Aaron David Miller, writing for the Wall Street Journal:
Presidents are supposed to be persuaders in chief, but they fail at that objective far more than they succeed. And after his news conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama appears to face an uphill battle to sway the Iran debate in his favor. The agreement unveiled this week between Iran and six world powers may well produce a smaller, slower, more easily verifiable Iranian nuclear program. The deal’s complexity provides a great deal of precision on some issues–things that work in its favor. But whatever its plusses, the accord has too many vulnerabilities to make it an easy sell, including holes in the inspection regime; uncertainties about access to Iranian military sites, nuclear scientists, and engineers; and too many questions about whether Iran will come clean with the military dimensions of its past programs. One of the administration’s key selling points is not the deal itself but what happens if there is no deal. In his news conference Wednesday, the president argued that no agreement all but means war. Administration officials have long argued that no deal would lead U.S. allies in Europe, as well as Russia and China, to walk away from sanctions, that Iran would accelerate its efforts for a weapon (achieving “breakout” status), and that Israel might strike. But selling the nuclear agreement on negative counterfactuals isn’t the most effective strategy, particularly when so many Republicans and Democrats are already opposed. The president spent a fair amount of time in the opening remarks of his news conference talking about what happens if there is no deal; this strengthens the impression that it’s hard to market the accord on its merits. His approach is designed to create a binary choice: If you oppose this accord, you bear responsibility for whatever happens. That “I know best and you’re irresponsible if you don’t agree” approach is offensive, not only to many Republicans but also to Democrats whose support the president needs to pass the deal.
Whole thing here.