Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 6:13 AM

Obama Leads World to Historic Nuclear Deal with Iran

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 10.45.36 AMPresident Obama commanded special TV time this morning to announce a historic deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It was decades in the making (arguably dating back to 1979), but took his pragmatic and visionary leadership to finally seal it.

Therefore, Obama was right to hail this deal as a transformative step towards global peace.

Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States – together with our international partners [China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, plus Germany: aka the P5+1] – has achieved what decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive, long-term deal that will verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

This deal shows the real and meaningful change that American leadership and diplomacy can bring – change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure…

If it violates any aspect of this deal, sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy will snap back into place.

(White House.gov, July 14, 2015)

5275eab9-175d-45c0-bf48-816dba379a80-2060x1236It is also noteworthy that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani echoed the motto of Obama’s presidency by hailing it as a “new chapter of hope.”

Of course, the usual critics abound. Most notable among them are Israel’s warmongering prime minister and his band of useful idiots in the U.S. Congress.

But all you need to know is that criticism of this deal makes even less sense than criticism of the historic agreement to normalize relations with Cuba.

Netanyahu and congressional Republicans are raising alarms about this deal giving Iran access to hundreds of billions to spread terrorism throughout the Middle East. The problem, however, is that they are getting into bed with Saudi Arabia to do so.

After all, whatever one thinks of Iran’s support for and funding of terrorist groups like Hezbollah, it pales in comparison with Saudi Arabia’s support for and funding of the spread of Wahhabism, the medieval form of Islam that gave rise to al-Qaeda and its demon spawn, ISIS. This glaring hypocrisy would be laughable if it weren’t so … nuclear.

As it happens, I have written many commentaries over the years delineating why:

a) Netanyahu is even less credible on Iran’s nuclear weapons than Trump is on Mexico’s illegal immigrants.

Frankly, instead of trying in vain to rally the world to maintain crippling sanctions against Iran for fomenting terrorism, Netanyahu should be worried about former president Jimmy Carter rallying the world to impose sanctions against Israel for building (what Carter has decried as) an apartheid state, where Jews treat Palestinians the way Whites treated Blacks in Apartheid South Africa. Not to mention the fateful analogy one can draw between the geo-political damage Netanyahu is causing Israel with his bombastic pandering on this issue, and the socio-economic damage Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is causing Greece with his bombastic posturing on the Eurozone crisis.

b) Congressmen trying to sabotage this historic deal are doing so for the same ignorant, shortsighted, irresponsible, spiteful, and partisan reasons they tried to sabotage Obama’s historic legislation on healthcare reform.

But I see no point in venting indignation anew over their opposition. Instead, I shall suffice to mark this historic occasion by reprising excerpts from just a few commentaries, which show why even I had/have a more credible take on all issues related to Iran’s nuclear program than Netanyahu.

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From “Iran Keeps on Nuking…,” September 2, 2006, on why Iran has forfeited its sovereign right to develop nuclear weapons:

[A]ny reasonable expectation that Iran will use its nuclear power for only peaceful purposes has been terminally undermined by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s serial threats to wipe Israel off the map.

And, since he has given no indication that his threats are merely rhetorical, I think it would be as irresponsible and inhumane for the international community to allow Ahmadinejad’s Iran to develop nuclear weapons as it was for world powers to allow Hitler’s Germany to conquer most of Europe (and exterminate 6 million Jews) before they acted.

From “Despite Drumbeat, Israel Will Never Attack Iran,” February 21, 2012, on why the Iraq war made war with Iran a march of folly too great to contemplate:

No doubt the rhetoric now being hurled between the United States/Israel and Iran smacks of an unnerving echo of that which was hurled between the United States/Britain and Iraq before the ill-fated invasion of that country in 2003 – complete with UN nuclear inspectors (then and now) on a wild-goose chase to find weapons of mass destruction.

The key difference, however, is that the indispensable party to this war dance with Iran is the pragmatic and prudent President Barack Obama; whereas, in the case of Iraq, it was the dogmatic and cocksure President George W. Bush. More to the point, unlike Bush, whose logic was to bomb first and seek peace later, Obama seems determined to seek peace first and bomb later … if necessary…

I am convinced that, despite threatening to use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the United States/Israel will never attack. Not least because the United States has to wonder if Iran is just playing a cat-and-mouse game with the world over its nuclear program for the same reason Iraq did over its WMDs: It’s far more important for its neighbors to think that it has weapons to destroy them than it is for the world to know that it has no such weapons.

Not to mention that an attack on Iran would stir up a veritable hornet’s nest — ranging from $6-per-gallon gasoline to effectively kicking off World War III…

Most important, though, I am convinced that, despite its rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map, Iran will never attack Israel. Not least for the same reason the Soviet Union/Russia has never attacked the United States: Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). And rest assured that if any country thought it was beneficial (politically or financially) to sell nuclear weapons to terrorists, North Korea would have done so years ago.

From “Obama Dissing Israeli PM Netanyahu?” September 12, 2012, on why Netanyahu’s opposition to Obama’s efforts reeks of perfidy:

I am simply stupefied by the way Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has been publicly goading Obama – almost from day one of his presidency – to stop Iran [from developing nuclear weapons] before it enters some amorphous ‘zone of immunity’ (presumably where North Korea resides)…

All of his talk about red lines and red lights is just a red herring. If Netanyahu wants to attack Iran today, nobody’s stopping him.

Except that this arrogant SOB would rather sit on his moral high-horse (playing the Holocaust card) and declaim falsely about Obama dictating when and how he should act to defend Israel’s national security interests. All the while he’s presuming to dictate to Obama when and how he should act to defend America’s national security interests with respect to Iran: talk about brass ones…

[I]t is noteworthy that Netanyahu is being supported in his rhetorical misadventure by the same coalition of crusading dunces (namely, Zionists, Christian fundamentalists, and new-world-order neo-cons) who goaded Bush into attacking Iraq. Not to mention that they have all been issuing Chicken-Little warnings about Iran being just months away from going nuclear since the 1990s….

From “Netanyahu, Obama’s Iago; Iran, His Desdemona,” October 2, 2013, on why Obama should be more wary of Netanyahu than the Ayatollah:

[I]t cannot be lost on Obama that, if he had his way, Netanyahu would have already misled him down a primrose path to war against Iran – similar to the one neo-cons misled his predecessor, George W. Bush, down to war against Iraq 10 years ago.

Mind you, this is not to say that I believe anything Rouhani says about Iran’s nuclear program. It’s just that if there were any truth in anything Netanyahu has said about it, Iran would have already done to Tel Aviv what the United States did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II….

From “One Small Step Towards De-nuking Iran,” November 25, 2013, on why today’s deal is in fact anticlimactic:

Iran struck an historic agreement today with the United States and five other major nuclear powers: namely, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK – all represented by their respective foreign ministers. It calls for Iran to temporarily suspend developing its nuclear program in exchange for these powers (specifically the United States) temporarily suspending (only some of) the sanctions that have been crippling Iran’s economy for decades.

This six-month agreement is intended to provide both sides the good-faith basis to negotiate a permanent agreement to dismantle and destroy Iran’s capacity to ever develop nuclear weapons. If the parties fail to reach such an agreement, the United States vows not only to impose more onerous sanctions than ever before, but also to hold the Damoclean sword of military strikes over Iran to prevent it from taking steps towards undeniable “breakout nuclear capacity”…

[H]ere is the hysterical way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried it on behalf of the few leaders (most notably the king of Saudi Arabia) who seem hell-bent on trying to get Obama to lead a march of folly into Iran the way they got Bush to do in Iraq:

What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake. Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world.

(Associated Press, November 24, 2013)

The irony, of course, is that Netanyahu now seems every bit as unhinged and isolated as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad always did. What’s more, it seems completely lost on him that he is striking an untenable alliance with Arab leaders who hate Israel as much as they fear Iran (pursuant to the Muslim world’s Sunni-Shia schism that dates back to the year 632).

From “Republicans Send ‘Mutinous’ Letter to Iran,” March 17, 2015, on why congressional Republicans are delusional if they think the other parties to this deal are going to help them impose even more draconian sanctions if they somehow manage to torpedo it:

Obama’s detractors should be forced to explain if they think the other P5+1 leaders (of China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, plus Germany) are just as naïve, incompetent, and untrustworthy as they insist Obama is for negotiating this deal. After all, his detractors would have you believe that Obama is so desperate for a deal to seal his presidential legacy that he’d have no compunction about striking one even if it ‘threatens the survival of Israel’ — as the eschatologically paranoid Netanyahu maintains.

Whereas, in fact, Obama is ‘leading from in front’ by rallying these world leaders to endorse his strategy for preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This, ironically, is the kind of leadership that makes him finally worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize he won years ago…

But talk about clueless: I don’t see how anyone who knows anything about this issue can watch Netanyahu say anything about it without seeing his nose grow longer than Pinocchio’s. And only pathological delusion can mislead Netanyahu into thinking he can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons by, on the one hand, appealing to powerless carnival barkers in the U.S. Congress, while on the other hand, willfully defying not just Obama but all of the world leaders standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

Finally, from “Netanyahu Condemns Framework for Peace with Iran as … Path to War,” April 4, 2015, on why the Soviet precedent belies opposition to dealing with Iran:

Obama is getting near-universal praise for the comprehensive and detailed nature of this framework agreement. In fact, great expectations abound now that the parties will sign a final agreement in June against all (formerly intractable) odds.

Predictably, the only notable naysayers are members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition in the Israeli Knesset and members of the Israel-can-do-no-wrong caucus in the U.S. Congress…

Meanwhile, both Netanyahu and Republicans seem willfully oblivious to the fact that no less a person than their political patron saint, former President Ronald Reagan, negotiated similar nuclear deals with the former Soviet Union — a country that not only vowed to wipe the United States off the map, but actually possessed the nuclear weapons to do so.

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19mag-republicans-master675Notwithstanding the above, Netanyahu and Republicans are conspiring to use congressional powers to prevent implementation of this deal, which they are denouncing as “a historic mistake.” Except that these are the same feckless doomsayers who conspired to no avail to use congressional powers to prevent Obama from even consummating this deal – complete with Netanyahu exhorting U.S. lawmakers to defy Obama during an extraordinary address before a joint session of Congress.

This constrains me to point out that Republicans vowed from day one of Obama’s presidency to make him a failed, one-term president. Therefore, their opposition in this case probably has more to do with frustration over Obama’s continued success, despite their visceral obstruction, than with concern about the merits of this deal.

In fact, it’s clearly driving Republicans mad trying to reconcile their narrative of Obama as a failed president with his record of accomplishments. After all, in addition to this nuclear deal with Iran, which represents a triumph of diplomacy over saber-rattling/war, those accomplishments now include such legacy items as:

  • Rescuing the country from the brink of a second Great Depression
  • Saving the auto industry
  • Ushering in landmark healthcare reform
  • Launching America’s clean-energy revolution
  • Championing same-sex marriages and other civil rights for gays and lesbians
  • Withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam-style quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Killing Osama bin Laden
  • Securing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact in “pivot” to Asia
  • Normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba

And he ain’t done yet, especially given historic steps he’s taking now to curb illegal immigration and reform America’s racist criminal justice system.

So, albeit begrudgingly, even rabid, anti-Obama Republicans would have to concede that Obama has already racked up a record of accomplishments that rivals, if not surpasses, that of the putatively transformative president Ronald Reagan, their political patron saint.

Enough said?

Related commentaries:
Iran keeps on
NIE report
Drumbeat
Obama’s Iago
Netanyahu condemns
Mutinous letter

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Tuesday, at 7:10 p.m.

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