New Delhi: Iran has just won some grace to become a nuclear power. The framework agreement between the P5+1 states and Iran may show promise of a foreign policy legacy for President Barack Obama which is why he is desperate to proclaim its success. But the deal is bad and a bad deal is worse than no deal in the military nuclear realm.

India’s example shows that sanctions cannot break a country’s resolve to become a nuclear power. Nuclear power brings security guarantees in unstable regions like Asia and deters the great powers from regime change. These were the proximate reasons for India’s decision to go nuclear in 1974 and formalize the advance in 1998 with further tests and doctrine.

In that tradition and flow of history, Saddam Hussein quested for nuclear power. The Shia republic of Iran held the same aim and its enmity with the United States hardened the thrust. The American invasion of Iraq brought an edgy desperation to Iran’s resolve fearing its own turn. Iran is the inheritor state of the great pre-Islamic Persian Empire known in antiquity for mounting challenges against the Greeks. America is at its puniest in Barack Obama’s presidency and it is only a matter of time that Iran realizes its ambitions.

President Obama shows an astonishing lack of grasp of foreign affairs and geo-strategy. When all the evidence showed that Iran was unstoppable in its aims, the strategy should have changed to make Iran pay a heavy price and secretly prepare for the inevitable. But that would have entailed looking two, five and ten years ahead and Obama repeatedly has shown an inability to do forward thinking and planning. His penchant to put deadlines to significant geo-strategic events is mindless and counterproductive. He set a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan regardless of war aims being met; the Taliban were jubilant. He has repeated the blunder with the Iran negotiations which accrued advantages to the Islamic republic.

If anyone in The White House had thought through it, they should have worked backward from a situation and inescapability of nuclear Iran. In that scheme, Israel quietly would have been brought on board formally to nuclearize on a day and contingency to be notified. In parallel a process should have commenced to convince Saudi Arabia and other Arab kingdoms to accept NATO nuclear cover and not scramble for nuclear weapons if they wished to retain US conventional military support to their shaky regimes. Grumbling and fulminating against the implied threat, the Arabs would have fallen in line. With the Islamic State overrunning swathes of Iraq and Syria and sullen Shia masses chafing at minority Sunni overlordship, the kings cannot risk nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands.

After adequate measures had been taken to address the scenario of nuclear Iran, the United States should have tightened the screws on Teheran’s hardline nuclear advocates led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This would have meant persisting with the sanctions in ways to make it harder for the regime while softening the blows for the people. The weakening oil economy presented opportunities to crush Iran’s nuclear ambition but President Obama’s desperation ceded advantage to the other side. A president who is worried about legacy ruins it the more.

It is best if the deal does not materialize and it becomes impossibly difficult again for Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Then at least the world systematically can approach Iran’s inevitable nuclearization. The key is to protect Israel’s interests, preserve the Middle East balance of power, and prevent the rush to the door to procure nukes on the heels of Iran’s weaponization.

This controlled reordering of Middle East geopolitics is beyond Obama’s presidential ken and competence. The US Congress should bar the president from anymore potentially damaging foreign policy initiatives. Starting with the deposition of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi and the running obsession to remove Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the United States serially has blundered in the region. Iran has deep memories of the landscape and an older history of active civilization and culture than any of the Arab states that came to separate ragbag existence from the splintered Ottoman Empire. It will not be dissuaded from the nuclear path leastways by a minor American president.