Don't Let AIPAC Kill Obama's Iran Agreement

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Credit: Creative Commons

On Sunday, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany (known as the P5+1) reached full agreement with Iran on the next steps in the process of freezing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
This is great news.
Nonetheless, Democrats in Congress are moving to terminate the agreement by imposing new sanctions on Iran despite our government’s signed promise to lift sanctions. They are joining the Republicans who, as on health care, will sabotage anything the President supports.
This is insane. Even more insane is the reason why more than a majority of senators (close to the two-thirds necessary to override the President’s promised veto) are cosponsoring new sanctions.
The answer is the lobby. AIPAC wrote the bill. It is its number one priority and it is telling Members of Congress that support for sanctions will determine whether AIPAC supporters will support their campaigns.
This everyone knows. In fact, not a single Member of Congress endorsing sanctions even pretends that they are not acting in compliance with Binyamin Netanyahu’s interests. Their statements are all about Israel, citing Netanyahu and his Holocaust rhetoric as the rationale for killing the deal.
Not a single US interest group not involved with Israel and/or AIPAC opposes the agreement (no, the Saudis do not constitute a domestic interest group).
No, it’s all about AIPAC and it’s all about the money.
And this is a terrible thing.
Imagine if the lobby succeeds in killing this deal by overriding a presidential veto. Could anyone argue that such a thing would not represent the hijacking of our foreign policy by a few thousand AIPAC-affiliated campaign donors? And if we ended up in a war, could anyone argue that it wouldn’t be the lobby’s war?
Come on, this is serious stuff.
Foreign policy in the United States is primarily the province of the president with the approval of Congress. In other words, Congress does and should have a say. But that is not what we will be seeing if Congress overrides the president on this agreement. That is because Congress will be acting not out of concern for the national interest but for something else: campaign contributions associated with the interests of a foreign government. (To be fair, Congress is bought on pretty much every issue, but shouldn’t issues relating to nuclear proliferation and war be different?)
This would be unprecedented.
As an American Jew, and a pro-Israel Jew at that, I say: not in our name.
The lobby may be able to hijack Congress but it must not hijack the good name of millions of American Jews who are overwhelmingly progressive, who are in the peace (not the neocon) camp, and would never put any other country’s interests over those of our own country, not to mention our own kids.
Here is what you need to do:
Read Greg Sargent in today’s Washington Post on the Democrats and this issue. (The difference between the two parties on this is that Republicans support war out of misguided principle. Democrats, dovish on everything not related to Israel, do it for the donors.
Read Peter Beinart on the left’s failure on the issue. With the exception of Beinart and Andrew Sullivan, none of the major bloggers even talk about this issue, so intimidated are they by the lobby’s power.
And note the names of the Senators on this list. Republicans are invariably hopeless. But call the Democrats and tell them what you think. If they say they oppose the AIPAC bill, tell them to speak out in support of the agreement. If even Elizabeth Warren is intimidated, we have work to do.
For the US, for Israel, Iran and the world, the lobby must not be allowed to kill this agreement.