The following article by Democratic strategist Robert Creamer, author of Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, is cross-posted from HuffPo:
In 2002, the so-called Neo-Cons like Dick Cheney stampeded many in Congress to vote to authorize the War in Iraq. It was a vote most of them will regret for the rest of their lives.
We are fast approaching another “Iraq War Moment.” A vote to prevent President Obama from implementing the just-announced agreement that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will result in one of only two outcomes: a nuclear Iran, or another major U.S. war in the Middle East.
After months and months of negotiation, the United States, five other world powers and Iran have signed an agreement that will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — in exchange for the elimination of international financial sanctions.
That deal was possible because of monumental diplomatic effort. It began when the Obama Administration forged a coalition of the world’s major powers to invoke the sanctions in the first place. Then the United States persuaded those same powers to stick together until they got deal that actually cuts off all of the major pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb. Altogether an extraordinary achievement.
And remember, the agreement was achieved because the Administration successfully maintained a truly international sanctions regime that included Russia and China as well as the major European powers.
If the United States Congress derails a deal that is considered fair by the other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, those international sanctions will collapse — the moderate, pro-western forces in Iran will be discredited in Iran — the hardliners in Iran will be empowered — and Iran will be free to develop a nuclear weapon. That is exactly the opposite of what opponents of the deal say they want as an outcome.
In the event that the U.S. Congress rejects the internationally negotiated agreement, we will not be able to just “toughen our sanctions” and force the Iranians to bend to our will. International sanctions were the vehicle that has brought Iran to the negotiating table. The Iranians faced sanctions from all of the world’s major economies.
If the Congress stops the deal, the United States will be blamed for its failure – not Iran — and those international sanctions will simply disappear. And if international sanctions collapse, so will our leverage with Iran.
If, on the other hand, Iran signs the deal and then cheats – it will be Iran that wears the jacket — and international action against Iran will once again be possible in order to enforce the deal’s terms.
There is, of course, one other alternative: another Middle East War. The United States could try to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capacity with a military attack. But as many military experts have attested, airstrikes will not be enough.
If the United States takes unilateral military action against Iran, it will unify the country behind the hardliners in Iranian politics. What would be necessary would be a full-blown invasion – regime change.
And that is exactly what many of the leading opponents of the nuclear deal really want.
The same gang – with the same world view that bought us the War in Iraq – are back. They were wrong last time – and they are just as wrong this time. They were wrong about everything concerning Iraq and the Middle East – from their claim that Saddam had nuclear weapons – to their argument that the war would last months and we would be greeted as “liberators.” They do not have an ounce of credibility. Why would anyone listen to them?
By the way, that includes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who actually testified before Congress at the time, pressing the U.S. to invade Iraq.
The line that former President Bush famously muffed pertains: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Acting under the misguided leadership of the Neo-Con Republicans in 2003, the United States started a war that kicked over the sectarian hornet’s nest that created a fertile field for the Islamic State, killed hundreds of thousands, wounded millions, displaced millions of refugees, and cost America trillions of dollars. And it is still not really over.
Just picture a war with Iran.
Iraq was a fragile, religiously-divided country of 33.4 million where the majority Shiite population had been oppressed by minority Sunni’s for years.
Iran is a much more homogeneous country — and more than twice the size of Iraq – 77.4 million.
In 2003 Saddam’s Iraq had an Army of 375,000 troops. Today Iran has an army of 545,000 well-trained troops and an active reserve of 1,800,000.
No doubt the American military could “defeat” the Iranian army in the short-term military sense. But it could no more subdue Iran militarily than it could prevent an insurrection in Iraq. And the cost in lives and treasure would be enormous.
If the United States took unilateral military action against Iran after having rejected a nuclear deal that was negotiated by the leading elements of the entire international community, the U.S. would be completely isolated internationally. And it would throw gasoline on the fire in the already smoldering Middle East.
Want a sure way to create a whole new generation of young Islamic terrorists, intent on attacking the United States? Start another unilateral war against a major Muslim nation. Brilliant.
And most importantly – we don’t have to.
By organizing massive international financial sanctions and then holding a coalition together to negotiate a tough, enforceable agreement, the Obama Administration has prevented Iran from becoming a nuclear power and avoided a War.
Of course there are those who say we shouldn’t do any agreement with Iran until it stops being what they consider to be a “bad actor” in the region. With all due respect, that is simply a stupid position.
Wouldn’t you rather have a “bad actor” in the region without nuclear weapons than a “bad actor” with nuclear weapons?
We are not doing the Iranians a favor by signing a deal that prevents them from getting nuclear weapons and then eliminates economic sanctions that were put in place to achieve precisely that goal.
It is in our interest to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon without the necessity of a war. The deal that the international community has negotiated with Iran achieves the goal we sought out to achieve with the sanctions in the first place.
According to the terms of the “Corker bill” passed by Congress several months ago, sometime in the next sixty days Members of Congress will be faced with two of the most critical votes of their careers. First they will be asked whether or not to prevent the President from waiving the economic sanctions on Iran and therefore implementing the terms of the agreement negotiated in Vienna.
If Republicans and some Democrats muster a majority of both Houses against implementing the deal, the President will then veto that measure. If Congress fails to override that veto, the agreement will go into effect.
For Congress to override a veto requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
So one third of the Members of one House of Congress will be what is needed to prevent another horrific “Iraq War” moment.
Some Members of Congress may think that it is in their short-term political interest to stop implementation of this agreement. Of course the polling shows that this evaluation is wrong, since most Americans support a negotiated agreement – and oppose another War in the Middle East.
But even if some Members of Congress convince themselves that there are short-term fundraising or political benefits for a vote to stop the deal — they need to apply another more important test. Years from now, what will their grandkids think of their vote?
If history is any guide, it is entirely possible that if somehow the agreement is actually blocked by Congress, the Members whose votes are responsible will – like their predecessors in 2002 – regret those votes for the rest of their lives.