Former Democratic Representative Shelley Berkley argued in an op-ed on Sunday that by failing to oppose Iranian aggression the Obama administration is “undermining bipartisan support for Israel, and the values of the Democratic Party.” Berkley’s protest isn’t limited to the course of the current nuclear negotiations with Iran, but evaluates a more general failure of the administration to take action against an increasingly hostile and aggressive adversary. She also urged her fellow Democrats to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Congressional speech next week, “to signal to the White House that a realignment of U.S. foreign policy away from traditional allies is unacceptable.”
The Iranian regime is the largest state sponsor of terror. It funds, finances and trains Hamas and Hezbollah, which openly call for the destruction of Israel and target Israeli and Jewish civilians worldwide. Iranian-backed Shiite militias were responsible for a large number of American casualties in Iraq. A U.S. president should not be condoning and encouraging Iran’s empowerment. Obama’s remarks defy decades of traditional bipartisan American foreign policy that has always aimed to strengthen Israel and moderate Arab states against Iran. The Washington Post editorial board made exactly this point, arguing “the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies.”
In the nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Obama administration has made significant concessions, receiving little in return, while extended sanctions relief has allowed the Iranian economy to rebound. The Obama administration claims that the Joint Plan of Action froze Iran’s nuclear program, but in reality, it continues to advance. Iran can produce as much 5 percent uranium as it wants, and its current stockpile of 5 percent enriched uranium, if enriched to weapons-grade, is enough for four bombs. Moreover, the JPOA only extended Iran’s breakout time by a few weeks, gives Iran the de facto right to enrich, and failed to halt Iran’s ballistic missile development and weaponization activities. Although the aim of the negotiations used to be to prevent Iran from having the potential to make a nuclear bomb, the Western states are now willing to accept Iran as a nuclear threshold state and are simply trying to extend the time it would take for Iran to build a bomb.
In addition to faulting the administration for failing to consult with Israel about “a common threat,” as it negotiates a nuclear deal with Iran, Berkley criticizes President Barack Obama for impugning the motives of even Democratic politicians who disagree with him, “accusing them of being driven by donor interests and ‘short-term political gain.’”
Toward the end of her op-ed, Berkley urges her party to support a tougher line against Iran as “a vital national security interest,” of the United States and to support Israel as long-held “pillar of Democratic foreign policy.”
Ensuring that nuclear weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorists or those who support them is a vital national security interest. Support for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and the only country in the region that shares our values, has traditionally been a quintessential pillar of Democratic foreign policy. Democrats should listen to their constituents, who are overwhelmingly supportive of Israel.
Another former Democratic legislator, Senator Joseph Lieberman, also urged his fellow Democrats to attend Netanyahu’s scheduled speech next week in order to be informed about “what remains the greatest threat to the security of America and the world.”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.) last week similarly called on fellow Democrats to attend Netanyahu’s speech.
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