- Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
- Published: 04 September 2015 04 September 2015
- Hits: 3437 3437
At present, no issue facing this country is more important than approving President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. The moment for this peaceful, diplomatic breakthrough must not be allowed to pass. Though the Iran Nuclear deal now seems to have enough votes to sustain a veto, we must not relax our efforts to support the deal. People do change their minds, and merely surviving a veto is a very low bar for a deal of such importance.
It is important to continue to rally support for the deal for other reasons. Rarely has a political issue been surrounded by more falsehood, deception, and hyperbole. Among the people who argue that we should reject Obama’s deal and bomb Iran immediately are Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Bill Kristol and Benjamin Netanyahu—the same cast that gave us the debacle of the Iraq war. They were dead wrong then and they are using the same bad arguments now. We must continue to educate people about how misguided and bigoted these hawkish opponents to the deal really are.
Wide opposition to the treaty also reveals how misinformed the American public and many of their elected representatives are. The difference in quality between the arguments of the backers and the opponents of the deal provides a good basic roadmap to sorting out the truth of this issue.
Supporters of the deal, experts in their various fields, make cogent, rational arguments that the deal is good policy, tough, effective diplomacy, and is based on sound technical expertise in terms of our ability to monitor and verify Iranian behavior. They note that there is no other real option for discouraging Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and that war would be a tragic mistake. Most experts agree that the use of violence would probably actually force Iran into trying to develop a weapons program—a decision most experts agree they have never yet made.
In stark contrast, the very loud, vociferous and ideological opponents of the deal make arguments that rely largely on emotional predictions of Iranian behavior that are based on religious, racial and ethnic stereotypes of the worst kind, on misrepresentations of deal itself, and on issues that have nothing to do with nuclear issues directly related to the NPT or its requirements. They are marked by the belief that Iranians are simply not rational or trustworthy actors. Much of this sort of argument emanates from the AIPAC/Zionist faction—and their opportunistic Christian Zionist supporters.
Mike Huckabee, for example, recently called Iranians “animals,” Carly Fiorina, on national TV, called Iran “the source of most of the evil in the Middle East today,” and even one of Obama’s negotiators claimed that “deceit was in their (the Iranian) DNA.” None of this racist demonization is plausible or defensible. Anyone who has studied the record will note that Iran has acted in an extremely rational way at every step of this largely manufactured crisis. Most strikingly, their policy has always been predicated on the legitimacy of international law. They have always accepted the predicates of the NPT and worked hard to meet their obligations under that treaty. That is a far cry from the likes of ISIS and other Sunni extremist groups, groups which reject the very precepts of western based international law.
The most unreported, yet key implication of the recent negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group is that almost every unresolved piece of “evidence” that Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program AT ALL has basically been refuted and discredited as baseless. It is not surprising that this has been overlooked in favor of discussion of future verification and other details—the entire intelligence community and defense establishment, remembering how they were taken to task for getting the analysis on Iraq dead wrong—is understandably reluctant to admit that most of their assessments of Iran for the last 20 years have been wrong too. Even the President sees that there is a serious downside for US credibility if that issue were to be totally revealed. It is also not surprising that many of the false charges against Iran were fabrications of Israel intelligence services.
Opponents of the deal falsely claim that inspections and verifications will end in 15 years, or that the deal is a license to create a bomb, or that the US is “giving” Iran 150 billion dollars. These allegations are simply not true or are gross misrepresentations of fact.
Opponents of the deal also commonly complain about issues that are totally unrelated to a nuclear weapons program: that Iran still holds several American prisoners, that it continues research and development of various conventional weapons, that it engages in a foreign policy with which we disagree, and that it refuses to open all its military sites to US inspectors. None of these issues is connected to the specific charge that Iran had a concealed nuclear weapons program. Iran is a major power surrounded by enemies—of course it develops conventional weapons; of course it denies the US access to its military establishment; of course it conducts an independent foreign policy. It is a fully sovereign nation, and will remain so whether we like it or not.
Finally, opponents cite the danger Iran represents to Israel. Actually the reverse is true. While Iran has talked peace, Israel has repeatedly threatened war: Iran has basically negotiated in good faith. Netanyahu has tried everything to derail a peaceful outcome: Iran has gone great lengths to make a diplomatic solution possible.
By most estimates, Israel has 200-300 nuclear warheads. They have reliable delivery systems that can reach Iran on missiles, planes, and submarines. They have assassinated Iranian scientists and cyber-attacked peaceful civilian Iranian nuclear facilities and repeatedly planted false stories about Iranian nuclear ambitions in the media. Iran, by contrast, has no nuclear warheads, no program to build them, and no way to reliably deliver them. The bottom line is, occasional inflammatory remarks by hard-line Iranians are empty threats—Netanyahu’s repeated threats are not empty—they are Israeli policy.
A simple fact sums up the flaw in the “Israeli security” argument. Earlier this year, Netanyahu created a furor with his speech to Congress. In that speech he assured the audience that Iran had an active nuclear program, that Iran was determined to get a bomb, and that an inspection/verification regime would never work in uncovering the program.
It was, in fact, almost exactly the same argument he gave to Congress in 2002-2003 when he testified about Iraq as a so-called “expert” witness. He claimed then that Saddam Hussein definitely had reconstituted a weapons of mass destruction program, that he was “hell-bent” on getting a nuclear weapon, and that inspections could never be trusted.
In fact, he was wrong on all counts then as he is now. Iraq had totally disarmed and had never reconstituted a WMD program and above all, inspections had correctly made that very assessment.
Given Netanyahu’s record, it is a mistake to count Israel as a reliable US ally. The idea that we would betray our real allies—Britain, France, and Germany—by backing out of a deal we led them to, just to please the notoriously unreliable Netanyahu, is just incredible. The dual loyalties of Senators like Menendez, Schumer, and Wyden can no longer be tolerated. American senators should put American interests first. A vast number of educated, knowledgeable Israeli’s are in favor of this treaty. They know that the deal is in Israel’s best interests—and they know Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government is not.
Why has the US acted in the way it has?
US animosity towards Iran began with the 1979 hostage crisis. At that time, the US backed Shah was overthrown and 52 Americans were held in Iran for 444 days and then released unharmed. After the new Iranian regime assumed power in 79-80, the US adopted a policy of regime change and for about 8 years supported Saddam Hussein in a vicious war of aggression against Iran, hoping this would result in the overthrow of the Iranian regime. The US and its Gulf Arab allies invested about 75 billion dollars supporting Saddam in that war, which resulted in over 600,000 Iranian deaths. During that war, the US gave technical support to the Iraqi air force, which used that aid to repeatedly deliver WMDs (chemical weapons) against Iran.
The war gave an interesting insight into how Iran really thinks and acts in regard to WMDs. During that war, Iran never used chemical weapons against Iraq.
That’s right. Iran never used WMDs, even though they had a sophisticated chemical industry and could easily have done so, and even though chemical weapons were repeatedly used against them.
They were expected to use chemicals, they threatened to do so, they were accused of doing so, but they never did so. Why not?
It appears that those “mad mullahs” thought chemical weapons were so disgusting that they issued a “fatwa” against them. And those same mullahs not only did nothing to seek nuclear weapons, instead they virtually froze Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and issued fatwas against nuclear weapons too. In a deeply religious country, these fatwas have great force.
There are still survivors of US/Iraqi chemical weapons attacks who cough out chunks of lung every night in Iran. Yet, Iran has never stooped so low as to use these weapons…
So Obama’s deal is a great deal. Americans can act like we stopped Iran from getting nukes, and Iran can rest content knowing that they never really wanted them.
The story should have a happy ending… except that so many misguided people are trying to sabotage it. A US peace with Iran could lead to real progress in stabilizing a chaotic Middle East. More war will only make things worse. It’s time to let your reps know how you feel. Keep pressing Wyden and the other lagging senators to support the deal. Keep correcting their misstatements and misinformed judgments.
The current deal is just a starting place. A lot of education obviously needs to be done on the US side to correct the years of mindless demonization of Iran. Only when that is done will the ever present threat that neo-cons will undo President Obama’s vital progress towards normalization of relations with Iran finally recede. The truth is, of the countries in the Middle East, Iran has the most experience with, and the most longing for, democratization. Iran will only form a better opinion of the US when we treat them with respect.
In pursuit of this goal, I have written the following comprehensive resolution on the Iran Nuclear deal. I hope some of you will take it to your local democratic party in some form and submit the issues it addresses for consideration. This long version of the resolution is followed by an example of an edited version (much more concise) that was recently passed by the Lincoln County Democrats.
Resolution on the Iran Nuclear Deal
Whereas: Both the US Constitution and long tradition give the executive branch the primary responsibility for the direct and detailed conduct of US foreign policy.
Whereas: The US Secretary of State, following the lawful directions of the President of the United States, engaged in and successfully completed, negotiations with Iran that resulted in a treaty adequately addressing the relevant concerns of the US, vis a vis the allegation that Iran was conducting a “secret nuclear weapons program.”
Whereas: All five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany (P5+1), were parties to the negotiation and in spite of the fact that all these nations are closer in proximity to Iran (and would therefore be at more immediate risk than the US if Iran were to achieve a deliverable nuclear weapon), all of them were satisfied with the resulting treaty and its rigorous inspection clauses.
Whereas: The major US allies on the council (France, Britain, and Germany) followed the US lead both in the initial sanctions which the new treaty suspends, and in the negotiations verifying Iranian compliance with the original NPT, for the US to now fail to honor the agreement it reached would seriously damage America’s standing in the world and especially with these major allies.
Whereas: The recent P5 +1 negotiation established that there was little or no basis for the many long-standing charges that Iran was in serious violation of the NPT. In other words, according to all available credible evidence, Iran had never seriously violated the terms of the NPT and therefore, it never had a nuclear weapons program.
Whereas: In spite of Iran’s almost total compliance with the NPT, and in spite of the dubious legality of the sanctions imposed on it because of false charges that it had, (an abuse of the inspections process) Iran still made significant concessions to allow even more stringent oversight of its nuclear activities.
Whereas: 29 leading US experts in nuclear and arms control issues have endorsed the deal, calling it “technically sound, stringent, and innovative.”
Whereas: Some 34 US Generals and admirals have also endorsed the deal calling it “tough and verifiable…the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…America and our allies, in the Middle East and around the world, will be safer when this deal is fully implemented …there is no better option.”
Whereas: A unanimous vote by the UN Security Council has already approved the deal (meaning that, for the rest of the world, sanctions are already a thing of the past). Even if congress were to refuse to ratify the treaty and to impose new sanctions, those sanctions would have little effect except to embarrass the US.
Whereas: For all the many politically motivated charges that President Obama could have gotten a “better deal,” the fact remains that there is no other deal. The only other “options” are doing nothing or going to war. Both are supremely bad ideas —President Obama’s deal is the only real choice.
Whereas: Leading US intelligence experts (as well as most of their Israeli counterparts) have recognized that Iran has never made the decision to try to acquire nuclear weapons. Further, they have assessed that even if Iran did make that decision, they would still be several years away from having a tested, reliable, deliverable nuclear weapon.
Whereas: US and other military experts agree that even a massive combined US and Israeli strike against nuclear sites in Iran, would not significantly delay Iran’s ability to produce a bomb (should it decide it wanted to). In fact, most experts believe that such an attack would merely force Iranian leaders to decide that going nuclear was their only viable option.
Whereas: Secretary of State Kerry’s recent negotiations have just established to the world’s satisfaction that the Iranian nuclear program is what Iranian leaders always claimed it was—a peaceful, civilian use of nuclear power.
In this context, for Israel or the US to attack peaceful civilian nuclear sites would be tantamount to an act of nuclear terrorism—it would have the same practical effect as the use of a so called “dirty bomb.” It would lead to the uncontrolled release of nuclear contamination that would certainly affect the health of local civilians, and which might even drift across international boundaries. In effect, it would be a “first strike” use of nuclear weapons—the edge of the nuclear precipice.
Whereas: Nuclear sites targeted in an effort to destroy the peaceful civilian Iranian program would be contaminated by radiation after a successful strike by conventional weapons. This fact itself might well tempt Israeli or US military planners to contemplate the use of actual nuclear warheads in such an attack. Military logic would suggest that conventional weapons might not succeed and that, since no one would be able to verify the difference between radiations released by conventional weapons hitting nuclear targets, and radiation resulting from nuclear weapons used in a strike, the risk of exposure would be minimal.
Whereas: Almost all the objections to the current deal are underpinned by the old notion of regime change. The basic idea is that by maintaining pressure and making more and more demands, the US can destabilize the Iranian regime to the point where it collapses. This is an incredibly misguided notion—the people who urge this policy simply have no idea what kind of chaos or regime would end up taking power. The rise of ISIS in the chaos of our adventure in Iraq points to how bad the outcome could be…
Whereas: Even if all the safeguards fail, and Iran does somehow acquire a nuclear warhead or two, there is still a fundamental flaw in opponents of the treaty. The fact that Iran has pursued peaceful negotiations and has tried so hard to remain within the framework of the NPT, (even while the US and Israel were flagrantly violating both the spirit and the letter of the treaty) proves beyond any doubt that the Iranians are shrewd, practical rational decision makers. As such, even if they had a weapon, they know that to ever use it would mean their utter annihilation at the hands of Israel or the US. In other words, the normal deterrence that worked with the Soviet Union for decades would work just as well with Iran.
Therefore, with these facts in mind: The Democrats of Lincoln County hereby resolve:
1. To fully support President Obama’s deal with Iran.
2. To urge our membership, our neighbors, and our elected representatives to support the deal.
3. To urge democrats in other counties across the state to support the deal by passing a resolution similar to this one.
4. To publically challenge our Senators and Congressional representatives to support the deal.
5. If needed, to publically censure and withdraw support from those elected representatives who oppose the deal.
6. To engage in ongoing education in our county on this and related issues.
A few days ago, the Lincoln County Democrats edited the above material and passed the following much more concise version. We hope others will follow suit.
Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee Resolution on the
P5+1 Iran Nuclear Agreement
Whereas: The U.S. Constitution empowers the Executive Branch of government the primary responsibility for the direct and detailed conduct of U.S. foreign policy.
Whereas: The U.S. Secretary of State, following the lawful directions of the President of the United States, engaged in and successfully completed, negotiations with Iran that resulted in a treaty adequately addressing the relevant concerns of America.
Whereas: All five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany (hereinafter, “P5+1”) were parties to the negotiation and satisfied with the resulting Agreement.
Whereas: Failure to act to honor the Agreement would seriously damage American standing in the world and our ability to successfully negotiate with other nations.
Whereas: The Agreement has been endorsed by global experts in nuclear and arms control issues have endorsed the deal, calling it “technically sound, stringent, and innovative.” Furthermore the Agreement has been called “ tough and verifiable…the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…America and our allies, in the Middle East and around the world, will be safer when this deal is fully implemented …there is no better option” by leading U.S. Generals, Admirals and military experts.
Whereas: It is well-known there are two options –the diplomatic option offered by the P5+1 Agreement or a military option which would likely lead to direct American military involvement in Iran that is certain to be expensive in the loss of life and have lasting economic impact in America.
Therefore, with these facts in mind: The Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee hereby resolves:
1. To clearly and publicly state that we fully support diplomacy and diplomatic agreement over military engagement.
2. To fully support the P5+1 Iran Nuclear Agreement with Iran.
3. To urge our membership and our elected officials to support the Agreement.
4. To urge our peer county Democratic Central Committee’s throughout Oregon to demonstrate support for the Agreement by passing an equivalent Resolution.
5. To publicly demand that our Congressional Representatives and Senators to support the Agreement.
6. To provide ongoing education and information in our county on the P5+1 Iran Nuclear Agreement.
With best wishes,