The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East
By Jay Solomon
Random House, 2016, 352 pp.
For four years, Solomon reported for The Wall Street Journal on the negotiations that ultimately led to the 2015 nuclear deal between the world’s major powers and Iran, an agreement that indisputably represents the most important foreign policy achievement of the Obama years. This book offers little new information. Its strongest sections chronicle the long and successful battle of the U.S. Treasury Department to inflict crippling financial controls and sanctions on Iran. Solomon stresses, however, that Congress had to push the Obama administration hard to get it to apply the maximum pressure. He suggests that a desire to negotiate successfully with Iran came to dominate the administration’s Middle East policy. Solomon argues that in order to get to yes with Iran, Barack Obama declined to support the Iranian demonstrations protesting the results of the 2009 election; chose not to respond with military force when Iran’s ally, Syria, used chemical weapons in the summer of 2013; and did not challenge Iran’s meddling in Iraqi politics. And Solomon points out that the final nuclear agreement required major U.S. concessions regarding Iran’s centrifuges, enrichment facilities, and heavy-water facility. In about ten years, when the deal’s main terms expire, we will know whether Obama gave away too much.