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Dangerous Gamble

by Arthur Herman

The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East, by Jay Solomon (Random House, 352 pp., $28)

In July 2015, representatives of members of the U.N. Security Council and representatives from Germany and the European Union met in Vienna, to reach an agreement with Iran regarding that country’s nuclear program. The Obama administration and the media were quick to dub the deal they struck “historic,” a term now used to describe anything that has never happened before but otherwise has little to recommend it. The deal called on Iran to halt large portions of its nuclear program for a decade, to reduce the number of centrifuges it has been using to enrich bomb-grade uranium, and to cut down its stockpiles of fissile material. In exchange, the U.S. and the other members of the “P5+1,” as the Vienna group were dubbed, agreed to lift economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. As Wall Street Journal chief foreign-affairs correspondent Jay Solomon puts it in his new book, the Vienna agreement now stands as “President Obama’s signature foreign-policy achievement” — much as Obamacare stands as his signature domestic-policy achievement.

Obamacare has been a disaster. As Solomon concludes in his fast-paced, well-researched account, the Iran nuclear deal bids fair to be a similar disaster — but one with far more dangerous consequences for the world. Indeed, it may make it impossible for the United States or any other nation to prevent a runaway nuclear-arms race in the Middle East.

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