A small part of the Middle East may soon be off limits to US bombing and killing, so naturally Republicans and their neocon allies are furious.
The tentative Iran deal announced on 3 April, in which Western leaders and the Islamic republic agreed on strict limits to Iran’s nuclear program, was hailed by many as a breakthrough, given that it could avert yet another US-led war in the Middle East. So almost immediately, it was denounced by key conservative members of Congress, neocons, and Republican presidential candidates, whose unquenched thirst for blood almost always outweighs their supposed commitment to peace.
Senator Mark Kirk kicked things off by quickly proving Godwin’s Law, and absurdly declared that “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler”. (“Appeasement” and “Chamberlain” are two of conservatives’ favorite buzzwords whenever a diplomatic breakthroughs by Democratic presidents may be afoot, even if they don’t actually know what they mean.)
Israeli Prime Minister, with his usual bombast, said: “This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the state of Israel”. He added: “In a few years … the deal would remove restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.”
It’s hard to take Netanyahu’s hyperbolic statements seriously when he has basically been saying the same thing - that Iran is this close to a nuclear bomb - for over twenty-three years. Even his own intelligence services don’t agree with him.
Often forgotten in the entire debate is the fact that all 16 US intelligence agencieshave concluded that Iran actually abandoned its active nuclear weapons program in 2003. The US has known this since at least 2007, when a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which undercut George W Bush’s burgeoning Iran war talk, was leaked to the media. In 2010 and 2012 two other NIEs were issued by the US government that concluded, as the LA Times put it: “US intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb”.
That hasn’t stopped senators like Democrat Robert Menendez from repeatedly referring to “Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program”. And former UN ambassador and cartoonish war fanatic, John Bolton, is running a much-mocked Twitter advertising campaign, condemning the deal before anyone had a chance to read it. Of course, his stance has always been to bomb Iran and figure out the rest later, so it would be no surprise if he actually pre-wrote his tweets before the details of the deal were even announced. (Bolton is so war hungry that he was recently caught mixing up the countries he wants to bomb next.)
Republican de facto presidential candidates tried to out-do each other for who could condemn the deal in more gratuitous terms, despite probably not having the first clue about what it entails. (This is no surprise given that in 2008 all the Republican nominees were in agreement that the US should potentially drop nuclear bombs to stop Iran’s non-existent nuclear bomb program. So the bar was pretty high.) Even Jeb “I’m my own man” Bush denounced the framework, though I guess that probably shouldn’t be a surprise since his advisors are full of George W. Bush-era war architects.