Senators Still Pushing Iran Sanctions Even With an Actual Deal on the Table, Reluctant Warmongers Want War

head strong, dead wrong?Negotiators from Iran and Germany, France, and
England (the E3), and later also the US, Russia, and China (the
E3+3, or P5+1) have been working on-and-off for more than seven
years on a deal about Iran’s nuclear program, which the West
insists is actually about acquiring nuclear weapons. After a deal
appeared just out of reach in a round of negotiations earlier this
month, some US senators, most notably Bob Menendez, the Democrat
chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pushed for more
sanctions, to show the Iranians the US was not as interested as
they were in reaching a deal,
a silly argument
of which Secretary of State John Kerry was
unable to disabuse
senators interested in a more hostile policy
toward Iran.

This weekend, the latest round of talks actually produced a
deal, with Iran agreeing within the first six months to stop
enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, and to downgrade or eliminate
its uranium stockpile that’s at near 20 percent enrichment. In
exchange, the Western powers agree to a limited lifting of
sanctions. As the White House explains, “the overwhelming majority
of the sanctions regime, including the key oil, banking, and
financial sanctions architecture, remains in place.” That’s not
enough for Senate hawks, Democrat and Republican, who are
starting to push
, again, for more sanctions. This time,
Menendez wants to work on sanctions legislation that somewhat
incorporates the recently reached deal—it would “provide for a six
month window to reach a final agreement before imposing new
sanctions on Iran, but will at the same time be immediately
available should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or
breach the interim agreement.” Armchair (dais?) tough guy to the

Republicans, even more eager to show voters they’re tougher than
the president on Iran. Marco Rubio,
for example
, sees an “even more urgent need for Congress to
increase sanctions until Iran completely abandons its enrichment
and reprocessing capabilities.” Establishment Republicans aren’t
just interested in showing their more headstrong than President
Obama, they may also be
trying to isolate non-interventionists in their own party
, most
notably Kentucky senator and likely future presidential candidate
Rand Paul.

It’s a bizarre move by establishment Republicans, and Democrats.
As recently as late September, 75 percent of Americans
direct negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue
(even as Obama’s poll numbers have plummeted). That number included
a full 68 percent of Republicans. The argument that direct
negotiations need sanctions to work is specious, as I made the case

earlier this month
. Attempts by senators to jump the gun on
sanctions now, as talks are moving forward, destroy the good faith
 it was so difficult for negotiators on all sides to build.
Americans, too, are weary of war, something the White House has not
shied away from
pointing out
would be the direction increased sanctions and
failed talks would push US policy toward.

this closeBill
Kristol takes issue with this, calling it a “smear” to identify
politicians pushing policies that would lead to war as “reckless
warmongers.”  He follows this, in typical embellished fashion
(the battle of Gettysburg makes an appearance), by noting Israeli
prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have the “burden of
history” hanging over him as he decides whether to launch military
action to “thwart” Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Polling last year

fewer than 20 percent of Israelis supporting a
unilateral strike. As negotiations have begun to show progress, and
Netanyahu has continued to push the argument that the US is wrong
to negotiate with Iran in the fashion it has, those numbers have
reversed. One poll earlier this month
52 percent of Israelis now supporting a solo strike now,
with 65 percent
the ongoing talks with Iran. Israeli columnist Shlomi
Eldar questions the depth of Israeli support for war with Iran.
“Israelis should be asked if they are for or against an attack in
Iran that could develop into a war with hundreds of casualties,” he

writes in Al Monitor
. “Would 65% of Israelis still vote in
favor? I doubt it.” The argument of pro-war supporters in Israel,
the US, and everywhere in between hinges on how close Iran is to
developing a nuclear weapon (Years! Months!), even though
intelligence analysts have been predicting Iran being close to the
development of a nuclear weapon
since at least the late 1990s
. Instead of the burdens of
history, self-professed reluctant warmongers should consider the
burdens of proof.

from Hit & Run

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