Skip to main content

About this book

This book examines attempts to influence the outcome of the negotiations between Iran and the United States over Iran’s nuclear capabilities. In particular, it focuses on struggles within the United States around public and congressional opinion with regard to the accord. Trying to prevent a successful outcome to the talks became a cottage industry in Washington, with the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson being just one of those who were pouring millions of dollars into the effort. On the pro-diplomacy side, there were a wide range of religious, peace, and arms control groups with some financial support coming from the Ploughshares Fund trying to create the space for a negotiated agreement. The tactics of both sides of the debate are described and analyzed to show how a contentious foreign policy issue can become not just a decision for high-level government decision makers, but a wide-ranging fight that involves scores of nongovernmental organizations, the media, and thousands of activists.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

The introductory chapter describes how the Iran nuclear agreement became the most hotly debated foreign policy issues in recent years. Republicans in the Senate even went so far as to write an open letter to Iranian officials to urge them not to assume an agreement would last. It was a shocking act, but it demonstrated the depth of feelings among those who opposed the nuclear deal. All the contenders for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 condemned the agreement and most said they would scrap it immediately if they were elected. For his part, President Obama saw the deal as one of his biggest foreign policy achievements. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people expressed their support for or opposition to the deal.
Dennis C. Jett

Chapter 2. A Bit of History

Each country has its own version of history. The differing views of the relationship between the United States and Iran made negotiating a long and complex agreement even more difficult. Iran remembers that the CIA support for the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 and American support for Iraq in a war cost over a million Iranian lives. For Americans, the takeover of the embassy in Tehran and the holding of its staff for 444 days are the most memorable events. The negotiations were also made difficult by the fact that the negotiating partners of the United States—China, France , Russia, Great Britain and Germany —all had their own priorities, and Israel also felt it had vital interests at stake.
Dennis C. Jett

Chapter 3. Who Was Involved

There were hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals who supported or opposed the Iran nuclear agreement. A number of them are described in this chapter. It begins with a list of the billionaires who used their wealth to fund opposition or support for the agreement. Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire spread millions among a number of organizations opposing the deal. AIPAC, considered one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, spent at least $20 million and perhaps twice that in a losing effort to defeat the agreement. The chapter covers ten different organizations in detail and discusses how globalization, partisan politics, the increasing elusiveness of truth, technology and money were used to advance arguments for and against the agreement.
Dennis C. Jett

Chapter 4. The Tactics Used

The two sides in the debate over the Iran nuclear agreement used a broad range of tactics to get their message across as they tried to sway public opinion and pressure wavering congressmen and senators. All the traditional methods were used—television ads, petitions, demonstrations, and so on—but technology and social media have opened up new ways to conduct these campaigns and bring the like-minded together to try to influence the policymaking process. Supporters of the deal were accused of creating an echo chamber at the direction of the White House to repeat and amplify arguments in favor of it. In reality, both sides had their own echo chambers and used friendly media and politicians to attempt to make their point of view the dominate one.
Dennis C. Jett

Chapter 5. The Results and the Future

The negotiations over the Iran nuclear agreement were successful because President Obama was determined not to save one of his most important foreign policy achievements. The opponents of the deal have not given up, however, and continue to work to undermine it. While a candidate, Donald Trump, said it was yet another horrible deal that he would tear up and renegotiate. As president, at least at the beginning of his term, he has been more cautious. Administration officials have continued to criticize it but have acknowledged that Iran is complying with it. They also know that America’s negotiating partners will not kill the agreement simply because the USA wants to end it. So, the future of the agreement is likely to remain uncertain.
Dennis C. Jett


Additional information

Premium Partner

image credits