Republican Presidential Candidates Fear-Monger While Experts Support the Iran Deal

— by CAP Action War Room

This afternoon, GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed the Iran nuclear deal at a rally outside the Capitol. Other guests at the rally included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s comments at the rally were colorful. At one point he said, “When Obama talks about the ‘supreme leader,’ it’s almost like he’s got total admiration for him,” apparently unaware of the fact that Supreme Leader is the official title of Iran’s head of state. Sen. Cruz, for his part, called the deal “ catastrophic” and fear-mongered that “Americans will die, Israelis will die, Europeans will die.”

On the other side of 2016 presidential race and across town, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke on the deal today. Clinton gave a more serious policy speech in which she outlined a five-point plan focused on building allies in the region to counter Iran. Clinton is not alone in her support for the deal. In fact, she is joined by many right-leaning experts who understand the importance of the negotiations. Here’s a list of just a few of the many bi-partisan supporters of the plan:

  • Brent Scowcroft, A retired Lieutenant General in the Air Force, National Security Advisor to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, Military Assistant to President Nixon, and Chairman of President G. W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board: “Let us be clear: There is no credible alternative were Congress to prevent U.S. participation in the nuclear deal. If we walk away, we walk away alone.”
  • Senator Richard Lugar, Served as Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy: “[T]his agreement represents our best chance to stop an Iranian bomb without another war in the Middle East.”
  • Nicholas Burns, A career foreign service officer who served as Undersecretary of Political Affairs under President G. W. Bush and Permanent U.S. Representative to NATO: “Let’s not give up on Obama’s diplomacy. It is still the surest path to where we should want to be with Iran after the deep freeze of the last three decades.”
  • Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State under President G. W. Bush, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for President George H. W. Bush, National Security Advisor to President Reagan and four-star general in the United States Army: “My judgment after balancing those two sets of information is that it’s a pretty good deal.”
  • Paul Volcker, Federal Reserve chairman under President Reagan: “I honestly think this agreement is as good as you are going to get.”
  • Thomas Pickering, A career foreign service officer who served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel under President Reagan, and U.S. Ambassador to U.N. under President George H.W. Bush: “My sense is that this is a good agreement and it has a lot of advantages for the United States and the rest of the P5+1.”
  • Shlomo Ben-Ami, Former Israeli Foreign Minister and Security Minister, Current Vice President of the Toledo International Centre for Peace: “[The deal] creates a solid framework to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons for the next 10-15 years – and that is a very positive development.”

The consensus from each of these validators is clear: the Iran nuclear agreement is a good deal. It was reached through strong diplomacy and is the strictest, most intrusive inspection and verification agreement ever negotiated that blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. To walk away now would be irresponsible and squander important progress.

BOTTOM LINE: The Iran deal is the best option we have to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon now or in the future. It is a crucial first step that will allow the United States and its allies to more strongly oppose any destabilizing behavior in the Middle East. But in order for all the benefits of the deal to be realized, Congress must approve the deal so attention can turn to robust implementation of the agreement.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Hillary Clinton on the Iran Deal

Consistent, Tough, and Effective Leadership to Counter Threats from Iran

Hillary Clinton has led the international effort to counter Iran’s support for terrorism, stop its destabilizing role in the Middle East, confront its Holocaust denial and threats against Israel, and ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. As President, she will be just as determined to hold Iran to its obligations while countering its other malicious activities. She will also work to bolster the strength and security of Israel and our other allies in the region.

Clinton’s Record:

As a Senator from New York, Clinton sponsored or co-sponsored numerous bills to tighten sanctions on Iran, isolate and weaken Iran’s terrorist proxies, combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and support Israel. She saw clearly what a grave menace to global security a nuclear Iran would be. As a Senator, Clinton laid out a strategy for how to engage Iran from a position of strength, saying in a speech back in 2006:

“U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal. We cannot and should not—must not—permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. In order to prevent that from occurring, we must have more support vigorously and publicly expressed by China and Russia, and we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations. And we cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran—that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons.”
—Hillary Clinton Speech at Princeton University, 01/19/06

As the nation’s chief diplomat from 2009-2013, Secretary Clinton rallied the international community to impose suffocating sanctions on Tehran for its illicit nuclear program. When President Obama and Secretary Clinton came into office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear capability and the world was divided on what to do about it. Under the Bush Administration, Iran had mastered the nuclear fuel cycle. Unilateral U.S. sanctions were having little effect. So President Obama and Secretary Clinton designed and implemented a two-pronged strategy: pressure and engagement.

By increasing our military capabilities in the region—sending an additional aircraft carrier, a battleship, and the most advanced radar and missile defense systems—the U.S. ensured Iran felt both the strength of our military and our commitment to regional security. Meanwhile, through tough diplomacy, steadfast leadership, and countless meetings, Clinton marshaled all the major powers, including Russia and China, to impose the strongest-ever international sanctions regime on Iran.

At the State Department, Clinton also oversaw the strengthening of sanctions against Iran for its proliferation activities, support for terrorism, and human rights violations. She worked closely with the Treasury Department and Congress to craft sanctions that would maximize economic pressure on Tehran and also gain maximum compliance from the rest of the world. Under her watch, sanctions became global in scope. They reached private sector entities, such as foreign banks that had been floating Iran’s economy, resulting in massive inflation and economic losses for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The pressure from these global sanctions ultimately forced Iran to the negotiating table, leading to an agreement that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and imposes unprecedented enforcement and verification measures.

Alongside the dual-track strategy, Clinton has made support for Israel and solidarity with U.S. allies a cornerstone of her approach to countering Iran’s aggression in the region. Prime Minister Netanyahu and others credited the Obama administration during her tenure as Secretary of State with elevating security support and cooperation with Israel to “unprecedented” levels. In 2012, she was the driving force behind launching a strategic coordination platform with our partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council to confront threats to regional security.

The Dual Track Strategy

Pressure Track:

  • Achieved strongest-ever UN sanctions resolution on Iran,1 passing UNSC Resolution 1929 in June 2010.2
  • Rotated additional aircraft carrier group and military assets to the Persian Gulf.3
  • Continued building Israel’s defense capabilities4 and strengthening Gulf States’ ability to deter and resist Iranian aggression.5
  • Closed Iran off from global markets and the international financial system, working with Congress and our European and Asian allies.6
  • Convinced Iran’s major oil customers to cut back, starving the regime of income.7

Engagement Track:

  • Sent senior aides to engage in initial secret diplomacy with Iran, testing Iran’s readiness to negotiate.8
  • That initial diplomacy produced an interim nuclear agreement negotiated between the P5+1 and Iran.9
  • The interim nuclear agreement led to a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and imposes unprecedented enforcement and verification measures.10

Clinton’s Vision:

Clinton supports vigorously enforcing the nuclear agreement as part of a broader strategy toward Iran that includes bolstering deterrence and aggressively confronting Iran’s unacceptable behavior in the region.

To enforce the deal, her approach will be distrust and verify. As President, she’ll hold the line against Iranian non-compliance, imposing penalties even for small violations, and will make sure the IAEA has the resources it needs to keep Iran’s feet to the fire. And she will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to pursue a nuclear weapon.

Clinton also has a plan to counter Iran’s other malicious behavior:

  1. Deepen America’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, continuing to guarantee Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and increasing support for its rocket and missile defenses, including for northern Israel, and for intelligence sharing. Hillary will support selling Israel the most sophisticated fighter aircraft ever developed—and will push for better tunnel detection technology to prevent infiltration by terrorists and arms smuggling.
  2. Reaffirm that the Persian Gulf is a region of vital interest to the United States, expand our military presence in the region and act to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. She will increase security cooperation in areas like intelligence sharing, military backing and missile defense with our Gulf allies, to ensure they can defend themselves against Iranian aggression, including cyber-attacks or other nontraditional threats.
  3. Build a coalition to counter Iran’s proxies, particularly Hezbollah: enforcing and strengthening the rules prohibiting weapons transfers to Hezbollah; looking at new ways to choke off their funding; and pressing our partners to treat Hezbollah as the terrorist organization it is. Additionally, she will crack down on the shipment of weapons to Hamas, and push Turkey and Qatar to end their financial support. She will also press our partners to prevent IRGC-linked aircraft and ships from entering their territories, and to block Iranian planes from entering their airspace on their way to Yemen and Syria. And she will vigorously enforce—and strengthen if necessary—sanctions on Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and prohibitions on sending arms to bad actors like North Korea and Syria.
  4. Stand against Iran’s abuses at home, from its detention of political prisoners to its crackdown on freedom of expression, including online, by enforcing and—if need be—broadening our human rights sanctions. And she will not rest until every single American citizen detained or missing in Iran is home.
  5. Strengthen efforts to generate stability and counter extremism by renewing diplomacy to solve the destructive regional conflicts that Iran fuels; providing material assistance to support countries’ abilities to defend their borders and guard against terrorism; and strengthening institutions across the region to foster inclusivity and undermine the forces of extremism. And as the richest and most powerful nation on Earth, she believes we must also lead in helping the millions of people who have been uprooted by conflict.

In short, her strategy will cover all the bases, addressing not only Iran’s nuclear ambitions but also its support of terrorism. Not only its hatred of Israel, but also its cruelty toward its own citizens. Not only its military resources, but also its economic strengths and weakness. She will be creative, committed, vigilant, and will continue strengthening our partnerships with our friends and allies.

Related Resources:

1“Assessing the resiliency of Hillary Clinton,” Michael O’Hanlon, Reuters, 01/14/13
2“U.N. imposes another round of sanctions on Iran,” Washington Post, 06/10/10
3“U.S. decides to keep beefed-up presence in Middle East waters,” CNN, 07/16/12
4Hillary Clinton at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy 7th Annual Forum, 12/10/10
5“U.S. and Gulf Allies Pursue a Missile Shield Against Iranian Attack,” New York Times, 08/08/12
6U.S. Department of State, accessed 09/08/15
7Hillary Clinton at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy 2012 Saban Forum Opening Gala Dinner, 11/30/12
8“Deal Reached on Iran Nuclear Program; Limits on Fuel Would Lessen With Time,” New York Times, 07/14/15
9“U.S., Iran have ‘constructive’ nuclear talks in Geneva: U.S.,” Reuters, 08/07/14
10“The Iran Nuclear Deal: What You Need To Know About The JCPOA,” The White House, 07/14/15

Bernie Sanders on the Iran Deal

Supporting Iran Nuclear Deal, Sanders Cites Lessons from War in Iraq

Press Release: Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In a Senate floor speech later today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will detail his support for an agreement to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. In prepared remarks, Sanders likened critics of the agreement to those in Congress who voted to take the United States to war in Iraq in 2003.

“Those who have made every effort to thwart the diplomatic process and have spoken out against the Iran agreement, including many in this chamber, are the same people who spoke out forcefully on the need to go to war with Iraq,” Sanders said.

“I voted against the war in Iraq.  Sadly, much of what I feared in fact did happen. I do not want to see it happen again.”

Sanders statement came as the Senate debated a resolution to disapprove the proposed agreement. “I fear that many of my Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be a last resort, not the first resort,” Sanders said.

The deal – which would require Iran to dismantle most of its nuclear program for at least a decade – “has the best chance of limiting Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon while avoiding yet another war in the region,” Sanders said.

“It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner. I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military engagement – especially after nearly 14 years of ill-conceived and disastrous military engagements in the region,” he said.

The agreement calls for Iran to reduce its stockpile of uranium, dismantle the country’s heavy-water nuclear reactor and would subject Iran to rigorous monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Does the agreement achieve everything I would like?  Of course not.  But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on – with Iran developing nuclear weapons capability and the potential for military intervention by the U.S. and Israel growing greater by the day,” Sanders said.

A is for August and Advocacy … in support of the #IranDeal

August is when members of Congress are supposed to be meeting with their constituents to discuss issues before them.  If you get a chance to attend such a meeting, please express your support for the Iran Deal and ask for your Senator’s and Congressman’s support.

As of the date of this post, there are 32 days remaining before Congress must take action on the Iran Deal before them.  Even if you don’t get a chance to attend a meeting, you can always pick up your phone and call their offices:

Senator Harry ReidTwitter
202-224-3542 (DC) / 702-388-5020 (LV) /
775-686-5750 (Reno) / 775-882-7343 (Carson)

Senator Dean HellerTwitter
202-224-6244 (DC) / 702-388-6605 (LV) /
775-686-5770 (Reno) / 775-738-2001 (Elko)

Representative Dina Titus (CD1) … Twitter
202-225-5965 (DC) / 702-220-9823 (LV)

Representative Mark Amodei (CD2) … Twitter
202-225-6155 (DC) / 775-686-5760 (Reno)

Representative Joe Heck (CD3) … Twitter
202-225-3252 (DC) / 702-387-4941 (LV)

Representative Cresent Hardy (CD4) … Twitter
(202) 225-9894 (DC)

The U.S. + Five world powers have reached a deal with Iran to stop its potential path to a nuclear weapon. The deal is supported by over 60 nuclear security experts, more than 100 American ambassadors, 75% of Democrats, and 54% of all Americans.But the architects of the Iraq War are fighting to kill the deal. John Bolton says, 'Preemptive military action is now inescapable' and Bill Kristol says, 'Airstrikes to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program are preferable to this deal.'Opponents are pressuring Congress by spending over $40 million to put the U.S. on a path to war with Iran. But millions of dollars can't drown out millions of voices.Americans have added more than 700,000 petition signatures and more than 100,000 calls to Congress to defend the deal. Members of Congress have less than 60 days to decide whether or not to veto the deal. Now is the time to flood their offices and town hall meetings.

Visit 60daystostopawar.com to find events near you or to call your member of Congress. Tell them: A vote against the Iran deal is a vote for war.

Resources:

Five Things You Need to Understand: #Iran Deal

— from the White House

The U.S. and our international partners have secured the strongest nuclear arrangement ever negotiated. Thanks to the nuclear deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the world can verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

It’s an historic deal. It’s vital to our national security and that of our allies, like Israel. It’s also very detailed and can seem a bit complicated. So if you’re looking to dive deep into the details, here are five things you should explore to better understand why this deal will ensure Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful moving forward.

Watch This: President Obama’s speech at American University

Fifty-two years ago, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at American University on the importance of peace in the nuclear age. This week, President Obama returned there to do the same. He outlined exactly what’s in the Iran deal and what’s at stake should Congress reject it.

260Print This: A packet of everything on the Iran deal

Looking for a deep dive into the specifics of the JCPOA? Want to know what security officials, nuclear scientists, and other experts have to say about it?

Peruse this packet of information on the details of the Iran deal online, or print it and take it with you.

Share This: A few FAQs on the Iran deal

Click here for FAQs on the Iran dealAs the President has said, there’s a lot of misinformation and falsehoods out there about what exactly is in the deal and how it will work.

Check out WhiteHouse.gov/Iran-Deal to get the answers you’re looking for — and a lot more on how this deal blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.

Read This: The enhanced text of the Iran deal

Read the full text of the Iran dealYou can read all 159 pages of the Iran deal with comments from the people who negotiated it and who will implement it.

Find it on Medium — then share it with everyone who wants to dig into the specifics of the way the deal provides unprecedented transparency to monitor Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle, the robust verification regime, and more.

Follow This on Twitter: @TheIranDeal

Want updates on the Iran deal in realtime?

Follow @TheIranDeal for live fact-checks, news updates, and exclusive insights on the significance of this historic deal — along with the next steps we need to take to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and avoid another conflict in the Middle East.

Follow @TheIranDeal on Twitter

As Congress moves through its 60-day review period of the deal, stay tuned for more updates on this important diplomatic achievement.

Has Senator Heller Committed Seditious Conspiracy Along Side 46 Other Senators?

Heller 3I awoke this morning to hear that 47 U.S. Senators had signed a letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran basically telling them (1) not to trust our nation’s President to negotiate an agreement as to Iran’s nuclear program, (2) that no matter what might be negotiated, and (3) come 2017 when a new President (presumably Republican) takes office, well, he’ll just scrap that agreement.  Nevada’s Senator Dean Heller was on of those 47 signatures.  News flash Senator Heller, the President of the United States is NOT the lone Emperor of the World!

Here’s Senator Heller’s tweet:

HellerTweet03

Here’s the letter from 47 imbecilic Senators who  don’t understand the U.S. Constitution and the roles different parts of our government play, who have no rudimentary understanding of our obligations under international law and who appear to have colluded to commit seditious conspiracy to undermine the government the swore to faithfully serve:

Javad ZarifAh … but the story doesn’t end with the mere issuance of that letter.  Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that to the letter signed by the 47 Senators, “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”

Zarif was astonished that 47 members of our US Senate, some of whom have held those positions for decades, believe it to be appropriate to write to leaders of another country expressing opposition their own president and administration. Zarif also challenged the lawmakers’ threats, dismissing the letter as a mere “propaganda ploy with no legal value.”  He went further explaining, “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”

Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with the 5+1 results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Zarif expressed hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”

The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”

President Obama also condemned the action of the 47 Senators saying, “I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.”

As far as I’m concerned, I truly hope the Attorney General introduces each and every one of those 47 Senators with reality by charging them with blatant violation of the Logan Act, which ironically is a law passed by the US Congress and signed by President John Adams.  The Logan Act is a U.S. federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with or interfering with negotiations with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with fines, as well as the possibility of imprisonment of up to three years.  Clearly, the US Constitution does NOT delegate the responsibility for negotiation agreements or treaties to the US Congress.  Foreign affairs is clearly the responsibility of the executive, the President of the United States of America.

This is the second incident the GOP has orchestrated to embarrass the President of the United States and undermine his authority.  When is the President going to finally unleash the Attorney General of the United States to put an end to the seditious conspiracies being concocted against the better interests of these United States?

Netanyahu Speaks, Money Talks

— by Bill Moyers, Michael Winship

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

 

Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson.

The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right. The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam (whose purse achieved metaphoric glory Tuesday when it fell from the gallery and hit a Democratic congressman) contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends, including $93 million to such plutocracy-friendly super PACs as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC) and Restore Our Future (the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC).

Yet there’s no knowing for sure about all of the “dark money” contributed by the Adelsons– so called because it doesn’t have to be reported. Like those high-rise, multi-million dollar apartments in New York City purchased by oligarchs whose identity is hidden within perfectly legal shell organizations, dark money lets our politicians conveniently erase fingerprints left by their ink-stained (from signing all those checks) billionaire benefactors.

But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries – not to mention an ideological soulmate. Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls “uniquely pernicious” influence.

Adelson owns the daily Israel Hayom, a leading newspaper, as well as Makor Roshon, the daily newspaper of Israel’s Zionist religious right and NRG, a news website. He gives Israel Hayom away for free in order to promote his hardline views – the headline in the paper the day after Obama’s re-election was “The US Voted [for] Socialism.”

More important, he uses the paper to bang the drum incessantly for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party, under the reign of which Israel has edged closer and closer to theocracy. As Hebrew University economist Momi Dahan put it: “De facto, the existence of a newspaper like Israel Hayom egregiously violates the law, because [Adelson] actually is providing a candidate with nearly unlimited resources.”

Sheldon, meet Rupert.

In fact, as Israel’s March 17 election approaches, Adelson has increased the press run of Israel Hayom’s weekend edition by 70 percent. The paper says it’s to increase circulation and advertising, but rival newspaper Ha’aretz  reports, “Political sources are convinced the extra copies are less part of a business plan and more one to help Netanyahu’s re-election bid.” Just like the timing of Netanyahu’s “State of the Union” address to Congress this week was merely a coincidence, right? “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political,” Netanyahu told Congress. “That was never my intention.” Of course.

In Gershom Gorenberg’s words, the prime minister “enjoys the advantage of having a major newspaper in his camp that portrays the world as seen from his office: a world in which Israel is surrounded by enemies, including the president of the United States; in which peace negotiations are aimed at destroying Israel; in which Israel’s left is aligned with all the hostile forces, and even rightists who oppose Netanyahu want to carry out a coup through the instrument of elections.”

So Netanyahu gets the best of both of Adelson’s worlds – his powerful propaganda machine in Israel and his campaign cash here in the United States. Combined, they allow Netanyahu to usurp American foreign policy as he manipulates an obliging US Congress enamored of Adelson’s millions, pushing it further to the right on Israel and the Middle East.

There you have it: Not only is this casino mogul the unofficial head of the Republican Party in America (“he with the gold rules”), he is the uncrowned King of Israel — David with a printing press and checkbook instead of a slingshot and a stone. All of this came to the fore in Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday: the US cannot determine its own policy in the Middle East and the majority in Congress are under the thumb of a foreign power.

Like a King Midas colossus, Sheldon Adelson bestrides the cause of war and peace in the most volatile region of the world. And this is the man who — at Yeshiva University in New York in 2013 — denounced President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran and proposed instead that the United States drop an atomic bomb in the Iranian desert and then declare: “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

Everything you need to know about Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of that man. We are hostage to his fortune.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason.He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers’ Journal and is senior writer of BillMoyers.com.

The US and Cuba

— by President Barack Obama, White HouseWhiteHouse

Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we began to change America’s relationship with the people of Cuba.

We are recognizing the struggle and sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.

I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with that country.

Our complicated relationship with this nation played out over the course of my lifetime — against the backdrop of the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground. Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.

That previous approach failed to promote change, and it’s failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It’s time to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future with this country.

First, I have instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations that have been severed since 1961. Going forward, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will once again visit Cuba.

Second, I have also instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism — a review guided by the facts and the law. At a time when we are focused on threats from ISIL and al Qaeda, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces terrorism should not face such a sanction.

Third, we’ll take steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to — and from — Cuba. These steps will make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba. They will make it easier for Americans to conduct authorized trade with Cuba, including exports of food, medicine, and medical products to Cuba. And they will facilitate increased telecommunications connections between our two countries: American businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.

Learn more about the steps we’re taking to change our policy.

These changes don’t constitute a reward or a concession to Cuba. We are making them because it will spur change among the people of Cuba, and that is our main objective.

Change is hard — especially so when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.

Our country is cutting that burden loose to reach for a better future.

Sabotaging the Conversation about Guns

The NRA’s antics could hinder global efforts to reduce weapons sales to terrorists and regimes that abuse human rights.

— by Don Kraus

Don Kraus

Does NRA stand for “No Rational Argument”? In response to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun group’s CEO called for an armed cop in every school and a national database to track the mentally ill. Wayne LaPierre’s widely broadcast proposal prompted the New York Daily News to ask whether this list “should include the paranoid, delusional man himself?”

But this is far from a laughing matter. When it comes to gun violence within the United States and around the entire world, the NRA makes our planet a much more dangerous place for our children and families by using lies, misinformation, and political arm-twisting to support easier access to assault weapons and ammunition.

In the days and weeks to come, debates will rage within the United States on how we can best address the 30 mass shootings that, since 1999, have left over 260 people dead and many more permanently disabled. The NRA will work hard to derail attempts in statehouses and in the nation’s Capitol to tighten controls on the assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. But in New York, there’s another debate brewing where the NRA will also attempt to play the role of spoiler: the upcoming negotiations at the United Nations to establish a worldwide Arms Trade Treaty. The gun group’s antics could impact the lives of millions around the world.

imageIn March, negotiators will meet at the UN for a final round of talks to hammer out a set of common global standards on how countries import, export, and transfer conventional weapons. Every year, 12 billion bullets are produced worldwide. That’s enough to kill nearly everyone on the planet twice. Yet, bananas have stricter international trade regulations than weapons and ammunition.

The Arms Trade Treaty is a common-sense measure that would make it more difficult for weapons to be sold on the black market and halt the flow of weapons to dangerous regimes. This treaty, if enacted, would stop the irresponsible transfer of ammunition and arms to nations that support terrorists and to countries where there is a high risk of weapons being used to violate human rights, like in Syria and Bahrain.

The UN resolution that authorized the treaty talks made sure that the agreement only dealt with international sales and reserved “the exclusive right of (individual nations) to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership.”

Despite this assurance, the NRA’s LaPierre has gone on record saying the Arms Trade Treaty will threaten Americans’ rights to bear arms. Even a senior research fellow from the very conservative Heritage Foundation, Ted Bromund, has debunked this big lie.

“I don’t think that the ATT is a gun confiscation measure for a variety of reasons,” Bromund said. “First, because I don’t regard that as within the bounds of possibility in the United States and secondly, because that is not what the text says.”

But facts have never gotten in the way of those determined to use controversy and fabrication to undermine civil debate. Take Bradlee Dean, a heavy metal drummer, ordained minister, and a columnist for the arch-right publication World Net Daily. He has called the Sandy Hook shootings part of a government plot to win support for the Arms Trade Treaty. As “evidence” he notes that the shootings happened “just days after Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sent out an alert that the UN was set to pass the final version of the Small Arms Treaty, supported by Obama the day after the election.”

While it would be easy to dismiss Dean as delusional and LaPierre as paranoid, their tactics and goals undermine efforts to protect children and families at home and abroad.

Our nation is clearly ready for a healthy debate on our relationship with guns. The question is, are we prepared to stand together to discredit those who deploy lies and fear to sabotage the conversation?


Don Kraus is the president and CEO of GlobalSolutions.org, a groundbreaking movement of Americans who support a cooperative and responsible U.S. role in the world. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

What Goes Around Eventually Comes Back Around

Have you noticed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has gotten a bit quieter about the events in Libya of late?  Wonder why?  Could it be the hypocrisy of the various positions his has taken over the last year that have finally come back around to not just slap him in the face but bite him in his hide quarters?

McCain-LibyaTo see where I’m going with this, let’s go back a bit, to April 22 of last year.  On that date, Sen. McCain, while at a Libyan Rebel stronghold in Benghazi, of all places, held a press conference.  During that conference he railed about how the Libyan rebel progress could stall unless the U.S. supplied the Libyan rebels with weapons and air support. He also urged that the U.S. should “recognize” the TNC, Libya’s “Transitional National Council.

As far as the U.S. public knew at the time, the U.S. did supply air support to prevent Muammar Gaddafi from committing genocide across Libya.  What we didn’t know at the time is that the U.S. CIA secretly supplied weapons to those rebels via Qatar.  Now, we, as citizens, not only know that they did that, but Salon and the NY Times are reporting that “those” weapons while going to the rebels, were being turned over to Libya’s Islamist militant fighters … you know, those same Islamist militant fighters who took out the Benghazi outpost along with our U.S. Diplomats.  That link hasn’t yet been confirmed, but no doubt, it’s most likely coming.

The situation in Libya is one Sen. McCain’s actively sought to help create.  Once it backfired, he apparently felt the need to deflect any blame that might befall him.  So — what better way to do that tan to claim that the Administration was engaged in a cover-up and shift the blame elsewhere.  He even enlisted the support of other Senate GOP stooges to provide the appearance of credibility and help him further ‘his’ cover-up. There is no evidence to support that the Administration engaged in a cover-up, yet these three Senators diligently worked the media so as to convince the American public that one had in deed occurred.image

His choice of scapegoat, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, just doesn’t pan out in the wash.  The CIA provided the arms, the CIA was protecting its assets and its backside in Libya when the attack occurred, the CIA once again provided faulty intelligence as well as the ‘talking points’ for that round of Sunday morning talk show talking heads, but Sen. McCain decided that he should “shoot” the messenger instead of seek out the root causes of the problem.

Where exactly were these three Senators when Condoleezza Rice failed to take appropriate action regarding the seriousness of an impending terrorist threat that she ignored just prior to 9/11/2001, or when she promoted the myth of weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq to justify the need to start a war there, kill thousands of Iraqi citizens in the process, as well as get a large number of our U.S. Soldiers killed or maimed for life? There was absolutely no outrage, no even about the extended vacation by then President Bush who took an extended 23-day vacation after learning of the Bin Laden threat. 

Further, where are these Senators when it comes to funding the necessary medical support and/or jobs support when they return to the US after fighting for whatever ideal they folks espouse?  Nowhere! Where were 38 GOP Senators when it comes to assuring that our disabled soldiers are treated fairly and appropriately anywhere in the world?  Again, nowhere!

I’m so thrilled that voters succeeded in keeping this man from becoming President of our nation.  Clearly, Sen. McCain doesn’t learn. Even given the outcome of the Benghazi situation, it has not dissuaded him from advocating “arming” rebels in yet another Islamist nation—Syria.

I’m sorry —but arming rebels is not the best approach to resolving challenges elsewhere across the globe.  It clearly didn’t work in Afghanistan, when we armed the rebels in their fight against the Russians—ultimately spawning Al Qaeda.  It didn’t work when we armed the rebels against Muammar Gaddafi—resulting in the loss of a US Ambassador and other staff.  The time has come for serious contemplation and diplomacy—not misguided tirades that cause other world leaders to doubt our nation’s ability to lead on any issue—and definitely not more armed conflicts that do little or nothing to solve our nation’s fiscal issues..