July 22, 2015 – EMET’s New York Chapter hosted Lt. Col. Allen West in New York City to provide an analysis of the Iran Nuclear Deal and also global radical jihadism.
July 22, 2015 – EMET’s New York Chapter hosted Lt. Col. Allen West in New York City to provide an analysis of the Iran Nuclear Deal and also global radical jihadism.
National Review, By John R. Bolton, August 24, 2015:
When Congress returns to Washington in September, it faces one of its most critical decisions in recent years: whether to reject the Vienna nuclear deal and ostensibly stop President Obama from waiving economic sanctions against Iran. Unfortunately, many staunch opponents of the deal, who rightly criticize its debilitating errors, inadequacies, and omissions, nonetheless misapprehend America’s alternatives once Congress acts. They contend that, after blocking Obama’s waiver authority, we should not only maintain the current nonproliferation sanctions but impose stricter ones, both U.S. and even international. Under this theory, Iran would sooner or later be forced to seek new negotiations, in which Washington could extract a better agreement. And in the absence of such an agreement, they argue, “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
This is all fantasy. We have been overtaken by events, no matter how Congress votes.
Obama’s mistakes, concessions, and general detachment from Middle Eastern reality for six and a half years make it impossible to travel in time back to a theoretical world where sanctions might have derailed Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.
If Obama can save the Vienna agreement from Congress, he will lift sanctions for the remainder of his presidency. Alternatively, if his veto is overridden and U.S. sanctions remain in place, Europe, Russia, China, and everyone else will nonetheless proceed to implement the deal on their own. (And given Obama’s propensity not to enforce laws with which he disagrees, which he is already signaling in this case, U.S. sanctions will almost certainly prove ineffective.) Either way, it is naïve to think that a new Republican president in January 2017 will find any takers internationally to revive sanctions.
However Congress votes, Iran will still be marching inexorably toward deliverable nuclear weapons. Deals don’t constrain the mullahs, who see this capability as critical to the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s very survival. Not surprisingly, therefore, existing sanctions have slowed down neither Iran’s nuclear-weapons program nor its support for international terrorism. General James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, testified in 2013 that sanctions had not changed the ayatollahs’ nuclear efforts, and this assessment stands unmodified today. Tehran’s support for such terrorists as Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis, and Syria’s Assad regime has, if anything, increased. As for the sanctions’ economic impact on Iran, Clapper testified that “the Supreme Leader’s standard is a level of privation that Iran suffered during the Iran–Iraq war,” a level that Iran was nowhere near in 2013 and is nowhere near today.
In short, to have stopped Tehran’s decades-long quest for nuclear weapons, global sanctions needed to match the paradigm for successful coercive economic measures. They had to be sweeping and comprehensive, swiftly applied and scrupulously adhered to by every major economic actor, and rigorously enforced by military power. The existing Security Council sanctions do not even approach these criteria.
First, the scope of the Iran sanctions’ prohibitions has always been limited, and they have been imposed episodically over an extended period of time, thereby affording Tehran ample opportunity to minimize their impact through smuggling, cheating, and evasion. And while the sanctions’ breadth gradually expanded, the Council’s typical approach was to prohibit trade only in certain items or technologies, or to name specific Iranian businesses, government agencies, or individuals with which U.N. member states were forbidden to do business. This very specificity made sanctions far easier to evade. If, for example, the ABC firm was named to the sanctions list, it took little effort to create a cutout company called XYZ to engage in precisely the same proscribed activities.
Second, key foreign countries are decidedly uneven in adhering to sanctions. Russian and Chinese compliance is notoriously lax, and other countries are worse. Under Iran’s sway, Iraq has been openly and notoriously facilitating Tehran’s oil exports by providing false documentation of Iraqi origin or purchasing Iranian oil for Iraqi domestic consumption, thereby freeing Baghdad’s oil for export. The Obama administration itself repeatedly granted waivers to countries that claimed they needed to import Iranian oil. Although clandestine sanctions violators do not publish audited financial statements, creative criminal minds (and not a few creative entrepreneurial minds) have found enough slack in the sanctions to keep Iran afloat, even if its citizens suffered economically. No one has ever described the ayatollahs as consumer-society-friendly.
Finally, it was largely national law-enforcement agencies, rather than military forces, that monitored the sanctions. Unsurprisingly, the quality of such efforts varied greatly, and the Security Council hardly matches the Pentagon in command-and-control authority.
In recent history, the only sanctions regime to approximate the ideal paradigm was that imposed on Saddam Hussein in 1990, just days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Security Council Resolution 661 provided that all states “shall prevent . . . the import into their territories of all commodities and products originating in Iraq or Kuwait” except food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies. That is the very definition of “comprehensive,” and the polar opposite of the congeries of sanctions imposed on Iran.
Significantly, while Resolution 661 approached the theoretical ideal, even its sanctions failed to break Saddam’s stranglehold on Kuwait. Had Washington waited much longer than it did before militarily ousting Saddam, Kuwait would have been thoroughly looted and despoiled.
Thus, even strict, comprehensive, rigorously enforced sanctions are not necessarily enough to stop a determined adversary. Other critically important conditions, such as a truly credible threat of military force, must accompany sanctions. In 1990–91, the United States and a multinational coalition presented just such a credible threat, but Saddam nonetheless refused to back down, resulting in his humiliating military defeat. In 2002–03, Saddam yet again faced a credible military threat and again refused to back down. He thereupon not only lost militarily but also lost his regime and ultimately his life. Does anyone truly believe that Barack Obama’s fainthearted utterances that “all options are on the table” carry a credible threat to the mullahs, or that their hearing is any better than Saddam’s?
Finally, there must be a U.S. negotiator who knows how to negotiate. In 1990–91, Secretary of State James Baker made every effort to find a diplomatic solution meeting U.S. criteria, including a last-minute Geneva meeting with Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz. Baker was prepared to try diplomacy but not prepared to concede the key point: immediate Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. His successors under Obama didn’t have that steel, and the results show.
WND, by Aaron Klein, Aug. 23, 2015:
TEL AVIV – The Israeli defense establishment believes Iran was testing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resolve when the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist organization fired four rockets into the Israeli north in a major escalation last week.
In information corroborated with defense officials here, the Times of Israel last week quoted a senior Israeli security official saying Saeed Izadi, head of the Palestinian Division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds Force, planned last Thursday’s rocket attack.
The actual rockets were fired by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Israel officials said.
Two of the projectiles hit open areas on the Golan Heights while two others landed further inside Israel, striking open areas in the Upper Galilee region. All four rockets were fired from the Syrian sections of the Golan Heights, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
In one of the heaviest Israeli bombardments against the Syrian regime in years, the IDF returned artillery fire at 14 Syrian military targets in Syria following the rocket attack. On Friday, the Israel Air Force further struck an Islamic Jihad convoy on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Even though the latest round of fighting was started by the Islamic Jihad and Iran’s Guard force, Hezbollah on Sunday increased its alert level to the highest, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported Saturday, “for fear of attempts by Israel to drag Lebanon and Syria into an escalation of a state less than war but more than an operation.”
Hezbollah members were quoted by the newspaper claiming Netanyahu’s government believes that after the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel’s “situation is critical and will soon be tested” with an Israeli escalation.
However, Israeli defense officials told WND it is Iran that is doing the testing, estimating the Iran-approved rocket firings were meant to see if Netanyahu’s government would mount offensive measures following the signing of the international nuclear deal.
The officials said the rocket launchings demonstrate Iran is particularly emboldened since it is willing to orchestrate a daring attack on Israel’s northern border just weeks after the nuclear deal was finalized.
“I said it just this week – anyone who tries to harm us, we will harm them. And so we did,” Netanyahu stated after the rocket attacks. “The IDF killed the forces responsible for the rocket attacks and the Syrians who allowed it to happen. We have no intention to escalate the situation but our policy remains the same.”
“To those states that are rushing to embrace Iran, you should know that an Iranian commander supported and gave guidance to the group that fired on Israel,” added Netanyahu.
Frontpage, by Joseph Klein, August 20, 2015:
As the congressional vote on President Barack Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran draws closer, the Iranian regime appears to be doing everything it can to show that it has the upper hand as a result of the deal it negotiated with the United States and its five partners. It is either dishonestly twisting certain terms of the deal to justify its misbehavior or simply defying the terms outright. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are not pushing back. Instead, they are pushing hard to avoid a veto-proof congressional vote of disapproval.
For example, Iran is planning to sign a contract for four advanced Russian surface-to-air S-300 missiles as early as next week, following a visit to Moscow by Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in violation of an international travel ban.
There have been whimpers of objection from the Obama administration, but no forceful statement that such activities by the Iranian regime will jeopardize the agreement from the get-go.
Iranian leaders have also declared that their arms shipments to allies in the region, such as their terrorist proxy Hezbollah, will continue despite the United Nations Security Council arms embargo still in effect for the next five years.
The Obama administration’s response is staggering. According to Kerry, “The arms embargo is not tied to snapback. It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms piece of it.”
That is all the encouragement the Iranian regime needed to up the ante. According to Debkafile, “Al Qods commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, acting on the orders of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this week set up a new Iranian command to fight Israel.” This newly named “Eastern Command” is reportedly set “to start handing out weapons, including missiles, to any Palestinian West Bank group willing to receive them.” This is the same Soleimani with American blood on his hands who recently visited Moscow in violation of the current international travel ban, but who will eventually have sanctions and freezes against him lifted as part of the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, to make matters even worse, the Associated Press is reporting that “Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work.” In other words, the UN international inspection team that President Obama has pointed to as the chief verification safeguard will now give way at least in part to Iranian inspectors investigating their own alleged nuclear weaponization development work at a military site declared off limits by Iran to international inspectors. The White House remained “confident” in the viability of the inspection regime despite the confidence game the Iranian regime played with the UN to permit Iran to self-inspect.
Nevertheless, Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives are lining up to support President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. They are willfully ignoring clear evidence that Iran, post-deal, is continuing its pattern of cheating and violating international sanctions and embargoes still in place. Like lemmings jumping over the cliff, these Democrats are willing to ease the Iranian regime’s path towards becoming a threshold nuclear armed state in a little over a decade, out of blind partisan loyalty to Obama.
To date, the Obama administration has the declared support of 23 Democratic and nominally “independent” senators it will need to sustain an expected veto by President Obama of any resolution passed by Congress to disapprove the deal. This tally is according to The Hill’s Senate whip list compiled as of August 18th. The administration needs at least 34 senators on Obama’s side to sustain a veto. Six Democratic senators are said to be leaning towards a favorable vote, including Senator Richard Blumenthal (Conn.). Fifteen Senate Democrats are still undecided.
So far, only two Democratic senators have shown the courage to serve the public interest, rather than narrow partisan interests. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) became the second Democratic senator to announce his willingness to vote against the president from his own party in opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran. Senator Chuck Schumer had announced his opposition on August 6th.
On the House side, according to The Hill’s Whip List as of August 19th, 55 Democratic representatives have indicated that they are planning to vote in support of the deal. Fourteen more Democrats are leaning in favor. Twelve have declared their opposition to the deal so far. Three are leaning against and 57 are listed as undecided. Obama will prevail on a vote to sustain his expected veto of a disapproval resolution that passes both houses of Congress if he loses no more than 43 House Democrats (assuming the Republicans in the House all vote to override the veto).
Speaking at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations on August 18th when he announced his opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, Senator Menendez provided a very detailed explanation of his decision. He characterized the fundamental flaw in the deal this way: “The agreement that has been reached failed to achieve the one thing it set out to achieve – it failed to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state at a time of its choosing. In fact, it authorizes and supports the very road map Iran will need to arrive at its target.”
Senator Menendez objected to the exchange of permanent sanctions relief for Iran in return for “only temporary – temporary – limitations on its nuclear program – not a rolling-back, not dismantlement, but temporary limitations.” The deal, the senator added, “is based on ‘hope.’ Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.”
Senator Menendez also took a swipe at President Obama’s attempt to tie opponents of his deal to supporters of the 2003 war in Iraq. “Unlike President Obama’s characterization of those who have raised serious questions about the agreement, or who have opposed it,” the senator said, “I did not vote for the war in Iraq, I opposed it, unlike the Vice President and the Secretary of State, who both supported it.”
Senator Menendez cataloged examples of early assurances from the Obama administration of red lines that were later wiped away. For example, Secretary of State John Kerry had declared in the early days of engaging with Iran that Arak, Iran’s plutonium reactor, would be dismantled. That is not the case under the deal Obama and Kerry signed off on. The underground Fordow enrichment facility was to be closed. That too was not part of the final deal. The Iranians, Senator Menendez said, were supposed “to come absolutely clean about their weaponization activities at Parchin [their military facility] and agree to promise anytime anywhere inspections.” That too, in Senator Menendez’s words, “fell by the wayside.” Now we have learned that the Iranians will be able to self-inspect.
In addition, not even one existing centrifuge will be destroyed. Some are just being disconnected. Thousands will remain in operation. Research and development on centrifuges will be permitted to continue even during the first ten years of the deal.
“While I have many specific concerns about this agreement, my overarching concern is that it requires no dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and only mothballs that infrastructure for 10 years,” Senator Menendez explained. “We lift sanctions, and — at year eight — Iran can actually start manufacturing and testing advanced IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges that enrich up to 15 times the speed of its current models. At year 15, Iran can start enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent – the level at which we become concerned about fissile material for a bomb. At year 15, Iran will have NO limits on its uranium stockpile.”
Under the deal, Iran will get significant sanctions relief within the first year, while its obligations stretch out for a decade or more. And there is a major concession in the deal that has gotten very little attention to date. Iran’s negotiators out-maneuvered Secretary of State Kerry’s team into conceding away the right to re-impose or extend U.S. sanctions beyond their expiration date. Senator Menendez noted that “we will have to refrain from reintroducing or reimposing the Iran Sanctions Act I authored – which expires next year — that acted significantly to bring Iran to the table in the first place.”
Iran has agreed only to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that is supposed to ensure continuing access to suspect sites in a country, and only formally adopt it when Congress has abolished all sanctions.
Senator Menendez, like Senator Schumer, dismisses the either-or choice between Obama’s deal and war, which Obama and his supporters are offering as a red herring. “If there is a fear of war in the region,” said Senator Menendez, “it is fueled by Iran and its proxies and exacerbated by an agreement that allows Iran to possess an industrial-sized nuclear program, and enough money in sanctions relief to continue to fund its hegemonic intentions throughout the region.”
The senator suggested offering Iran some limited inducements to return to the negotiating table, and outlined some parameters that the Obama administration should follow in seeking better terms. These include “the immediate ratification by Iran of the Additional Protocol to ensure that we have a permanent international arrangement with Iran for access to suspect sites,” closing the Fordow enrichment facility, resolving the ‘possible military dimensions’ of Iran’s program” before there can be any permanent sanctions relief, banning centrifuge R&D for the duration of the agreement, and extending to at least 20 years the duration of the agreement.
Senator Menendez also wants to extend the authorization of the Iran Sanctions Act beyond its expiration in 2016 “to ensure that we have an effective snapback option.” And he wants a clear declaration of U.S. policy by the President and Congress that “we will use all means necessary to prevent Iran from producing enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, as well as building or buying one, both during and after any agreement.”
Unfortunately, the procedure for congressional involvement with the nuclear deal has turned the Constitution’s treaty ratification process on its head. Instead of requiring a two-thirds vote of the Senate to ratify the nuclear deal if had been handled as a treaty, President Obama will get his way unless both houses of Congress override his veto of a disapproval resolution by a two-thirds vote. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that opponents of the nuclear deal will likely lose in a vote to override an Obama veto. Why the Republican majority in the Senate ever agreed to such a legislative trap is beyond comprehension.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, at the very least the leaders of the House and Senate must insist that a resolution of disapproval be voted upon on the merits. Each representative and senator should be required to go on the record in a roll-call vote, indicating his or her vote of yea or nay. This means that Democrats in the Senate should not be permitted to hide behind a filibuster to avoid an up-or-down vote. If the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and allow a majority of the Senate to pass or reject a disapproval resolution is not attainable, Senate Majority Leader McConnell must stand up and take a page out of former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s playbook. Senator McConnell should deploy the so-called “nuclear option.” This would mean eliminating the filibuster that could otherwise be used by Democrats to block a vote on what is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime agreement with life and death consequences for national security.
If the Democratic senators supporting President Obama’s deal believe that it is the only realistic alternative to war, then they should have the backbone to put their names on the record in support of the deal. If they try to duck their legislative responsibility to their constituents and the nation, then Senator McConnell must act promptly to take away their filibuster fig leaf. If Senator McConnell does not move aggressively in this direction as and when necessary, he will show as much cravenness as the Democrats exploiting the filibuster.
Iran Truth, by Clare Lopez, August 19, 2015:
For those who have only experienced either democracy or dictatorship, it is difficult to grasp the complexities of Iran’s political system, which is an autocracy that has adopted some democratic features. A careful reading of the Iranian constitution, however, clarifies for the reader that the Supreme Leader is the one and only person who wields ultimate power in that system, including appointment power for a vast number of positions.
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Kayhan, the most important Iranian daily widely viewed as the regime outlet for the Supreme Leader’s ideas and policies, is one of those appointed to his job directly by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Thus, it was no surprise that Shariatmadari’s 15 August 2015 editorial, claiming that Khamenei opposes the nuclear deal, drew immediate attention. Obviously, Shariatmadari would not have written that without Khamenei’s consent. The confusing part, however, is that Hamid Reza Moghadam Far, top advisor to MG Mohammed Ali Jafari, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, then harshly criticized Shariatmadari and warned him not to ascribe to the Supreme Leader his own ideas and understandings.
Given that Jafari is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader (just like Shariatmadari), and that there’s little history of this Iranian regime sending out such mixed messages from its own top ranks, the only conclusion possible is that sowing confusion is a calculated move at this time, intended to serve a regime objective.
For over three decades, the Islamic regime of Iran has made implacable enmity toward the U.S. and Israel the foundation of its official foreign policy, reflecting its leaders’ ideological dedication and fervor. Generations of young people have been indoctrinated to Islamic beliefs and recruited to the IRGC, Qods Force, and Basij on the basis of commitment to these beliefs. A blood-soaked litany of terror attacks instigated by this mullahs’ regime stretches from the ruins of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut through Khobar Towers, the East Africa Embassy bombings, the USS Cole attack, 9/11 and hundreds of American troops killed and maimed by Iranian and Hizballah explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran’s support for Islamic terror groups has left a global trail of murder and mayhem. “Resistance” is what the Ayatollahs call it. “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are the slogans, chanted in endless repetition. America is the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan.” Never did the Supreme Leader imagine negotiating, much less reaching an actual agreement, with such hated enemies.
But the sanctions took their toll and financial collapse had to be avoided, even if it meant coming to the table to negotiate with the world’s superpowers, however noxious that was for Khamenei personally. Getting the West to believe Iran was desperate enough to obtain relief from sanctions that it would agree to limit its nuclear weapons program was only a clever ruse, of course, but it worked. The first step was allowing Hassan Rouhani, an old regime hand who’d served as negotiator in earlier talks, to become president. Khamenei needed Rouhani’s smiling demeanor to smooth international impressions of the Islamic Republic. The years-long cultivation of Secretary John Kerry by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also would pay off big time. The clincher was bringing in Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, an old friend of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, to push through to the final agreement. Intelligence services like Iran’s are willing to invest lots of time and effort with targets at this level.
The American collapse on every single key issue—from enrichment (a stipulation demanded—and obtained—even before the first secret talks began in Oman in 2011) to centrifuges, the Arak plutonium-producing reactor, off-limits facilities, Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), sanctions relief, and P5+1 technical assistance with nuclear development and site protection—surprised and delighted the Iranians. Contrary to Shariatmadari’s claims, the Supreme Leader is in fact quite satisfied with the nuclear deal; but, he cannot show that publicly, for two key reasons. If the U.S. Congress should vote against the deal, potentially leaving in place even some sanctions that President Obama could neither waive nor lift, Khamenei would find himself the public supporter of a failed deal. The powerful IRGC and Basij militia might hold him responsible for compromising the blood of martyrs and values of the Islamic Revolution for which the Iranian people sacrificed their economy and lives. And that would spell the end of the regime.
What to do? Khamenei wants the benefits of this deal without any of the possible liabilities. So, even as his trusted Iran Lobby pulls out the stops to make sure the deal goes through, he tries to find a way to support it without disappointing the guns that keep him in power. Solution: in public, Khamenei has spoken in general, nebulous phrases that convey no certain position. But in private, to certain audiences among the IRGC, Qods Force, and Basij, he pretends to oppose the deal. To others, he expresses support. Each group is allowed to go out and express its understanding of the Supreme Leader’s position with the media. Meanwhile, Khamenei plays the game safely and waits to see which way the deal will go.
If something goes wrong with the deal, Khamenei will be the one who warned Rouhani’s negotiating team not to trust the Americans. Publicly, then, he can discredit Shariatmadari and claim the media misstated his position (even though everyone knows that without Khamenei’s prior permission, neither Jafari nor Kayhan’s editor-in-chief would even discuss the subject). The regime is trapped in a web of its own making. It has radiated hatred toward Israel and the West for so long and so insistently that it cannot now just stop chanting “Death to America” or calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map. Nor can it abandon its terror proxies across the region. Disappointing the IRGC and Basij that are the backbone of this regime would shake the very foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran: unthinkable.
Khamenei depends on the U.S. Congress to save his regime. Congressional members may want to think about that long and hard before voting on this disastrous deal next month.
This piece was co-written by Daniel Akbari, a lawyer certified to practice before the Supreme Court of Iran, holds a master’s degree from Texas State University and a graduate certificate in homeland security from the Bush School of Government and Public service.
Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug. 19, 2015:
Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey became the second Democratic Senator to announce his opposition to the Iran deal, joining Chuck Schumer of New York. Menendez described the deal as an “expensive alarm system” that will increase the Iranian nuclear threat and the stability of the regime.
Menendez gave a lengthy speech dissecting the deal, particularly how it preserves Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state and sets up a situation where it becomes more difficult to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran with each passing day. For example, after the first eight years of the agreement, the regime will be permitted to have centrifuges that increase the speed of its uranium enrichment 15 times over.
Menendez pointed out that if Iran complies with the deal for the 15-year period—a big if—we will have a stronger Iranian regime with a greater ability to resist international pressure. And if Iran gets sanctions relief and then scraps the deal (probably conjuring up some pretext to accuse the U.S. of non-compliance), we will have the same outcome. In other words, the situation will be worse than today regardless of whether Iran complies or not.
Supporters of the deal argue that the deal extends Iran’s breakout time to build a bomb from the current three months to one year, which would be true if there were no hidden sites and Iran complies with the deal. Menendez responds:
“Of course if the Iranians violate the agreement and try to make a dash for a nuclear bomb, our solace will be that we will have a year’s notice instead of the present three months. So in reality we have purchased a very expensive alarm system. Maybe we’ll have an additional nine months, but with much greater consequences in the enemy we might face at that time.”
Menendez recommends a middle path between scrapping the deal and approving it. He wants President Obama to renegotiate it and preserve the interim arrangement, which Iran should be willing to accept because it includes $700 million in economic relief every month, amounting to $10 billion already. Menendez said he’d even support unfreezing some additional assets to prove our sincerity.
A better deal, he said, would include immediate implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol, the closure of the underground Fordow enrichment facility, a ban on centrifuge development, complete disclosure of weaponization activities at Parchin and an international agreement about the specific sanctions Iran will face if a violation happens. Schumer previously recommended restrictions on how Iran spends its newly-acquired funds.
Menendez rebuts the administration’s argument that the only alternative to the deal is war:
“The President and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly said that the choice is between this agreement or war. I reject that proposition, as have most witnesses, including past and present Administration members involved in the Iran nuclear issue, who have testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who support the deal but reject the binary choice between the agreement or war.
“If the P5+1 had not achieved an agreement, would we be at war with Iran? I don’t believe that.”
And finally, Menendez rejects the argument that the deal will moderate the Iranian regime by strengthening “reformists” inside of it, as President Obama suggested international engagement could accomplish. The gamble is that the Iran of 15 years from now will be vastly different than the Iran of today.
“Whether or not the supporters of the agreement admit it, this deal is based on ‘hope’– hope that when the nuclear sunset clause expires Iran will have succumbed to the benefits of commerce and global integration. Hope that the hardliners will have lost their power and the revolution will end its hegemonic goals. And hope that the regime will allow the Iranian people to decide their fate.
Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.
The Iranian regime, led by the Ayatollah, wants above all to preserve the regime and its Revolution, unlike the Green Revolution of 2009. So it stretches incredulity to believe they signed on to a deal that would in any way weaken the regime or threaten the goals of the Revolution.”
And that’s the fundamental issue. The U.S. strategy towards Iran lacks an end goal, which should be ending the Iranian regime — not merely containing the destructive results of the current regime.
The next generation should not be burdened with a massively increased threat because of our desire to kick the can down the road. Any deal that strengthens the Iranian regime and rescues its Islamic Revolution is a strategic victory for the Ayatollah’s Islamist cause.
The Blaze, by Tom Orr, Aug. 17, 2015:
The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers has been sharply criticized by opponents who argue it gives the Islamic Republic far too much freedom to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
One of the harshest critics is Frank Gaffney, a former senior official in the Department of Defense during the Reagan administration who worked on the government’s Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy.
“I think most people who’ve had the kinds of opportunities that I’ve had to work in government have never seen anything quite like this,” Gaffney said.
In this all-new For the Record short, Gaffney explains what he calls “The Obama Doctrine” and how it may have played a crucial role in shaping the controversial deal with Iran.
JNS.org, By Sean Savage and Alina Dain Sharon, August 13, 2015:
While Iran’s funding of the Palestinian terror group Hamas is well-documented, the Islamic Republic’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is less frequently discussed. But that pattern may start to shift upon the recent announcement of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s planned trip to Iran in November.
Abbas last visited Ira in 2012, when he attended a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. His upcoming visit, announced by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani, comes just weeks after the signing of a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran. Majdalani himself recently visited Tehran and met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Majdalani said Iran and the PA have agreed to work together on holding an international conference with the goal of bringing about the nuclear disarmament of Israel. (The Jewish state has never confirmed nor denied possessing nuclear weapons.)
“The visit now by a PA emissary, Ahmad Majdalani, is an advance visit and will likely not generate headlines. But Abbas’s visit could be historic. Depending on how it goes, it may be a sign that he has fully gravitated away from diplomacy with Israel if he invests in his ties to the Islamic Republic,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told J NS.org.
The relationship between Iran and the PA’s precursor, the PLO—which was founded in 1964 and was recognized as the Palestinians’ representative organization following the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993—“go back a long time, all the way to the Islamic Revolution,” said Kyle Shideler, director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy.
“That said, the PLO-Iran relationship has always been bumpy,” he told JNS.org.
According to the United States Institute of Peace, during Iran’s Shah period, the PLO had close ties with the Iranian opposition and even provided training to dissidents. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, “PLO forces trained the original Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on terrorism techniques,” Shideler said. But the PLO would later support Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
As a result of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that resulted in the 1993 Oslo Accords, “ties have been rather horrible between Iran and the PA,” Schanzer said.
“The PA was created as an interim government as part of the Oslo process, which Iran utterly rejected. This is, in part, what drove Iran to embrace Hamas,” he said.
Shideler pointed to a ship called Karine-A as an example of collaboration between the PA and Iran. The ship was captured by the Israel Defense Forces in 2002 in the Red Sea and found to be carrying 50 tons of weaponry supplied by Iran and Hezbollah, and intended to reach PA hands.
But in 2010, then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stirred a controversy at a rally in Tehran by saying that year’s re-launched U.S.-brokered peace process between Israel and the Palestinians was going to fail, while criticizing Abbas as an Israeli puppet.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh responded by referencing Ahmadinejad’s controversial win in Iran’s 2009 presidential election, saying that “he who does not represent the Iranian people, who forged elections and who suppresses the Iranian people and stole the authority, is not entitled to talk about Palestine, or the president of Palestine.”
Further, Iran’s ties with Hamas have particularly alienated the Islamic Republic from the PA over the years, given the tense Hamas-PA relationship. According to Shideler, the PA even sought to recruit Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief regional rival nation, to “help in crushing Hamas back in April , effectively offering to bring the Saudi-Iran proxy fight to the [Palestinian] territories. The PA’s bid “seems to have failed, with the Saudi king meeting with Hamas leadership in July,” Shideler told JNS.org.
At the same time, however, the relationship between Hamas and Iran has also been bumpy in recent years. Iran’s ties with Hamas frayed at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011 because Hamas backed—and potentially also trained—Syrian rebels militarily. More recently, Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal visited Saudi Arabia for a series of high-level meetings. Reports indicate that Iran was outraged by the visit and cancelled a planned visit to Tehran by Mashaal. Additionally, senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk has said that Hamas’s relationship with Iran is now virtually nonexistent.
Yet Iranian ties with Hamas “are not dead,” Schanzer told JNS.org.
“The Qassam Brigades (Hamas’s armed wing) still maintains close ties [to Iran],” he said. “The disagreement is with the Hamas political types. Iran is likely to exploit how fractured Hamas is, and ultimately find a way back to being a major patron.”
Then there is Islamic Jihad, the other prominent Palestinian terrorist organization in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Iran has “had recent trouble” with Islamic Jihad, which is reportedly almost bankrupt due to Iran pulling its funding for the terror group after the latter announced support for forces opposing the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shideler noted.
But ultimately, Iran has a vested interest in improving its relations with all of the various Palestinian factions in order to “be recognized as the chief leader and architect to resistance to Israel,” Shideler added.
“That may mean they want to work at ending schisms among the Palestinian leadership and reorienting all factions back towards focusing on Israel. This [upcoming visit by Abbas to Iran] may be intended to convince the PA that Iran wants to be the patron of Palestinian resistance at large, and not just of one or two groups,” he said.
While the Israeli Foreign Ministry has not yet released an official reaction to Abbas’s planned Iran visit, ministry spokesman Alon Melchior told JNS.org that the trip is “a bit peculiar.”
“The logic behind this visit is not really clear. Iran is financing their rivals (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) and terrorizing the region,” Melchior said.
But if one thing is certain, it is that the Abbas visit “won’t make the peace process any easier,” added Melchior.
The Iran nuclear deal also factors into Iranian-Palestinian relations because the Islamic Republic wants to use the agreement to solidify its place as a major Middle East power. It might be no coincidence that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released anew book titled “Palestine” around the time that the nuclear deal was reached.
Abbas “knows he is driving a wedge between Hamas and Iran” by engaging with the Islamic Republic, but the PA leader’s calculus is “bigger than that,” according to Schanzer.
“He also sees Iran as an emerging regional power after the nuclear deal. He is making sure that he is on the right side of Iran when that happens. Also, Iran is about to come into $100 billion in sanctions relief. The PA is broke. Do the math,” Schanzer said.
The PA might also believe that “better relations with Iran are the only way to keep Hamas at bay, since the gambit with the Saudis seemed to have failed,” added Shideler.
In recent years, beyond its military support for Hamas, Iran has had an increased interest in arming the PA-controlled disputed territories. In a 2014 speech, Khamenei said he believes that “the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza,” according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Shideler believes that while the interests of Iran and the PA might not always align, they do have some common ground.
“Iran is invested in Hamas, and needs Hamas as a proxy to initiate conflicts with Israel… But Iran and the PA can cooperate on diplomatic efforts to publicly embarrass and hamper Israel, such as over the nuclear issue—for example by using the nuclear deal to portray Iran as once again within international consensus on nuclear proliferation and casting Israel as the nuclear rogue,” he said.
Center for Security Policy, by Andrew McCarthy, Aug. 12, 2015:
In a column on Tuesday and follow-up post on the Corner, I relate that beginning in 2011, President Obama secretly enticed the Iranian regime to the bargaining table by communicating that he was open to abandoning longstanding American opposition to Iran’s claimed “right” to enrich uranium. This news comes to us from a new MEMRI report, which elaborates that Obama relied on then-senator John Kerry to grease the wheels for his entreaty to Iran’s leader.
Though he was surely a key Obama ally on Capitol Hill, Kerry was not in the administration. The president already had a compliant secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who was dutifully implementing his appeasement policies. He also had any number of subordinate administration officials capable of passing messages. So why would Obama choose Kerry as his emissary to alert Iran to a dramatic shift in American policy?
Clearly, there are two reasons: Obama needed someone outside the administration, and Kerry’s status and track record made him a natural.
Remember, Obama was running for reelection in 2011–12. Public opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and, therefore, to Iran’s enrichment of uranium was very strong — and, indeed, remains so. Consequently, Obama pretended on the campaign trail that he would vigorously oppose Iran’s uranium-enrichment efforts . . . even as he was covertly signaling to the jihadist regime that he was open to recognizing Iran as a nuclear power.
As my friend Fred Fleitz of the Center for Security Policy has noted, Obama asserted in the lead-up to the 2008 election that “the world must work to stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.” So too, in the run-up to the 2012 election, did Obama continue assuring voters that Iran “needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those U.N. resolutions prohibit Iran’s enrichment activities. Thus did the president proclaim, in seeking reelection, that the only deal he would accept would be one in which the Iranians “end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.”
With Obama out feigning opposition to Iran’s enrichment activities, it would not do to have a conflicting message communicated to Iran by his own administration. What if Iran, to embarrass Obama, were to go public about an administration entreaty that directly addressed enrichment? It would have been hugely problematic for the president’s campaign. Obama thus needed an alternative: someone outside the administration whom Obama could trust but disavow if anything went wrong; someone the Iranian regime would regard as authoritative.
John Kerry was the perfect choice.
Besides being the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, Kerry was then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a reliable Obama ally on foreign-policy issues. Kerry frequently spoke out on U.S. relations with Iran and would be seen by the regime in Tehran as a credible barometer for reading Obama. It was no secret, moreover, that Kerry had designs on replacing Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state in a second Obama term.
Just as significantly, Kerry’s belief that the United States should capitulate to Iran on the “right to enrichment” was well known to the Iranians.
It has been American policy under administrations of both parties that the right to peaceful nuclear power does not imply a right to enrich uranium.
Some background: As I outlined in my column on Tuesday, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NNP) holds that every nation has an “inalienable right” to use nuclear power peacefully. Yet the treaty does not confer an explicit right to obtain nuclear power through any particular route, let alone a route like uranium enrichment — a process that can easily be diverted to the weaponization of nuclear power, the thing the NNP treaty is designed to prevent. For this reason, it has been American policy under administrations of both parties that the right to peaceful nuclear power does not imply a right to enrich uranium.
But Kerry was known to scoff at this policy.
Fred Fleitz has usefully directed my attention to an enlightening 2009 Financial Times interview during which Senator Kerry opined that it was “ridiculous” to argue against Iran’s right to enrich uranium. The interview occurred in June, during the first round of the infamous Iranian presidential election that the Khamenei regime eventually stole for Ahmadinejad, igniting a popular revolt that the regime violently put down while Obama looked the other way.
The Financial Times reported:
One of the most senior Democrats in Washington has dismissed a key element in the west’s long standing strategy on Iran’s nuclear programme as “ridiculous.” His comments throw open the debate about how far the US and its partners should go in seeking a compromise with Tehran after on [sic] Friday’s presidential election.
John Kerry, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee and the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, told the Financial Times in an interview that Iran had a right to enrich uranium — a process that can produce both nuclear fuel and weapons grade material. . . .
“The Bush administration [argument of] no enrichment was ridiculous . . . because it seemed so unreasonable to people,” said Mr. Kerry, citing Iran’s rights as a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. “It was bombastic diplomacy. It wasted energy. It sort of hardened the lines, if you will,” he added. “They have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose.”
And now we learn that two years later, when Obama wanted to assure Khamenei that he would be flexible on Iran’s demands (even as the president was telling Americans the opposite in his reelection campaign), Kerry relayed a letter to the Iranian regime in Tehran. The letter was transmitted through the same intermediary, the government of Oman, that Obama would later use to transmit his message to Iran’s supreme leader. According to a key adviser to the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Kerry’s letter stated that the United States recognized “Iran’s rights regarding the enrichment cycle.” MEMRI says that Kerry’s letter triggered two meetings in Oman between American and Iranian diplomats and, finally, Obama’s letter to Khamenei.
The Obama administration would soon officially agree that Iran has a right to enrich uranium. The capitulation details were formally handled by Kerry once he became Obama’s second secretary of state. Obviously, his audition went well.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.
Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 11, 2015:
Obama administration allies lobbying in favor of a recently signed nuclear deal with Iran are smearing Jewish lawmakers and opponents of the accord with allegations of dual loyalty to Israel, rhetoric many view as anti-Semitic, according to allegations leveled by these individuals and groups.
Organizations close to the White House, including the pro-Tehran lobbying shop National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the liberal fringe group J Street, and the anti-war organization MoveOn, have come out to question the motivation of Jewish individuals who oppose the nuclear deal, which will provide Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief and lift longstanding restrictions on its ballistic missile program.
These allegations of dual loyalty to Israel, which many have identified as anti-Semitic, began almost immediately with the White House, which accused its critics of worrying more about Israel’s interests than the United States’.
The use of this rhetoric by the Obama administration and its allies is attracting concern among Jewish leaders, who worry the White House will pin the potential failure of the Iran deal on the American Jewish community.
In a July 21 interview, Obama said that shady “lobbyists” and people with “money” were working to kill the deal.
“I guarantee you, if people feel strongly about making sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, without us going to war, and that is expressed to Congress, then people will believe in that,” Obama told former Daily Show host Jon Stewart. “And the same is true on every single issue. If people are engaged, eventually the political system responds. Despite the money, despite the lobbyists, it still responds.”
Jewish publications questioned Obama’s rhetoric, with some accusing the president of using anti-Semitic “dog whistles,” a move that prominent detractors of Israel celebrated.
Obama engaged in similar rhetoric during July 15 speech about the deal in which he urged people to support the agreement “not based on lobbying, but based on what’s in the national interests of the United States of America.”
The rhetoric also has extended to what many view as implicit threats against Israel.
Obama reportedly told a group of Jewish leaders last week that rejection of the Iran deal will result in rockets falling on Tel Aviv.
Secretary of State John Kerry also said that Israel will be blamed if Congress rejects the deal.
Organizations close to the White House quickly latched onto this rhetoric and have taken aim at Democratic Jewish lawmakers who have come out against the deal.
NIAC, which has been accused of lobbying on behalf of Tehran and the regime, explicitly accused Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) of being more loyal to Israel than America.
Reza Marashi, a NIAC flack, took to Twitter to accuse Schumer of “putting Israel’s interests ahead of America’s interests.”
In addition to Schumer, Democratic Jewish Reps. Brad Sherman (Calif.) and Eliot Engel (N.Y.) also have come out against the deal.
J Street, an anti-Israel group that has described itself as the Obama administration’s “blocking back,” also questioned the motives of those Jewish lawmakers opposing the accord.
“Opposing the #IranDeal against recs of top scientists, Israeli & US security experts, 100+ ex-diplomats can’t plausibly be a policy decision,” J Street official Dylan Williams pontificated on Twitter over the weekend.
The Daily Kos published a cartoon over the weekend that accused Schumer of being a “traitor” who is more loyal to Israel than the U.S.
On Sunday, the White House aligned dark money group CREDO Action, the political arm of CREDO Mobile, teamed with the Democrats.com to accuse Schumer of being a traitorous “warmonger” who is betraying his country.
In mid-July, when the deal was first announced, White House ally MoveOn blasted an email to its members headlined “47 traitors.”
In the note, MoveOn wrote: “We have just 60 days to stop the so-called ‘47 traitors’ and hawkish Democrats from killing this deal.”
Jewish leaders said the rhetoric from the Obama administration and its allies has crossed a line into anti-Semitic territory.
“There is a Yiddish word for all this—Shanda—an outrage,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which works to combat global anti-Semitism.
“I grew up during the Cold War, when Democrats and Republicans and the various presidents debated and argued life and death issues involving nuclear arms and the Soviet Union and the nexus with trade an human rights issues, including the fate of Soviet Jewry and the Kremlin’s anti-Semitism,” Cooper said.
“Those were hard fought debates on existential issues,” Cooper said. “I don’t recall such gutter politics. I don’t fear the crock of dual loyalty; I am ashamed by those who cannot bring facts to the table so they attempt to bully.”
“Well, this American Jew won’t be bullied and I am grateful that Senator Schumer and millions of other American Jews won’t be cowered,” Cooper said.
Another senior official with a prominent pro-Israel organization told the Washington Free Beacon that the anti-Semitic rhetoric is “likely to get worse.”
“The unacceptable rhetoric from the pro-deal camp has strayed into open anti-Semitism last week, but what’s really worrying is that it’s likely to get worse,” said Omri Ceren, managing director at The Israel Project. “We’re less than halfway through the congressional review period. You’ve already got White House validators from the pro-Iran lobby tweeting about traitorous Jews and White House supporters from the grassroots publishing cartoons of perfidious Jews.
“What are they going to do for an encore?” Ceren asked.
Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 10, 2015:
President Barack Obama approved of Iran’s right to operate a nuclear program in 2011 during secret meetings with Iranian officials, according to new disclosures by Iran’s Supreme Leader.
The comments, made earlier this year by Ali Khamenei, dispute claims by the Obama administration that it only began talking to Iran after the election of President Hassan Rouhani.
Khamenei revealed in a recent speech that talks began in secret with anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying former President Mahmoud Ahmadenejad. At this time, Obama told the Iranians he endorses Iran’s right to have a nuclear program.
“The issue of negotiating with the Americans is related to the term of the previous [Ahmadinejad] government, and to the dispatching of a mediator to Tehran to request talks,” Khamenei said in a recent speech translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“At the time, a respected regional figure came to me as a mediator and explicitly said that U.S. President [Obama] had asked him to come to Tehran and present an American request for negotiations,” Khamenei disclosed. “The Americans told this mediator: ‘We want to solve the nuclear issue and lift sanctions within six months, while recognizing Iran as a nuclear power.’”
“I told that mediator that I did not trust the Americans and their words, but after he insisted, I agreed to reexamine this topic, and negotiations began,” Khamenei added.
Other Iranian officials also have admitted that Obama’s goal from the get-go was to endorse Iran’s nuclear program and then lift economic sanctions on the country’s economy.
Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter to Iran stating that the United States “recognizes Iran’s rights regarding” nuclear enrichment, according to another senior Iranian official, Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam.
“We came to the [secret] negotiations [with the United States] after Kerry wrote a letter and sent it to us via [mediator Omani Sultan Qaboos], stating that America officially recognizes Iran’s rights regarding the [nuclear fuel] enrichment cycle,” Al-Islam said in a recent interview with Iran’s Tasnim news agency, according to MEMRI.
“Then there were two meetings in Oman between the [Iranian and U.S.] deputy foreign ministers, and after those, Sultan Qaboos was dispatched by Obama to Khamenei with Kerry’s letter,” the official added.
Khamenei went on to tell him at the time: “‘I don’t trust them.’ Sultan Qaboos said: ‘Trust them one more time.’ On this basis the negotiations began, and not on the basis of sanctions, as they [the Americans] claim in their propaganda.”
This information has been confirmed by other senior Iranian officials, according to MEMRI.
Ali Akbar Salahi, the Iranian vice president and head of its Atomic Energy Organization, claimed in separate interviews this year that “the Americans initiated the secret talks with Iran in 2011-2012, and stressed his role in jumpstarting the process from the Iranian side,” according to MEMRI.
- Study: Iran Terror Funding Gets $4.8 Billion Boost Under Nuke Deal (freebeacon.com)
Is Obama’s Smear Campaign to Defend the Iran Deal Backfiring? (centerforsecuritypolicy.org)
The Dead Parrot Treaty (thegorkabriefing,com)
Russian Warships Dock In Iran for War Training (freebeacon.com) –
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said the Obama administration is fundamentally misreading Iran’s intentions in light of the recently inked nuclear accord.
“We’re witnessing a new great game, and Obama is so self-centered he keeps playing solitaire,” Rubin said. “Obama simply doesn’t understand that the world is full of dictators who seek to checkmate America. What he sees as compromise; they see as weakness to exploit.”
MEFORUM, by Alexander H. Joffe
The Times of Israel
August 3, 2015
What happened is gradually becoming clear. It is revealed daily just how horrendous the deal really is. On every point — enrichment, centrifuges, stocks of fissile material, inspections, sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps members and businesses, “snapback,” etc. — the Obama administration caved completely.
Concessions on ballistic missiles and arms sales were thrown in at the last minute; the administration lied about it all, while Iran touted its victories and American capitulation. All this went on amidst a background of Iranian chants of “death to Israel” and “death to America,” which entered not at all into American calculations.
Iran is thus empowered; it will shortly be gigantically richer, its proxies strengthened, its nuclear program at best slowed but fundamentally unimpeded, and its missile and terror programs shifted into overdrive.
But why this occurred is unclear. Clownish performance by the chief negotiator, Secretary of State John Kerry, a man driven equally by incompetence, ego, and pacifism, has long been the norm. But otherwise competent functionaries like Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz were dragged into negotiating and defending the deal. They have been no less implausible.
But their presence, along with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, previously the midwife of the North Korean nuclear program, suggests the process was directed from the top. In contrast, the defense establishment was written out; protests by General Martin Dempsey, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as retired leaders like Defense Intelligence Agency head General Michael Flynn and NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis, fell on deaf ears in the administration and have been ignored by a compliant media.
Three factors suggest why President Obama himself effectively guided the negotiations to this point. As with various other administration scandals — think the IRS targeting of conservative and pro-Israel groups, or the Justice Department’s eavesdropping of reporters — it was not necessary for him to make every decision, only to set a tone that was interpreted by underlings. What then were the strategic goals that Obama established?
First was American withdrawal from the Middle East and to diminish the possibility of a return to a Pax Americana. Withdrawal from Iraq was a stated campaign goal that was accomplished, and is now being slowly reversed as the threat of ISIS grows. American forces remain in Afghanistan to confront a growing Taliban threat. In both cases the number of troops will be deliberately inadequate to directly confront threats.
Re-escalation of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan appears inevitable, but the larger reality of an American defense umbrella has been diminished by the administration’s alienation of traditional allies in the region, namely Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This was done through its Iran policy and more broadly through US engagement with Islamists.
When coupled with enormous defense cuts at home, reducing the military to pre-World War II levels, any restoration of American influence, much less a defense presence in the Middle East, would be a protracted and expensive affair necessarily left to a future president, if ever.
A perverse pacifism is also at work. “There is no military solution” and “Ideologies are not defeated with guns” are pacifist mantras, repeated at the very top and used to avoid use of force, or the support of others using force, in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria.
This pacifist, non-interventionist policy is nominally offset by the administration’s machismo; the never ending reminders about killing Bin Laden, the continued leaks and sympathetic press accounts regarding the president’s involvement in approving targets for drone attacks and special forces raids, and the much-vaunted, but little seen, “pivot to Asia.”
But these narratives do not offset the reality that conventional forces, of the sort necessary, say, to fight ISIS in Syria, will never deployed, no matter how many Christians and Yazidis are kidnapped or killed. And despite utterances that a military option was “on the table,” it seems inconceivable that the administration ever contemplated using force against Iran.
But there are deeper reasons for the outreach to Iran. Some have suggested that the long-term Obama policy, from at least 2008, has been to reintegrate Iran into the Middle East, putting it on the path to becoming a “very successful regional power,” as Obama put it, against an even longer term bet that moderate forces will become ascendant.
Iran, as Obama admits, has “a track record of state-sponsored terrorism … [and] has engaged in disruptions to our allies,” while its “rhetoric is not only explicitly anti-American but also has been incendiary when it comes to its attitude towards the state of Israel.” It is nevertheless expected to act as a bulwark against the Sunni extremism it helps provoke, help resolve the Syria crisis its client Assad created, and abide by “international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody.”
The theory of Iranian reintegration, however, captures only part of the administration’s motives. At the root is something deeper still, reflected in Obama’s most personal and idiosyncratic policystatement; that “America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam,” that it is “part of [his] responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” that “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace,” and that “America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.”
These and other elements from Obama’s Istanbul and Cairo speeches are the core of policy towards Iran, the Middle East, and the Muslim world as a whole. They have been translated directly into policies to support and facilitate “authentically” Islamic regimes in order to prove they can govern.
This was the theory behind support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s short-lived election to rule Egypt, and the distance the US created when Egypt’s military overthrew the increasingly tyrannical rule of Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi. It has been the foundation of American support for the oppressive and bizarre rule of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP party. And it accounts for the constant disclaimers from administration spokespersons denying any connection between Islam and terror, the incessant “religion of peace” rhetoric, and support for the “Islamophobic” mindset of victimization among American Muslims.
Other policies as large as outreach to Iran, as dangerous as purging mentions of jihad from US counterterrorism training, and as absurd as the President’s order to NASA “to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering,” reflect the administration’s goal of inculcating Islamic authenticity, self-esteem and good will.
In contrast to authentic Islam is “violent extremism.” In this view Al Qaeda and ISIS are not Islamic at all but have, as the president stated in Cairo, “exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims.” They are simply groups with no real relationship to Islam, despite their resolute Islamic self-conception and careful textual exegesis. Fatwas from Obama, Kerry and others, painstakingly separating Islam from the terror done in its name, are both perplexing, unpersuasive, and grist for ISIS and domestic Islamic terrorism. But they are self-satisfying.
The non-nuclear consequences of the Iran deal are already coming into view. European businesses are rushing for deals worth billions. Hamas has announced that Iran is financing new attack tunnels into Israel. Hezbollah, though badly bloodied from its defense of Iran’s client, Syria’s Assad regime, is reemphasizing its anti-Israel rhetoric and capabilities before what will be a horrifically violent war. Iran’s subversion in Yemen, the Balkans, South America and the Gulf is at new heights. International legitimacy has brought neither Iranian moderation nor domestic development. It is unlikely to do so soon.
At the end of the day, an American administration led by social justice ideologues was fated to understand nothing about a revolutionary Islamist regime with global aspirations. The favor done Iran in the name of Islamic authenticity and regional reintegration will be a curse on the world for generations.
Alexander H. Joffe, a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum, is a historian and archaeologist.
American Thinker, by Carol Brown, August 1, 2015:
Can we stop this deadly Iran deal?
Should we try?
Yes. With every fiber of our being.
To the first point, there are two major hurdles that make stopping this deal nearly impossible.
First, there are the numbers needed in Congress to override Obama’s veto. At this time, the numbers aren’t there. But perhaps we can change that.
Second, even if Congress is able to override Obama’s veto, we cannot stop the full scope of the deal from going into effect. As John Bolton explained during an interview on Fox News, because Obama partnered with European nations, they will still honor the deal irrespective of our actions.
Obama intentionally surrendered our sovereignty to Europe.
And that doesn’t even take into account Russia or China.
According to Bolton, all Congress can do is stop Obama from lifting sanctions. And if that happens, it triggers a clause in the deal that releases Iran from its responsibilities with respect to nuclear agreements.
To the latter point, I’m not convinced it means much. There’s no reason to think Iran would uphold its end of the bargain no matter what the circumstance. Nor am I convinced the deal allows the West any meaningful ability to monitor Iran’s behavior. More importantly, I have no confidence the West would take action against Iran even if they did catch Iran breaking its end of the bargain. Quite the opposite.
But back to the sanctions for a moment. American sanctions have the strongest economic impact on Iran compared to sanctions from other countries. Sanctions relief will also increase the chances that Iran would have enough money to buy a nuclear weapon from another country, such as North Korea. Given the choice between the United States keeping sanctions in place, or not, it’s a no brainer to keep them in place. So while this would not “kill the deal,” as they say, it’s still meaningful.
In addition, a Congressional vote against the deal — one large enough to override Obama’s veto — would send a message to the rest of the world that America does not stand with a nuclear Iran. And we certainly don’t fund it to the tune of 150 billion dollars.
How surreal it is to type these words. We are writing, reading, talking, screaming, raging, witnessing, and fearing our country becoming an enabler of the largest state sponsor of terror in the world. That we are on the verge of helping a nation that wants to destroy us, acquire the weapons to do so. That we are aligning ourselves with the 21st century Hitler. And that we must take action — no less fight a nearly impossible fight — to curb this descent into evil, madness, and hell.
As John Podhoretz wrote in Commentary Magazine:
The United States and its allies have struck a deal with Iran that effectively ensures that it will be a nuclear state with ballistic missiles in 10 years, assuming Iran adheres to the deal’s terms, which is a very large assumption…The president and the secretary of state are making large claims for the deal that are not true; the same will be true of all of its signatories, who are seeing Nobel stars in their eyes…and while those of us who see Iran’s nuclearization as the threshold threat for the rest of the 21st century will not be silent and will not give up the fight against it, it is appropriate to take a moment to despair that we — the United States and the West — have come to this.
Yes. Despair. That it has come to this.
And, yes. Not giving up the fight.
Each of us must do everything in our power to create a small miracle — to maximize the chance that Congress can override the veto of the evil enabler of terror who sits in the oval office.
Will our actions matter? I don’t know. Like many readers, I have become cynical and increasingly hopeless. I have lost confidence that my voice counts for anything.
How can any of us live with ourselves if we didn’t do everything possible to ensure a future for ourselves and our children? To live.
You don’t have to be optimistic when taking political action. People can have serious doubts about the outcome of their efforts and still put forth the effort.
And mind you, the effort is nothing monumental. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of time or energy (not that that’s the point). It doesn’t require that we put our life in harm’s way or take a huge risk we are unwilling to take. (Obama is doing that for us.) All we need to do is contact our elected officials to say we are against the Iran deal.
Will they listen? I don’t know. Will they care? I don’t know. The cynic in me believes most are dug in and know how they will vote irrespective of how many call to voice their opposition.
Imagine your child or grandchild living in a world with a nuclear Iran. Imagine your child or grandchild asking what you did to try to stop it. And imagine you saying you couldn’t be bothered to take a couple of minutes out of every day for a few weeks to make a few phone calls.
Imagine your child or grandchild asking you why you didn’t do it. And imagine telling them you couldn’t be bothered because it wouldn’t matter. And when they ask you how you knew it wouldn’t matter, you tell them it hadn’t seemed to matter in the past so you assumed it wouldn’t matter now.
And they say: But still. Why didn’t you try?
And you have to look them in the eye and defend your cynicism and hopelessness, while all-the-while you want them to be fighters.
How can anyone be so cynical, so hopeless, or so apathetic to be unwilling to expend even an ounce of energy to press for votes against this deal?
Because unlike any other dangerous move Obama has made against America, this time the stakes are as high as they get. Obama has shoved the United States (and Israel) in front of a speeding train with barely room to maneuver to free ourselves.
Perhaps this precipice that Obama has brought us to is so unthinkable, so surreal, and so terrifying that it tests the limits of our ability to truly grasp what it means. Perhaps we retreat into denial. Or perhaps the prospect of a nuclear Iran is somewhat abstract. It’s a country far away from us. And maybe we somewhat simplistically think Israel will take care of Iran.
Whatever the case, we cannot allow ourselves to remain passive.
Taking action doesn’t require us to fit into a box or don a label, be it “conservative,” “grass roots,” “activist,” “patriot,” and so on. It’s enough that we’re American. And for that reason, we never give up.
Here is some information for those who will not give up, despite apathy, discouragement, disillusionment, hopelessness, frustration, as well as a hefty dose of rage. Time is of the essence. The vote is days away.
Contact your Senators and Congressional Representative. And do so as often as possible.
Contact those Senators we need to target who may (emphasis on “may”) break with party alliance and vote against the deadly deal. Thanks to Steve Chambers who wrote a piece for AT that provided names and contact information for the Democrats to target. (Note: The first five senators are up for reelection in 2016.)
Michael Bennet (CO) . bennett.senate.gov . (202) 224-5852
Richard Blumenthal (CT) . blumenthal.senate.gov . (202) 224-2823
Barbara Mikulski (MD) . milkulski.senate.gov . (202) 224-4654
Charles Schumer (NY) . schumer.senate.gov . (202) 224-6542
Ron Wyden (OR) . wyden.senate.gov . (202) 224-5244
Ben Cadin (MD) . cadin.senate.gov . (202) 224-4524
Robert P. Casey (PA) . casey.senate.gov . (202) 224-6324
Joe Donnelly (IN) . donnelly.senate.gov . (202) 224-4814
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) . gillibrand.senate.gov . (202) 224-4451
Heidi Heitkamp (ND) . heitkamp.senate.gov . (202) 224-2043
Joe Manchin (WV) . manchin.senate.gov . (202) 224-3954
Robert Menendez (NJ) . menendez.senate.gov . (202) 224-4744
Bill Nelson (FL) . billnelson.senate.gov . (202) 224-5274
Debbie Stabenow (MI) . stabenow.senate.gov . (202) 224-4822
Cory Booker (NJ) . booker.senate.gov . (202) 224-3224
Gary Peters (MI) . peters.senate.gov . (202) 224-6221
Mark Warner (VA) . warner.senate.gov . (202) 224-2023
Make this deadly deal a topic of interactions with others. Help them grasp the urgency and light a fire under them to speak out. Give them information to help them do so.
Keep printed materials with you to give to others. Print out the contact list, above. Print out talking points. Have materials on hand. Keep them in your car. Give them to people at the dry cleaners, the supermarket, everywhere you go. Help them understand what is at stake.
Use social media to educate others and convince them to take immediate action.
Support organizations that are lobbying Congress against this deal. Christians United for Israel, for example, has created a spin-off lobbying group (CUFI Action Fund) that has made the Iran deal it’s top priority for action.
Many clocks are ticking, ticking, ticking. Counting down to an Iran nuclear break out. Counting down to the 2016 presidential election. But the clock that will run out sooner than either of these is the one counting down the number of days before Congress votes on the Iran deal.
I implore every reader to take action.
Orwell could never have imagined this level of madness.
But here we are.
Florida Family Association, July 30, 2015:
|Thousands of protesters flooded Times Square on July 22, 2015 to rally against President Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear arms deal. The rally is specifically aimed at urging Senator Chuck Schumer to rally Democratic opposition against the deal in Congress. “New York Senator Charles Schumer has the votes as presumptive leader to override this deal if he wants,” says Jeff Wiesenfeld, one of the group’s organizers. “If this deal is not stopped, New York voters will know whom to blame.”
The Hill Reports Lieberman: Schumer is key to blocking nuclear deal.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is pressuring a top Senate Democrat to buck the Obama administration on its Iran nuclear deal to ensure a safer future for Israel.
Lieberman, the Senate’s first Orthodox Jew, blasted the agreement with Iran on “The Cats Roundtable” with host John Catsimatidis on New York’s AM 970.
He said the deal could be effectively blocked with the help of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“I think it opens the way for a lot of other Democrats to oppose it as well,” Lieberman said of his longtime colleague, who is also Jewish.“Chuck is the key.”
Schumer, who is likely to become the Senate’s next top Democrat, faces a major dilemma over the nuclear deal. He is both a key ally to both Israel and the White House, facing pressure from both sides on the deal.
Lieberman blasted White House negotiators for a deal that he said would allow Iran to ignore U.S. demands and instead support its own regional allies, which he described as “terrorist.”
“How can you make a deal with somebody who says they want to kill you?” Lieberman asked, reiterating the stance of Israeli leaders and its supporters who oppose the deal. “Pretty impossible in my opinion.”
Iran’s Khamenei hails his people for demanding death to America and Israel. Times of Israel – July 18, 2015. Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday hailed the Iranian masses for demanding the destruction of Israel and America, and said he hoped that God would answer their prayers.
At Al-Quds day rallies last week, Khamenei noted appreciatively, “You heard ‘Death to Israel’, ‘Death to the US.’ You could hear it. The whole nation was shaken by these slogans. It wasn’t only confined to Tehran. The whole of the nation, you could hear, that was covered by this great movement. So we ask Almighty God to accept these prayers by the people of Iran.”In a viciously anti-US speech delivered in Tehran four days after Iran and the world powers signed an accord designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised “the slogans of the people of Iran” which “indicated what directions they’re heading for,” according to the English translation of his speech by Iran’s Press TV.
Here are three key points to consider regarding Obama’s Iran Deal:
The deal does not prevent a nuclear Iran. It paves the way for the largest state sponsor of terrorism to obtain nuclear weapons and become a major military power.
Senator Chuck Schumer opposing the Iran deal and successfully preventing its implementation would make him a true American and Israeli hero. He would be taking a principled stand for the national security of Israel and America over succumbing to partisan politics and strong “friendly fire” from fellow democrats. He would be a hero in all sense of the word.
Florida Family Association has prepared an email for you to send to urge Senator Schumer to be a hero for America and Israel by opposing the Iran deal.
To send your email, please click the following link, enter your name and email address then click the “Send Your Message” button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.
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Senator Chuck Schumer holds the key to dismantling Obama’s deal with Iran. Please send prepared email to urge Senator Schumer to oppose Iran deal. http://floridafamily.org/full_article.php?article_no=495
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The Honorable Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
Senator Chuck Schumer firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Lynch, Chief of Staff: email@example.com
Megan Taira, Legislative Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, July29, 2015:
It’s hard to imagine a worse salesman for the Iran deal than John Kerry. Kerry couldn’t sell himself to Americans as a presidential candidate. Now he has to sell a nuclear Armageddon to Americans.
National security was Kerry’s undoing during his presidential campaign. He had shot American soldiers in the back during Vietnam to build a base for his own political future. He had eagerly pandered to Marxist-Leninist terrorists who massacred native peoples and burned their churches. He had been for the Iraq War before he was against it and for Assad’s Syrian dictatorship before he was against it.
Now Kerry is supposed to sell the most controversial and explosive national security issue since the Cold War to a skeptical nation. And he’s doing just about as well as you would expect.
John Kerry’s tour of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Council on Foreign Relations came with all the nervous tics, the stumbling statements and erratic claims that everyone has come to expect from the only man who could have possibly made Hillary Clinton’s Secretary of State tenure look good.
Asked whether he really believed that Iran, which is sitting on a mountain of oil and gas, just wants a peaceful nuclear program “to generate electricity”, Kerry admitted that it already has a military program.
Then he insisted that we had to go through with the deal anyway so he wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of the ayatollah.
“I mean, do you think the ayatollah is going to come back to the table if Congress refuses this and negotiate again?… I mean, please. I would be embarrassed to try to go out—I mean, what am I going to say to people after this as secretary of State?,” Kerry whined.
The Secretary of State for the greatest nation in the world had been reduced to complaining that he would be too embarrassed to renegotiate the deal. Congress had to play it cool and stop embarrassing him in front of his cool new ayatollah friends.
Kerry couldn’t offer a direct answer to the question because he had already argued that Iran “believed deeply that they had a right to… have a peaceful nuclear program; because they resented the fact the United States had supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq”. Iran did restart its nuclear program during the war with Iraq, and, like most nuclear programs during wartime, it was as peaceful as a bomb.
“O Allah, for your satisfaction, we sacrificed the offspring of Islam and the revolution,” Ayatollah Khomeini wrote after the Iran-Iraq War. The letter quoted the need for “atomic weapons” and evicting America from the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s current Supreme Leader had told top officials that Khomeini had reactivated Iran’s nuclear program, vowing that it would prepare “for the emergence of Imam Mehdi.”
Imam Mehdi was never going to be impressed with a slightly lower electric bill.
Kerry had contradicted himself in a single response, admitting that the nuclear program had reemerged during the Iran-Iraq War while claiming that it was peaceful.
But Kerry’s real focus was always on empathizing with the enemy.
“I know, the degree to which Iran felt isolated by that and the sort of impact of the choices that were made during that period of time. So we’re trying to make up for that now. We’re where we are. We’re not blaming anybody,” he offered in his new role as the Ayatollah’s infidel therapist.
He insisted that 24 days was plenty of time just to get access to an Iranian rogue nuclear site while admitting that, “The breakout time goes down to always somewhere in the vicinity of a month or two.” And he suggested that Iran would become peaceful because he had “friends” who had been to Tehran and told him it was “teeming with young people who all have smartphones.”
And Kerry just wanted to go to Tehran and hang out with all the teeming cool young people and their smartphones.
The need for approval from enemies of the United States was quintessential Kerry. Utterly unwilling to acknowledge that there was a different worldview on the other side of the table, he namedropped his opposite number as “Foreign Minister Zarif, who lived here in New York” as if a man who lived in the city couldn’t possibly be a fanatical enemy of the United States.
That would have come as a surprise to Mahmud Abouhalima or Leon Trotsky.
But Kerry had just begun embarrassing himself.
Challenged on welcoming back a terrorist state to the international arena, Kerry claimed that he had told the Iranians that their chants of “Death to America” were not helpful. Asked about other states getting nuclear weapons to compete with Iran, Kerry quipped that, “You can’t just go out and buy a nuclear weapon. You don’t ship them FedEx, you know.”
If Kerry had been paying attention in the Senate, he would have known that the Khan nuclear network which shipped kits of nuclear equipment and bomb plans, had been caught by Bush shipping crates to Libya. It wasn’t FedEx, but it was close. Bush had managed to achieve a complete shutdown of Libya’s nuclear program, while Kerry had legalized the other beneficiary of the Khan network in Iran.
This would have been a month’s worth of gaffes for any other politician, but for John Kerry, it was just one question and answer session gone wrong.
Kerry had already told PBS that Iran isn’t “allowed” to transfer any of the $140 billion in sanctions relief to terrorists because of a UN resolution, before admitting that Iran would probably do it anyway. Then he had backpedaled by claiming that money wouldn’t make much of an impact on terrorism anyway.
When asked about Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s threats to America and announcement that he would continue funding terrorists, Kerry spluttered that he doesn’t “know how to interpret it at this point in time”.
“Death to America” can be surprisingly nuanced when analyzed by a master of nuance like John Kerry.
Kerry had managed to torpedo a plan for air strikes on Syria through his own inept statements. Now he’s sabotaging another administration policy goal.
The more Kerry talks, the more he comes off as a car salesman pushing the latest gently used nuclear Armageddon. He stumbles unconvincingly from one rationalization to another, revealing more about his insecurities than his policies.
Every Kerry argument is a thread and it doesn’t take much tugging on it for the whole dirty garment to come apart in a snarl of rationalizations and half-truths. Like a bad liar, he instinctively contradicts himself. And like a worse liar, he follows it up with false choices and false accusations.
His every argument comes down to some version of “Well what’s your alternative” or “If we walk away now, we lose all credibility”. It’s the argument you expect to hear from a man who has sent his fortune off to a Nigerian prince, not the Secretary of State of the United States.
The conclusion to every Kerry argument is the desperate pessimism of, “We have no other choice.” While Iran’s leadership gleefully celebrates, Kerry tells us that there are no other options. The more he talks, the more he convinces everyone who listens that the United States lost.
Underneath it all is a persistent whine. It’s the tone of an overgrown teenager who just wants to hang out with all the cool Marxist-Leninist rebels, Islamic terrorists and Viet Cong bosses. Somewhere in his mind, Kerry is still a petulant teenager resentful that he has to justify his fun times with Zarif, who used to live in New York and probably knows lots of teenagers with smartphones, by testifying to Congress.
Kerry doesn’t care about Iran’s nukes or its breakout times and he resents having to memorize this stuff. What excites him is giving the finger to America and meeting up with enemies of this country. It’s how he began his career and it’s how he’s ending it now. The more questions he has to answer, the more flustered he becomes because we’re the mean parents embarrassing him in front of the cool ayatollah.