Members of Congress are fleeing Washington’s steam bath for their August recess, making this a key time for constituents to raise their voices on crucial issues.
Right now, the biggest thing lawmakers must decide is whether they’ll join the 54 percent of voters who support diplomacy over war, or if they’d rather to kill the Iran nuclear deal.
The pact is a boon to regional security in the Middle East. The leader of Israel, the only state in the Middle East that does have a nuclear arsenal — one estimated to total 300 or even more nuclear weapons — must cease his endless scare-mongering over Iran’s supposed future nuclear threat.
As military and intelligence experts from around the world have agreed, this diplomatic breakthrough subjects Iran to unprecedented inspections of its nuclear and military facilities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the so-called pro-Israel lobby in this country are going all-out to blow up the Iran deal — but that’s a big political miscalculation. How does being seen as scuttling the deal serve Israel’s interests? As Secretary of State John Kerry said, if the deal collapses, “Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed.”
Add the recent announcement of further settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as Tel Aviv expectation of “compensation” for the Iran deal and a vast increase in its multi-billion dollar U.S. military aid, and we have to conclude that the Israeli government has no vision of a future based on anything other than constant aggression and occupation, instability and fear.
How is that a sustainable path for future generations of Israelis?
The deal negotiated with Iran by the U.S. and other permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany and the European Union, is very strong. It cuts off all paths for Iran to build a nuclear weapon (if indeed Tehran ever decided it wanted to, a decision all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies agree it has not made).
This is a landmark non-proliferation agreement with intrusive inspections and verification measures, which is why there is consensus support from nuclear security experts and the leaders of six of the most powerful countries in the world, including key U.S. allies.
Only after UN inspectors certify compliance will Iran gradually get much-needed relief from crushing international economic sanctions, which have devastated life for ordinary Iranians.
Viewed through a broader lens, the agreement could open a new U.S.-Iran relationship. Economic, cultural, and travel opportunities could flourish between our peoples. Security cooperation could begin between Washington and Tehran, reflecting our shared interests in bringing urgently needed peace and stabilization in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and beyond.
Further, the deal marks a step towards a desperately needed weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East, a goal endorsed by the United States and the UN Security Council in 1991 but which Israel continues to oppose.
The agreement makes all this and more possible. But the deal is in danger.
If Republicans — nearly all in lock-step opposition while offering no realistic alternative — and “pro-Israel” Democrats vote to kill it, all bets are off. The only thing we can be sure of if the deal fails is increased tensions, and a likely ratcheting up of the conventional and unconventional arms races in the Middle East. Another war in the war-devastated area would be disastrous for Americans, Iranians, and all the peoples of the region.
Supporters of diplomacy over war must make our voices heard over the din of nay-saying interest groups with deep pockets. The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC recently set aside $20 million to saturate newspapers and the airwaves with calls to kill the deal.
Members of Congress are heading home for their summer break. We all need to show up at their town hall meetings and visit, call, and email their district offices to demand they support diplomacy over war.
Phyllis Bennis is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow and Kevin Martin is the Executive Director of Peace Action. Distributed by OtherWords.org.