Sometimes, political agreements are less important for what they say than for the fact that they say anything at all. The blizzard of commentary over the last week on the recent agreement about the Iranian civil nuclear programme, who’s won, who’s lost etc. largely misses the point.
The fact is that the West, after thirty-five years of sulking, has finally, albeit grumpily, moved into negotiating mode. It has accepted that it cannot bring the Iranian regime down by sanctions or by military force, and so any future relationship will have to be peaceful. Yes, it’s very limited, yes, it could come undone, yes, the War Party, especially in the US, could come back to life. But none of these things is very likely: a threshold has been crossed now, and it will be difficult to cross back over it.
In that sense, the text of the agreement scarcely matters – the Iranians have made very few actual (as opposed to theoretical) concessions, and the West has agreed only to a limited lifting of sanctions. But the political momentum is now towards peace and away from war, which can only be a good thing.