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Questioning Your Patriotism


Preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is the stated goal of Obama administration, P5+1 nations and Israel. How the United Stated can best reach this goal, while at the same time avoiding war, seems to me to be a rather vital debate. So it’s a real shame we’re not having it.

So far, 59 senators, 16 Democrats, are co-sponsoring a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran and, perhaps, derail the Obama administration’s recent diplomatic efforts on that front. Really, it’s one of the only times we’ve seen any notable resistance to Obama from within his party. But, if I’m hearing the administration and Left punditry correctly, even debating these approaches is a call for war. Instead, we’re supposed to believe that those 16 Democratic Senators (not to mention the entire GOP) are set to send Americans to die for AIPAC.

Jay Carney kicked off the shameful rhetoric by warning that anyone who disagreed with Obama’s Iranian position risks supporting a “march to war.” As USA Today put it, “The White House has suggested Washington opponents want negotiations to fail so the United States can attack Iran.”

“There have been some that have suggested in the White House that those folks were more interested in war than they were in the resolution by peaceful means,” Steny Hoyer shot back. “I think that is absolutely untrue, an irresponsible assertion and ought to be clarified and retracted by those who have made it within the administration.”

To begin with, it seems an enormous stretch to assume that the Senate’s passage of tighter sanctions would inevitably lead to war with Iran. It’s at least as massive as believing Obama’s diplomatic efforts are no better than the Munich agreement. Yet, the former is accepted as the basis for nearly every piece critical on the recent debate over Iranian sanctions.

Today, supporting sanctions makes you a war monger. And challenging the president’s efforts is tantamount to desiring war. It’s an inverted form of calling all war critics unpatriotic. It’s meant to stifle debate. And yet, here are Joan WalshJames Fallows, and others, all allegedly good liberals, demanding that everyone fall in line with the president on foreign policy. Fortunately, that didn’t happen when Obama was pushing for a greater American presence in the Syrian civil war and it certainly should not happen here.

As unhealthy as that kind of partisan lockstepping can be, here’s Andrew Sullivan kicking it up a notch and offering up list of “Democrats For War With Iran”:

Michael Bennet of Colorado – a key Obama supporter; Corey Booker of New Jersey (ditto); Mark Warner of Virginia; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Ben Cardin of Maryland; and, of course, Chuck Schumer of New York. All off these Democrats are in favor of humiliating the president of the United States and refusing to allow him to pursue negotiations without being trumped by deliberate, pre-meditated sabotage.

Does anyone really believe that Ben Cardin and Michael Bennet are driven by bloodlust? That Cory Booker is willing to go to war to humiliate the president? That Mark Warner wants to sabotage a chance at a meaningful peace agreement? That Chuck Schumer wants to … wait a second. What does Sullivan mean by “of course”?  Schumer, as you might already have guessed, is a Hebrew. And, let’s concede, that Jewish politicians and their constituents tend to get a bit nervous when a bunch of belligerent oil-rich anti-Semites start pulling together a nuclear program. Does concern for an ally mean you are a member of a Fifth Column?

It’s just remarkable how regularly liberals will breezily call you a traitor these days for disagreeing with them. That’s exactly what Fallows does when he writes that “a striking number of Democrats have joined them, for no evident reason other than AIPAC’s whole-hearted, priority-one support for the sanctions bill.” That’s exactly what Ed Kilgore asserts in this post — one that was approvingly retweeted by high-profile writers at Washington Post and National Journal — when he claims that 59 Senators are willing to go war because Bibi Netanyahu says so:

You will hear some Democrats and even a few Republicans claim they are trying to strengthen the administration’s hand in their negotiations, but that’s a shuck. The whole idea is to torpedo the talks because Bibi Netanyahu believes they are aimed at the wrong goal: keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as opposed to Bibi’s demand that Iran lose its capability of developing nuclear weapons. If that means war, so be it.

(Actually, Netanyahu is arguing that Iran be denied the capability to change course within a day. The interim deal signed over the weekend between Tehran and P5+1 reportedly allows Iran to retain its advanced nuclear centrifuge program, which gives it the more than the capability, it basically gives them the keys. Seems like a reasonable concern for Israel, who, once this deal is done, will unable to protect itself.)

Surely there is some “evident reason” to support sanctions today. Not that long ago the administration was bragging about their effectiveness. Perhaps — and I’m just speculating here — most of Kirsten Gillibrand’s constituents would prefer to see Iran surrender their nuclear ambitions peacefully than see the U.S. engaged in a costly and futile conflict in the Middle East. Is it even conceivable to Fallows that someone might believe that tighter sanctions may help achieve this goal? Is it conceivable that the United States can extract more from the Iranians during these negotiations with the threat of more sanctions? Now, unlike all of these columnists, I’m no foreign policy expert, but I’d also probably want to wait and see what the president brings back before applying more pressure on Iran. Still, the kind of reckless and politically motivated scaremongering they’re engaged in isn’t helping anyone.

Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter.