Global HotSpots, Rethinking America, American Bystander

Iran Deal: Watch Who Is Doing the Warning

The same people who triggered the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq now categorically reject the Iran Deal.

John McCain claims that the Iran Deal “will nuclearize the Middle East.” Credit: Christopher Halloran Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • The same people who triggered the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq now categorically reject the Iran Deal.
  • In American politics, are there no consequences for one’s previous actions?
  • John McCain was wrong then -- and he is wrong now.
  • A part of the US foreign policy establishment believes more in confrontation than accommodation.
  • Why do these prophets of doom still hold their status as credible voices on US foreign policy?

Without commenting on the ins and outs of the arcana of the Iran Nuclear Deal, it may be instructive to examine the issue of accountability that surrounds it.

In a speech at American University in Washington D.C, President Barack Obama said, “Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran Deal.”

As might be expected, those in opposition to the deal declared “no fair.” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell summed up the opposition response by demanding that the President “stop demonizing his opponents.”

Therein rests the issue of accountability. It is a mere statement of fact that the same folks who cheer-led the United States into its greatest foreign policy fiasco since the Vietnam War are the same folks who obstinately and categorically reject the Iran Deal.

This raises the question: In American politics, are there no consequences for one’s previous actions?

It starts here

The rejectionist position starts with the hawk’s “amen corner” in the U.S. Senate, led by Arizona Senator John McCain, whose approach to every foreign policy confrontation involves to one degree or another the use of force.

He claims that the Iran Deal “will nuclearize the Middle East” and that the deal is “fundamentally flawed.” He called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “delusional.”

Keep in mind that this is the same John McCain who helped lead the charge in the U.S. Senate toward the Iraq War. To paraphrase President Obama, “He was wrong then — and he is wrong now.”

But today, it doesn’t seem to matter that McCain used his credibility to contribute to the loss of over 3,000 American lives, more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and the waste of $1 trillion on a worthless foreign adventure, the outcome of which is little more than devastating turmoil throughout the Middle East.

The march of the tin soldiers

McCain’s buddy, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the 17 “major” Republican presidential candidates in 2016, takes a similar stance on the Iran Deal.

He recently asked in a plaintive tweet, “When will everyone realize Pres (sic) Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. Clearly the Iranians have figured this out.”

Graham was another cheerleader for the Iraq War who has fully avoided being held accountable for that fateful decision and goes all but unchallenged on his Iran bravado. This despite his own public admission that he “didn’t understand what would happen” in Iraq and that the invasion he firmly supported has “haunted” U.S. policy in the region.

And then, there is the Senate Majority Leader himself, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. He has taken it upon himself to chastise President Obama for taking the mainly GOP pro-war cohort to task for past mistakes.

He too was wrong then, but blithely skates around any responsibility for having contributed to the Iraqi mishap.

Among the Republican Presidential contenders on the main stage, there is near unanimity in their opposition to the Iran Deal. The suspiciously named Jeb Bush has called the deal “dangerous, deeply flawed, and short-sighted.” Really, Mr. Bush?

Aside from Jeb Bush’s response, the architects of the Iraq War who worked for his brother, including Stephen Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz and the redoubtable Dick Cheney, have uniformly come out against the Iran Deal.

Mr. Cheney claims that the deal will “accelerate” Iran’s ability to acquire the bomb. This sounds mighty familiar.

And of course the right wing commentators have piled on too, using purple language to undermine the President. Leading the media charge are the usual suspects, including the likes of Bill Kristol and Sean Hannity. What was their position in the run-up to the Iraq War? Well, they were wrong.

The same old crowd

The fact is that these are the people doing the “demonizing.” They demonize President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry at every turn, applying terms like “dangerous” and “delusional.” They claim that the President “does not know what he is doing.”

And, yes, these are the same people eager to redirect Condeleezza Rice’s breathless claim that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” from Iraq toward Iran.

The reality is that there is a significant part of the U.S. foreign policy establishment that is more comfortable with confrontation than they ever are with accommodation. They are steadfast in their refusal to accept the idea that diplomacy, time and the benefits of global legitimacy can turn a blood enemy into a major trading partner, even an ally.

These are the folks who refuse to recognize that moderate behavior has changed America’s relationship with former enemies like Vietnam, China and even Russia. And despite committing mistake after mistake – the biggest being the Iraq War – these prophets of doom are permitted to maintain their status as credible voices on U.S. foreign policy.

Let’s be more circumspect

Political leaders of all parties need to be more careful – more temperate, too — in choosing their positions on issues of every type. Only by holding politicians and policymakers fully accountable for past mistakes will they become more deliberate – and perhaps more accurate — in forming their views.

The naysayers about Iran may very well prove to be correct in their assessments. That is not the point here.

The point is that President Obama was right to recognize that many of the same voices that led us into Iraq are the self-same voices arguing against the Iran Deal. And that should count for something.

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About Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips is a New York-based international analyst with extensive financial sector experience. [United States]

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