Michael Eisenscher / US Labor Against the War & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Daniel Larison / The American Conservative – 2015-07-19 21:00:13
Special to Environmentalists Against War
The Alternative to Diplomacy Is War
Michael Eisenscher / US Labor Against the War
(July 18, 2015) — Some who oppose the agreement with Iran argue that John Kerry should go back to the bargaining table to get a better deal. This view is either woefully ignorant of reality or is simply a cover for those for whom no deal will ever be good enough.
If Congress rejects the agreement with Iran, the sanctions regime will quickly unravel. Russia, China and others will abandon sanctions.
The Iranians, who already believe the agreement violates their national sovereignty and who as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are entitled to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, will refuse to return to negotiations. Iran will then be free to pursue any nuclear program it wants without any inspections. That will pave the road to war.
The agreement virtually forecloses Iran developing a nuclear weapon for at least 10 to 15 years. It subjects Iran to unprecedented inspections and oversight to which no other country in the world must submit.
Israel, which vehemently opposes the agreement, has as many as 200 undeclared nuclear warheads. It has never signed the NPT. Its facilities have never been inspected.
The answer is a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. But the country that provides the strongest incentive for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon – that has militarily attacked Iran in the past and threatens to do so again – won’t even acknowledge that is possesses nuclear arms, won’t submit to inspections and won’t sign the treaty to eliminate them. Israel is the principal barrier to a nuclear-free Middle East.
Another way to remove Iran’s incentive to pursue a nuclear weapon is to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the US were to invest the same level of energy and commitment to that objective as it has to secure the Iran agreement, it would change the course of many Mideast conflicts. But to do so, it must become an honest broker rather than Israel’s enabler and apologist.
A decade invested in determined diplomacy supported by massive economic development and humanitarian aid could change the dynamic that drives much of the conflict in the region. In the course of which, the US-Iranian relationship would also be transformed. Who would have imagined ten years ago that the leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party would be welcomed to the White House? Patient diplomacy can achieve results that no amount of war can.
The alternative to diplomacy with Iran is a path that leads to war. We’ve had 14 years of that. It has not worked. We’ve spent trillions, killed hundreds of thousands and are now less secure and in greater debt. Let’s give peace a chance. Tell members of Congress to support the diplomatic road by approving the agreement with Iran.
Michael Eisenscher is the National Coordinator for US Labor Against the War
AIPAC Forms New Anti-Iran Deal Lobbying Group
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 17, 2015) — Israel Lobby group AIPAC has announced the creation of a new group to lobby against the Iran nuclear deal. Dubbed “Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran,” which intends to launch a $20 million media campaign to convince the American public that the deal is “dangerous.”
AIPAC officials say that the group is “dedicated to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability,” and the campaign will be using targeted advertisement in somewhere from 30 to 40 states.
Though they insist the lobbying will target both parties, it seems to be aimed primarily at Democrat districts, with AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton saying, “Democrats should be especially concerned” about the deal because it “increases the chances of war.”
The Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran advisory committee is stacked with hawkish former Democrat officials, including former Sens. Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman, reflecting that the group’s primary goal is to try to get enough Democrats opposed to the deal to get a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress. This is believed to be extremely unlikely, but the lobby will continue to throw money at the effort.
The Nuclear Deal with Iran
Daniel Larison / The American Conservative
(July 14, 2015) — The P5+1 and Iran finally reached  an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program this week:
Iran reached a landmark nuclear agreement with the US and five other world powers, a long-sought foreign policy goal of President Barack Obama that sets the White House on course for months of political strife with dissenters in Congress and in allied Middle Eastern nations.
A final, comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran is a real success for the US and the other members of the P5+1. Even if a deal had not been reached, the negotiations over the last two years had demonstrated the potential of engaging Iran directly in diplomacy. Now that these negotiations have definitely borne fruit, there may be a chance for continued engagement with Iran on other issues.
There is no guarantee of that, and there is enormous opposition to making the effort, but it would be worth attempting. While there has been a fair amount of speculation about a coming detente with Iran, that will depend on how current and future governments in Washington and Tehran decide to use the opening that this deal provides.
The next and most important step will be implementing the agreement on both sides, and there will be constant pressure from hard-liners to find excuses to scrap the agreement in the months and years to come. Concluding the deal doesn’t mean that the efforts to sabotage and blow it up will end.
On the contrary, we can expect redoubled effort from Iran hawks that have so far been unable to block a deal. Having failed to derail the deal, hard-liners will still be eager to take advantage of any weaknesses in the deal to try to wreck it.
The WSJ report summarizes the contents of the deal:
At the heart of the agreement between Iran and the six powers — the US, UK, Russia, China, Germany and France — is Tehran’s acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear activities for 10 years. These are supposed to ensure that the country remains a minimum of 12 months away from amassing enough nuclear fuel for a bomb. After the 10-year period, those constraints will ease in the subsequent five years.
This will limit Iran’s nuclear program more effectively than a decade of sanctions and coercive methods ever did, and it makes Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon much less likely than any other available course of action.
The alternatives that Iran hawks have been proposing for the last two yearsâ€“ending negotiations, more sanctions, threatening or taking military actionâ€“would have left Iran’s program under fewer constraints and would have pushed Iran towards building nuclear weapons. It is important to remember that the loudest, shrillest opponents of this deal would have made a nuclear-armed Iran more likely if they had their way.
So when the hard-liners start their inevitable cries of “appeasement” and “surrender” start, keep in mind that their “solution” would have failed and backfired as usual. If the deal is implemented fully, this should take the nuclear issue with Iran off the agenda for at least the next decade and possibly much longer than that.
It is too early to know how the deal will affect internal conditions in Iran, but it is probable that Rouhani’s success in these talks will give him more room to push for some measure of economic and social reform.
Sanctions relief will take some of the economic pressure off of the Iranian people, and especially the Iranian middle class, and that will gradually aid the cause of Iranian opposition groups that the sanctions have been helping to strangle.
There aren’t likely to be any dramatic changes in Iran’s internal politics, but reducing sanctions can only help loosen the grip of the regime and the hard-liners that they have strengthened in the past.
This is a significant achievement by the Obama administration, and Obama and Kerry deserve credit for persevering and seeing the negotiations through to this point. It would have been extremely easy for Obama to buckle under domestic political criticism, and in this instance he didn’t end up yielding to what his hawkish detractors demanded.
When it comes to arms control and nonproliferation, Obama has often been much more willing to take risks than on many other issues, and he has done so again here. A president less committed to nonproliferation probably would not have supported these talks for this long, and an administration that was less interested in diplomatic engagement would never have started them in the first place.
The future success of the deal will depend on support and compliance from the next administration, so it is not guaranteed that the US will keep up its end of the bargain after 2017. When many of our Republican presidential candidates vow to scrap the deal as soon as they are in office, we should take them at their word.
Scrapping the deal would be costly for the US and would scandalize our major allies that have worked with our government to conclude the agreement. We can hope that even a very hawkish president would come to recognize the folly of undoing a deal with Iran in the future, but that isn’t something anyone should count on.
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