Iran Agreement’s Intangible Assets

Michael D. Moberly   July 20, 2015    A blog where attention span really matter!

To no one’s surprise, the endless stream of opinions regarding the agreement reached last week to restrict (mitigate) Iran’s nuclear arms potential fit very well, at least initially, on a straight continuum with three markers, i.e., yea, in principle, and nay.

I suspect for many global citizens, their opinion of the agreement are not exclusively about whether they believe it is good or bad, rather, it’s about how large and how probable they sense the threat (posed by a nuclearized Iran) actually is. That ‘sense’ is a very personalized IA (intangible asset). Respectfully, the presence, absence, and strength of such personalized intangibles may likely be influenced by a citizen’s proximity to Tehran.

The inevitable suspected violations and the way the agreement has been structured will surely influence more to publicly assess the agreement, i.e., good or bad, probably on a daily – weekly basis versus strategic points of agreement’s 10-15 year life cycle.

The agreement is necessarily complex with many moving parts that must be in sync attitudinally, behaviorally, and definitionally. Professor Stephen Carter, Yale University School of Law suggests, (a.) the number and complexity of those moving parts can be likened to a Rubic’s Cube, or (b.) akin to a Rube Goldberg machine, i.e., a contraption that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion.

Too, with that level of complexity, my hope is that when there are challenges, they will not be so large or politicized to undermine or cause the entire agreement to collapse. This is something every business decision maker who has engaged in a merger, acquisition, new product-service launch, buy-sell agreement, or strategic alliance understands well, i.e., how opponents to a deal will interpret suspicions – infractions as being individually or collectively significant to warrant it’s termination.

Professor Carter also suggests when one party to an agreement assumes the other party will attempt to cheat in some manner and at some point, this prompts other questions, but not solely whether the deal was good or bad, rather, were the interim (intangible) gains, i.e., psychological, attitudinal, emotional, etc., derived from an imperfect agreement sufficient insofar as mitigating or delaying what may have been otherwise inevitable. Of course, I am not talking about nuclear Armageddon.

In other words, Carter asks, were those potential (intangible) gains from having an agreement in place for a period of time, greater than the costs of not ever negotiating or producing an agreement in the first place?

Should most aspects of the agreement be adhered to by the parties, Professor Carter suggests that when one looks back on any agreement, be it business, trade, or nuclear, from the time of its signing to its potential termination, the global citizens represented by the negotiating parties were likely happier and felt safer than if the agreement had not been executed. Again, some powerful intangible assets at play here!

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