Mend it, don't end it: What the next president should do with the Iran deal

In other words, the next president will have opportunities to slow, or threaten to slow, Iranian economic recovery as part of an effort to press for renegotiating elements of the current deal. Iran’s rulers have raised expectations of economic betterment inside the country. Those raised expectations may generate useful political pressure on the regime—and useful fears within the regime of the consequences of not delivering on those high hopes.

The next president can also offset some of the negative diplomatic and regional consequences of the deal. Obama accepted the alienation of Israel and the Gulf States as the price of his Iran initiative. The next president can reconstruct those relationships, abandon the illusion of Iranian partnership, and renew the building of a strategic counterweight to Iran. It’s incredible that Iranian rulers got away with offering Iranian cooperation against ISIS as a concession to the United States. ISIS threatens Iran more than it does the United States; it is Iran that needs U.S. help to protect its clients in Syria and Iraq. The next president can wield the real strategic advantage that the United States has over Iran, rather than yield to the imaginary advantage that Iran asserts over the United States.

Admittedly, these aren’t great options. But they are better than zero options, and they are short of war. Obama likewise always had better options than war or this inadequate deal. He did not adequately avail himself of them. The next president could and should.