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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Julia Edwards and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Barack Obama defended the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday against a furious lobbying effort by political opponents and Israel and said abandoning the agreement would open up the prospect of war.

Invoking the Cold War peacemaking initiatives of former Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Obama said that if the U.S. Congress blocked the deal it would accelerate Tehran’s path to a bomb and severely damage America’s credibility.

Obama said that “alternatives to military actions will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports.”

He added: “Let’s not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.”

Obama’s speech was part of a new push to promote the July 14 U.S.-led deal between Iran and six world powers that was put together over 18 months of negotiations.

Opponents of the agreement in the United States, led mainly by Republicans, say it does not go far enough to ensure that Iran will never be able to develop a nuclear weapon and argue that lifting sanctions on Iran will only empower it to do so.

Some of Democrat Obama’s fiercest critics in Congress quickly dismissed the president’s argument.

“President Obama’s deal with Iran empowers one of our chief antagonists and the world’s most radical Islamist regime with a pathway to the bomb, missiles to deliver it, money to pay for it, and the means to acquire a new military arsenal,” Senator John McCain, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and fellow committee member Lindsay Graham said in a statement.

“Instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, this agreement would lock it in place.”

U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers left a meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s chief meant to allay concerns about the deal more worried than when they went in.

“It was not a reassuring meeting,” Corker told reporters after the meeting in Congress with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano on Wednesday. The IAEA would undertake much of the monitoring and verification work.


Obama spoke at American University in Washington, where Kennedy made the case in 1963 for a nuclear weapons test ban treaty with Soviet Union.

He quoted Reagan as saying: “Peace is not the absence of conflict” but the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means and drew on Kennedy’s words that conflict was not inevitable, accommodation was possible.

“The agreement now reached between the international community and the Islamic Republic of Iran builds on this tradition of strong, principled diplomacy,” he said.

The agreement prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without resorting to war, he said.

“If Congress kills this deal we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear program or the sanctions we have painstakingly built up. We will have lost something more precious, America’s credibility, as a leader of diplomacy, America’s credibility as the anchor of the international system.”

Obama urged the audience to contact members of Congress and urge them to support the deal.

Obama called the agreement, involving the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and Iran following unprecedented international sanctions was “the strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated.”

He acknowledged his administration’s disagreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Iran deal, which he considers in the best interest of both countries.

Presenting himself as having done more than any other president to strengthen Israel’s security, he said the United States would continue to help Israel keep its military edge.

“As president of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally,” he said.

A law Obama signed in May gives the Republican-led Congress until Sept. 17 to approve or disapprove of the nuclear deal. A disapproval resolution could cripple the agreement by eliminating Obama’s ability to temporarily waive most U.S. sanctions. Obama has promised to veto such a resolution by Congress.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards, Doina Chiacu, Patricia Zengerle, Yehageh Torbati and Idrees Ali; Editing by David Storey and Grant McCool)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on a nuclear deal with Iran at American University in Washington August 5, 2015. Obama told U.S. Jewish leaders it was likely rockets would fall on Tel Aviv if the nuclear deal was blocked and military action ensued, one of them said on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.

Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.

Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.