One step at a time
For all the objections expressed loudly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some members of the American Congress, and more quietly by Arab states, the accord with Iran announced over the weekend is but an intermediate step.
The Obama administration, especially Secretary of State John Kerry, deserve credit for dogged pursuit of diplomacy that at least holds the prospect of a peaceful resolution.
To be sure, sabre-rattling itself was an effective diplomatic tool in this case, along with the strong, unified Western economic sanctions against Iran over its effort to develop nuclear weapons. Those techniques unquestionably brought Iran to the table in the first place.
But there is no point in being at the table without making an all-out effort at a resolution. The accord is a step in that direction. It freezes the Iranian nuclear program for six months, provides for the destruction of several hundred pounds of nuclear materials and otherwise stalls the program, in exchange for a modest reductions in sanctions while preserving sanctions freezing Iranian assets and against Iranian oil.
The deal simply buys some time so that talks can proceed to not just temporarily freezing the weapons program, but rolling it back.
There are no guarantees of success. But it is crucial that the United States and the allies engaged in the process with Iran explore every opportunity besides yet another Middle East war.