…[I]t is highly unlikely that Iran will take actions that explicitly violate the terms of the nuclear deal. The deal fits broadly with Iran’s goals of expanding its influence in the Middle East because it helps Iran’s economy and ends its political isolation, which would speed up its reintegration into the global system, giving it both the power and respect that Iran has always craved….
But to pause for a second: let us say that Iran does fudge a bit. So what? Is it really a big deal? First, there is the nature of the Iranian state and its foreign policy goals. There is no doubt that Iran wishes to aggrandize its influence in the Middle East, something that has annoyed most of its neighbors, from Israel, to the Arab states, to Turkey. But whenever it expands its influence, it has usually been a source of relative stability, propping up its clients to bring a measure of order in otherwise failing states. And in this sense, Iran is hardly any different from its neighbors like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have links to groups that are equally if not more unsavory that those that Iran supports. Iran’s reputation as a uniquely evil adversary in the United States is the result of decades of by hawks from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. They’re not wrong that Iran is difficult, difficult like China has been even though Nixon went there. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be negotiated with.