[Rushtalk] Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Mon Sep 21 17:39:36 MDT 2015

Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal

        By Ismael Hossein-Zadeh | CounterPunch| August 28, 2015

The hysterical campaign launched against the Iran nuclear deal by the
flag-waving militarist partisans in and around the US congress has
terribly obfuscated the issues included in the deal. Not surprisingly,
the campaign has created a number of misconceptions regarding both the
actual contents of the deal and the main disagreements between the
advocates and opponents of the deal.

One such misconception is that the deal is, or must be, more
advantageous to Iran than the US and Israel; otherwise, the simple logic
goes, there would not be so much opposition to it. Such impressions,
created simply by all the hue and cry on the part of the opponents of
the deal are patently false. Even a cursory reading of the nuclear
agreement reveals that, as I pointed out in a recent article on the
issue, it is highly skewed against Iran. Not only does the agreement
downgrade and freeze Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology, it also limits
the scope of the county’s scientific research and development,
jeopardizes its national security or defense capabilities and, perhaps
most importantly, undermines its national sovereignty.

So, considering the fact the deal represents a big win for the US and
its allies and, by the same token, a major loss for Iran, why all the
uproar against it?

A number of reasons can be thought of for all the war party’s feverish
hullabaloo. The main reason, however, seems to be that while the deal
obviously represents a fantastic victory for the US and its allies, it
nonetheless falls short of what the war party projected and fought for,
that is, devastating regime change by military means, similar to what
was done to Iraq and Libya.

The second misconception that the war party’s vehement opposition to the
nuclear deal has created is that their ultimate goal vis-à-vis Iran is
significantly different from that of the Obama administration and other
proponents of the deal. In reality, however, the difference between the
opponents and proponents of the deal is largely tactical; strategically,
both factions pursue the same objective: regime change in Iran.

While the advocates of the deal have in recent years switched their
tactics from direct military intervention and regime change from without
to soft-power methods of regime change from within, the opponents of the
deal continue to insist that overwhelming military force and escalating
economic strangulation are the more effective means of regime change in
Tehran, that is, regime change from outside.

This does not mean that the advocates of the nuclear deal have ruled out
the military option altogether—by no means. As President Obama,
Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials have
frequently pointed out, the military option is on the table when/if
needed, that is, if Iran fails to carry out all the punishing
obligations under the nuclear deal.

The tactical switch by the proponents of the deal from military to
soft-power methods of regime change did not come about overnight, or by
an epiphany. For over thirty years since the 1979 revolution in Iran,
which significantly undermined the U.S. influence in that country and
elsewhere in the region, these proponents, like their counterparts in
the war party, pursued policies of regime change from outside. These
included instigation of and support for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran,
training and supporting destabilizing terrorist organizations to attack
Iran from all corners of the country, constant war and military threats,
efforts to sabotage the 2009 presidential election through the so-called
“green revolution,” and systematic escalation of economic sanctions.

Not only did these evil schemes fall short of their nefarious goal of
“regime change” in Iran, they in fact drove the country to become a
major power in the region.

In the face of the brutal economic sanctions and constant military
threats, Iran embarked on a relatively radical path of a
public/state-guided economy that successfully provided both for the war
mobilization to defend its territorial integrity and for respectable
living conditions of its population. By taking control of the commanding
heights of the national economy, and effectively utilizing the
revolutionary energy and dedication of their people, Iranian policy
makers at the time also succeeded in taking significant steps toward
economic self-reliance, which further thwarted the geopolitical plans of
the US and its allies to bring Iran to its knees, or to overthrow its

Having thus failed at its plots of “regime change” from without, a major
faction of the US ruling class, headed by the Obama administration, now
seems to have opted for regime change (or reform) from within; that is,
through political and economic rapprochement with Iran—using the nuclear
negotiations as a starting point, or transitional channel.

What has made this option more promising in recent years is the rise of
a well-organized, Western-oriented neoliberal capitalist class in Iran
whose chief priority seems to be the ability to do business with their
counterparts in the West.

Many of the once revolutionary leaders who successfully managed the
1980-88 war economy have now become business entrepreneurs and
prosperous capitalists. Having effectively enriched themselves in the
shadow of the public sector economy, these folks are now ready to do
business American style, that is, follow the neoliberal/austerity model
of economics.

It is thus understandable why major factions within Iran’s ruling
circles, represented largely by the Rouhani administration, have no
stomach for a regimented, war-like economy; and why they support the
highly disgraceful compromises made by Iran’s nuclear negotiators to the
United States and its allies. For the rich and powerful elites of these
circles issues such as nuclear technology or national sovereignty are of
secondary importance to self-enrichment, or profit motive.

It follows that the Obama administration and other US advocates of the
nuclear deal opted for negotiation with Iran only after they came to the
realization that (a) continuing on the path of regime change from
outside tended to be ineffective, or even counterproductive, and (b) the
rise of a pro-US, collaborationist capitalist class in Iran increasingly
promised to be a more effective vehicle of spreading the US influence in
Iran and, ultimately, of regime change from within.

Indeed, the Obama administration’s recent approach of relying primarily
on business/market forces of regime change, or modification, without
ruling out the military option is likely to be more effective in
achieving its goal than the war party’s reckless insistence on
escalating sanctions and military threats.

The effectiveness of this approach lies in the fact that, as pointed out
earlier, the nuclear deal would significantly limit Iran’s military and
defense capabilities. The deal would also avail the US extensive
knowledge of Iran’s economic, technological, security, and military
capabilities and, therefore, vulnerabilities. This means that if at any
time in the future Iran defies or resists the heavy-handed imperialistic
designs of the United States, the US can then employ its war machine
more effectively as it would have the necessary information on strategic
places or targets to be attacked or bombarded.

This is no speculation or conspiracy theory. It is, indeed, a scenario
projected by the Obama administration officials and other advocates of
the nuclear deal as they promote it ahead of the next month’s critical
vote in Congress. “In meetings on Capitol Hill and with influential
policy analysts, administration officials argue that inspections of
Iran’s nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details
that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack
Iran” [1].

Commenting on this ominous depraved scheme, Representative Adam Schiff,
the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Michael
Crowley of Politico, “It’s certainly an argument I’ve heard made. . . .
We’ll be better off with the agreement were we to need to use
force” [2].

To see how this menacing projection is not simply an abstract or
partisan argument, suffice it to remember the fact that this is exactly
what was done to Iraq and Libya. In both cases, the United States and
its allies used disingenuous negotiations with Saddam Hussein and
Muammar al-Qaddafi as pretexts to collect information about their
military/defense capabilities and, then, used the information thus
acquired for targeted bombardment and effective invasion.


[1] Michael Crowley, The ultimate argument in favor of the Iran deal:
The agreement would make it easier to bomb Iran, administration
officials have told lawmakers.

[2] Ibid.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake
University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the
Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), and The Political Economy of U.S.
Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007).

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