Today’s Republican party is the gift that keeps on giving; even when I think I’m ready to move on to a new topic it rises up and flaunts such another outrageous example of institutional ignorance that I’m compelled to respond.
“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel,” except it’s not, because I feel sorry for the fish.
I don’t feel sorry for Senator Kelly Ayotte or for her 46 Orientalist Republican colleagues who decided, in spiteful homeroom solidarity, to together scribble a note to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to give him a paternlistic civics lesson.
I feel scorn.
Scornful of Republicans who daily fail to heed our Constitution’s call for true and unencumbered franchise for all Americans but who want to teach civics to Iranians.
Scorn for Senators, some of whom deride climate change and evolution, some of whom oppose the new SAT AP History exam, some of whom have worked for years to disenfranchise and delegitimize our own President, who want to teach civics to Iranians.
Today, I feel sorry for history and civics teachers who need to revise lesson plans to counter the educational damage done to students by the trolls, troglodytes and intellectual-poseurs that today pass for Senators.
New Hampshire Senator Ayotte, you should be embarrassed. You literally represent 17 miles of America’s waters’ edge — the edge where Congress has traditionally stood behind the President on foreign policy — the water’s edge beyond which thousands of Granite Staters have traveled to serve their country honorably with their blood and treasure.
Senator, well beyond our coastline and the Isles of Shoals there are thousands of Iranians who have advanced degrees from American universities — indeed, it’s been said that there are more cabinet members with American PhDs in Tehran than there are in Washington — all with interests from art through political science to nuclear engineering who don’t need to be schooled on the difference between executive agreements and treaties.
Nor do they need to be schooled on Iranian rights as a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory — which, by-the-way, nuclear powers India, Israel and Pakistan are not.
Further, of the thousands of Iranian college graduates I understand there are about 2,500 who majored in fields related to nuclear engineering (many in the USA). Unless you and your colleagues, Senator Ayotte, have a plan for assassinating all of them there is no way Iran’s nuclear program is going to be stuffed back into Aladdin’s Lamp. There is no way you can unpolish the program that started under the late US-installed Shah of Iran and was inherited by the revolutionary regime in 1979.
Did Republicans ever wonder, Senator, when being briefed by the Bibis, Boltons and Kristols of your dystopian world, why it was that in the eight-year war pursued against them by the American-backed regime of Saddam Hussein that Iran never accelerated its nuclear program, never acquired nuclear material by stealth and never resorted to WMDs similar to those used against them by Iraq?
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei publicly stated in 2012, “The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously, and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”
And because the Islamic Republic knows that to use them against Israel would assure their destruction.
You don’t have to like Iran. You don’t have to even believe Iran, even though we do know that there are American and Israeli officials who have said that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Because there is a high level of suspicion and distrust of Iran’s motives the negotiations go well beyond all NPT protocols to assume they will not acquire a weapon.
Senator, it verges on the treasonous if you fail to give negotiations a chance. Have some faith in the American experts who believe that the most intrusive and potentially humiliating sanctions ever imposed upon a nation are the best chance for moving regional stabilization and peace forward – the best chance for avoiding a war that would not even fulfill our objective.
Senator, Tim O’Brien, in “The Things They Carried,” wrote, “It was my view then, and still is, that you don’t make war without knowing why. Knowledge of course, is always imperfect, but it seemed to me that when a nation goes to war it must have reasonable confidence in the justice and imperative of its cause. You can’t fix your mistakes. Once people are dead, you can’t make them undead.”
Increased and humiliating sanctions to make Iran submit to our will, will not work. No one wants Iran to have the bomb: I don’t, America doesn’t, Israel doesn’t, most of the world doesn’t, but war won’t keep Iran from getting it if that is what they want – negotiations could but war certainly wouldn’t.
War would make a bomb inevitable.
It’s delusional to believe that the P5+1 will stick together after talks fail and that global sanctions on Iran will continue if America is seen as the cause for failure. Absent international co-operation and a negotiated settlement within NPT guidelines and controls Iran will re-open for business.
The Republican position, Senator, which demeans the diplomatic path while presenting a simplistic caricature of Iran as a primitive and evil hostile state may, as you desire, make it more vulnerable to military aggression by Israel and America but it won’t make us safer.
If war breaks out, Senator, Iran gets a bomb.
Senator, you have aligned yourself with an agenda driven by a bunch of angry white men who can’t get over the fact that the world is becoming more diverse, pluralistic and competitive — a world less willing to be dominated by American political and economic interests.
If all the above happens, and I hope to God it doesn’t, history will someday scornfully speak of 47 varieties of Senator who, believing that diplomacy is weakness, believing themselves more prescient and wise than others and hating Obama more than they hated war and hating Iran more than they loved peace, turned the Middle East to dust without giving peace a chance.
This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.