Top 5 Reasons Obama defeated GOP, AIPAC effort to vote Down Iran Deal

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

40 Democratic senators and two independent senators stood with President Obama on Thursday, preventing any congressional condemnation of the UN Security Council’s Vienna agreement with Iran over its civilian nuclear enrichment program. By the genteel rules of the senate, proponents of the censure vote needed 60 senators to prevent a filibuster. They had 58.

Four Democratic Senators sided with the Israel lobbies loyal to far right Likud Party prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but that the lobbies could not persuade more Democrats makes this defeat their most severe since the early 1980s when they failed to block weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. This Iran vote was far more consequential.
How did Obama win?

1. First, the Israel lobbies in Washington made the issue a partisan one– a huge mistake on their parts. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and billionaire gadfly Sheldon Adelson all associated the deal with the Democratic Party, and opposition to it as Republican. When, outrageously, the GOP invited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to address Congress, the Democrats in Congress asked for a sidebar with him, and he absolutely refused. I think we may conclude that when the Israel lobbies support positions susceptible of bipartisan support, they can have fair success. But when they support the position of one party against the other, they likely lose. They also lose when they are not united. A major member of the Israel lobbies, J Street, lobbied heavily for the deal.

2. The Obama administration arranged for Democratic members of Congress to be briefed by US allies in Europe that were involved in the negotiations. British PM David Cameron, French Pres. Francis Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel came out strongly for the deal. The Europeans pointed out that no one in the international community was going to continue sanctions on Iran if the deal was shot down.

3. Democrats were scarred by the Iraq War, and Obama’s argument that without the nuclear deal there likely will be a US war on Iran down the road, proved persuasive.

4. In the Democratic party, by the beginning of September, the Iran deal had 70% support. Adelson’s, and Saudi Arabia’s, campaigns of commercials on radio and television backfired. Congresspeople tend to listen to their constituents.

5. Cheney.

Related video added by Juan Cole:

Wochit News: “Senate Democrats Block Effort To Kill Iran Nuclear Deal”

13 Responses

  1. This is a good thing in another way. Now that there is a divide between the Democrats and Republicans over Israel we, the American people, will finally have a choice. Previously there was no way to vote on the issue of the US blindly supporting Israel. I hope that in the future voting Democrat will mean a vote for a more balanced approach with our policies in the Middle East.

  2. Juan Cole articles are great for insights into Middle East. This article is no exception. Citing Cheney as reason # 5 for Obama’s upholding Iran deal, makes sense to me due to failed foreign policy under Bush-Cheney administration. However, I for one had not been following Cheney’s latest political discourse on Iran deal. Here are 2 articles I found when I googled Chaney on Iran deal….They expand on reason # 5.

    link to theatlantic.com

    link to nytimes.com

  3. Might it not also be because it is a realistic solution to a problem that grows daily more murky, and which Iran has more to gain from helping to resolve than the US itself. The alternative of keeping Iran on bread and water and inhibited from helping stabilize the situation in Syria is surely that ISIL/ISIS/Daesh will enter Damascus, unleashing their bloodthirsty murders, then turn towards Israel and Saudi Arabia, incidentally creating a refugee problem that would dwarf the one we face today and might well fracture the already fragile European social and political infrastructure beyond repair.

    • Israel and Saudi Arabia seem so creepily confident that ISIS is not a threat to them that I have to suspect one of them has some sort of control over its leadership. Saudi Arabia only bombs ISIS because we pressured it. Israel helped build up Hamas when it could no longer make the PLO out to be a supervillain, and it helped Khomeini when he seemed useful in hurting the Arab world. Are these countries creating their worst enemies, or secret puppets?

  4. Jstreet was a punk organization five years ago, denounced as anti-Semetic by other major American Jewish organizations. It was the first serious American-Jewish lobby organization to present a different view of what’s good for Israel, and what’s good for America. I give Jstreet a lot of credit for this win. It persevered as an up-start and gained national and international recognition as an alternative to the “Israel Right or Wrong” crowd. It provided a way for legislators to disagree with Aipac, etc., and won key Members of Congress over on other issues (Palestine, Hagel nomination), paving a path for defeating the many attempts to derail the JCPOA.

  5. Obama defeated the GOP by using the undemocratic rules of an undemocratic legislative body, i.e., the requirement that passage of any measure requires 60 votes, in a body which grants the same number of votes to the citizens of Wyoming that it grants to the citizens of California. Yes, Obama won this one but he lost the senate and the house. Victory means winning congressional and senatorial elections.

    • Genius, even if there was no such thing as the filibuster, Obama would still win. And that is an indisputable FACT. Because the Constitution of the United States gives him, as the President of the United States, the power to veto any legislation that he wants [as long as the opposition doesn’t have 2/3s]. And he he would definitely veto any legislation that undermines the Iran deal.

      So warmongering Republicans can pound sand unless they can get enough Democrats to agree with them (they can’t).

    • But if we had real democracy in the first place, the GOP couldn’t have gerrymandered districts, brainwashed the public using Citizens United money, or built up an empire of lying “experts”, all of which helped create the fantasy world where half our citizens live in which the US can solve any problem with the threat of infinite military force.

  6. Racist, genocidal, apartheid Beans Nitwityahoo and (on his heals) compromised AIPAC (Ape Act) do Israel no honor or favors. He and his, pose the greatest danger to the Israeli state. Jewish fascism will bring Israel no peace, this boy who cried wolf.

  7. However, one of the 4 Democratic Senators to vote against the deal is Chuck Schumer. He is currently slated to become the next Majority/Minority Leader of the Senate Democrats in 2017, when Harry Reid retires.
    I fervently hope that another Senator decides to run to lead the Democrats.

  8. So Obama had to arrange for briefings from non-US parties so the representatives could get the facts on the deal (as opposed to Israel/Saudi-sponsored disinformation). Smart move by Obama, but very telling!

  9. Bibi is a madman. He would take down the whole world to pursue his fantasies. His threat to bomb Iranian nuclear plants was way over the top. After Chernobyl and Fukushima many folks now know what the consequences of a war on Iran would have been.
    I would hope that the specter of burning spent fuel rods had something to do with Obama’s decision.
    Only a lunatic would think about unleashing that kind of destruction. Bibi belongs in a straight jacket.

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