With all the rhetoric surrounding the complicated issue of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, critics of the nuclear deal have made some pretty out-there assertions in their attempts to draw us closer to a war with Iran.
In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on the Iran Deal, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) put forward a rather strange line of questioning directed at Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz:
Johnson: Are you familiar with the EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) commission’s 2008 report?
Moniz: No I’m not sir…
Johnson: Are you aware of the fact that Iran has practiced ship-launched EMP attacks using scud missiles?
Moniz: No I am not sir…
Johnson: An EMP attack of course would be conducted by somebody like North Korea or Iran and it could be conducted from a ship off our coast using a scud missile, and the fact that you as the Secretary of the Department of Energy are not even aware of the 15 recommendations (from the 2008 report)… I’m highly concerned.
Johnson’s questions had very little to do with the nuclear deal itself, and had everything to do with ratcheting up a culture of fear in this country that represents the Republicans’ best chance of killing the nuclear deal. The fringe of the Republican Party for decades has exaggerated the “threat” of an EMP attack in order to justify increased spending on missile defense programs that are notoriously ineffective, and now, it’s using this “threat” to add to the country’s fear of the nuclear deal.
After preliminary negotiations between the US and Iran began in the Summer of 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told a fired-up crowd “If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.” Last week however, after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on the Iran deal, Graham was singing a different tune: “We all want a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear ambitions… It’s not a choice between a bad deal and a war… The idea that you have to take this deal or have a war comes from a weak-minded President and a Secretary of State who wants a deal way too badly.” I guess we all just misunderstood Graham’s call for war in 2013 as a call for the diplomatic resolution we all want.
Some critics have taken their arguments a step further – portraying opposing the deal as a way to stop a war position. Jennifer Rubin, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, published a piece the day after the deal was announced titled, “Voting ‘no’ is the way to prevent war,” in which she argued that approving of the nuclear deal with Iran would increase the chances of war. “Preventing war begins with preserving sanctions, blocking Iran’s access to conventional weapons and missiles and reworking a deal before Iran gets a bomb.” Strange then that peace groups across the country have banded together to stop Congress from killing a deal that supposedly increases the chance of war.
Clearly, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But while hawks are arguing over the best way to attack the deal we can all rely on Republican presidential hopefuls to make their position seem even more ludicrous:
“(President Obama) will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” –Mike Huckabee
“If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” –Ted Cruz
“We don’t have our best and our brightest negotiating for us. We have a bunch of losers. We have a bunch of political hacks.” –Donald Trump
“It’s very possible – God forbid, but it’s very possible – that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military action (against Iran), on the first day in office.” –Scott Walker
“I have no doubt that Iran will use a nuclear weapon in any way possible to destroy the United States, to destroy Europe, to destroy Israel or any other country that is in their way. They don’t care about dying.” –Rick Santorum