Yesterday President Obama answered critical question after critical question about the Iran deal and repeatedly addressed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and even the Israel lobby working in Congress:
My hope is, is that everyone in Congress also evaluates this agreement based on the facts — not on politics, not on posturing… not based on lobbying, but based on what’s in the national interest of the United States of America.”
Obama promised the press that the deal is only about nuclear weapons, and Iran will continue to be frozen out, a rogue state.
But compare that to the British discussion of the deal, and it’s night and day. The Conservative British government regards the deal as a great opening to the Iranians, to include them in the world and make them a good neighbor.
“It’s opening that country up with investment, trade and travel,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in discussion with Parliament on CSpan last night.
Britain wants to open an embassy in Iran by the end of the year, he said, and Brits have to start traveling to Iran and having the person-to-person interactions that will bring Iran back into the world. Iranian students have to be welcome in the west, so we will get to know one another. He expects Iran to play a leverage role over Hamas and Islamic militias in the Levant area.
“Iran is a major player in the region. It can if it chooses play an enormously positive role in the region,” Hammond said.
When a member of Parliament said that the deal would “bring the people of this remarkable nation back into the community of nations,” Hammond agreed.
“There is a huge opportunity to be grasped. It is in our interest and the world’s interest to grasp it.”
The deal gives the west a ten-year window, Hammond said, to change the “Iranian mindset,” and convince that country that the best future is one of cooperation with the west.
Hammond got a few skeptical responses from the MPs but generally they were celebratory. “Clearly this is a diplomatic triumph,” Nicholas Soames, a Conservative said. While Gerald Kaufman, the Labor MP from Manchester (and a Jewish critic of Israel), hailed it as the greatest achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, a demonstration of the Churchill principle that Jaw Jaw is better than War War; and he called on Hammond to make sure that Israel doesn’t try and interfere in the deal. How many American politicians are hailing this as the greatest achievement of the Obama presidency and bewailing Israel influence? Only Obama himself, and only implicitly.
Hammond is in Israel now. He is going to try and convince Netanyahu that he cannot stop the deal in the US Congress. He was confrontational with Israel in his parliamentary remarks. “Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran. Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off and I don’t believe that’s in the interest of the region, I don’t believe it’s in our interest,” Hammond said (per the Independent).
This is the same body, the British parliament, that led Obama and US public opinion when he refused to attack Syria two years ago. Maybe we should listen to them now. American politicians have to start hailing this deal as a way of getting Iran back into the community of nations.
This is a demonstration of the power of the Israel lobby. A deal with Iran is surely in American interests as much as it is in the Brits’ and western Europe’s. World powers want to settle down a turbulent region. But Israel doesn’t see it that way; it wants a permanent cold war with Iran so it can do anything it wants. And the Israel lobby is based on the premise that Israel must cultivate connections and influence with the superpower, in order to effect policy there. That’s what we’re seeing, with the remarkable degree of influence Netanyahu has in Washington.