Why Congress Must Support the Nuclear Agreement With Iran

22 Aug

 

[Prefatory Note: this post republishes an article appearing in the Huffinton Post on Aug. 21, 2015. It is jointly written with Akbar Ganji, an important human rights defender who spent several years for his efforts in an Iranian jail. Ganji is a leading commentator on Iranian affairs and world issues, and recipient of an International Press Association World Press Hero award. Our articles stresses the critical importance of obtaining American approval of the nuclear agreement.] 

 

 

Why Congress Must Support the Nuclear Agreement With Iran

 

Akbar Ganji & Richard Falk

 

What should have been an occasion of diplomatic rejoicing has turned into an ugly partisan struggle over whether or not the international agreement negotiated with Iran will or will not be approved by the United States Government. The extremely troublesome obstruction to the agreement is centered in the U.S. Congress where anti-Obama Republicans are teaming up with pro-Netanyahu Democrats to create uncertainty as to whether the arrangments negotiated with such persistence by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council together with Germany will be undermined by this unprecedented leverage being exerted by Israel on the internal governmental processes in America. It should be appreciated that the agreement has been unanimously endorsed by a positive vote of all 15 members of the Security Council, a rarity in UN politics for an issue of this geopolitical magnitude.

 

In the end this debate raises some fundamental questions about American domestic politics along with its leadership in the Middle East and indeed, the credibility of its global role. Here is an agreement, restricting Iran’s freedom of action with regard to its nuclear program beyond that imposed on any other country ever, clearly serving the national interest of the United States in Middle Eastern stability, an outcome of dedicated efforts by the President and Secretary of State to find a way to avoid both another war in the region and a dangerous nuclear arms race.

 

That such a diplomatic breakthrough is being so furiously opposed posts a warning that irrationality is mounting a serious challenge to common sense and self-interest. As Obama has noted on several occasions he knows of no other leader that interferes so directly in the national policy debates of a foreign country than deos Netanyahu( 1 and 2 ) . Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond observed: “Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off and I don’t believe that’s in the interests of the region. I don’t believe it’s in our interest.”

 

Israel has used all the influence at its disposal to block approval, mobilizing rich ultra-Zionist donors in the U.S. to create a war chest of $20 milion and relying on AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) to twist enough legislative arms to override an expected Obama veto if the agreement is turned down by a majority in the two houses of Congress. This drive has been led by the ever belligerent Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but it is disturbing to realize that all the leading political parties in Israel are united in their opposition to the agreement. This alone tells us the degree to which political attitudes in Israel are out of sinc with those prevailing in the rest of the Middle East, and indeed the world.

 

As such, there is a moment of truth for the relationship between the United States and Israel. A rejection of the agreement will raise serious questions about the capacity of this country to pursue a foreign policy that reflects its best interests and dominant values. It will also raise doubts about whether it is capable of constructive leadership in the Middle East and the world. If the agreement is approved, as we firmly believe it should be, it will not only confirm the autonomy of national institutions in the United States but show that the alliance relationship with Israel can withstand disagreement when vital issues are at stake.

 

The Iran Problem

 

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a religious dictatorship that systematically violates the rights of its citizens, and has demonstrated enmity toward the United States since the 1979 Revolution. Despite this, compared with other Islamic countries of the Middle East and North Africa, it is far better situated to realize democracy and respect human rights.

 

Iran is a stable nation that has not invaded another country for nearly 300 years. Its population has nearly more than doubled since the 1979 Revolution, but its number of university students has increased by a factor of 27, with more than 60 percent of them female. The most important international writings of Western liberal, feminist, and secular thinkers have been translated into Farsi, including the work of some of the most important Jewish thinkers. Iran has a large middle class, and is the only country in the region, aside from Turkey, that has the prerequisites for a transition to democracy despite problematic features of the relations between state and society.

 

For over 22 years Netanyahu has been “making” nuclear bombs for Iran, continuously claiming that Iran is only a short time away from having the bomb. The predictions have turned out to be false and inflammatory, but his desire and appetite for war with Iran seems only to have increased over time. The nuclear agreement with Iran, which has imposed severe restrictions on its peaceful nuclear program despite going well beyond what the 1968 Nonproliferation Treaty requires, has agitated Netanyahu and the political mainstream in Israel. There are several explanations of this irrational Israeli response to an agreement that help all in the region. Netanyahu has engaged in fear-mongering that has mobilized Israeli society. Beyond this, a focus on Iran’s nuclear program draws attention away from other difficult problems confronting Israel,, including the Palestinian problem and its own covertly acquired arsenal of nuclear weapons.

 

National interests of the United States or Netanyahu’s political interests?

 

As President Obama has repeatedly said, the only alternative to the nuclear agreement with Iran is war. But, this would be a war that Israel wants the United States to fight on its behalf. Military attacks on Iran will almost certainly produce an extremely strong reaction by Iran and other nations in that region, a process likely to set the entire Middle East on fire. Iran with its population of 78 million will likely degenerate into another Iraq and Syria, and extremists from throughout the world will stream across its borders to join the struggle. How can risking such an outcome possibly be in the interests of the United States?

 

Approving the nuclear agreement with Iran is by far the least costly solution to whatever problems can be associated with Iran’s nuclear program, and approval will also promote peace and stability in the Middle East. With this background in mind Congress should clearly approve the agreement, and it is also why the citizenry of the United States should welcome it. After approval,, the United States would find itself in an excellent position, perhaps in coopeation with other governments to help address other problems on the Middle East agenda by proposing an ambitious diplomatic package with the following essential elements:

 

Guaranteeing present national borders through resolutions backed by the United Nations Security Council

 

Elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the region through the establishment of a nuclear free zone in the whole of the Middle East

 

Resolving the Palestinian problem encouraging two-state diplomacy premised on the right of the Palestinian people to form their own independent, viable and contiguous state on all territories occupied since 1967, and if diplomacy fails, then more coercive measures should be imposed by action of the United Nations

 

A collective security and mutual non-aggression treaty signed by all the Middle Eastern nations

Investment in the economic and political development of the region combined with the regulation of arms sales

Moving forward from the agreement it is important to appreciate that peace is a common value envisioned and shared by Jews, Muslims, and Christians:

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”(Matthew 5:9).

“Making peace is the best” (an-Nissa 128) and “O, you who believe! Fulfill the promises and covenants made [by you]” (al-Maidah 1).

 

 

For too long these shared values, deeply embedded in the worldviews of these civilizational perspectives, have been ignored, even repudiated. The nuclear agreement with Iran creates the opportunity to move the flow of history in better directions. Such an opportunity must not be lost. If lost, the United States and Israel would be morally, politically, and legally responsible for whatever harm befalls the region and the world.

7 Responses to “Why Congress Must Support the Nuclear Agreement With Iran”

  1. Gene Schulman August 22, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Who can take issue with this argument, except to say that regime change is the still the name of the game. The nuclear agreement is a sideshow, and a possible justification for what follows.

  2. Jerry "Peacemaker" August 22, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    Now more important than ever humanity must come to understand the truth of precisely what has been generating tension, violence and war in the Middle East for decades. Disagreement on how profits from the sale of the region’s massive natural resources become distributed.

  3. rehmat1 August 22, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Dr. Falk – I’m surprised you didn’t know the record show that US Congress represents more Israeli interests and least American interests. Voting for the deal would leave them without money and support from the mainstream media – like happened to Cynthia McKinney and many others.

    Now if Iran is a “religious dictatorship” – what you two would call Israel; a “Jewish dictatorship”. In fact, it’s even worse than the brutal Saudi ‘royals’.

    Saudi Arabia is no democracy or free press or haven for women – but it couldn’t be worse than Israel. The Zionist entity is not a democracy by any standard. Israeli government and army has the power to control the local and pro-Israel US press under gag order. Jewish women in Israel are discriminated not at one place but eight places.

    Saudi Arabia has always been a ‘Cash Cow’ for the US, UK and France. It has pumped more than $300 billion into Western arms industry. On the contrary, Israel has sucked over $3 trillion from US taxpayers. The ‘US needs Saudi oil’ claim doesn’t stand on two-legs as the US imports less than 6% of its oil needs from Saudi Arabia. Canada has become the top exporter of oil to the US followed by Mexico and Venezuela.

    http://rehmat1.com/2015/08/21/the-real-troublemaker-in-the-middle-east/

  4. Carlos August 22, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

    Once again Richard a succinct perceptive piece. Given the vast money and arms given to
    Israel over the decades, one can only say, with hindsight, America you have lost your once noble way. I fear Netanyahu and his undeclared nuclear arsenal.

  5. Beau Oolayforos August 23, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    Under these circumstances, it seemed appropriate to revisit Fulbright’s “Arrogance of Power”, and to realize how much more relevant, and frightening, his concerns are now than they were half a century ago.

  6. Beau Oolayforos August 31, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    It sounds ominous when our Peace Laureate repeatedly warns that “the only alternative to this agreement is war.” It is unlike the standard ultimatum, which would be to Iran in this case, “If you do not accept this…”. It sounds more like “If We do not accept this…”, because Iran already has. The underlying hubris I find flabbergasting – it is beyond Catch-22.

  7. 0jr September 6, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    why congress must not support isrealhelli nukes
    Members in US politics who hold dual US/Israeli citizenship
    http://www.thelibertybeacon.com/2015/09/05/members-in-us-politics-who-hold-dual-usisraeli-citizenship/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: