My argument was that the deal was mainly a boon to the Iranian government and government-to-government transfers among statist, centrally planned economies – and hence in no way libertarian because:
1) It allows the Iranian state to access $150 billion in frozen assets (for comparison, 50 times the annual U.S. military aid to Israel) rather than have them remain frozen or pay them out as damages to Iranian dissidents and refugees abroad;
2) It lifts sanctions on European, Chinese, and Russian (but not American, the fine print reads) businesses that invest in or sell to and buy from Iranian entities;
3) It produces a pretense of weapons inspections of Iranian nuclear plants, in which Iran may inspect itself, and has many days notice to schedule such inspections, at which no Americans are to be allowed.
The response from my fellow libertarians has been underwhelming, though revealing.
My favorite response was from my internet pen pal Angela Keaton, a fundraiser and activist for Antiwar.com. Ms. Keaton wrote: “ You know it is only because I am on [a] fast from everything that I didn’t write some comedy about y[ou]r Iran piece in Breitbart. In fact, I am not supposed to read anything this month so that unfortunately will be the only thing I read this month that doesn’t involve prayer, fasting, and meditation.” Ms. Keaton and I may not agree on everything about what a libertarian foreign policy would be (we rarely discuss it), though we do discuss how we agree that anti-Semites should not be welcome in the libertarian movement.
Unfortunately, another “libertarian” correspondent, Juan Garofalo disagreed: “tell us bruce, how much money does a neocunt like you get from the jew mafia?”
But the bulk of libertarians had responses in between these two, and those responses seemed to me to betray a lot of confused thinking, reading comprehension failures, inability to grasp distinctions, smugness, projection, and appeals to various logical fallacies, particularly false assertions of moral equivalency.
The issue (and my article) was taken up at the libertarian run Independent Political Report, where a number of local Libertarian Party activists weighed in.
George Phillies, a retired physics professor, who a few years ago ran to be an officer in the Libertarian Party nationally, begins the moral equivalency, asserting that the Iranian regime needs nuclear weapons as other states do to prevent itself from being invaded: “The Iranians like several other countries do have a use for nuclear weapons, namely it makes it unlikely they will be invaded. The late dictator of Libya gave up this possible use to his ultimate misfortune. The South Africans thought it was useful. India, Pakistan and Israel are in similar boats.” One wonders if Dr. Phillies would generalize this argument – that anything a State needs and has a “use for,” from tax monies, to conscripts, to seized assets – justify its having them? It’s a whole new world for libertarianism!