It has been my practice, when writing about the Iran agreement, to deal as much as possible with facts.
But in some respects this is no longer possible, as the case being made by the Obama administration has sunk to a shameful and despicable low. If you pay attention to Obama’s words, and those of his flunkies, what we hear is a position that maintains that the deal is so obviously good that anyone coming out against is, in one fashion or another, being disloyal to America. There is less than no respect for the patriotism and the intellectual integrity of those who oppose the deal out of deep concern for America.
We see that he is doing this with regard to Republicans, whom he claims are putting party politics ahead of the good of the nation, and – far worse! – making common cause with the hardliners in Iran. He first leveled this charge in a speech last week. Yesterday, he was challenged on it by Fareed Zakaria on CNN, and rather than back down said it is absolutely true.
A point being made by critics of the president is that since some Democrats are also against the deal, according to Obama’s logic, they must also be making common cause with the Iranian hardliners – although Obama neglects to address this. The Democrats who are opposed certainly cannot be charged with being negative on the deal simply out of “party loyalty.” Those who have come out against the deal include:
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Members of Congress Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ted Deutsch (D-FL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Juan Vargas (D-NY).
But let us move on, as we are seeing behavior from the administration that is even more reprehensible. An editorial in Tablet Magazine – “Crossing a Line to Sell a Deal” – describes what is going on (emphasis added):
“What we increasingly can’t stomach—and feel obliged to speak out about right now—is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it. Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple.Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South.
“This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.
Just as some on the editorial board of Tablet Magazine, who are “generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal…have been shaken by” the “anti-Jewish incitement that is being used as a political tool,” we must hope that members of Congress who might have been predisposed to the deal will begin to wonder if in the end there is any legitimate rationale for accepting it. Why would the president have to resort to innuendo and slander against opponents, if he could make a strong case based on the agreement’s merits?
Perhaps Obama is overplaying his hand, and will end up defeating precisely what he imagines he is defending.
See further details on what is going on with regard to the old anti-Semitic canard of “dual loyalty”:
“…anti-Schumer campaigners refer to him repeatedly as a ‘traitor,’ suggest that his loyalty lies only with Israel and not the United States, and accuse him of receiving his ‘real paycheck’ from nefarious sources — which they characterize as Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) or other pro-Israel bodies.”
Those who make such blatantly prejudicial judgments are missing the point in several respect:
They are positing that the deal is bad only for Israel, when in fact it is a disaster for the US. What is more, an accord that threatens the only reliable ally the US has in the Middle East is bound to put America at a disadvantage.
It is a major issue, that the accord with Iran provides no brakes on Iran’s support of terrorism or on its aggressive hegemony in the Middle East. Quite the contrary, that agreement is doing two things that will strengthen Iran’s ability to foment violence in our part of the world:
It is providing a fortune in sanctions relief that Iran will utilize in some part to strengthen terrorist elements. And it is lifting sanctions against Iran’s acquisition of conventional weaponry, including, in time, ballistic missiles.
Now, please, note what Kerry said yesterday, at a Reuters Newsmaker event. If Iran violates the arms embargo, there will be no “snapback” of sanctions against Iran (emphasis added):
“The arms embargo is not tied to snapback…So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms piece of it.”
But we should not worry, explained Kerry, because the US has “ample tools at our disposal” if Iran violates the arms embargo.
“There is a specific U.N. resolution outside of this agreement that prohibits them from sending weapons to Hezbollah. There is a separate and specific U.N. resolution that prohibits them from sending weapons to the Shia militia in Iraq.”
That will do it, you think?
Myself, I think that even Kerry, who is dumb, is not that dumb. I think the US does not care.
As Reuters reports:
“Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi made clear last month that Tehran had no intention of complying with the arms embargo and missile sanctions.
“’Whenever it’s needed to send arms to our allies in the region, we will do so,’ he said. ‘We are not ashamed of it.’”
I share here a video of Kerry testifying before an Armed Services Committee hearing, with Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) questioning. I recommend the entire six minutes: very enlightening in terms of how the chief American diplomat conducts himself. But most pertinent here is the portion that begins at slightly past minute 4, as it addresses Iranian weaponry and what the US will do to prevent Iran from sharing it.
Kerry speaks about US laws in place to block Iranian distribution of lethal weapons. But please keep in mind that he negotiated a deal that will make it easier for Iran to acquire and distribute such weaponry. Heaven help us all.
(With thanks to Moti G. on this.)
About two weeks ago, Kerry was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was questioned by Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), who asked:
“Let’s say Congress doesn’t take your advice, we override a veto, and the law that is triggered then imposes certain sanctions. Will you follow the law even though you think this violates this agreement clearly, and even if you think it’s terrible policy?”
Kerry: “I cannot begin to answer that at this point, without consulting with the president and determining what the circumstances are.” (Emphasis added)
Credit: Olivier Douliery/Getty
For those who might doubt the implications of the above exchange, there is this information from MEMRI (emphasis added):
”Iranian officials recently began to reveal details from the nuclear negotiations with the U.S. since their early stages. Their statements indicate that the U.S. initiated secret negotiations with Iran not after President Hassan Rohani, of the pragmatic camp, was elected in 2013, but rather in 2011-2012, in the era of radical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The disclosures also indicate that, already at that time, Iran received from the U.S. administration a letter recognizing its right to enrich uraniumon its own soil. Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, an advisor to the Majlis speaker, specified that the letter had come from John Kerry, then a senator and head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Iranian vice president and top negotiator Ali Akbar Salehi said that Kerry, while still a senator, had been appointed by President Obama to handle the nuclear contacts with Iran.”
United Against Nuclear Iran is an American organization that is seeking “to educate and inform the American public regarding the serious shortcomings” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. To that end, it is planning to run advertisements against the accord.
It is good news that former Senator Joe Lieberman has just accepted the position of chairman of this organization. Senator Lieberman has solid name recognition and a reputation for integrity. Coupled with this, as CEO Mark D. Wallace has pointed out, is “Senator Lieberman’s foreign policy and national security expertise.” In the Senate he was on the Committee on Armed services and chaired the Committee on Homeland Security.
It should be noted that, while the Senator identified as an “independent” at one point in his career, he was in the main associated with the Democratic party – and ran as the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, on a ticket with Al Gore. Also a plus in this context.
The following key Democratic Senators are still undeclared with regard to the Iran deal, at least according to information I have. Some might be pre-disposed to opposing the deal, even if they haven’t declared their opposition formally yet.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.); Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.); Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.); Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.); Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.); Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.); Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
If you are a constituent of one of the Senators, please, write to express your strong opposition to the agreement. If you know others who are their constituents, even if you are not, please urge them to do the same. The votes of these Senators may be critical.