News that the Obama administration, along with the leading world powers, agreed on the framework of a deal with Iran — to halt Iran’s nuclear research and development and, in turn, lift sanctions — was met with applause and gratitude by most.
But the reaction from many of my fellow Republicans was anger and hysteria. It is no surprise — after all, top GOP politicians (from whom many grassroots conservatives often take their cues) openly sought to sabotage the negotiations. One fool after another took center stage.
Enter Michele Bachmann, former congresswoman and 2012 presidential candidate, who last week claimed that President Obama was no different from the deranged Germanwings pilot, “flying his entire nation into the rocks,” adding that the result will be “smoldering American cities.”
It is a disgusting statement — not only for its fear-mongering but its fallacious logic. She assumes Iran will shun the agreement and build a bomb (despite no evidence of such a program, according to our own intelligence); build a bomb that could somehow reach the United States; use it; and essentially commit suicide in starting a nuclear war.
Nonetheless, if such is within the realm of probability in Bachmann’s mind, should she not then support this deal, which seeks to prevent exactly that from happening?
Enter Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, another dangerous demagogue whose recklessness is matched only by his arrogance. The freshman senator has been quick to emulate the attention-seeking-through-foreign-policy-hardliner tactics used by another then-freshman senator-of-same-alma-mater, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas (recall the Chuck Hagel hearings), via his disastrous open-letter stunt from which signatories were quick to distance themselves.
Rather than being humbled by the experience, though, Cotton has doubled down and vowed to do everything he can to block the deal.
Enter Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, who compared the deal to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler. Godwin’s law is in full-throttle mode lately. One wishes World War II never happened — sure, to avoid the millions of innocent lives lost but also to avoid the low-information soapbox orator’s go-to analogy.
And, enter former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton who, not to be outdone, argues we should outright just bomb Iran.
But it is, in fact, as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright expressed, “a good deal.” Joe Cirincione, author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late, notes: “In short, this deal will verifiably prevent Iran from building a bomb for at least 15 years. No American troops will be killed, and it won't cost us a dime. What's not to like?”
VOX’s Max Fisher calls it “astonishingly good” — which is why some Iranian hardliners are angry over the terms. Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the NSA and CIA during the George W. Bush administration, is “heartened” by the deal, noting alternatives were not attractive.
Those “alternatives” would be, quite simply, war. Yes, another war in the Middle East. This time, with a nation four times the size of Iraq, richer, better organized, more sophisticated, and with a resolute, largely unified populace.
We are told we must consider military action against a Middle East nation that might have weapons of mass destruction. Does that broken record sound familiar? To quote Morrissey: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.”
But there is another unique angle here — we’re bedfellows with Iran, fighting on the same side, in the pressing battles against ISIS and al Qaida. In Iraq, we currently back the Shiites.
Who is our ally there? Iran — we even provide air support for the Iran-backed militias’ groundwork! It is Iran that is helping drive ISIS out of Iraq. (P.S. Who brought about Shiite dominance in Iraq? We did, when we removed Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-regime and created a power vacuum.) Or read about Yemen, where the Houthis (Iran-friendly Shiites) are taking over, combating al Qaida and ISIS. Whom to back in that fight — the Houthis or the Saudis?
And will it not switch around in a few years anyway? What a crapshoot, with constantly moving pieces.
If I may squash the World War II analogy: There were no moving pieces in that war, the enemy was clearly defined and we allied with those we found objectionable to fight a more pressing evil. (Are the ayatollahs our new Stalin?)
Yet in the past two years, we have heard calls from prominent Republicans for military action against: ISIS, Assad in Syria, Russia in Ukraine, al Qaida and Iran, in addition to returning to Iraq. One wishes they would decide which is the greatest threat, as it seems to change daily. Not even the Roman Empire would engage in this many military campaigns at once.
Why not give diplomacy a chance if the terms of a deal are firm and in our best interests? Reagan would negotiate, just as he did with the Soviet Union. Same with Nixon — who sat down at the table with China.
While I’m a conservative who disagrees with Obama 90 percent of the time, I am proud of the administration for its statesmanship in reaching this framework. Particularly on avoiding the horrors and costs of war, should we not, before jumping on the Naysayer Express, be cautiously optimistic, reach across party lines and say, “Well done”?
This conservative will.
Well done, Mr. President.