The lobby is doing its utmost to sandbag the breakthrough agreement between the U.S. and Iran. The Congress is now readying yet more sanctions bills; the Forward says Democrats are backing the legislation or doing nothing to oppose it because “These are the men and the women, after all, who are on a first-name basis with most of the board of AIPAC.” MJ Rosenberg says the Israel lobby is the reason Sens. Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown and– conspicuously– progressive Elizabeth Warren have been silent on the diplomatic breakthrough.
One reason that supposed liberals can get away with this is that the New York Times and the Washington Post give them no heat. In reporting on the sanctions effort, our leading papers leave out the lobby’s role, allowing the nightflower to remain a nightflower.
From the NYT editorial, “Breakthrough Agreement at Risk”:
In recent days, however, reports have circulated in Washington that two members of the Senate — Robert Menendez, a Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Republican — are preparing legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran’s remaining exports and strategic industries if, at the end of six months, the interim agreement goes nowhere. Both Iran and the White House have warned that such legislation could be fatal to the agreement. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, told Time and The New York Times in an interview in Tehran on Saturday that “the entire deal is dead” even if the penalties do not take effect for six months.
Similar mischief is afoot in the House. The Washington Post reported that Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic minority whip, was working with Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader, on a resolution that could sharply limit the outlines of a final agreement or call for imposing new sanctions.
…[E]ven a hint that [Hoyer] and other House Democrats might join with hard-line Republicans against Mr. Obama on what amounts to a diplomatic breakthrough is alarming.
No explanation of why Dems would abandon the president. The Washington Post also reported on the congressional effort without mentioning AIPAC.
Here is MJ Rosenberg’s take on why Democrats are “betraying” Obama (to use Trita Parsi’s word):
In the normal course of affairs, Democrats would be ecstatic about what Secretary of State John Kerry brought home from Geneva..
[M]ost Democrats are too worried about offending donors to even discuss Iran, let alone take credit for the agreement. The ones who are talking about it are condemning it in terms that sound Ted Cruzesque. (See top Democrats Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez for two, of many, examples). And it’s not just Democrats from the northeast who are hammering on Obama. Congressional campaigns now fundraise nationally, meaning that senators from South Dakota and Oregon respond to events in the Middle East as if they represented the New York metropolitan area. Pretty much all Congressional Democrats are running scared…of a Democratic president’s historic success.
Writing in The Forward, former George W. Bush administration official and life-long neocon, Noam Neusner… [writes] They can’t support Obama’s Iran achievement because these Democrats are “the men and the women, after all, who are on a first-name basis with most of the board of AIPAC” and “they want to be in Washington long after Obama leaves the White House.”
Anyone who has any doubt about what Neusner is talking about should note his reference to the Democrats’ “first name” relationship with the AIPAC board. He doesn’t just refer to the lobby or to AIPAC in general. He certainly does not refer to Jewish American voters who tend to be part of the Democratic party’s progressive wing and are no fans of Netanyahu’s or his paranoid visions. No, he refers to the AIPAC board which is composed of AIPAC’s wealthiest members, the ones who decide who the lobby will support (or try to defeat) in November 2014.
This applies to the 2016 election as well. Secretary of State John Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, has also been conspicuously silent. Because she is the lobby’s favorite for president, she no doubt also feels the need to tread softly. (Fearing donor backlash, Clinton has, to put it mildly, never been a profile in courage when it comes to any Israel-related issue).
No doubt, she will ultimately endorse the deal but envelop her endorsement with enough saber rattling at Iran to please her lobby-affiliated donors. As for progressives like Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), they have not yet demonstrated if they will put America’s interests – number one of which is preventing U.S. involvement in another neocon generated Middle Eastern war – above filling their campaign coffers.
The fact is that there is no reason other than the desire to placate donors that would lead any Democratic Member of Congress to oppose the agreement. (Republicans sincerely despise the idea of negotiations so they don’t have to be bought)….
There really is no choice but to support the agreement, unless you believe, despite all evidence, that another Middle East war would be the cake walk the neocons promised that invading Iraq would be. Why would anyone believe anything that crowd tells us? Even for campaign dough.