^ opposing Iran Agreement and being “punished” for his decision : New York’s Senator Charles Schumer

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Recently we opined in support of the Iran agreement negotiated by six nations and Iran. Nothing has changed; we stand by our position. So why revisit the issue ? We do so because we do not like the ugly tactics visited upon Senators by supporters and opponents of the arrangement.

First, we’re outraged that supporters of the agreement want to “punish” Senator Charles Schumer of New York for opposing the deal. Was it not just a month ago that activists were excoriating Democratic Senators for supporting a Presidential initiative (the Trans Pacific Partnership, familiarly known as “TPP”) ? For us, a Senator’s decision on the Iran arrangement, as with the TPP, is his or her right. We may disagree with the choice, but we understand that no Senator is us, and that we need to accept that no Senator will likely take the view that we take, every time or even most times.

Every serious political person understands that if a Senator can’t be with you on this issue, there’;s always a next issue. So why make an enemy of a Senator thereby ? Disagree with the Senator, respectfully —  don’t seek to “punish” him or her — and then work to win the Senator’s support next time. That is how Senators themselves do; why should we adopt an uglier standard ?

If the President’s Iran arrangement cannot win sufficient support in the Senate to survive negation, maybe that’s how it should be. As we see it, it’s up to supporters of the arrangement to make a sufficient case to win the vote. If we cannot do that, shame on us, not on the Senators who we could not convince.

Our own view is that support for the agreement is entirely negative : every other outcome is worse. Many Senators think otherwise, nor can we say assuredly that they are wrong. If the agreement is to work, without overturning arrangements in the Middle East, all parties will have to remember why they agreed in the first place : to keep the peace and to bring Iran’s 80 million people fully into the world economy. Nothing about this purpose is guaranteed. Whatever Iran’s people may want — and we do believe that most want to embrace a Western lifestyle — that nation’s leaders have much power to prevent such outcome. Leaders of even democratic nations have much power to steer their inhabitants; the people of an oligarchic nation like Iran can want all day long and not get — and can do very little about it. We are therefore taking a gamble on events well beyond our control evolving favorably. It is fingers crossed time.

Which makes the opposition’s case actually the more realistic. Iran will get sanctions relief, and quite a bit of those billions of dollars will likely allocate to conventional weaponry for Iran’s Middle East proxies. Here’s the part of the agreement that decided Schumer’s vote. What, then, does Iran want its proxy militias to do with those billions ? I cannot tell; but my guess is that Iran wants — first of all — to keep the region’s Sunni militias far away from Iran’s borders. Second, yes, Iran wants to support Shi’ite populations in neighboring countries where they’re an oppressed minority. Can we live with that ? It depends. Third : Iran talks a lot about eliminating Israel. can it do that ? Not at all, and I suspect Iran’s leaders know that. However, by talking down Israel, Iran can embarrass the unadmitted alliance between  Israel and the major Sunni Muslim powers : Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. As long as those three powers cannot openly team up with Israel, Iran denies them the support of the region’s ,most powerful military and strongest economy.

If i am right about what Iran’s leaders want — or what they expect they can achieve without having war dropped on them — then the President’s Iran agreement will be e a boon even of full rapprochement between the West and Iran does not transpire. I think this will indeed be the result of the great negotiation; but I could well be wrong.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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