The approach by advocates of the nuclear deal with Iran has been “disappointing” due to supporters “resorting to intimidation and demonization, while also grossly overstating their case,” former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote in an editorial Monday for Bloomberg News.
Last week, President Barack Obama said that it was not a difficult decision to endorse the agreement. I couldn’t disagree more. This is an extraordinarily difficult decision, and the president’s case would be more compelling if he stopped minimizing the agreement’s weaknesses and exaggerating its benefits. If he believes that the deal “permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” as he said in his speech at American University last Wednesday, then he should take another look at the agreement, whose restrictions end suddenly after 15 years, with some of the constraints on uranium enrichment melting away after just 10.
Overstating the case for the agreement belies the gravity of the issue and does more to breed distrust than win support. Smearing critics is even less effective. In his speech, the president suggested that critics of the deal are the same people who argued for the war in Iraq. The message wasn’t very subtle: Those who oppose the agreement are warmongers. (Of course, those who voted for the Iraq War resolution in 2002 include Obama’s vice president and secretary of state.) …
The White House’s behavior is especially disappointing given the way the negotiations unfolded. Every negotiation comes with give-and-take. This one was no exception. Significant concessions were made at the last moment, including on ballistic missiles and arms. These were surprising changes and they come with large implications that require careful scrutiny.
Bloomberg brought up the public pillorying of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.), who announced last week that he would oppose the deal. Instead of respecting Schumer’s difference of opinion, “the president’s spokesperson and others close to the White House suggested that Schumer’s decision may cost him the opportunity to become the leader of the Senate’s Democratic caucus” after the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid (D – Nev.). Instead, Bloomberg wrote, the White House should have acknowledged the fact that President Barack Obama had signed legislation that gave Congress the role of reviewing the deal. How one votes, according to Bloomberg, ” is far bigger than partisan politics.”
Bloomberg also took issue with the president’s argument that Congress should support the deal because “the vast majority of the world” does, writing that “Congress should not act based on the opinion of the rest of the world.” Bloomberg called on Congress to “make its own hard and careful assessment of the agreement,” noting that it cannot fully do so until it has access to all of the related side deals.
In his first public comments since announcing his opposition to the deal, Schumer said Monday that the U.S. should go back to the negotiating table to “get a better deal” with Iran. His statement echoed that of Rep. Brad Sherman (D – Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs who announced his opposition to the deal last week and said late last month that there would be a need to renegotiate the deal before it expired.
Additionally, several members of Congress reported late last month that an adviser to French President Francois Hollande had told them that Congressional rejection of the current deal could be the basis of reopening negotiations and getting a better deal.
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