The Iran Nuclear Deal: Bombs, Bureaucrats, and Billionaires

09.12.2020
Mert Aslan Assistant, Foreign Policy

The Iran Nuclear Deal – Bombs, Bureaucrats, and Billionaires, Dennis Coleman Jett

Jett, C. D. (2017) The Iran Nuclear Deal – Bombs, Bureaucrats, and Billionaires. Pennsylvania: Palgrave Macmillan, 481 pages.

ISBN: 978-3319598215


Dennis Coleman Jett was born in the US in 1945. Jett completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Economics at the University of New Mexico in 1969 and completed his doctorate in International Relations at the University of Witwatersrand in 1998. Jett, who worked as an economic consultant for the New Mexico State Government right after his graduation, also worked at many important positions in the US Department of State between 1972 and 2000. After working in Argentina, Israel, Malawi, Liberia, Mozambique, and Peru for many years, he received the “Distinguished Honor Award” by the US Department of State for his works, especially in Liberia. Jett, who also worked as the personal assistant of William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the US, is known especially for his expertise in the African region. After his career in the US Department of State, Jett gave lectures on foreign policy and globalization as a “dean” at the University of Florida International Center between the years 2000 and 2008. And he has been working in the International Relations department at the Pennsylvania State University since 2008. Jett’s first book was Why Peacekeeping Fails, which he produced from his doctoral dissertation in 2000, and his other books were; Why American Foreign Policy Fails: Unsafe at Home and Despised Abroad, which he wrote in 2008, American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats, which he wrote in 2014, and The Iran Nuclear Deal - Bombs, Bureaucrats, and Billionaires, which was published in 2017, respectively. Besides his books, Jett has written many articles for leading media organizations and international magazines.

In this work written in English in 2017, Dennis Coleman Jett explains in detail the Iran Nuclear Deal process, which was signed in Vienna on July 14, 2015, through the actors who are effective in the foreign policy-making process in the US. In his work, Jett seeks answers to the following questions: who are pro-government and who are anti-government actors in the US, what the main arguments of these actors are, and examines the structure of the Iran Nuclear Deal based on his important experiences during his years as a diplomat. On the other hand, he described the effects of money, technology, accuracy, partisanship, and globalization, which are more important than in the past and more effective, especially in the process of foreign policy-making, in the “Foreword” section of the book. Jett divided his work into five main chapters as: “Introduction”, “A Bit of History”, “Who Was Involved”, “The Tactics Used” and “The Results and The Future”. After the main sections, there are “Acknowledgments”, “Appendices”, and “Index” sections. Especially, the main text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, which is included in the “Appendices” section, increases the original value of the book.

The Introduction part of the book begins with the explanation of the idea that “Iran will restrict the nuclear policies in return of the exemption from the economic sanctions,” which was underlined in the Iran Nuclear Deal, and which was, in Jett’s words, miraculously signed between the US, Iran, and five other countries in July 2015. In the section continuing with the statements of Senator Tom Cotton against a possible agreement in March 2015, the main arguments of the persons, groups, and institutions who are either pro or anti to the Agreement, which dominates the main structure of the book are clearly explained. In the first section, comments by many different people on the Agreement are also included. In addition, Jett bases the main arguments of his book from the influence of Senator Charlie Wilson from Texas, the secret hero of the Soviet Union’s failure in Afghanistan, on the US foreign policy of the period. As it is known, Wilson has caused significant changes in the US policies towards Afghanistan. The first part of the book ends with explaining the reflections of the country’s policies on public opinion.

The second chapter, titled “A Bit of History”, is built on the problematic history of relations between the US and Iran. At the center of the tense relations between the two states that have been effective for many years is that both countries point to the other side as the source of the problem. On the other hand, history has been used as a weapon against The Nuclear Deal for both countries. Iran’s relationship with terrorist groups in the regional sense, missile trials, and human rights violations are among the most important trump cards in the hands of the opponents of the Agreement in the US. Some events between the two countries in the historical process have continued their effects for many years. The coup, which was supported by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIA), against Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, the hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran, and the targeting of an Iranian Airway plane by the US Navy in 1988 can be cited as examples of these events. In the Iran-Iraq War, the Ronald Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein in terms of economy and intelligence. Examples of recent events that created distrust between the two countries are computer viruses targeting Iran’s nuclear fields by the United States and Israel and the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. The role of the United Kingdom in the relations between these two countries is also mentioned in the chapter. Especially, the reports prepared by the House of Lords on the Agreement prove the role of the United Kingdom in the relations between the two countries. In the section, the statements from the top leaders of the important countries that are pro- to the Agreement and the criticisms for the US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from agreements such as the Paris Agreement were also included.

The third part of the book, written under the title of “Who Was Involved”, begins with the evaluation of the effects of persons, groups, public institutions, and organizations that are for and opposed to the Agreement planned to be made with Iran in the US. This chapter, which also stands out as the longest chapter among the main chapters of the book, covers the struggles of opposing actors in the US with each other during the Nuclear Deal in terms of money, technology, and globalization. According to the concrete evidence put forward by Jett, the actors who are against the Agreement in the US have spent much more than the supporters of this Agreement. In addition, it is one of the important details emphasized in this section that the money resources of the opposing actors are concealed and/or at least cannot be followed in accordance with Article 501 of the National Revenue Administration (US). The effects on the Agreement process by many billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson, Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Warren Buffet, who aim to influence US politics, and the leading US policy institutions such as: The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Arms Control Association (ACA), and J Street are also included in the section.

In the fourth part of the book, called “The Tactics Used”, traditional and new methods used in democratic systems to influence the policy-making process are mentioned. The facts that were affecting the government studies have been studied in three main groups, which are professional lobbyists, former Congressmen, and the public. Especially the group called the public is among the factors that politicians should take into account, due to the social structure of America with different ethnic origins, such as the Cuban Americans. In addition, the survey study conducted by the Pew Research Center on the American people, mentioned in the section, is important in terms of understanding the public’s interest in foreign policy issues. According to researches, six out of ten Americans have substantial information about NATO. The fact that even the president, who is at the top of the policy-making process in the US, has to get the support of the congress is explained through the example of the former President Barack Obama and the Iran Nuclear Deal. At the end of the section, the effects of developments in technology and social media are explained as new methods.

In the section of the book titled “The Results and The Future”, the author emphasized that the Agreement signed at the end did not mean the end of the war between opposing groups in the US. The episode starts with the statements of George Shultz, the US Secretary of State during the Iran-Contra Affair, and continues with the explanation that groups opposing the Agreement venture damaging American companies in order to prevent Iran from an economic gain. This section, which also refers to the US President Donald Trump’s assignment of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) experts in charge of capturing Osama Bin Laden against Iran, claims that the only certain fact regarding the future of the Iran Nuclear Deal is uncertainty. In the chapter, the effects of globalization are explained in detail through the images of good, bad, and ugly. The manipulation effect of technology and social media is also among the phenomena included in the conclusion section. Mentioning that elections in democratic countries are seen as an opportunity for some, as they create billions of dollar industry, Jett finished his book with a quote by Winston Churchill on democracy.

The “Appendices” section at the end of the book can be regarded as the most important part with its concrete and valuable content. In addition to being the longest part of the book, in terms of including the text of the JCPOA, the armament control covering the years 1970-2017, information notes about the US-based organizations that are effective in the Agreement, the list and details of think tanks according to their political orientation, institutions/organizations supporting the JCPOA, and the list of Islamophobic ones. On the other hand, the arguments claimed in the main chapters of the book are supported by the data in the Appendices. When the book is examined in terms of international relations discipline, it helps to understand private actors existing and/or increasing influence on interstate relations. In addition, realism, which is one of the mainstream theories of the field, can be evaluated with realistic evidence. As a matter of fact, as in the case of the US, domestic dynamics can even affect the national interests of states with the effect of globalization.

This work of Jett, which focuses on the Iran Nuclear Deal, is important to understand the impact of the dynamics of money, technology, and globalization in the United States’ on the foreign policy-making process. Nonetheless, it is principal to understand diplomacy’s ability to prevent war. Jett’s work offers important evidence and analysis in terms of understanding the dynamics of billionaires in the US, leading think tanks, organizations established for public service, and lobbying in general. Considering the abstract context of international relations, the book is a bedside book for anyone interested in the field, with concrete examples and events.