THE DEAL WE NEED

If the US loses its nuclear deal with Iran, we’ll also lose credibility with the rest of the world

It’s hard to imagine a more devastating foreign policy move than the Iraq War. The bill’s not even in yet, and it already comes to tens of thousands of lives lost, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, plus the emergence of ISIL. Future generations may well look back and remember it as the greatest error of judgment of the millennium, a nearly fatal blow to the hope that this, too, would be an American century.

Except something worse seems to be unfolding right now before our very eyes: Operation Override the Veto.

What would happen if Congress finds enough votes to overrule president Obama and rejects the nuclear deal with Iran? Probably sanctions would give way (they kind of already have), and we might even see war. Either way, however (and that’s a big “however”), our credibility will suffer a blow worse than from the unauthorized march to war twelve years ago.

Defeating the Iran deal would tell the world that even the Obama administration can’t steer this superpower back onto a sensible course.

Barack Obama wasn’t just America’s hope and change. He was the world’s. Remember how relieved, and excited, the planet was when he was elected? While Americans may still be undecided about how to vote now, the rest of the world looks to our Republicans and despairs. The rest of the world looks to Obama, and yearns.

The difference between a strong country and a weak country is that, in the latter, institutions work at cross-purposes. They speak with too many voices, they contradict themselves at critical moments, they are unable to act when the need presents itself, and can’t sustain a policy they’ve committed to. They are, in a word, unreliable. That may not be the message opponents of the Iran Deal want to broadcast, but it’s what their opposition will transmit.

Remember the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? Even our best buddy, the United Kingdom, signed up for this Chinese-led initiative, though we asked them not to. When your most special ally is hedging its bets, you’d better make sure not to give them any reason to run for the exits.

If the deal falls through , the countries that have fought alongside us will realize that even they can’t persuade us to stick to a vital agreement—and one our own executive made his mission to reach.

The world’s rising powers are standing by to reap the benefits of America’s loss of stature, while our allies would distance themselves from us. America’s lost the plot, the world will think, or jumped the shark.

Follow Haroon on Twitter at @hsmoghul. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

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