The historic preliminary nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers — the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — made in Geneva, Switzerland over the weekend was first announced on Twitter.
Within minutes Republicans felt the need to remind people that if there’s one thing they hate more than helping the uninsured, it’s any attempt to make peace in the Middle East.
George W. Bush’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer — who after the 9/11 terrorist attacks warned “all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do” — decided people had to know his opinion on the deal before he had even heard what was in it.
Because if anyone needed to weigh in on an historic attempt at diplomacy, it’s the guys who still think the Iraq War was a good idea.
The Iran deal and our allies: You can’t spell abandonment without OBAMA.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) November 24, 2013
The neocons, or the Cheneyites, or whatever the war-lusting branch of the Republican Party can be called, were waiting to respond to any deal with their usual bombast and comic inability to process how little credibility they have with anyone who doesn’t get their news exclusively from Fox, email forwards and Internet comment sections.
The Iraq War’s number one fan Charles Krauthammer savaged the deal days before it happened, preposterously suggesting that “the regime fears a threat to its very survival.” He may be confusing the regime in Tehran with the tenuous coalition built by the post-Bush diplomacy of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who were able to convince Russia and China to participate, giving some actual economic kick to the effort.
The six powers are anxious for a permanent resolution to the nuclear question, and the United States’ failure to negotiate could destroy the unity that created the economic crisis that helped encourage the Persian state to elect a more moderate leader.
Of course, Krauthammer is the same guy who said President Obama should have armed Iran’s Green Movement — “the distinctly non-violent protest movement born out of Mir Hossien Moussavi’s failed 2009 presidential campaign.”
There are substantive complaints about this deal to be made but they require some actual perspective on how we arrived at this situation, where Iran is constantly on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon.
It is the direct result of the Bush administration’s horrendous decisions after 9/11, as Israeli journalist Ari Shavit explained in The New York Times:
Mr. Bush’s responsibility for the disaster now unfolding is twofold: He failed to target Iran a decade ago, and created a climate that made it very difficult to target Iran today. The Bush administration didn’t initiate a political-economic siege on Iran when it was weak, and Mr. Bush weakened America by exhausting its economic power and military might in a futile war. By the time American resolve was needed to fend off a genuine global threat, the necessary determination was no longer there. It had been wasted on the wrong cause.
If the goal of the Iraq War was to make Iran stronger, it was an astounding success.
Being suspicious that the Islamic Republic of Iran was empowered by the aftermath of the Iraq War makes sense.
Shavit himself is likely no fan of the deal reached in Geneva over the weekend. “President Obama was right to demand a settlement freeze in the West Bank in 2009,” he wrote earlier this year. “Now he must demand a total centrifuge freeze in Iran.”
Such a demand was a non-starter for Iran and enrichment of uranium to non-weapons-grade levels is allowed under the current deal. Shavit doesn’t point out that Obama’s demand to Netanyahu resulted in a break between the two leaders that peaked with the Israeli prime minister essentially campaigning for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Unfazed by his support for Romney and the Iraq War, Netanyahu still trusts his own judgment that this deal with Iran is a “historic mistake.” While the chairman of the Likud Party represents the pulse of the Israeli public when it comes to suspecting a deal with the Palestinians after having their peace overtures returned with violence in 1993, 2000 and the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, it seems he may be losing them on dealing with Iran. A recent poll showed 53.5 percent of his country opposed a strike on Iran if the U.S. didn’t back it.
Netanyahu, like Krauthammer, will be unsatisfied with any deal that doesn’t include the dismantling of all of Iran’s centrifuges, which is essentially an argument for war. And thanks to the disaster they supported in Iraq, almost no one — save the aforementioned people who get their news exclusively from Fox, email forwards and Internet comment sections — supports that.
Engagement is the only reasonable option.
President Obama’s outreach to Iran in 2009 helped spark the Green Movement in opposition to the bellicosity of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Again, four years later, the Iranian public chose a more moderate path with the election of Hassan Rouhani. Ayatollah Khamenei has endorsed the president’s outreach due to the economic pressure of the sanctions. Now we are finding out that President Obama was reaching out to the Iranian government even before the election of Rouhani.
This deal — and the promise of a lasting deal — is the result of a philosophy of engagement he endorsed during his first campaign for president as a contrast to Bush’s policies, which weakened America and emboldened Iran. Republicans refuse to acknowledge that it’s even possible that this process could work. For them and Netanyahu, it’s just a bad deal. Or worse, it’s a distraction!
Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) November 24, 2013
Well, one thing is for sure. The Bush administration never tried to distract anyone from anything with peace.