Why Republicans will eventually support the Iran deal
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All of the hysterical posturing aside, most Republicans are not ready to support military action against Iran. Not only can we write off all the initial statements about the deal struck by President Obama's team as being appeasement, a sell-out or disastrously naive about Iran's continued support of terrorism, but the giveaway as to their reluctant support is already in the wind. One has only to look at the telltale signs.


There are two giveaways that are going to command the ultimate vote: the support by traditional allies in the greater Middle East, and lots of media coverage about the prospective business to be garnered with an unsanctioned Iran.

Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have already seen the wisdom and opportunity afforded them by a 10-year "get out of jail free" card on nuclear options. While Iran has been remarkably effective in using its financial backing and the talents of its armed forces to support Iraqi surrogates, the fact of the matter is that both the Saudis and the Turks, whose Muslim populations are predominately Sunni, have overwhelming numerical superiority over the Iranian Shiites in the region. We can be sure that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's recent trip to "reassure our allies" comes with the promise of conventional armaments to support a conventional arms race. It is merely a matter of time before the third card, Egypt, falls into line. Once that happens, we can be certain that the common cause of suppressing Shiite-sponsored military and terrorist activities in the region will be joined by Iran's natural enemies. Please do not overlook the fact that the U.S. is the No. 1 arms exporter in the world.

Republicans will soon realize, also, that despite the hysterical objections by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel benefits from the deal, since its security is actually enhanced (at least for the next 10 to 15 years). As has been repeatedly pointed out thus far, the risk and the bet in this agreement is that Iran's nuclear arms are postponed, not abandoned, and the big question is whether or not 10 years is enough time to allow less militant views to prevail in Iran. But the Saudi announcement that it will support the agreement and the Turks opening their airfields to support American air attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are clear signals of what is transpiring.

However, the second sign is even more compelling for Republicans, and it will prove irresistible: business! It didn't take but five or six minutes after the agreement was announced for Germany to send a "trade delegation" to Iran to restore the almost $2 billion in annual sales that have been foregone while the sanctions have been in place. The New York Times cleverly provided us with an analysis of China's amoral trade practices that now place it in a position as the No. 1 trading partner for Ecuador, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. The clear implication was that American business interest will not be foresworn in this deal as it was when we attacked Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our friends in the petroleum industry have been quick to remind us that it will take several years for Iranian oil production to be brought up to snuff because of aging equipment and production upgrades. Who gets to compete for that business? Even McDonald's has weighed in with its announcement that it will seek to replace the Iranian copycat franchise titled "Mash Donald's."

So where do Republican lawmakers find themselves in this mix? Obama-bashing is one thing; winning elections and supporting the business funding sources for elections is entirely a different matter. When 56 percent of Americans support the agreement in the face of the hysterical barrage that Republicans launched, it is nature's way of telling you that rabid opposition may work with the 35 percent of the knee-jerk support they get from the public, but it is not going to garner national office. The smart strategy for Republicans will be to let the Iran agreement quietly fade, letting it slide through using the president's veto threat as rationale for tagging Democrats with the tarnish of support.

The good news is that foreign affairs, despite the assurances given recently that it will be the dominant theme in this election, is not really a commanding concern for American voters unless it involves wars. The tradition of fear-mongering that has won elections for Republicans in the past has lost some of the benefits in this matter because fear of terrorism has been defused as it has morphed from fear of Muslims or ISIS to domestic attacks of lone wolves, depressed or bipolar souls, racists, radicals; police brutality and inadequate gun control legislation.

Behind all those closed doors we know to be characteristically a part of the Beltway vote-trading apparatus, there can be quiet confidence that this landmark agreement will not be thwarted by politics as usual. In this particularly case, the disfunctionality of Congress has clashed with the pragmatism of Republican interests and augers well for an unusual triumph of diplomacy. Republicans can now be safely seen as being for the agreement while being against it.

Russell is managing director of Cove Hill Advisory Services.