The importance of “The Deal” with Iran reaches far beyond nuclear weapons. Yes, it has been clear for some time that neither the US government nor another (save possibly Israel’s) is interested in precluding Iran from obtaining nukes. Insofar as “The Deal” concerns nukes, it is about timing and empty pretenses on all sides.The logic of nuclear deterrence will then play itself out in the region. Period.
But there is much more to “The deal” Than that. But the Obama Administration is only dimly aware of these further implications and has zero capacity, much less any intention, of managing them.
It is aware of Iran’s sponsorship and leadership of the Shia peoples’ interests in the Muslim world, and counts on the Shia to counter the main branch of Muslim terrorism, which stems from the Sunni trunk and threatens the Shia mist directly. So far, “The Deal” makes some sense. But, inescapably, “The Deal” makes Iran the dominant power in the region. China’s proposed “partnership” with Iran, which will vie with deeply embedded Russian influence among the Iranian ruling class, testifies to and intensifies that status. Among Muslim countries, Iran is also in a unique position to exercise power. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran has real, usable armed forces. Unlike Egypt, it has money as well, plus a central geographic position. Turkey seems neutralized by Muslim Brotherhood incompetence. The US government will be in no position to affect how Iran chooses to employ its new powers and status.
At a minimum, Iran will run the Shia side of the Muslim world as it chooses. But, it will have no interest in composing the dreadful war that is gong on among Sunnis. On the contrary, its interest will be in letting that war run its course, or worsening it. No one in Washington is considering how to deal with the prospective collapse of Sunni regimes squeezed between energized Shia minorities (in some cases, majorities) and radicalized IS/type elements.
In short, “The Deal” shoves the ship Middle East onto uncharted waters and augurs stormy weather for the foreseeable future.