Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Unspoken Truth Behind GOP Opposition to the Iran Deal

Palmetto Queen condemns Iran deal before even reading it
I've made the case that despite the sabre rattling and shrieks of condemnation of the Iran deal brokered by the Obama administration by Congressional Republicans and would be presidential nominees, other than a war with Iran that America would lose - despite assurance from military leaders who proved 100% wrong in Iraq - the GOP loud mouths have no alternative solution.  None. Zero.  A piece in Talking Points Memo looks at this reality and the dishonesty (and insanity in some cases) of the deal's detractors.  Here are highlights:
Diplomacy—specifically, diplomacy with Iran—has always had its adversaries. Ever since the country was declared part of the Axis of Evil, the bottom line for a vocal minority of folks has been that Iran is simply too evil to deal with. . . . At the end of the day, pretending adversaries don’t exist isn’t how a responsible superpower engages with the world—just as we stared down the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, so we chose to do with a belligerent Iranian regime.

The good news is that this agreement doesn’t require us to trust Iran. We’ve locked Iran’s nuclear program in a box, and now we’re putting a camera on it.

Opponents of negotiation—those who have been trying to derail the talks since they began—aren’t acknowledging these incredible victories, but that’s hardly surprising given their peculiar behavior throughout the process. On March 9, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) led 47 other U.S. Senators in sending a letter addressed to the leadership in Iran condescendingly “explaining” America’s constitutional system and promising to undermine any deal struck with the current American administration.

While that might have been the most outrageous stunt, the rhetoric has been equally absurd. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) compared chief negotiator Wendy Sherman to Neville Chamberlain in an ill-advised historical analogy. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) rushed to CNN yesterday morning to denounce the agreement “as a bad deal, the worst possible outcome”…before admitting he hadn’t read it. Would they have stood in the Senate and decried President Reagan’s arms control agreements and written a letter to Gorbachev?

The volume and the noise isn’t just reflexive partisanship designed to grab the spotlight: it also serves to mask the fact that these Senators have no alternative to this deal. At least, no alternative grounded in reality.

Opponents of negotiation often say additional sanctions will force a better deal with the Iranians. But this is a false choice. The current sanctions regime was effective in forcing the Iranians to the table because it involved many of the world’s major powers. Adding sanctions when a deal was in reach would have upended the sanctions regime, which no amount of American sanctions alone could replace.

The uncomfortable (and unpopular) subtext of many opponents’ public statements is clear: Despite the immense amount of blood and treasure spent in Iraq, some have still not learned the lesson that wars in the Middle East fought in the name of nuclear non-proliferation are best avoided if there is a better option.

In discussing alternatives to negotiation, these folks either tend to avoid questions about the need for military action or make an all too familiar “it-would-be-a-slam-dunk” style argument, suggesting that a few days of air strikes would be more effective . . .  Virtually all of America’s serious military experts believe that surgical air strikes would at best set back Iran’s program by a few years.

[P]ursuing military action that will not actually roll back Iran’s program is plainly a worse option than a robust, enforceable agreement that closes off every Iranian pathway to a nuclear weapon. The two thirds of Americans who support tough negotiations over another unnecessary war can only hope that those prone to knee-jerk reactions in the U.S. Senate stand down in the face of this historic agreement.

And as I asked before, would we be hearing these objects if a white Republican had been in the White House and negotiated this deal instead of a black man?  I suspect not.

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