Monday, August 24, 2015

Decisions About War And Peace Should Not Be Partisan And Should Not Be About Pandering


Republican dickhead Steve Knight wants war with Iran

Brent Scowcroft, age 90, has had a storied career in public service. A Mormon and a Republican, he's a retired Air Force lieutenant general who worked in national security for Nixon, Ford, Bush I and Bush II; he was national security adviser for both Ford and Bush I. He was one of the only high-ranking Republicans to loudly oppose the Bush-Cheney war against Iraq. This weekend, Scowcroft penned an op-ed for the Washington Post strongly urging Congress to approve the Iran deal on the table. Not a single Republican is likely to take his advice-- not even one!
Congress again faces a momentous decision regarding U.S. policy toward the Middle East. The forthcoming vote on the nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) will show the world whether the United States has the will and sense of responsibility to help stabilize the Middle East, or whether it will contribute to further turmoil, including the possible spread of nuclear weapons. Strong words perhaps, but clear language is helpful in the cacophony of today’s media.

In my view, the JCPOA meets the key objective, shared by recent administrations of both parties, that Iran limit itself to a strictly civilian nuclear program with unprecedented verification and monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Security Council. Iran has committed to never developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon; the deal ensures that this will be the case for at least 15 years and likely longer, unless Iran repudiates the inspection regime and its commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Additional Protocol.

There is no more credible expert on nuclear weapons than Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who led the technical negotiating team. When he asserts that the JCPOA blocks each of Iran’s pathways to the fissile material necessary to make a nuclear weapon, responsible people listen. Twenty-nine eminent U.S. nuclear scientists have endorsed Moniz’s assertions.

...I urge strongly that Congress support this agreement. But there is more that Congress should do. Implementation and verification will be the key to success, and Congress has an important role. It should ensure that the International Atomic Energy Agency, other relevant bodies and U.S. intelligence agencies have all the resources necessary to facilitate inspection and monitor compliance. Congress should ensure that military assistance, ballistic missile defense and training commitments that the United States made to GCC leaders at Camp David in May are fully funded and implemented without delay. And it should ensure that the United States works closely with the GCC and other allies to moderate Iranian behavior in the region, countering it where necessary.

My generation is on the sidelines of policymaking now; this is a natural development. But decades of experience strongly suggest that there are epochal moments that should not be squandered. President Nixon realized it with China. Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush realized it with the Soviet Union. And I believe we face it with Iran today.
Last week lobbyist and warmonger Joe Lieberman espoused the opposite position in the same newspaper. Lieberman was one of the primary cheerleaders within the Democratic Party for the disastrous Bush-Cheney attack on Iraq. He's learned absolutely nothing. "It is important," he wrote, "for members of Congress deciding how to vote on the current proposal to consider this history." But he hasn't, which is why he was driven out of electoral politics.

Saturday we looked at the California delegation and how the votes on the Iran deal are coming down. Among Democrats, only AIPAC shill Brad Sherman and clueless conservative Juan Vargas have announced they are voting no. Blue Dog Loretta Sanchez says she's leaning that way as well. 

Over the weekend, I asked each of the Blue America-endorsed House candidates how they would vote if they were in Congress. I asked each one for a one sentence response. These are the responses I got:

Jason Ritchie (WA-08), who is running against Dave Reichert, a right-wing imbecile who would like to go to war with Iran: "I strongly support the Iran nuclear deal. It's our best chance for peace in a century."

Lou Vince (CA-25), whose opponent, Steve Knight, is an extremist and a warmonger: "A yes vote is a vote for peace and a no vote is a vote for war, and after 14 years of war my vote would be an unequivocal vote yes for peace."

Alex Law (NJ-01), who is in a primary battle against despicable conservaDem Donald Norcross, who announced he will join the GOP's march towards war with Iran: "As a Jewish American and a Democrat, I would support our President and peace by voting for the Iran deal."

Eric Kingson (NY-24), who is running against GOP warmonger John Katko: "I would vote to support the Iran deal, believing the potential benefits outweigh risk-- that it is the best vehicle available to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in the near future and that the deal advances opportunity for further diplomacy in our, Israel's, Iran's and the Middle East's long-term interest."

Paul Clements (MI-06), who's running against a fake GOP "moderate," hereditary multimillionaire Fred Upton, eager to provoke a war with Iran: "I would support the Iran deal."

Joseline Pena-Melnyk (MI-04), the most progressive candidate in a blue district open seat: "I would support it; this negotiated agreement allows us to monitor Iran and prevents Iran from building nuclear weapons."

Michael Noland (IL-08), who's running for an open seat against a conservaDem who says whatever his audience wants to hear: "The agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is the most realistic way of helping bring increased stability to the Middle East, shifting the foreign policy of Iran from one built on isolation and fear to one centered on transparency and accountability."

Pat Murphy (IA-01), whose opponents are Republican Rod Blum and "ex"-Republican Monica Vernon: "Yes, this keeps nuclear weapons our of Iran for ten years, while working with them on a common enemy in ISIS; it helps bring stability to a volatile area of the world-- I would support the deal."

Jamie Raskin (MD-08), who's running in an open seat against several less progressive Democrats (including Chris Matthew's' wife, a bona fide member of the 1% in every way): "I would vote yes on the Iran nuclear agreement for reasons I will explain in a full statement this week."

• Bao Nguyen (CA-46) is the Mayor of Garden Grove in Orange County and he's running for the open seat Loretta Sanchez is giving up. Obviously, he's been focused on local issues to make his community a better place to live, but his gut instincts and knack for quick study-up gave him an opinion on the Iran deal-- although he couldn't keep it down to one sentence. "Quite frankly, I’m still gathering information and I will be watching the Congressional debate on this issue very closely. I’m always in favor of the best deal for Americans and for the safety of our allies, and from what I have seen this is the only option on the table that keeps Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and at the same time keeps American lives out of harms way. If this deal fails there are fewer non military options since the international sanctions that were in place are no longer available to us. Frankly, I am disappointed with Republicans who only continue with their policy of opposing anything supported by Obama with no response to what they would do other than sending more Americans to war in the Middle East."

A campaign staffer for state Senator Ruben Kihuen (NV-04): "Ruben leans toward supporting the Iran deal but is still weighing input from respected members of the diplomatic and military communities on both sides of the deal. As a State Senator, his focus in office has been getting Nevadan families back to work, and he looks forward to engaging further in foreign policy discussions as this campaign unfolds."

If you want people in decision-making jobs in Washington to prefer peace rather than war, please consider chipping in to the campaigns of these candidates. That's how it happens. Otherwise we get stuck with the Dave Reicherts, Rod Blums, Donald Norcrosses and Steve Knights.

Donald and George Norcross-- as bad as Steve Knight... but "Democrats"

UPDATE: Raskin's Statement On Iran

As promised, Jamie Raskin released the detailed statement he promised above:
I have spoken to several Members of Congress about the agreement, consulted numerous foreign policy experts who reside in our community (and there are a whole lot of them), read everything I could find from competing perspectives, and talked at length to 8th District residents on all sides of the debate: people strongly opposed, people strongly in support, and people conflicted, ambivalent, and uncertain. I am impressed by the moral seriousness of everyone I spoke with and take heart, even through all the heated controversy, that everyone here is looking for the same outcomes: not nuclear war but enduring peace, not world chaos but world order, and not religious and ethnic hatred but pluralism and coexistence. I see great consensus as to the ends even with the palpable disagreement over the means of getting there.

Everything I have learned leads me to believe that the agreement represents our best chance to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This is a strategic, political and moral imperative. The Iranian regime is despotic and authoritarian, and we cannot afford the possibility of it becoming a nuclear power.

The JCPOA contains many strong provisions that dramatically reduce the threat of a nuclear Iran. First and foremost, it places inspectors on the ground to constantly monitor Iran’s nuclear supply chain. Moreover, the deal imposes stringent physical prohibitions on Iran’s current supply of potential nuclear ingredients. The physical conditions of the agreement amount to shutting off both the uranium and plutonium pathways to a nuclear bomb. The agreement requires Iran to relinquish the vast majority of its centrifuges, which are pieces of equipment used to enrich uranium and turn it into a nuclear fuel. The regime must also surrender 97% of its enriched uranium. Iran will be barred from enriching uranium beyond energy-grade fuel, which is 3.67% enrichment; weapons-grade uranium is enriched 90% or more.

The JCPOA therefore shuts off the uranium pathway to a nuclear bomb for at least fifteen years. The deal eliminates the risk of the creation of a bomb via the plutonium route by compelling Iran to reconfigure the core of its Arak reactor so that it can produce only small amounts of plutonium, prohibiting the construction of another reactor capable of producing appreciable amounts of plutonium, and mandating the removal of all used fuel rods.

Taken together, these restrictions demolish and bury Iran’s current nuclear program. Furthermore, if the regime chooses to risk massive military intervention by violating the agreement and preparing to make a nuclear weapon, it will take the state’s nuclear engineers much longer to achieve a bomb than it would take them in the absence of an agreement, giving us a lot more time to respond decisively. In other words, the deal extends Iran’s so-called “breakout time”-- the time it would take the government, with no resistance, to develop a nuclear bomb-- from about two months today to a full year.

...Successfully thwarting Iran’s nuclear program does not mean we have halted its aggression in the region or stopped its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. We must continue to work outside the agreement to confine and neutralize Iran’s government as a military threat, and to hold steadfast in our support for the security of our ally Israel. We must also maintain our terrorism-related sanctions, which are unaffected by this deal. But Iran’s conventional threats to peace and security would only be compounded by its acquisition of a nuclear arsenal; I agree with Admiral Ami Ayalon, the former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, who recently said, "When it comes to Iran’s nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option."

Successful diplomacy means taking the world first as it is as we strive to remake it. Foreign policy change requires realism, pragmatism, compromise, and multilateralism, as well as idealism. I am convinced that the JCPOA is our best option for preventing Iran from developing nuclear weaponry, which is a scary and untenable thought indeed. If Congress acts, even out of the best of motives, to block the agreement, it will compromise the goal of securing an Iran without nuclear weapons, thereby undermining the security interests of the United States and our allies.  To my mind, approving this agreement is clearly the right choice today.

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