Defenders of the Iran nuclear deal misled the public about some of the details. The key argument mustered in support is the false assertion that the only alternative is war.
With some significant deviations, the battle lines have been drawn along political lines, with Democrats supporting the crown jewel of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and Republicans opposing.
Geopolitically, the agreement has pitted the United States against its allies: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Gulf States.
Obama, in announcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to the nation, threw down the gauntlet to Congress, warning he would veto any legislation that disapproved of the agreement, thus requiring a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress to override his veto. It is unlikely that enough Democrats will defy Obama.
In this respect, congressional Republicans contributed to this dilemma by essentially accepting the Administration position that any deal negotiated by the P5+1 was not a treaty — something I and many others feel it certainly was — and paving the way for the inverted voting requirement on the JCPOA.
But the administration is not worried because it marginalized any adverse action Congress may take by immediately obtaining a UN Security Council vote to lift sanctions on Iran.
Critics of the deal point out that the administration made unnecessary concessions, negotiating as though America was the weaker party. Comparisons to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich were inevitable. If the stated goal was to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, at best that goal was postponed. If a goal was to make the Middle East, if not the world, a safer place, it is dubious that this goal was achieved.
How do you build popular sentiment for the agreement? It’s like the old line, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
Safer? At best, the JCPOA postpones Iran obtaining nuclear weapons while including a clause that could require America to help secure Iranian installations by helping Iran develop protocols to prevent foreign intrusion. Iran’s missile programs are unfettered; as John Bolton has pointed out, its ballistic missile efforts — “its development of the means to deliver nuclear weapons all over the world [not just Israel] will barely be touched.” Meanwhile, Israel is still talking about a military option, while the Saudis are talking about a matching nuclear program. No one has mentioned what Turkey will do.
Iran is the world’s largest sponsor of state terrorism and, with the lifting of sanctions, $150 billion will be released to it. Does anyone think that this will be used entirely on improving the lives of ordinary Iranians?
Does the administration believe Iran will drop its militant stance against Israel and the United States? As the JCPOA was being signed and immediately thereafter, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and crowds in Tehran were calling for “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Secretary of State John Kerry, our ace negotiator, said a speech by Khamenei vowing to defy American policies in the region despite the JCPOA was “very troubling.”
Verification? “Anywhere, anytime” has become on 24-day notice and only at specified locations. And, it was disclosed last week that the JCPOA is not self-contained. There are two secret side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency which will be conducting the inspections. Jackie Mason has quipped that New York City restaurants are subject to tougher inspections than Iran.
What does the Jewish community do? In lockstep with the administration, the National Jewish Democratic Council announced not only its support, but strong support, of the deal, claiming that opponents have not given the agreement “fair consideration.”
Does that criticism extend to the thousands who attended the Stop Iran Now rally in Times Square and the noted speakers at the rally like Robert Morgenthau and Alan Dershowitz, both of whom who have written against the deal?
Notably, New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer has been MIA in the debate. Because Schumer wants to be the next Senate Democratic leader, he does not want to cross Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has endorsed the JCPOA. The NJDC statement gives Schumer cover to claim to support both Obama and Israel.
The administration is not above intimidation and bribery to get its way. Consider the government’s corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez, a strong supporter of Israel and a foe of the JCPOA, charges which Menendez has challenged on grounds that the government submitted false grand jury testimony. Kerry warned Israel that its continued opposition could further its isolation.
As for bribery, the administration just floated a trial balloon about pardoning convicted Israel spy Jonathan Pollard after a 30-year imprisonment, presumably to win favor within the Jewish community and Israel.
If the JCPOA is everything the administration claims, there would be no misrepresentations or questionable tactics. Is this about security or legacy? At this time, I don’t think the two are compatible.