The battle lines are emerging in the fight over whether the Iran nuclear deal is worthwhile. What is interesting is not the arguments themselves because those opposing the agreement are carping about issues that are not part of the deal — thus, only pro-deal commentators bring up reason and facts. What is truly interesting is the roster of proponents and opponents. The break down seems to be that those who actually understand negotiations, nuclear issues and global security support it, while those who have elections to win and funds to raise oppose it.
Those who oppose the deal include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but not Admiral (res.) Ami Ayalon the former head of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency), Shabtai Shavit former head of Mossad (Israel’s spy agency), and President of Israel Ehud Barak. Mr. Netanyahu is a politician who has made a career out of fear-mongering in his country, and his great mistake is that or many elected officials — presuming that his political interests are the same as his country’s national interests. He runs for office by running against Tehran, just as surely as rightists in America tried to outdo one another in being anti-communist. The trouble is that his security people don’t agree with him.
In America, the opponents of the deal tend to be opponents of the president. Not a single Republican candidate for president has voiced support for the agreement (so much for politics ending at the water’s edge), and the Congressional GOP is in lock step with Mr. Netanyahu. New York Senator Charles Schumer, a likely successor to Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, has also come out against the deal. Mr. Schumer’s electoral warchest is will stocked with money from AIPAC, a hardline, pro-Israel group. Mr Schumer likely calculates that Mr. Obama has the votes to make the deal stick, and therefore, he can freely oppose the deal knowing that his opposition will bring in money while not actually harming the president.
Meanwhile, a letter was released this morning signed by more than 30 generals and admirals of the US Armed Forces arguing in favor of the agreement. They stated the agreement represents “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” It adds that an international military coalition against Iran “would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance.”
Over the week-end a letter to Obama from 29 of the nation’s leading scientists hit the press that called the Iran deal “technically sound, stringent and innovative” and said it would “provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.”
If those letters from such luminaries do not convince, one ought to consider the case of Gary Samore, who recently resigned as head of United Against a Nuclear Iran, a pressure group funded by Sheldon Adelson and dedicated to killing the deal. Mr. Samore, a long-time skeptic of dealing with Iran, has decided the agreement is worth supporting. The press release announcing his departure buried the news paragraphs below the news that Joe Lieberman, former Democratic Senator from Connecticut, would be taking over an undefined leadership role. Yet even the UANI admitted, “Gary has been one of the premier experts skeptical of Iran’s willingness to forgo a nuclear weapons capability, and his analysis has advanced the discourse on the challenge of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. While concerned with many provisions of the Iran deal, Gary ultimately supports the agreement and is stepping down to avoid any conflict with UANI’s work in opposition to the agreement. We are fortunate that he remains our close friend and Advisory Board member.”
A decade from now, one only hopes that the opponents get called to account for their folly.