Fortunately, with thanks to most of the congressional Democrats, the Iran deal, officially The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), can finally move forward, a victory for diplomacy and international security. People in the Middle East stand a chance for better lives, the U.S. has a potential new ally, and the likelihood of never-ending war is reduced.
Opposed to the deal were Sheldon Adelson, Joe Lieberman and his billionaire-backed "United Against Nuclear Iran”, AIPAC and its allied organizations, candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, Sarah Palin, FOX News, The National Review, the congressional GOP (which invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress against the deal long before it was struck), and extreme right wing fundamentalists. These facts alone should have been enough to underscore that the deal was okay for liberals/progressives to favor.
Questionable Liberal and Progressive Opposition
Inexplicably, some typically “liberal/progressive” legislators have been facilitating this effort; and some attended Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March. What were they thinking?
But what of our legislators who voted against it, especially “liberal/progressive” Democrats? What are they not telling us? The war hawks, the neocons, and the war profiteers are going to do their best to provoke another war in the Middle East. Inexplicably, some typically “liberal/progressive” legislators have been facilitating this effort; and some attended Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March. What were they thinking? Unfortunately, such attendance by members of Congress reinforced to Israelis that Netanyahu’s views must be well-respected in the U.S. (that is, it helped Netanyahu get re-elected).
If one wants to review the sometimes murky picture from whom our legislators receive money, simply spend a little time maplight.org and OpenSecrets.org. These sites allow you to slice and dice the tangled web of money and politics in nearly any way desired; some revelations will delight, some will shock, but you will always be enlightened by the potential paths of influence. Former President Jimmy Carter recently referred to the U.S. as an “oligarchy with unlimited bribery”. Are those who profit from the misery of others suitable for the liberal/progressive camp?
Competency of Negotiators and Supporters
The Iran deal opponents, regardless of which side of the aisle they occupy, apparently believe that the government negotiators of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, and Germany comprised a group of people so incompetent that in the many years of negotiations they had not examined every nook and cranny for weaknesses. And they must believe that incompetence abounds because the deal was supported by an overwhelming majority of the people with operating experience in America’s war and peace enterprises in that part of the world, including:
- The U.N. Security Council
- Numerous Israeli analysts and former military and intelligence- service officials
- Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel from administrations of both parties, and three former U.S. Under Secretaries of State
- More than 100 former U.S. ambassadors, career and political alike, and from both parties
- More than 60 American “national-security leaders”— politicians, military officers, strategists, many Democrats and some Republicans
- Hans Blix, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency
- A large number of journalists
- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
And there was ample public support, including mothers who had lost sons and from celebrities:
- Liberals supported the deal far more than conservatives, just as most Democrats were in favor, while most Republicans were opposed
- According to a July 23, 2015 article in the LA Jewish Journal, American Jews, more than Americans generally, supported the deal
- J Street was the largest American Jewish organization in support
- Social justice organizations were overwhelmingly in support, including: Americans for Democratic Action SOCAL, Progressive Democrats of America, CREDO, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, MoveOn, and others
Peace vs. War
A major point to be made is that this has been a critical time when all of our legislators should have been fostering peace. And how is it that we had “liberal/progressives” who were still thinking about it right to the end? What does that mean? Some were doing this as part of a campaign strategy (not disgraceful so long as they voted yea when it counted).
Some legislators were concerned about the possibility of Iran sponsoring future conflicts in the region and globally. While there are no guarantees, and such actions would not be justifiable, this complaint smacks a bit of “the pot calling the kettle black”? For example, the U.S. currently has 4,800 military installations and bases owned or used in our 50 states, in 7 U.S. territories, and in more than 42 foreign countries.
Are these politicians not aware that both the U.S. and Israel sponsor terrorism globally through assassinations, drones, and other forms of military conflict beyond the rubric of international law ? Further, Noam Chomsky notes that the U.S. illegal drone assassination campaign is not only the biggest source of recruits for Islamic extremism worldwide, but that the drone campaign itself is "the most extensive global terrorism campaign the world has yet seen."
Those who oppose the deal apparently favor or are willing to chance war, an unbelievable outlook! Economically, the U.S. federal government has spent or obligated $4.4 trillion on the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The human cost of America’s invasion of Iraq alone resulted in about 4500 U.S. military killed and 100 thousand wounded. In addition, nearly 1.5 million Iraqis were killed (many were civilians), and up to 5 million displaced. The current refugee crisis in the Middle East is also created and driven by war. Are more consequences of violence, deprivation, illness, displacement, and other ravages of war needed to convince the Iran deal opponents otherwise? It has been suggested by MoveOn, Democracy for America, and others that Democrats must be held accountable and must know that he or she will pay a steep political price for attempting to sabotage the Iran deal.
“War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” — George Orwell
Peaceful Coexistence Could Do Wonders
In spite of this contentious state of affairs, we all hope to see democracy, human rights, and economic justice triumph throughout the world, not least in the U.S. and Israel. A de-escalation of tensions with Iran, as enabled by the Iran deal, could be a first step in demonstrating the viability of a non-violent approach to political differences. What happens when there’s a free flow of ideas, travel, and trade between countries? We might be surprised at what a decade or more of peaceful diplomatic relations contributes to greater cooperation and a mutual understanding between our cultures. Peace and prosperity have a chance; sincere efforts will now be required on all sides to bring this to fruition.
Stephen C. Frantz