The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | OCTOBER 2017 31 difference in the world that was presented to them, all from a limited number of media outlets. Now liberals watch MSNBC, conservatives tune in to Fox and independents can catch CNN. But beyond that there are unlimited sources, many of them pos- sibilities for news, much of it unreliable and even untrue. Because of these divergent realities that Americans live in, there is often no agreement on even the most basic facts. That makes it difficult if not impossible to have a serious discus- sion of the national interest, what threats there are to those interests or how to deal with them. People can believe Iran will never hold up its end of the bargain, or they can think that diplomacy is the only way to avoid another war. And both camps can buttress their arguments with “proof” found online. Looking Ahead The successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear agreement and its first two years in existence did not end the debate. Con- gress required the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is abiding by the agreement, thus ensuring the debate will be renewed every three months. And since the agreement did not solve all of America’s problems with Iran, there is always the opportunity to argue against extending it because Iran is not living up to its “spirit,” even if it continues to comply with the limits placed on the nuclear program. Secretary of State George Shultz once said, “Nothing ever gets settled in this town. It’s a seething debating society in which the debate never stops, in which people never give up.” Shultz made those remarks in 1986, as he tried to explain to the House Foreign Affairs Committee why he was so ignorant about the Iran-Contra scandal, which included selling Iran 1,500 anti-tank missiles and spare parts for anti-aircraft mis- siles. But he could have been talking about Iran policy today. Opponents of the Iran nuclear agreement have not given up. And with an unpredictable president, the eventual out- come is impossible to foresee. The one certainty is that the Iran issue will not go away. n