Whenever an election season rolls around, we too often hear from trolls, contrarians and cynics who wrongfully announce that both political parties are exactly the same.
One party thinks women should make their own reproductive choices; the other does not. One party thinks LGBT Americans should enjoy equal protection under the law; the other does not. One party thinks higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes for everyone else is good for the economy; the other does not. One party thinks the climate crisis is real, is happening now, and is caused by human activity; the other thinks it's a hoax while insisting that severe weather events are caused by abortion and gay marriage.
We could do this all day. But the most salient contrast came on Tuesday with the announcement that the P5+1 nations finalized an agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Going back to our party contrasts, one party is seeking at least 15 years of continued peace, while the other party wants to kill the deal, then perhaps, depending on their mood, proceed to "bomb-bomb-bomb" Iran, sparking a war not just between the U.S. and Iran, but involving the entire region, including Russia. Simply put: World War III. And that's not just my forecast, it's also the forecast of experts like former Bush-era CIA director Michael Hayden and Meir Dagan, the former head of the Israeli Mossad.
Possibly the most ludicrous reaction from the Republican field came from Lindsey Graham:
"If the initial reports regarding the details of this deal hold true, there’s no way as president of the United States I would honor this deal," Graham told Bloomberg. "It’s incredibly dangerous for our national security, and it’s akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows them to rearm conventionally."
Discontinuing Iran's nuclear weapons program is like declaring war on Israel? The projection here is insane. Furthermore, I wonder how Israel would fare if we were to bomb Iran and deliberately collapse the region.
The second most ludicrous reaction came from Jeb Bush:
The nuclear agreement announced by the Obama Administration today is a dangerous, deeply flawed, and short sighted deal.
A comprehensive agreement should require Iran to verifiably abandon – not simply delay – its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. [...] This isn’t diplomacy—it is appeasement.
That word—"appeasement"—keeps coming up, so let's take a second to establish some basics. While it's true that the deal doesn't eliminate Iran's nuclear program, as David E. Sanger writes in the New York Times, the deal "is a start," and a necessary one.
Senior officials of two countries who barely spoke with each other for more than three decades have spent the past 20 months locked in hotel rooms, arguing about centrifuges but also learning how each perceives the other. Many who have jousted with Iran over the past decade see few better alternatives.
“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.”
Negotiations necessarily require compromise, a fact that the Republican field would well consider before they spout off hardline bromides. (Also, perhaps Jeb should've double-checked the history of our effort to negotiate a settlement. If he did so, he'd discover that the U.S. first reached out to Iran in 2002 when his brother was president. Oops.)
Newly minted clown car occupant Scott Walker, meanwhile, continued the GOP barrage of overreactions, and underscored his lack of foreign policy acumen when he said:
"We need to terminate the bad deal with Iran on day one, put in place crippling economic sanctions and convince our allies to do the same."
First of all, today is day one. Second of all, there already exist "crippling economic sanctions" in place against Iran, and they're not working. Indeed, they're counterproductive given how Iran continued to develop heavy water reactors for weapons grade fissile materials while pro-Western activists suffer under Western sanctions. Walker needs to crack a thick book for a change. Furthermore, Salon's Simon Malloy reported today:
This is silly. Sanctions don’t work this way. They won’t be “crippling” until you actually get other countries to sign on to them. If the U.S. alone could “cripple” Iran with sanctions, we wouldn’t need our allies to get on board. Would-be president Walker’s Iran policy aims are completely backwards.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, Walker must not become president.
And because Mike Huckabee is such a serious player, he tweeted his own response:
(Because a region as complicated as the Middle East should only be covered in 140 characters.)
Rounding out the misapprehension brigade, Marco Rubio, like Walker, doesn't seem to understand the terms of the deal:
"I have said from the beginning of this process that I would not support a deal with Iran that allows the mullahs to retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel, and continue their regional expansionism and support for terrorism," Rubio said in a statement.
"Based on what we know thus far, I believe that this deal undermines our national security."
Except that, under this deal, the mullahs will be completely incapable of developing weapons grade nuclear material because they won't be able to use the heavy water reactors required to do so for the next 15 years.
Rubio and the others are clearly employing the same old GOP trick -- the trick developed by Fox News Channel and adapted by the party. The trick is simple: assume enough of the base doesn't read. Then, exploit. Once this assumption is in place, any old crap can be fed to the base and they'll be none the wiser. But throughout the 2016 election cycle, get ready for the geyser of misinformation about the Iran deal, tossed with a constant stream of scare-mongering about an impending nuclear strike against Israel.
If nothing else, here's to hoping that this issue alone disrupts any nonsensical "both parties are the same" contrarianism marketed by quislings whose only goal is to disillusion voters enough to prevent them from turning out on Election Day.