Far from bringing peace, the Iran nuclear deal makes war more likely. The brief seizure of 10 U.S. sailors portends things to come. The problems are multifold:
•First, the $100 billion in sanctions relief Iran is about to get disproportionately benefits the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which dominates heavy industry, oil and import-export. To understand the IRGC's economic wing, imagine the Army Corps of Engineers, Bechtel, Halliburton, Boeing and ExxonMobil all rolled into one. The deal is akin to wiring money directly into the IRGC's bank accounts.
History instructs: Between 1998 and 2005, European Union trade with Iran almost tripled, and the price of oil quintupled. Iran invested the bulk of its windfall in its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. History repeats: In November, Iran went on a shopping spree in China. Rather than build schools or pay back wages, Iranian leaders purchase Russian weaponry.
•Second, what President Obama sees as ideological diversity in Iran's leadership is more a game of good cop-bad cop. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has always been the regime's "Mr. Fix It." In 2009, he bragged about deceiving the West with dialogue in order to further Iran's nuclear program. His presidential campaign commercials bragged about his ideological fealty to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Under Rouhani, executions are nearly an order of magnitude greater than in Saudi Arabia. To ascribe the sailors' release to the power of the pragmatists ignores their powerlessness to free other hostages. The true reformists are in prison or banned from politics.
Front-loading Iran's asset return was akin to giving a toddler dessert and then begging him to eat his spinach. As Iran gets its windfall, it loses incentive to comply. Even if it does, when the deal expires, Iran is left with 5,000 basic centrifuges, more than Pakistan had when it built not a bomb but an arsenal.
Iran remains not a status quo power but a state intent on sponsoring terror and exporting revolution. Thanks to the nuclear deal, it has bolstered its financial ability to do so.