It’s the time of the year when families gather and reminisce on what they are thankful for. Unfortunately, the message of Thanksgiving has become a clichéd sentimentality in our culture of surface-level entertainment. Still, it’s one worth revisiting from time to time if only to reflect on the good things.
If you were to look back upon the past year with an objective lens, it’s clear statism is rolling forward to its seemingly inexorable end-goal of total socialization. As Mises never tired of pointing out, there is no “third way” in resource allocation. There are only two options: free markets and socialism. And Western society, as a whole, is showing no signs of reversing course towards economic liberty. Despite the massive failures of government programs aimed at alleviating poverty, the vast majority of the public is still comfortable with an institution of monopoly force.
It’s not exceedingly optimistic but it’s the truth. Every fight needs a sober recognition of the starting point. For those endeavoring to change hearts and minds in favor of greater liberty, that means facing the fact the state still has a firm grip on the people’s confidence.
Even so, one event did happen this year that I am especially thankful for. It was reported on frequently but the impact has yet to fully sink in. Granted no mishaps, the groundwork has now been laid for more freedom in our time.
I am speaking of the recent deal made between the governments of the United States and Iran in regards to the latter’s nuclear program. After decades of cold diplomatic relations, this is a major turning point in Middle East relations for both powers. It’s also one that, if given enough time and humility, may end up saving countless lives.
The deal is said to be between the P5+1 – also known as the United Nations Security Council with the addition of Germany. But any layman can guess that had Washington said “no,” then everyone else’s opinion on the bargain would be meaningless. Facing years of economically debilitating sanctions, the Iranian state has just agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond the amount needed to fuel nuclear power plants and to dilute its current stockpile that has been enriched at 20 percent. According to Uri Friedman of The Atlantic, leaders in Iran have also agreed to stop operating a heavy-water reactor that is said to be capable of producing “weapons-grade plutonium.” With the stage set, the hope is that Iran will soon rid itself of isolation and return to the global economy, ready for outside investment.
For handing over its sovereignty in internal affairs, the Iranian people will be gifted with sanctions relief to the tune of billions of dollars. And because economic sanctions are always an act of war that harm innocent bystanders, ending a portion of these immoral practices is a victory for peace and justice. For years, the guiltless citizens of Iran have been suffering from a shortage of basic foodstuffs. “Pervasive unemployment, inflation, medicine shortages,” and “food riots” have all been consequences of the sanctions imposed by Washington and its allied tormentors. The relief will do little to relieve all of the damage done to Iran’s economy, but it’s a start to better days.
Major Middle East players are thankfully fine with the deal reached, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar – all of which have been bellicose towards Iran in recent years. Even Israeli President Shimon Peres refrained from condemning the agreement and is open to its workability in the future. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been incorrectly throwing a temper tantrum over nukes in Tehran since 1992, is another story. He predictably declared the deal makes the world a “much more dangerous place.” You can’t please everyone. And one thinks that unless the Iranian state commits massive genocide and leaves the country void of human beings, a blowhard papa’s boy like Bibi will never be satisfied.
In terms of diplomacy, the American-Iranian agreement is unprecedented. As Daniel Larison of The American Conservative writes,
[T]he negotiation of a diplomatic agreement–any diplomatic agreement–with the Iranian government has been considered more or less unthinkable until just the last few years, and now it at least seems possible that one of the main causes of tension between America and Iran may be successfully managed so that armed conflict is avoided.
It goes without saying the Iranian nuclear deal is far from perfect. After years of being bullied around by the planet’s major states, the Iranian government’s acquiescence is not just. There was never any substantial proof it was pursuing nuclear weapons. All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in both 2003 and 2010 that the Iranian regime halted their nuclear weapons program. That never stopped warmongers like Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post from screaming bloody murder in their respective publications. It never stopped the hardline global interventionist class in Congress from incessantly bringing up the imminent demise of Israel. It never stopped the whitewashing of Washington’s history of interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs via an initiated coup d’état and aiding in Saddam Hussein’s use of nerve gas on Iranians in the First Persian Gulf War.
However belligerent or aggressive the Iranian regime is today, much of its animus comes from being the hacky sack of the planet’s greatest provocateur government. Yet, unfair treatment does not justify nuclear warheads. Weapons that kill indiscriminately – such as an atomic bomb – are always immoral. The world would be a much better place without them. But since they exist, it’s best to pursue a policy that limits their production.
Under ideal circumstances, the Iranian government would agree to halt any nuclear weapons program it’s clandestinely running while other states like the U.S. begin to ramp up efforts to wind down their holdings of thermonuclear arms. That’s a highly unlikely scenario, but nonetheless the most ethical and justified. If the preliminary deal is the best we can get under current international relations, I will take it.
President Barack Obama and diplomacy team of Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power should be commended for the agreement with Iran. They may be a cabal of sociopaths who long for global hegemony, but their decision has spared millions of undue hardship. It’s tough to be thankful for liberty amidst its constant trampling from hubris government. But this is one thing to be grateful for in a time reserved for thoughtful rumination.