I received the following invitation to answer a poll on the Iran Deal by email yesterday from my Congressman, Tom Reed.
Notice how Congressman Reed rigged the poll. If he were truly interested in finding out the opinion of his constituents he wouldn't be introducing the poll by claiming "This unfair agreement puts Iran closer to developing a nuclear weapon." This is not how a legitimate poll should be conducted. Reed could have taken two different approaches if he wanted to conduct a legitimate poll. He could have either simply asked his constituents their opinions on the Iran deal without priming them with one-sided scare-mongering, or he could have made a balanced presentation and linked to statements by experts who both favor and oppose the deal.
Reed didn't take either of these approaches because his goal wasn't to get a fair and unbiased assessment of what his constituency thought. No, Reed's purpose is revealed by the poll itself. This is an advocacy poll designed to persuade those who haven't done a lot of research into the topic to support Reed's already decided rejection of the deal. And when those who haven't studied this complex issue take the poll, they are unlikely to challenge Reed's claims and they are likely to follow Reed's lead and agree that the deal should be rejected. And Reed can then claim legitimacy for his rejection of the deal by saying, "See, my constituents told me to reject the deal and I am just following the will of the people I represent."
Some Background On Congressman Reed and Israel
There is one thing you should know about Congressman Reed. Reed went on a political fact-finding mission to Israel in August 2011 with roughly 30 other freshman Republican congressmen and then Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor. You may have heard about this trip because one of the Congressman, Kevin Yoder, stripped naked before plunging in for a swim in the Sea of Galilee. Congressman Reed also went swimming there, but to his credit he kept his swimming trunks on.
Why do I mention this? Why is this relevant to Congressman Reed and his views on Iran? AIPAC paid for the 2011 political junket to Israel and AIPAC also happens to be the most powerful organization lobbying against the deal. If Israel's interests and U.S. interests conflict then AIPAC's loyalty to the U.S. is open to question, especially after former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, stated that "AIPAC is Israel's national strategic asset."
While he was in Israel, Reed and his fellow Congressmen met with multi-billionaire Republican donor and major AIPAC benefactor Sheldon Adelson. Adelson once advocated that the U.S. should start nuclear negotiations with Iran by dropping a nuclear weapon on an Iranian desert and threatening to follow up with a nuke on Tehran if Iran didn't roll over and give us everything we wanted. Adelson also demonstrated that his primary allegiance was to Israel, and not the U.S., when he expressed regret in this video that he had worn an American military uniform instead of an Israeli uniform and that he hoped his son would become a sniper for the IDF. (pay close attention starting at 5:05) Though Adelson was unsuccessful in bending the American electorate to his will in 2012, Israel Hayom, the newspaper he distributes for free in Israel, was instrumental in helping Benjamin Netanyahu get re-elected recently.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not suggesting there is a quid pro quo here. I do not know if Adelson has contributed to Reed's political campaigns in the past, and I do not know if he intends to contribute to his campaigns in the future. But the fact that he is capable of donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican campaigns certainly means that Reed is more likely to hear what Adelson has to say than he is to hear what an average constituent has to say. The fact that Reed went on an AIPAC financed political junket raises suspicions that he is more likely to listen to them than to 29 elite nuclear weapons and arms control scientists (including six Nobel Prize winners) who urge acceptance of the nuclear deal.
My Response To Congressman Reed's "Poll"
I doubt Congressman Reed gives a damn about my opinion on this issue. But just for the record, I replied to his "poll" with the following letter:
Despite what you claim, the Iran nuclear agreement does NOT get Iran closer to a nuclear weapon. Without the agreement, Iran could have a nuclear weapon in 3 months should it choose to build one. With the agreement it will take Iran at least 10 or 15 years before it can have a bomb. (And even that assessment is overly pessimistic. Even after 15 years there will be monitoring provisions left in place that will likely help us detect if Iran is trying to build a bomb. If we detect that they are trying to build a bomb we can always reimpose sanctions or go to war if necessary.) Last I checked, 10 years is longer than three months.
The international sanctions regime will fall apart if the United States is seen as being responsible for killing the agreement. The Swiss have already stopped honoring the sanctions. Both the German and British Ambassador have said the sanctions regime will collapse if we reject the deal . This is from an August 10 report from the Atlantic Council:
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel made separate visits to Tehran in July. Fabius' visit came at a time when French companies such as Airbus and automakers Peugeot Citroën and Renault have been looking to pick up business in Iran.
In Washington, diplomats from the so-called E3—the United Kingdom, France, and Germany—have been working hard to try and convert congressional skeptics of the deal.
“If you kill this deal, what is the alternative?” Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with Politico. “I find that the response to that question is deeply unsatisfying, because all the alternatives, in my judgment, are worse.”
Westmacott and other European officials point to a sharp contrast between the reaction to the deal in Washington and that in other capital cities.
“In the others this is not a matter of political controversy. This is not a partisan issue,” Westmacott said.
And in Germany, “only fringe people see this as not a good deal,” Markus Knauf, a spokesman for the German Embassy in Washington, told Politico.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council May 26, Westmacott and German Ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, said international solidarity would erode if the West is seen as responsible for the nuclear deal’s failure.
“Many of the emerging countries would consider Congress blocking this deal as a trigger to at least question the present sanctions regime,” said Wittig."
Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton is one of the deal's most vociferous critics. Yet not even he is buying the idea that we can impose more sanctions and renegotiate a better deal. He wrote an op-ed piece attacking the deal in the Los Angeles Times. In it, he said:
Some critics of Obama's plan advocate scuttling the deal and increasing economic sanctions against Iran instead. They are dreaming. Iran and the United States' negotiating partners have already signed the accords and are straining at their leashes to implement them. There will be no other “better deal.” Arguments about what Obama squandered or surrendered along the way are therefore fruitless. As for sanctions, they were already too weak to prevent Iran's progress toward the bomb, and they will not be reset now. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, “These sanctions are going boys, and they ain't coming back.”
If we kill the sanctions then the only way to prevent Iran from getting nukes is going to war. And even if we go to war that will only delay Iran from getting nukes--it will not be a permanent solution. Reject the deal now, attack Iran, and you could end up with a VERY ANGRY Iran with nukes in 10 years. And that's not the worst of it. The only ones to benefit from a war between the United States and Iran is ISIS. Rejecting the deal could be the first step down the path that would allow ISIS to purchase a nuclear weapon. I explained how in my open letter to Senator Charles Schumer.
I said earlier that rejecting the deal could easily lead to ISIS having a nuclear weapon. How is that possible? A short review of history will reveal the answer.
Our Iraqi invasion in 2003 was disastrous, not only for what happened in Iraq, but for what happened in Afghanistan and for what happened with Iran. We took our eyes off the ball when we invaded Iraq. Our military was divided between two fronts and we could not give the Taliban the full attention it deserved. Thus, we provided the Taliban a life raft when we invaded Iraq and gave them an opportunity to arise anew.
And that's not all. Iraq was Iran's rival. Iraq was the counterweight keeping Iran in check. We created a political and military vacuum when we attacked Iraq--a vacuum that Iran was all too happy to fill.
Today Iran may be doing more than any other country to keep ISIS in check. ISIS will be the biggest beneficiary if we attack Iran. We will once again be taking our eyes off the ball, and ISIS will just laugh, expand, and behead people in celebration. And unlike Iran which claims it is not trying to get nuclear weapons, ISIS has indicated that it will try to buy nukes and use them against the U.S.
I have explored these ideas in more detail in my open letter to Senator Schumer and my open letter to you. I hope you will take the time to read them. If you write a personal response to my open letter to you I will be happy to post it as an update to my letter.
Finally, I leave you with a riddle. What do the following people have in common?
1. 36 retired American Admirals and Generals
2. 75 nuclear non-proliferation experts
3. 26 prominent Jewish former-leaders (including a former head of AIPAC)
4. 340 rabbis
5. A fair number of Israeli national security agents
6. 29 elite nuclear weapons and arms control scientists (including one of the designers of the hydrogen bomb, 6 Nobel Prize winners, and a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory
7. 5 former Iranian Parliament members who now have to live in exile because they are not in good stead with the current regime
8. 98 Prominent Hollywood Jews
9. The former President of United Against Nuclear Iran, Gary Samore
10. Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft
THEY ALL SUPPORT THE NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN. I include the highlights from many of their statements explaining why the support the deal on my website. I hope you will read them.
I realize many of your largest donors are against the deal. And no doubt many of your constituents are against it as well. That is not surprising given the millions of dollars that deal opponents have spent in advertising to confuse and sway the public on a complex issue. I'm not saying you should totally ignore your constituents or large donors. Go ahead and listen to them. But when it is time to vote you are obligated to do what is best for U.S. national security interests, whether your donors or your constituents like it or not. You must therefore change your stance and support the deal.