemate debate.

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