The Fantasy of the Deal

Everyone's an Iran expert, as you may have noticed.  Everyone has an opinion about what sort of deal is being concocted between us and the Iranian regime, with pundits, experts, reporters, and pols weighing in on epiphenomena ranging from the number of Iranian centrifuges that will be allowed to how quickly or slowly the remaining sanctions will be lifted.

Here in Washington the "inside story" that has been circulating for more than a week is: the deal is all done and it will be announced before the 24th, the nominal deadline for the negotiations on a "permanent" agreement.

I've been here since 1977, approaching forty years, and "inside stories" have been wrong...almost always.  Say 80-90 percent of the time.  That's because the "information" is circulated to advance or sabotage policies or individuals, not to inform.  So I don't pay much attention to such stories.

I try to reason from first principles or known facts.  It's not as sexy as passing on "what the insiders are saying," but it has a somewhat better track record.  Yeah, most forecasts, even those based on known facts and first principles, are wrong, but they aren't THAT wrong, if you see what I mean.  And when it comes to Iran, there's always a considerable amount that we don't know and aren't going to know, so it's best to be tentative.

But we do know some things, and there is an historical record that is pretty consistent, so let's go with that stuff.

--We know that Obama badly wants a deal, most any deal that will get him on board Air Force One for a spectacular arrival in Tehran and an embrace with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.  His Inner Nixon dream.  He's prepared to make all manner of concessions to stage that scene.  So we pretty much know "our side" of this melodrama;

--On the other hand, we also know that Khamenei does NOT want a deal with the Great Satan, and he has no interest in securing Obama's legend.  He is sick, he may well believe that he has limited time left on this earth, and he doesn't want his legacy to read:  he came to terms with Satan;