For MSNBC's Chris Matthews, his support of the president's Iran deal amounts to "simple math." The Hardball host reckons that bombing Iranian nuclear facilities would maybe buy the world three years, but a diplomatic accord with the Islamic Republic, heck, that gets you a whole decade.
Here's the relevant transcript from the close of Matthews's segment with Iran-deal negotiator Wendy Sherman:
July 27, 2015
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: See, my argument for this deal, and I am for the deal, is that if you get, if you blow up everything over there, they're back in three years.
WENDY SHERMAN, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs: Oh, at tops.
MATTHEWS: But this deal you get at least 10.
SHERMAN: At least.
MATTHEWS: Simple math.
That's foolish, of course, on so many levels, namely the notion that the Iranians can be trusted to keep the deal in the first place. Rather than "at least ten years," it's thoroughly possible Iran could "cheat" and develop a weapon during the decade-long period in question. Furthermore, insisting that a bomb strike would merely set Iran back three years is a simplistic assumption that doesn't account for how a bomb strike would fundamentally alter the geopolitical equation. Simply put, the regime would have learned the hard way that the West won't abide Iran's actions to arm itself with a nuclear weapon, and it would arguably have ripple effect in the internal politics of the regime and in the regime's posture with the U.S. and the West diplomatically.
And, while imperfect and not purely analogous, it is instructive that Saddam Hussein's Iraq failed to develop a nuclear weapon after the 1981 bombing of its Osirak nuclear reactor by Israel. To this day, Matthews rails ad nauseam about how the Bush administration "lied" about the nuclear potential that Iraq supposedly had, but it would seem that the Hussein regime learned a thing or two from Israeli and American military interventions in 1981 and the 1991 Gulf War respectively, neither of which involved a boot-on-the-ground invasion.
Later in the program, Matthews admitted that his "simple math" proposal was "a tough one" and far from a no-brainer, even as he lamented the "Armageddon" talk of Republican critics of the Iran deal:
This deal can be argued both ways, and it's legitimate, it's a tough one. You know, ten years, better than nothing I would argue. Better than blowing it up and being back at it in three years. But that's an argument. There's another argument on the other side, don't trust them no matter what they do. Although we can say we're trying to verify this. And [they'll say] well, you can't really verify it. It's an argument. Why the Armageddon discussion?!