The US’s withdrawal last week from the Iran deal thanks to three billionaires means more emails to my Congressman, a Democrat who is decent on labor issues and not a terrible human overall, urging him not to support our latest preemptive war of aggression. Our last exchange, back in 2015:
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Dear Congressman Norcross:
I’m writing with regard to your mailing opposing the Iran deal on the basis that it “rewards a known sponsor of terrorism by lifting economic sanctions without providing enough assurance that Iran will be restricted from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon,” concluding that Iran “must stop funding terrorist organizations and must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon under any circumstances.”
I agree that Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. But I also think Pakistan shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. Nor should India. Nor should Israel. Nor should the US. Given that these countries do have nuclear weapons, it’s difficult for me to argue Iran should be treated differently.
Nor does state-sponsored terrorism differentiate these other countries from Iran. Pakistan’s ISI has supported militants in Kashmir as well as the Taliban. The current ruling party in India is the political wing of the paramilitary group RSS, which has been linked to Hindu terrorism. Israel funded Hamas in the 1970s to weaken support for the PLO and sabotage potential peace negotiations, and has also provided weapons, training, and/or intelligence to Somoza’s Nicaragua, Salvadoran death squads, and the Ferguson police force. As far as US state-sponsored terrorism, the CIA along with the UK removed Iran’s democratically elected prime minister when their oil cartel was threatened; supported the Shah, whose SAVAK intelligence force tortured and executed political opponents; and has provided support for MEK (People’s Mujahedin of Iran), an anti-Iranian terrorist group within Iran. Why should Iran’s support of Hezbollah and Hamas be treated differently?
I won’t tell you Iran can be trusted because I don’t know what trust means in the context of countries, who speaks for whom or to whom. I will tell you I don’t think the US, or Israel, or India, or Pakistan, or Iran has the moral authority to determine which countries should or shouldn’t obtain or possess nuclear weapons. None of them should, ideally, but since many of them do, all of them should be able to. Only when those weapons are used, not simply obtained or possessed, can we demand otherwise. But so can they.
“Diplomacy has worked and can continue to work,” you conclude. “That’s why I urge all parties back to the bargaining table to develop an agreement that ensures a nuclear-free Iran and a more stable, peaceful world.” I agree, and encourage a broader discussion with other world nations that will ensure a nuclear-free Pakistan, a nuclear-free India, a nuclear-free Israel, a nuclear-free America, and a nuclear-free world. I don’t disagree with a nuclear-free Iran, but why stop there? Where’s the bargaining table if only one side is bargaining?
Lastly, I note that the mailing I received was “prepared, published and mailed at taxpayers’ expense.” I appreciate the honesty, but not the waste of my money. Please stop.
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September 18, 2015
Dear H. Wechsler:
Thank you for reaching out to me with your concerns regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement (JCPOA) with Iran. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this issue. As your Representative, I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to you directly.
While I fully support the administration’s diplomatic goals, I am deeply skeptical that the Iranian regime shares America’s values and desire for peace. When we are dealing with nuclear weapons there are no do-overs and no second-chances. Iran must never be allowed to become a nuclear threat to the world. Not today. Not ten or fifteen years from now. Never.
Since the agreement was announced last month, I have met twice with President Obama, including a briefing inside the White House Situation Room. I was also briefed by Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and senior members of the U.S. Department of Defense. As a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, I had the opportunity to review classified documents related to the Iran nuclear deal multiple times.
I had the opportunity to visit Israel last year and again this August with fellow members of Congress, which gave me a crucial opportunity to hear what this deal means to Israeli officials, military officers, and everyday citizens. I have also met with a variety of constituent groups from South Jersey over the past few months to hear their thoughts on the issue.
In April, prior to the announcement of a deal, I wrote a letter to President Obama, voicing my concerns over the negotiations with Iran and missed deadlines. In it, I outlined my belief that an acceptable deal would be long-term, fully transparent, and provide for the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program all verified by intrusive inspections in exchange for phased sanctions relief. Unfortunately, the JCPOA falls short in each of these criteria.
The Iranian regime is a known sponsor of terrorism that has openly expressed its hatred for both the United States and Israel. Lifting economic sanctions at the outset essentially rewards past behavior and infuses billions of dollars into their economy that could be used to buy more weapons and outsource more terror. Moreover, the deal does not provide enough assurance that Iran will be restricted from developing nuclear weapons, so this windfall may ultimately help fund their nuclear ambitions.
I’ve listened, I’ve studied the issues, and after careful consideration, I must vote against this deal.
I applaud the Obama Administration and other world powers that worked diligently on a diplomatic solution. We all know no deal is perfect or iron-clad and I am not looking for perfection, but I do believe that a better deal can be achieved. Diplomacy has worked and can continue to work. We have not exhausted all possible efforts. I urge all parties to go back to the bargaining table so we can continue a dialogue that can help us achieve an accord that ensures a nuclear-free Iran and a safer world. To that end, I promise to work with Congressional leaders to foster more diplomatic action.
Thank you again for your interest. If I may be of any assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress
Well, he responded. Maybe now, in 2018, he can visit Oaklyn, or West Collingswood, or Camden, or (gasp) Tehran or Gaza, and hear what withdrawal of the deal means to everyday citizens from places other than Israel.