This morning Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) announced that she will support the agreement reached with Iran curtailing it’s development of nuclear weapons technology. With 34 votes in hand, Pres. Obama now has enough support to veto any bill coming out of Congress that would reject the deal.
This is being hailed as a major foreign policy win for Obama. At Politico the headline reads: “Obama prevails on Iran deal.” At Slate, the headline is: “The Iran Deal Will Survive. Now It’s Just Politics.” The New York Times has, “Obama Clinches Vote to Secure Iran Nuclear Deal,” while The Atlantic headlines the story with “Obama Seals the Iran Deal.”
By now, if you are one of the two or three people (shout-outs to my wife and my dad) that read my blog with any regularity, you know that I’ve written before about my support for the agreement with Iran first here and more recently here. I don’t want to rehash any of that now, but I do want to say a few words related to the cartoon above.
It’s pretty simple: If you want an agreement to stick, if you want the parties to abide by the commitments they’ve made, it is far better for them to walk away from the table thinking they have won than for one or the other to believe that they’ve been taken to the cleaners.
Parties that walk away from the table thinking they’ve won do so with the implicit understanding that the deal satisfies their interests. And a deal that satisfies your interests is a deal that you will hold to. This is a deal you won’t try to subvert or undermine. As I tell my students when I teach negotiation and bargaining, the win-win outcome is the holy grail of settlements. These are the agreements that persist and deliver on their promise.
If we’re lucky, that’s the kind of deal that’s been made with Iran.