The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | OCTOBER 2017 29 one of the greatest achievements of the Obama administration, others could not condemn the result strongly enough. It became one of the most contentious foreign policy debates in years, and Congress came very close to overturning what the diplomats had accomplished. The debate over the agreement revealed not just a sharp dif- ference of opinion, but also how difficult making foreign policy is today. That is because the process is affected by five factors: globalization, partisan politics, money, technology and truth. None of them is new, but all have more impact than in the past. Globalization Simply put, globalization is people, things and ideas crossing national boundaries with greater speed, frequency, impact and reach. Anything constrained by those boundaries, like national governments, becomes weaker, while anything that can ignore them grows stronger. Globalization means that even the world’s only superpower is not all-powerful. And globalization is the reason the United States cannot confront Iran alone unless it wants to wage another war in the Middle East—this time without any significant allies. Some have suggested that harsher sanctions will bring Tehran to its knees and cause the Iranians to give up their entire nuclear program. But in the absence of Iran testing a nuclear weapon or commit- ting some other undeniable violation of the agreement, harsher sanctions are not going to happen. The proof would have to be crystal clear, but would come from an intelligence community that President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly denigrated. Given the growing distrust abroad of the American government and its intentions, an assertion by Washington of a violation based on an intelligence assessment would convince no one other than Iran’s Sunni enemies. Acting unilaterally to impose harsher sanctions will not work either; unless broadly adopted by other nations, sanctions would have little impact and would hurt the American economy more than Iran’s. Our negotiating partners are not going to tear up the existing agreement simply because a new presi- dent thinks it is a bad deal; and they have no desire to return to the negotiating table to seek a better one. To the contrary, our partners recognize Iran must receive some benefit from the agreement for it to succeed, and they are moving ahead with expanded commercial ties. Airbus and the French oil company Total have signed multibillion-dollar deals with Iran, and our other partners are doing business with Tehran, as well. Wash- ington's options are limited by the increasing international trade that is part of globalization. Partisan Politics Globalization isn’t the only thing constraining the formula- tion of foreign policy. Toxic partisan politics has become as much a part of the Washington environment as heat and humid- ity in August. Not a single Republican in Congress supported the agreement, and the contenders for the party’s presidential nomination acted as if they were in a contest to claim who would tear it up fastest upon taking office. John Isaacs, a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, pointed out in an article in The Hill that the opposition did not stem from careful consideration: “Most GOP members did not even wait for the ink to dry on the agree- ment to vigorously oppose the deal presented to Con- gress on Sept. 14. They did not bother to read the 120- page document, study the details, wait for hearings or consult with experts.” The opposition went so far that 47 of the 54 Republican Senators wrote an “open letter” to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” pointing out that the next American president could reverse any agreement with the stroke of a pen. It was drafted by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who at that point had been in the Senate for all of 10 weeks. He admitted in a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation that “the end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action, it is very much an intended consequence.” Money Senator Cotton’s attempts to put partisan politics ahead of national security in his effort to derail the Iran nuclear deal can be linked to another factor affecting foreign policy: the cor- rupting influence of money on politics. His election campaign received millions of dollars from fervently pro-Israel billionaires and groups. The Emergency Committee for Israel spent $960,000 to support Sen. Cotton. Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, both billionaire hedge fund managers, gave $250,000 and $100,000, respectively. The political action committee run by John Bolton, Globalization comes into play because it demonstrates that even the world’s only superpower is not all-powerful.