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Things I do not understand: Chuck Schumer/Iran edition

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Author: Charley on the MTA

The Washington Post suggests that “Chuck Schumer’s opposition to Iran deal may bring other Democrats with him”. Well, let’s see about that. It may well be that Schumer is placating local constituencies while not trying to pull Democrats with him: “Schumer indicated that he would not actively encourage others to vote against the Iran deal.” That’s what that means: I’ll let it pass, but I can’t do this one.

Certainly our Senators Warren and Markey should consider this very carefully in deciding whom to support for party leader in the Senate. Schumer’s support of Wall Street interests and his freelancing on this critical issue should make them look for better alternatives.

Apart from such rather typical politicking, I truly do not understand the opposition to the Iran deal, except as a continuation of zero-sum partisan politics. The GOP’s opposition is predictable, of a piece with health care hysteria, cap-and-trade hysteria, Benghazi, etc.

Read Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with John Kerry, even in spite of Goldberg’s outrageous characterizations of Kerry’s remarks (“he has encouraged scapegoating of the Jewish state” — ridiculous). And read Max Fisher’s breakdown of the arguments against the deal:

Delaying Iran’s nuclear program for 10 years via diplomacy is bad, whereas delaying it for two years via war is good. What does that tell you?

For Israel, supporters of Israel, you seem to have these choices:

  1. No deal, in which Iran continues on its path to get nukes in short order (three months?) but it remains economically paralyzed and isolated;
  2. This deal, which delays Iran for at least 10 years, apparently; and according to Kerry, much longer than that;
  3. War! which sets Iran back a couple of years, but with immense cost of human lives, money, and another generation of hostility. Doesn’t exactly solve any of your problems, and creates countless new ones.

Opponents of the deal objectively prefer 1. or 3.; that is, their position naturally leads to those consequences:

  • #1: With a deal, Iran may well get more money with which to fund international terror and mischief, Hezbollah and Assad, not to mention the egregious Shiite militias in Iraq, which we’re supposed to be partnering with to fight ISIS. Without a deal, Iran remains economically crippled, but has nukes.  But so does Israel, and so do we, so can it actually use them? So this is actually a plausible calculation. On the other hand, Nuclear Iran has its obvious dangers, particularly if you don’t believe in a “rational actor” Ayatollah.
  • #3 is also plausible because the prospect of war gives those in particular ideological corners the opportunity to be Big Strong Men. War is its own justification, for many; it’s just intrinsically awesome and attractive as a Thing To Do. This has currency especially in American right-wing politics. We can see such talk for what it is, and put into practice, the consequences are rather fresh in the minds of most Americans.If you thought that war would actually do a better job of preventing Iran from getting a bomb, this view would at least have some merit. Is this case plausible? Or does a deal with an inspection regime — and huge economic incentives to comply — do a better job?

There is no question that the Iran deal involves some very tough calculations, particularly as regards Iran’s influence regionally. But remember that as Iran opens up economically and culturally, it also becomes subject to outside influences, including ours, and the need to maintain the web of international trade.

It’s not a slam dunk, but I cannot see how those most vocally opposed to the deal– particularly those interested in Israel’s safety — are better off without a deal.

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