Chances of war with Iran, says career Middle East journalist Barbara Slavin, went down "a gazillion" with the framework for a nuclear agreement.
Never fear. Or fear. Hardliners in Congress will do their very best to change the percentages.
Slavin, who covered Iran for the Washington Post and is now senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, told The Hill that Congress should "declare victory" and join other nations that helped hammer out the deal.
With those countries -- Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, with general participation by the European Union -- the United States would be in a powerful position to monitor whether Iran abides by its pledge to limit nuclear development to peaceful means.
We don't want that, say congressional Republicans.
That depends on who the "we" is. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 59 percent of Americans do.
They agree with President Obama on the best way to ensure peace: "We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities."
He might have said, "Trust, but verify," but that was Ronald Reagan's line in dialing down nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union.
Joe Klein, writing in Time magazine, calls the nuclear talks a stunning opportunity for a moderate leader, President Hassan Rouhani, to put that country's hardliners on the sidelines regarding a deal with "the Great Satan" – us.
Klein remarks on a "weird ideological confluence" between "Likudnik neoconservatives" in Israel and Iranian hardliners. They are speaking as one in opposing the deal.
I found it interesting that Klein didn't call the confluence a troika, because we have our own hardliners of said mind.
Calling Iranians "the most pro-American Muslims in the region," Stein notes a disconnect between the masses, particularly young Iranians, and members of the "desperately-seeking-Satan hardliners" who have controlled Iranian policy for decades.
The same can and should be said of the tea party operatives now calling the shots in Congress. They are no more representative of this great and diverse nation as a whole than the cast of "Duck Dynasty."
Americans are saying: "Engage. Seek peace." They're saying it about Iran. They're saying it about Cuba.
Reagan did it with the Soviets. Nixon did it with China. We are now trade partners with Vietnam. Count all members of the World War II Axis as among our very best friends. All of them. Engage. Seek peace.
The Iranian people are saying it. The Cuban people are saying it.
The American hard right is saying, "No. No. No."
On Iran, Sen. Tom Cotton talks blithely about letting bombs do our talking.
On Cuba, Sen. Marco Rubio says 50 years of isolation isn't nearly enough.
Klein is right. Some people in power are desperately seeking Satan. But are the masses? The graying Iranians want to relive the heady days of American hostages. The young Iranians want an unshackled economy and "Dancing With the Stars."
Observe at the same time the American right. It lives in another time entirely. It aches for Cold War-style tensions. It resists modernity. It resists diversity.
As an emblem of all the above, the Great Satan for America's hard right is the man in the White House. Menace is in his every twitch.
"There is no option to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," says that man, our president, "that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward."
That is inarguable. Iran can do what it wishes, arms-wise, if it wants to endure more sanctions. Then the only answer will be bombs. However, if it wants to end its economic isolation, it has a peaceful route to get there.
This response to tensions based on musty blood oaths is a gazillion times better than the alternative, which is war.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.