How the lifting of Iran sanctions is a victory for Rand Paul and libertarians

The lifting of Iran sanctions is a victory for Rand Paul and those of a more libertarian school of thought when it comes to foreign policy. Paul, who came out against the agreement in July, said in the second GOP debate he wouldn’t rip it up immediately because he wants to see if Iran will follow it.

“Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the agreement immediately? That’s absurd. Wouldn’t you want to know if they complied? Now, I’m going to vote against the agreement because I don’t think there’s significant leverage, but it doesn’t mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.”

The only other candidate to defend the agreement was John Kasich, but he’s completely backtracked from that position. He first told CNN days after the September debate it should take 51, not 60, votes to stop the deal. He also told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday he was “sick” over the agreement.

[Kasich] said he’s “sick to my stomach” about the latest news in the Iran deal because he believes Iran will use the money to spread trouble in the Middle East and it will be too difficult to reinstate sanctions if they violate the agreement.

“If I were president today I would be meeting with every one of our allies around the world and saying we’re going to monitor this deal and if they violate one crossed T or one dotted I we’re going to slap the sanctions back on,” he said.

This is much different from Paul’s foreign policy because the Kentucky U.S. Senator seems more willing to make sure Iran is following the deal before completely tossing it out the window. That’s not a bad policy to take because it can establish trust between two longtime foes. It’s the same thing Ronald Reagan believed when his said “trust, but verify” over the U.S.-Soviet missile treaty of 1987. If the U.S. was willing to extend that policy towards the Soviets, shouldn’t the same be said for the Iranians? Paul seems to think so, as he told CNN last week.

“I still wonder whether or not they want to be part of the civilized world. But you still wonder about a nation that is using what appears to be video of our soldiers as pawns in a propaganda war…I do separate myself from many other Republicans in that I do hope the negotiation works. But we’re going to have to watch them like a hawk.”

It certainly seems like things are working with the Iran deal, but it’s only been six months. The U.S. (and its allies) are going to have to be watchful to make sure Iran keeps following the deal, until they actually become trustworthy (if that ever happens at all). Shikha Dalmia at Reason argued in July the nuke agreement isn’t great, but could end up helping the West in the long run even if it falls apart.

But here’s the thing, if Iran [doesn’t follow the deal], America and Israel et al will have a far stronger hand at that point to persuade the world to either reinstate the sanctions regime or join them in launching a military strike. Right now, if the deal falls apart, America/Israel will be isolated while the world slowly but surely restores ties with Iran. Obtaining international cooperation is not about trying to show the world that we are the good guys. It’s vital to the success of any effort to contain Iran.

So the best case scenario with the deal is that it’ll give the world 10 years of a nuclear-free Iran, during which, who knows, may be the country will make some small headway toward abandoning its mullahocracy and embracing democracy (which might make its possession of nuclear weapons somewhat less problematic). And the worst case scenario is that the whole thing will fall apart because of Iran’s duplicity, which will renew the world’s will do so something about it.

She’s got a good point, and it makes sense to “trust, but verify” when it comes to Iran. This is why the six month mark of the Iran deal is a win for Rand Paul because it shows there’s no reason to tear up the agreement right now, as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio want to do. It’s also worth noting this is a win for libertarians who prefer a more “dovish” foreign policy to those of the hawks. Libertarians have no problem using force when attacked (see Ron Paul’s vote in favor of the Afghanistan War in 2001 and Jesse Walker at Reason writing the September 11th terrorists should be hunted down and captured or killed). But libertarians aren’t in favor of war or reckless police action (drones) because innocent civilian deaths could result, along with whoever the villains are (see the drone strikes which have killed both terrorists and civilians). The lifting of Iran sanctions could end up meaning a U.S. war with Iran won’t happen, and less Americans are taken hostage. It could also mean more private businesses start doing work in Iran and more free markets get introduced to a horribly non-free market country. The more free markets are introduced, the more of a chance freedom actually gets introduced as well and Iran becomes more democratic. It’s also possible this all goes to hell in a handbasket with Iran, and we’re back to square one in a couple years. But right now, this is a victory which Paul and libertarians should enjoy.