Whichever Way Congress Decides: Optimism on the Iran Deal

Most pundits predict that Obama will have enough votes to push through the Iran nuclear deal. An AIPAC-driven Congress will oppose it, but Obama will use his veto power to overcome the opposition. At the end of the day, optimists forecast, the president will receive the requisite support in Congress to prevent a veto override.

But I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby are pulling out all the stops. Anyone who’s ever doubted the strength of that Lobby (rooted in the Christian Zionism of U.S. evangelicals, and in the political war chests of various diehard Israel support groups) must surely see that awesome power now.  It’s right in our face.

The incessant anti-deal ads; the uniform butt-headed Republican opposition, alongside some Democrats’ resistance; the gingerly handling of the issue by cable news anchors (wearing that consternated look whenever reporting on the topic); the general ignorance surrounding the issues and malleability of uninformed public opinion, all raise the prospect that the deal might actually be defeated in the U.S. Congress.

Legislators will vote in response to their constituents’ called-in opinions. These are being summoned by the highly efficient, infinitely funded Lobby propaganda machine.

Historically, simplistic fear ads have worked in the U.S.  Fear mongering, as Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels famously observed, works the same in every country. Organized fear mongering at the highest level propelled public support for the Iraq War to 62% on its eve in March 2003. Many people seriously, stupidly believed that a bleeding, crippled, impoverished Iraq might for some reason drop a nuclear bomb on New York City. Such are the heights of asininity to which humankind is susceptible.

Not Americans individually, but the masses are generally ignorant and endlessly manipulable. It’s sad, but it’s a fact. Every U.S. politician knows it.

We live under an oligarchy, in which the One Percent not only controls both the bulk of wealth but the creation of public opinion. Pretending to present “both sides” on any issue, its media, in fact, confines discussion within a carefully constricted ambit.

Thus, for example, on cable news you will hear voices promoting or opposing more U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.

But you’ll not hear voices asserting that what happened in Kiev in February 2014 in Kiev was a coup toppling a democratically elected leader decisively abetted by neo-fascist forces and backed by the U.S. You just can’t say such things. We’re supposed to believe that it was a popular protest movement forcing a dictator to flee.

You won’t hear that the regime change was intended to draw Ukraine into the NATO military alliance, expel the Russian navy from its only warm water base (in Crimea where it has been based since the 1780s), and complete NATO’s encirclement of Russia. This is a view widely held among U.S. academics familiar with the region. But it cannot be said on CNN. The “free press” in this free country simply does not allow it.

Telling the truth about Ukraine would be as unthinkable as allowing voices in March 2003 to state that the Bush administration was lying about Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMDs and 9/11 ties. Or predicting at that time—as the then still popular commander-in-chief theatrically proclaimed a “Mission Accomplished”—that the occupation would lead to a disastrous descent into sectarian violence immolating the whole region.

The “free press” in this country—steered by highly paid, establishment-entrenched, Washington-insider news directors from General Electric, Newscorp, Disney, Time-Warner, Verizon and Comcast—-can’t allow that sort of honesty. As intimately and materially attached to the power structure as any Pravda or Izvestia journalist ever was in the old Soviet Union, they tout the State Department’s talking points as a matter of course.

There’s no way they will encourage the questioning of any basics—like the validity of the skewed U.S. political process, the righteousness of the “free market,” or the “exceptional” virtue of this country when its military acts to reconfigure some corner of the world. If they did not ascend to their current posts with a religious commitment to U.S. imperialism, they acquired it through osmosis just by being where they are.

People form opinions based on what the media tells them. The above named six corporations provide most people in this country with 90% of their information about current events. Also providing entertainment, they have transformed the traditional conception of journalism, trading even the pretense of sober objective reporting for “infotainment.” News anchors are chosen for their looks, personalities, ability to smoothly read teleprompters and their knack of engaging in light banter with airhead colleagues for viewers’ amusement.

Understanding of the world and critical reasoning skills have nothing to do with their routine. (In this “post-modern” world, what does thought have to do with anything anyway? George W. Bush’s political mentor Karl Rove famously told journalist Ron Suskind that the “way the world really works” has nothing to do with the “reality-based community” but is steered by an empire that creates its own reality—-through lies.)

Every hour cable TV features those fear-mongering anti-Iran deal ads. The news anchors focus on Donald Trump’s latest comments or Hillary Clinton’s cell phone records. Aside from some cursory coverage of bombings in Baghdad or Damascus, there’s no discussion of ISIL’s steady progress or how that is rooted in the criminal U.S. war of 2003.

It’s just too painfully embarrassing to go back there, and reflect on how what the U.S. did under George W. Bush— advised by neocons with grand schemes of Middle East regime change, and quietly cheered on by the Israeli government—produced such mind-boggling levels of ongoing horrific pain.

While war crimes go unprosecuted, conscious, calculating ignorance reigns.

The U.S. media is generally not on board the Iran deal, or even prepared to address it intelligently.  It has scarcely even reported on the unprecedented initiative of the ambassadors of France, Britain and Germany (July 21) to persuade Congress to back the deal that their governments support. For the major news channels, that’s just not a news story. (Just like Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty is never, ever a news story.)

The average person on the street is aware that a deal has been signed, but that most in Congress oppose it and want a “better deal.” That almost sounds rational. Thousands are getting on the phone (not even necessarily knowing that they do so at AIPAC’s behest) to tell their congressman: “I want a better deal.”

As though the declining, discredited U.S. has the clout to snap its fingers and make Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and Iran sit down at the table once again to redo what has been painstakingly done—just to satisfy the U.S.’s fundamentalist Christian-driven Israel groupies in Congress!

The business-as-usual political process will, of course, prevail—at least until the needed revolution comes, which let us hope is soon.

Congressional staffers, who make a living from matching amoral opportunists with donors eager to buy souls for sale, will advise their bosses to vote no. Meanwhile proponents of the agreement, like the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), lack casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s billions. They are not in a position to aggressively promote reason against madness.

So let us say the crazies win and the sleazy Congress fails to uphold Obama’s veto. What happens then?

The rest of the world will be shocked by the stupidity of the U.S. lawmakers. (Everyone will note that this is the same Congress that voted for the illegal war on Iraq, and repeatedly passes resolutions supporting Israel no matter what the hell it does.) The other members of the P5+1 (Russia, China, UK, Germany, France) will view the vote, if not as a betrayal, as a clear indicator that the U.S. is an unreliable partner.

It will be matter-of-factly observed that Binyamin Netanyahu—that snarling, lying, racist thug—was able to undermine Obama on the latter’s home turf, and that the Congress was, in fact, as Sen. Graham Lindsey promised, “led by” the Israeli prime minister.

Other countries are not going to abandon the multi-party deal, just because a spent hyper-power unable to age gracefully, much less able to play in a team, happens to object. They will jump at the opportunity to invest in and trade with Iran, the world’s 18th largest economy with a purchasing power parity of $1.2 trillion.

Europe will be awash with Persian carpets, cheap Caspian caviar, and the most delicious pistachios in the world. German and Italian auto firms and energy companies will reap a windfall.

Switzerland is already planning on selling pharmaceuticals and machinery and importing Iranian oil and gas. China and Japan will resume their former levels of oil purchases. India will resume massive shipments of the basmati rice Iranians love, and import the best saffron in the world from Iran

Russia will build a robust military relationship and attempt to provide Iran the means to resist any threatened Israeli attack. Foreign tourists will flock to Yazd, Shiraz and Isfahan. Iranian students will enroll in European universities.

German industrial giants Siemens and Daimler are chomping at the bit, eager to re-enter Iran. Most Germans, meanwhile, are upset with the U.S. They resent the mass surveillance to which they have been subjected, up to the level of Chancellor Angela Merkel herself. This is a national humiliation. Germans do not generally endorse the U.S. project of bringing Ukraine into NATO, and the punitive sanctions applied to Russia following its preemptive re-absorption of Crimea.

Hasn’t Gerhard Schroeder, German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, expressed his understanding of Russian “fears of an encirclement” and likened Russia’s action in Crimea to the U.S. intervention in Kosovo? (That latter intervention—another one lacking UN authorization and based on lies—has produced nothing but a failed state based on drug-trafficking, hosting a massive U.S. army base, exporting economic refugees and in its spare time burning down historic Serbian churches.)

The sanctions on Russia demanded by the U.S. have had ruinous effects on German machine manufacturers and farmers. Tens of thousands of German jobs have been lost. John Kerry has openly recognized that Europeans’ patience on this matter is wearing thin. He warns that a congressional rejection of the Iran deal will jeopardize NATO unity on Ukraine. And he frankly warns that a rejection might spell the end of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Many Germans see the U.S. as a bully. Polls show about half the population perceiving the U.S. unfavorably. Some who refused to endorse the war based on lies in Iraq, will (however inaccurately) see the Congress’s sabotage of the Iran deal as the work of wealthy Jews. That perception will not be in anybody’s interest.

If the U.S. Bombs

Global disgust with the United States, mounting since the Iraq War, will peak if the U.S. under the next president bombs Iran. And listening to the Republican presidential candidates, that is indeed quite thinkable. Donald Trump is at least correct in one thing: the candidates are “stupid.” (Not that he isn’t too. And maybe, since he boasted about being “the most militaristic” of all the candidates, “the Donald” is the most dangerous among the stupid.)

Once bombed, Iranians of all factions will unite in outrage. Widespread friendly feelings towards the U.S. among Iranians will evaporate. Public opinion everywhere in the world will favor Iran as an obvious victim of the superpower that already has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians on its hands.

Russia or China will introduce a UN resolution to condemn the obvious violation of international law, the ultimate crime against peace. Britain and France might abstain and the U.S. will have to use its veto. The ultimate embarrassment and declaration of moral bankruptcy.

For decades the U.S. has stood alone with Israel when the rest of the world condemned Israeli aggression and the occupation of Palestinian land. In this case the world will stand against the U.S. and condemn its wanton lawlessness. Only Israel will celebrate. (Or rather, some Israelis, since they are, of course, divided on the issue.)

When people point out that only the U.S. and Israel supported the attack, the Israel Lobby, flushed with victory, will lash out at its critics as anti-Semites, insisting that this wasn’t just about Israel, but that Iran posed as great a threat to the U.S. as it did to the Jewish state. The Lobby’s illogic and cynical deployment of the anti-Semitism charge will reach new heights.

But Iranians, using the weapons of the weak, will undoubtedly find ways to strike back at their attacker. Those supporting the attack, far from seeing such strikes as a response to superpower terror, will use them to validate, after the fact, the bombing of nuclear strikes that provoked them.

These war-mongers cannot think straight about issues of historical causality. All they’re good at is mobilizing hate and fear.

Following any U.S. attack on Iran, Europeans will question the value of an alliance with this juggernaut that keeps destabilizing the Middle East—for no apparent good reason while Israel alone cheers.

Some will point out that, when Israel unilaterally and illegally bombed Iraq’s Oriraq nuclear reactor in “Operation Opera” in 1981-(when the U.S. was allied with Iraq against Iran) President Ronald Reagan instructed his UN ambassador to vote with the rest of the world to condemn the action. Israel then claimed that this was a “pre-emptive” move and justified it as such.

Now the U.S. using the same justification will have attacked Iran’s facilities—on behalf of Israel! The irony of that victory—of the tail wagging the dog—will be obvious to the world.

In Europe it might become more acceptable to politely ask in public: “Why, since the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact have dissolved, and the U.S. is far more aggressive than Putin’s Russia (that has, in fact, responded with careful restraint to NATO’s drive to encircle it) should the anti-Russia alliance continue? What’s in this marriage for us?”

In Japan it might become more common to question the post-war status quo. “Why, when we need Iranian oil, and were once Iran’s leading customer, are these crazy people who occupy much of Okinawa against its people’s will—claiming they’re ‘defending’ Japan against somebody—bombing Iran? A country that hasn’t invaded another in 300 years? Why should we continue to accept this vassal status, always forced to side with the U.S. no matter what it does? Why do we need the ‘Security Treaty’ we signed under gunpoint fifty years ago?”

These are just a few among the possible—positive!— repercussions of an illegal, universally condemned strike on Iran. A short list of the negatives include at their head: World War III.

The stakes are high. The deal is not yet done. The world stands united against the Lobby, neocons and assorted Christian lunatics hankering for the apocalypse, now. But big money and big delusions feed the anti-deal crusade and it may indeed win.

If the deal goes through, with U.S. approval, the world will breathe a sigh of relief that the Israel Lobby’s stranglehold on U.S. politics has been broken, and the spell of Zionist mythology on U.S. decision-makers finally overthrown.  But even if Netanyahu’s allies sabotage the U.S. part of the deal, the rest of the world will accept it, and the decrepit empire suffer self-wrought historical defeat.

Either way, let us look at the bright side. The contradiction between Zionist arrogance and entitlement and the interests of world peace is on open display. Whatever happens, the linkage between U.S. imperialism and Israeli impunity will be weaker as a result of the multi-party Iran deal.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu. Read other articles by Gary.