The Progress Report: The Art of the Do-Over

Last week, Trump

This week, he’ll talk about economics. Trump is slated to lay out his economic vision in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club this afternoon. He is expected to call for a moratorium on all new regulations and reviving the Keystone XL pipeline, give more details on his incredibly costly tax plan, and announce a plan to make child care fully deductible. Here are a few things to keep in mind before today’s speech:


What’s Trending

Steves. Trump’s team of 13 economic advisers doesn’t include any women or people of color–but it does include five Steves. His team includes lots of billionaires (and Trump donors) and only one real economist. We found seven other ‘Steves’ who are more qualified than his existing team.

Climate change: Every party has a pooper and at Friday’s opening ceremonies in Rio that pooper was climate change. In a short film narrated by Dame Judi Dench, viewers saw how melting ice sheets will inundate coastal cities, including the coast of Rio de Janeiro, which could see up to 1.5 meters of sea level rise by the end of the century, putting 80,000 people at risk of coastal flooding. And speaking of climate change, it has helped the spread of Zika in the U.S.

Honoring Khan: Charles Cowherd, whose identical twin brother 2nd Lt. Leonard M. Cowherd III is buried three headstones from Capt. Humayan Khan in Arlington National Cemetery, honors Cap. Khan.

ISIS: All signs suggest that ISIS’s days are numbered in Iraq. The group has been pushed out of more than half of the territory it used to control. But are we ready for the day after they’re defeated?

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. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

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.

Obama Sharpens His Nuclear Posture

A new Pentagon document indicates that contingent plans for the use of nuclear weapons are being made, with the self-evidently impossible task of minimizing collateral damage.

— by Peter Weiss

Peter Weiss

Soon after President Barack Obama began his first term, he called for a world free of nuclear weapons. His address, which quickly became known as Obama’s Prague Speech, helped him win the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

Then, he dropped the ball.

The Pentagon finally followed up in late June with a strange document that fails to explain how Obama intends to make progress toward full nuclear disarmament.

Even though the Report on Nuclear Employment Strategy of the United States doesn’t do that, it still should have been news. Instead, the mainstream media took a pass.

In the past, these documents, the last of which the Pentagon issued in 2010, were called “Nuclear Posture Reviews.” They focused largely on the role of nuclear weapons for deterrence. Now for the first time the word “employment” — another word for “use” — is in the title.

Is this a not-so-subtle way of telling our enemies, actual and potential, that we are not afraid to use these weapons of mass annihilation?

To drive home that point, the report states that, while the “2010 Nuclear Posture Review established the (Obama) administration’s goal of making deterrence of a nuclear attack the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons…we cannot adopt such a policy today.”


Instead, this report explains, “the new guidance re-iterates the intention to work towards that goal over time.”

What are the other purposes of U.S. nuclear weapons besides trying to stop nuclear attacks by others?

Alas, the report doesn’t really say. Instead, it vaguely states that while the threat of global nuclear war has become remote since the Cold War ended, the risk of nuclear attack has increased.

Presumably, this refers to nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists rather than governments. But it doesn’t explain how U.S. nuclear weapons could be “employed” to deter the use of nuclear weapons by, for instance, al-Qaeda.

The phrase “new guidance” appears repeatedly in the report. But it leaves readers guessing about the nature of such guidance as it relates to the most important goal of U.S. nuclear-weapons strategy: “strategic stability” with Russia and China.

The report indicated that our government is sticking with its longtime concept of “extended deterrence,” a commitment to also use our nuclear arsenal for the benefit of U.S. allies and partners. But what does “partners” mean in this context? The report doesn’t say.

And it looks like the government remains sold on the idea that it must maintain a stockpile of non-deployed nuclear warheads in case deterrence with deployed ones should fail.

There are other mysteries.

The Pentagon’s report states, “The new guidance makes clear that all plans must also be consistent with the fundamental principles of the Law of Armed Conflict. Accordingly plans…will seek to minimize collateral damage to civilian populations and civilian objects.”

Thus, plans for the use of nuclear weapons are being made, but the planners have been given the self-evidently impossible task of minimizing collateral damage.

There’s more.

In February, Germany sponsored a conference in Berlin on creating the conditions for a nuclear-weapons-free world. Washington didn’t participate.

In March, Norway held a conference in Oslo on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. Delegates from 127 countries attended. None were from the United States.

In May, the Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament created by the UN General Assembly held its first meeting in Geneva. The United States skipped it.

Obama’s recent declaration in Berlin that Washington might be willing to reduce its stockpile of more than 1,500 deployed nuclear warheads by one-third to 1,000 drew applause from some arms-control supporters. I’m holding my applause until he demonstrates the political will to work on the goal of scrapping nuclear weapons altogether.

Peter Weiss is the President Emeritus of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy.  Distributed via OtherWords.