What Could Crash a U.S.-Iran Agreement?

Marching on the Senate Office Building to oppose war on Iran -- March 21, 2015

Statement by Brian Becker, National Director of the ANSWER Coalition

Nineteen months ago John Kerry joined with the extreme militarists in Congress to demand that the U.S. government start bombing Syria. A massive wave of popular outrage, including dramatic street protests, stopped what seemed like an inevitable event. Obama blinked in the face of the opposition and Russian President Vladimir Putin offered him a face-saving way to step back from the precipice of a new war.

In addition to strengthening ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria, the bombing campaign would have likely provoked an active counter-response from Iran, Syria's most important ally. The danger of an imminent, wider, catastrophic regional war caused by another U.S. military action was averted by the groundswell of grassroots opposition. Two months after that near miss, the Obama administration initiated direct talks with Iran and five other major powers: Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

The fact that the same John Kerry – who was the loudest voice for bombing Syria – turned around and led the talks with Iran is merely an accident of history. Feckless, short-sighted imperialist politicians can easily assume contradictory positions as they maneuver the ship.

The extreme militarists in the United States now want to sabotage any agreement with Iran because they fear any “outbreak of peace” will make it harder to wage war against Iran and at the same time diminish Israel's importance in its post-1967 role as an extension of U.S. military power in the region.

The militarists are now in full-scale mobilization mode to smash a negotiated settlement.

Their arguments are bogus, absurd, racist and nothing more than pure, vile demagogy. The new Corker-Schumer bill before the Senate, which would effectively sabotage the ability of the U.S. government to sign an agreement with Iran, is up for debate in the next few weeks. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a co-sponsor of the bill, denounced Obama and the talks, declaring that “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolph Hitler.” Unlike Hitler's Germany or the United States for that matter, Iran has not initiated any war – at least not in recent centuries.

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Hostility between Iran and the United States began when the CIA carried out a bloody coup in 1953 that overthrew a democratically elected government that dared to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (today known as BP). The U.S. government installed a puppet monarch who was finally overthrown by a popular revolution in 1979.

Iran, which does not have a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program, and is by far the most “inspected” country in the world by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has now agreed to even more inspections while self-imposing draconian reductions in its own legal nuclear energy program. The countries Iran is facing at the negotiating table, by contrast, possess tens of thousands of nuclear warheads. Iran is offering these huge concessions in order to end economic sanctions that were designed to strangle its economy and the government's ability to provide economic stability and security for its citizens.

The people of this country overwhelmingly oppose another U.S. war in the Middle East. The war-mongering voices from the millionaires who dominate the U.S. political system do not speak for the majority of working people in this country. These same politicians who want new wars abroad are the same ones who cut food stamps, block a livable minimum wage, slash student aid programs, and deprive women of basic rights while waging corporate-financed legal crusades to strike down pro-union laws and workers' rights.

Two weeks ago, the ANSWER Coalition circulated a sign-on Open Letter to Iran that was a direct response to the Open Letter to Iran from the 47 Republican Senators.

Within a few days, more than 10,000 people signed the Open Letter,which showed strong opposition to the efforts of those political elites here who are actively attempting to sabotage any talks with Iran. The letter showed that these U.S. officials and, in fact, the U.S. government as a whole had violated the supreme law of the land in the United States by its violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Non-Proliferation Treaty was approved by a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate and signed into law. The Open Letter to Iran letter stated:

“Under the U.S. Constitution, (Article 6, Clause 2), any treaty approved by the Senate and signed into law 'shall be the supreme law of the land' in the United States.

“Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty requires the United States as a nuclear power to: 'pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control'. ...

“The United States is not ridding itself of nuclear weapons. It possesses thousands of operational nuclear weapons that it is not destroying. In fact, it is in the process of improving their capability, deploying them on updated fighter aircraft, and other land-attack missiles, aircraft carriers and submarine platforms at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in new government funding.

“The United States also provides more than $4 billion in military and economic aid to the state of Israel although Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or allow outside inspectors, and does not deny that it possesses a considerable arsenal of nuclear weapons. We are not aware of any call by U.S. officials insisting that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or begin liquidating its own nuclear arsenal.”

It is critically important that the voice of the people be heard now. If the government was simply an expression of popular sentiment, there is no doubt that Congress would be working hard for peace rather than war. If the mainstream media outlets were fountains of objectivity, they would be producing stories that show how U.S. militarism has ravaged the Middle East, rather than demonizing Iran.

But that is not the world we live in. We live in a world where small, well-funded lobbies, representing a wide range of corporations, military contractors, think tanks, and countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia are working around-the-clock to preserve the status quo of endless war, and with their derailment campaign they could have a determinant impact on the future of the entire world.

It is up to us to speak up and speak out with a single voice: “End the threats and provocations! The people of this country do not want war with Iran!”

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