Conservative media reacted with outrage to President Obama's speech defending his administration's landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, claiming the president had taken “a blame America approach,” calling it “unpresidential,” and demanding impeachment, despite the fact that experts have lauded the deal as “necessary and wise.”
President Obama Defends U.S. Nuclear Deal With Iran
President Obama Delivers Speech Defending U.S. Nuclear Deal With Iran. During an August 5 speech, President Obama defended his administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran by explaining that “the choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war.” As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
President Barack Obama delivered a detailed broadside to opponents of his crowning foreign-policy achievement, arguing Wednesday that the diplomatic agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program presents Congress with a fundamental choice between war and peace.
Mr. Obama said that whether lawmakers approve or reject the Iran deal next month will determine the future of America, which is still recovering from more than a decade of war in the Middle East. He delivered the speech at American University, where President John F. Kennedy made a case for confronting nuclear threats with diplomacy.
“Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option: another war in the Middle East,” Mr. Obama said. “So let's not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.” [The Wall Street Journal, 8/5/15]
Conservative Media React With Outrage, Claiming Obama's Speech Was “Unpresidential” And Calling For Impeachment
Fox's Tantaros: President Obama “Took A Blame America Approach” To His Speech. Reacting to President Obama's speech on the August 5 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, host Andrea Tantaros commented that the president took a “blame America” approach to his statements. Guest host Jonah Goldberg also argued that Obama had turned the deal “into a partisan issue” with “Bush-bashing and all the Iraq War bashing.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/5/15]
Fox's Hayes: Obama's Speech Was “Highly Demagogic” And “Unpresidential.” Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard senior writer Stephen Hayes commented on Obama's speech in a series of tweets claiming it had been a “dishonest lecture” and calling it "[h]yperbolic, mendacious, illogical, small-minded, high demagogic, [and] unpresidential":
Is this the worst speech of the Obama presidency? Hyperbolic, mendacious, illogical, small-minded, highly demagogic, Unpresidential.
-- Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) August 5, 2015
A dishonest lecture from a president who has chosen to treat the world's leading state sponsor of terror as a legitimate diplomatic partner.
-- Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) August 5, 2015
Katie Pavlich: Obama Thinks “Republicans Are Just As Bad As Those Mullahs Who Hang Gay People.” Responding to Obama's speech, TownHall.com editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted that the president had implied that “Republicans are just as bad as those Mullahs who hang gay people, you know”:
Shorter Obama: Republicans are just as bad as those Mullahs who hang gay people, you know.
-- Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) August 5, 2015
Bloomberg's Eli Lake: Obama “Talks About His Iran Deal Like He Was A Daily Kos Blogger.” Responding to Obama's speech August 5, Bloomberg View Columnist Eli Lake tweeted that the president “talks about his Iran deal like he was a daily kos blogger”:
Again. It would be nice if we had a president who didn't talk about his Iran deal like he was a daily kos blogger.
-- Eli Lake (@EliLake) August 5, 2015
Breitbart.com's Pollack: Obama's Speech Just “An Attack On Obama's Political Opponents.” Breitbart.com Editor Joel Pollack responded to Obama's speech by claiming that it was “an attack on Obama's political opponents”:
-- Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) August 5, 2015
Free Beacon Responded With An Image Of A Nuclear Explosion . During the speech conservative blog Washington Free Beacon tweeted an image of a nuclear explosion:
In other words.... pic.twitter.com/kT6txMSp2X
-- Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) August 5, 2015
Allah Pundit Calls For Obama's Impeachment. In a series of tweets commenting on Obama's speech, Allah Pundit called for the president's impeachment, and claimed it was his “lowest moment as president”:
-- Allahpundit (@allahpundit) August 5, 2015
This may well be Obama's lowest moment as president
-- Allahpundit (@allahpundit) August 5, 2015
Hugh Hewitt: Obama Has “Lost Touch With Basic Reality.” Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt tweeted his disapproval of Obama's speech, writing that the president has “lost touch with basic reality comparing GOP to Iranian thugs”:
Watch the whole thing. POTUS has lost touch with basic reality comparing GOP to Iranian thugs: http://t.co/qq6QCBZvzZ
-- Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) August 5, 2015
But Experts Have Lauded The Iran Deal As “Necessary And Wise,” “Pretty Damn Good,” And Evidence Of U.S. Strength
Nonproliferation Expert Jeffrey Lewis: Iran Deal Is “Pretty Damn Good.” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explained in Foreign Policy that the Iran nuclear deal is “pretty damn good,” containing “substantial” reductions in centrifuges and “clever” mechanisms to re-impose sanctions should Iran backtrack on its end of the bargain:
The real issues in Vienna were how to re-impose sanctions if the deal collapsed, as well whether to lift the United Nations' arms embargo and the sanctions on Iran's missile programs.
The mechanism to re-impose sanctions -- called “snap back” by people who don't wear baseball caps -- is pretty clever. Any of the parties can raise an issue within a Joint Commission created to administer the agreement. If the party is unsatisfied, it then can notify the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council has 30 days to act -- and if it does nothing, the sanctions are automatically re-imposed. That gives the United States and other parties the ability to blow up the deal and return to sanctions regime with no chance for Russia or China to veto.
What's going to be needed to deal with this is a sense of calm, a sense of perspective, and sense of humor. There are going to be lots of people who get red in the face, point out all the terrible things the Iranian government does and generally make accusations quicker than they can be debunked or resolved through negotiations. It will be important to step back every now again, breathe deeply, look at how things have turned out in North Korea and Iraq and remember: this is a pretty damned good deal. [Foreign Policy, 7/14/15]
Lewis: “I Would Give It An A.” Lewis, who in addition to directing the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies also runs an arms control blog and podcast, spoke to Vox.com's Max Fisher and told him the negotiating team “did a fantastic job”:
FISHER: Why is this a good deal?
LEWIS: It's a good deal because it slows down their nuclear program -- which they say is for civilian purposes but could be used to make a bomb, and which we think was originally intended to make a bomb. And it puts monitoring and verification measures in place that mean if they try to build a bomb, we're very likely to find out, and to do so with enough time that we have options to do something about it.
There's a verifiable gap between their bomb option and an actual bomb. That's why it's a good deal.
FISHER: Now that we're here, what grade would you give it?
LEWIS: I would give it an A.
FISHER: A solid A!
LEWIS: I mean, it's hard. There are two pieces to this.
Compared to the deal we could have gotten 10 years ago, if the Bush administration hadn't had their heads up their butts? Not an A! That would have been a great deal!
I remember when they had 164 centrifuges, in one cascade, and I said, “You know what, we should let them keep it in warm standby. No uranium, just gas.” And people were like, “You're givin' away the store!”
FISHER: We would kill for that now! They got cut down to 5,000 centrifuges, and it's a huge deal.
LEWIS: Exactly. And that's been the fundamental experience of this for me. Every six months, the deal we could have gotten six months before looks better. Every time we tried to hold out for a better deal, and every time we got in the position of a worse deal.
So, compared to where they started, and what I thought was feasible to achieve, this team I thought did a fantastic job. If this team had been in place in 2003 or 2004 or 2005, it might have looked even better. But they inherited what they inherited, and they did a pretty decent job with it. How could I give them less than A? [Vox.com, 7/15/15]
National Security Expert: “The Agreement We Have Is About As Good As Any Real World Agreement Could Be.” Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former military advisor to General Stanley McChrystal, wrote that the U.S.' deal with Iran is “as good” as realistically possible:
One can debate the finer details, but in the real world, the agreement we have is about as good as any real world agreement could be. If this agreement is now blocked by internal U.S., politics, Iran is almost certain to react by portraying the United States as dishonest and as blocking arms control and peace, and react with a more active series of nuclear and military efforts -- as well with even more hostile efforts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf.
Moreover, if the deal fails to pass Congress, outside nations will also take advantage of America's divisions. Russia and China will exploit the U.S. “failure” for their different reasons. The EU countries are likely to see this as an example of U.S. internal weakness and inability to lead. Our regional allies will have to confront both a more active Iran and a United States whose leadership and unity has proven to be all too uncertain. [Beyond Partisan Infighting: The Role Congress Should Play in Reacting to the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, 7/15/15]
Harvard Diplomacy Expert: Iran Deal Was “Necessary And Wise.” The New York Times quoted R. Nicholas Burns, professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as saying the Iran deal is “necessary and wise”:
“The reality is that it is a painful agreement to make, but also necessary and wise,” said R. Nicholas Burns, who drafted the first sanctions against Iran, passed in the United Nations Security Council in 2006 and 2007, when he was undersecretary of state for policy. “And we might think of it as just the end of the beginning of a long struggle to contain Iran. There will be other dramas ahead.” [The New York Times, 7/14/15]
Executive Director Of Truman National Security Project: Iran Deal “Improves Our National Security,” Was Accomplished By “American Leadership.” Michael Breen, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Executive Director of the Truman National Security Project, wrote on CNN.com that the “agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy” and should make Americans safer:
Keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is of central importance to American security. This agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy -- and will make America and our allies safer and stronger if properly implemented and enforced. American leadership made this agreement possible: rallying the international community to force Iran to the table with multilateral sanctions, maintaining a united front through months of negotiations, and holding firm for a deal that improves our national security.
This agreement is not based on trust. Because we expect Iran to try and cheat, verification is a critical component of the agreement. Its terms close off all of Iran's potential avenues to a nuclear weapon, give us access to their entire nuclear supply chain, and impose the strictest monitoring and verification regime ever negotiated in the history of nonproliferation. If Iran cheats a month, a year, or a decade from now, we will be in a position to know. And because this agreement is backed by the international community, America will be in a position to take decisive action with our allies if Iran violates the terms.
This generation of combat veterans, frontline civilians, and policy leaders knows all too well the sacrifice required when diplomacy fails. Many of us, myself included, have spent our adult lives attempting to redeem the aftermath of a deeply unnecessary war in the Middle East, launched in the name of nonproliferation. This time, through tough American-led diplomacy, we have charted a better, smarter course. [CNN.com, 7/14/15]
Arms Control Expert: If Iran Cheats On The Deal, The Likelihood Of Them Getting Caught Is “Near 100 Percent.” Vox.com quoted Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, who explained that in the event Iran backtracks on their commitments, their likelihood of getting caught is “near 100 percent”:
The nuclear deal actually lays out how all of this is supposed to work if Iran cheats -- the negotiators clearly wanted to account for that -- and it looks pretty good, if not perfect.
Let's say, for instance, that Iran is secretly siphoning off some of its uranium and centrifuges and shipping them to a hidden site under a mountain somewhere, where it secretly processes the uranium into nuclear fuel that could be used for a bomb.
First what would happen, almost inevitably, is that international inspectors would catch Iran. There are any number of points in the process where Iran could get caught. Inspectors at Iran's uranium mines, its uranium processing mills, or certainly its enrichment facilities would find out if Iran were siphoning off even a little bit of material. Or, for example, they would notice that Iran's centrifuge factories -- which they'll monitor -- are missing centrifuges.
“The likelihood of getting caught is near 100 percent,” Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, told my colleague Max Fisher. [Vox.com, 7/14/15]