What’s The Deal?

December 16, 2020
Rhianna Tyson Kreger

The following was originally published at MiddleburyMagazine.com.

Nearly two decades ago, in the basement of the Library of Congress, an intrepid young analyst, code-named Lisa Simpson, was rocking out to Jane’s Addiction on her iPod when she made a discovery that would set in motion one of the most contentious, high-stakes dramas of the nuclear age.

About a dozen years later, two former colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would come together, one offering the other a novelty baby onesie, to solve that nuclear crisis and bring the world one step back from the nuclear brink.

This story sounds wild because it is. It is the story of the Iran nuclear deal, told by Middlebury Institute of International Studies professor Jeffrey Lewis.

Widely known in the nuclear policy world for his pioneering podcast Arms Control Wonk, and a go-to expert for journalists covering North Korea and other nuclear proliferation hot spots, Lewis can spin a hell of a yarn. So, when the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran deal—an agreement that most experts understood as an unprecedented achievement, not just for nonproliferation but for global security writ large—he paired up with award-winning podcast producer, documentary filmmaker, and Middlebury College instructor Erin Davis to do what advocates of the deal had thus far failed to do: tell the story of one of the most important, far-reaching, hard-won nonproliferation agreements ever achieved, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA in security parlance.

The result is The Deal, an immensely enjoyable, factual, five-part narrative podcast that tells the story of the Iran deal, how it came together, how it fell apart, and what it means for the rest of us. A brilliant original score by composer Hannis Brown elevates the storytelling to mesmerizing heights.

Continue reading at MiddleburyMagazine.com.


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