Last Friday, I moderated a panel at Hudson Institute titled, “Why is Qassem Suleimani Smiling? The Iran Deal and Sanctions Relief for Terrorists.” (See video of the event here.) The panel’s focus was not speculative—for instance, how the regime might spend the signing bonus promised by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or how the deal might moderate the regime, or reconfigure Iranian society—but rather looked at the regime’s actual behavior over the last 36 years. In particular, the panel discussed Iran’s acts of terror against Americans, especially servicemen and women.
The panel included three career, now retired, U.S. army officers, all with first-hand knowledge of Iran’s war against America—Captain (retired) Michael Pregent, Colonel (retired) Derek Harvey, and General (retired) Jack Keane. Pregent, a former intelligence officer and now executive director of Veterans Against the Deal, talked about the physical suffering and mental anguish that the Iranian regime has brought to American homes (here’s heart-wrenching testimony from Robert Bartlett, a combat veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq). Harvey, another former intelligence officer who worked with General David Petraeus in Iraq, and has concentrated on the Iran account for two decades, described not only Iranian strategy and tactics but also the character of particular IRGC officers, like Suleimani himself. Keane, a retired four-star who served for 37 years, filled in the big picture, explaining what it would mean for American interests if Iran came to control the Persian Gulf.
The three panelists provided both interesting details and larger perspectives with which to understand the ongoing conflict with Iran. I only wish that we’d had more time to delve further into the issues. For instance, I’d have liked to hear more details of Harvey’s interrogations of IRGC officers. And is it true that American forces once had Suleimani in their crosshairs, but our political leaders decided against killing a man responsible for killing so many Americans? As Keane explained, both Republican as well as Democratic administrations have neglected to punch back against the Iranians, leading to where we are now.
For me, the most striking observation was when Keane noted that while it’s true the Iranians do not now pose the same sort of threat to America that the Soviets did during the Cold War, the Soviets also did not attack American forces, and civilians, directly, as the Iranians have done since 1979. It’s worth considering how the JCPOA, and a multi-billion dollar cash windfall, might further embolden an aggressive regime that’s been making war against the United States for more than three decades.
A week ago, I suggested that—contrary to conventional wisdom and perhaps even to first-blush common sense—the GOP field might benefit from one or more new candidates. One of the well-qualified dark horses I mentioned was third-term Rep. Mike Pompeo from Wichita, Kansas.
Chuck Schumer is coming under fire from President Obama's former top political adviser, David Axelrod. The former advisor is using Twitter to question Schumer's decision to oppose Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.
"Facts are facts, and politics is politics. Schumer made a decision based on politics, not fact," Axelrod wrote in a tweet.
When Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that he would vote against the nuclear deal with Iran, he didn’t just take a position -- he rejected every major argument President Obama has made on the agreement’s behalf. Schumer argues this is not a deal that prevents Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but one that brings it to the threshold of nuclear weapons capability. He states that its verification and enforcement mechanisms are flawed. Finally, he points out it provides Iran with tens of billions of dollars it could spend on subsidizing terrorism and other violent pursuits.
President Obama said that Iranian hardliners are "making common cause with the Republican caucus" in a speech today in Washington, D.C.:
"In fact, it's those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It's those hardliners chanting 'Death to America' who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican caucus," said the president of the United States.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, signed this month by the six world powers with Iran lifts a UN arms embargo by 2020, sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program by 2023, most nuclear restrictions by 2025, and a cap on low-enriched uranium stockpile by 2030. Most sanctions will be lifted immediately, with some residual measures left until 2023.
In a new national poll, Quinnipiac asked the question in as straightforward a way as possible: "Do you support or oppose the nuclear deal with Iran?" And, "Do you think the nuclear deal with Iran would make the world safer or less safe?"
The results are stunning: Americans oppose the deal, 57 percent to 28 percent; and by 58 percent to 30 percent they think it will make the world less safe.
One man was responsible for the deaths or injuries of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq. That same man is responsible for sowing sectarian conflict today in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. And yet, in the nuclear deal with Iran, this man, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, Major General Qassem Suleimani, will have sanctions lifted against him. Indeed, he will receive a large infusion of cash to wreak more havoc and terror. Having served in Iraq, having experienced first-hand his proxy operations against American forces, and having lost men to Gen. Suleimani’s terror operations, I find this offensive.
A top Democratic believes President Obama may break the law to implement the Iran deal. The Democrat is Brad Sherman, a congressman from California, who made the comments after meeting with Obama personally about the Iran deal.