"So, if, in fact, the Iranians aren't going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war... We could step up the pressure... We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier at that."
Nasty enough to create another Gulf of Tonkin fraud -- a false flag incident that would serve as justification for an attack on Iran? While Clawson hurriedly and somewhat unconvincingly said "I'm not advocating that," he clearly was advocating exactly that -- and perhaps suggesting that his Israeli sponsors might be up to the job.
Yes, "crisis initiation is really tough," but where there's a will there's a way. Except it's getting harder for Clawson and his fellow neocons to pull this off: people are on to their game. As if to underscore the neocons' lack of political heft, Clawson couldn't even pull that protest banner out of the hands of a woman half his size: he just collapsed, humiliated, as he fell into his seat rubbing his injured hand.
Furthermore, Michaela Anang's message -- "Why is anybody listening to this man?" -- is getting out there, because the truth is that hardly anybody is listening to Cheney. The supreme irony is that even as Cheney spoke, the remaining on-the-fence Senators were announcing their support for the Iran deal, giving the administration a veto-proof majority.
Not that this stopped the neocons: indeed, they accelerated their efforts, supposedly aimed at stopping the deal, with a move by the misnamed "Freedom Caucus" in the GOP congressional ranks to delay the Iran deal vote. The Republican leadership had been planning such a vote but this was nixed by the Freedom Caucusers, who came up with a complicated three-part plan, involving three separate votes. The first would be on a resolution declaring that the President and his State Department have not revealed the full text of the Iran deal, and that because they are hiding the "secret side agreements," the deal is illegitimate. The second would be on a bill forbidding the lifting of sanctions. The third would be a vote on a resolution approving the deal, with the GOP majority poised to vote it down.
The first phase of this three-parter is the crucial one: as Max Fisher points out over at Vox, this would give the Republicans an ongoing issue with which to infatuate talk radio habitues and the GOP base. And, as per usual with this crowd, their contention has nothing to do with reality. The "secret side agreement" is the IAEA's arrangements with Iran, which the US is not a party to, involving purely technical details. The IAEA has a similar "secret" agreement with the US, and indeed all parties to the Nonproliferation Treaty, and it is "secret" for the simple reason that countries with nuclear programs -- especially the United States, for one -- don't want to advertise the details to the world.
Members of Congress who haven't always gone along with the War Party's agenda, and yet don't want to incur their wrath, are using this pretext as a cover for their complete capitulation to the neocons' anti-Iran jihad. Rep. Justin Amash pretends to fall for the "secret side deal" canard, but his rationalization is transparently false, as one can see by carefully reading Amash's argument:
"The Review Act requires the president to submit to Congress the text of any nuclear deal reached with Iran. Submission of the nuclear deal triggers a period of review for Congress to analyze the agreement -- a period during which the president is prohibited from taking any actions to lift statutory sanctions.
"The precise language of the Review Act recognizes that a comprehensive nuclear deal includes many separate components, and that for members of Congress to accurately assess the merits of the agreement, Congress must have access to all portions of the agreement. Thus, the Review Act carefully defines 'agreement' to include 'annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements.'
"We now know that there are at least two side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that are integral to the nuclear deal but nevertheless will not be shared with Congress."
The IAEA's agreement with Iran is secret, including from the United States. As the international arbiter enforcing the terms of the Nonproliferation Treaty, the IAEA isn't an American sock puppet: it is a neutral observer and its agreements with member states regarding the details of inspections and other technical matters are confidential. The administration can't hand over documents to which it has no access.
Yes, the Review Act states that documents dealing with agreements made "between Iran and any other parties" must be made public by the administration, and yet Congress has no authority over the IAEA -- unless Amash is arguing that congressional authority has to be extended to Vienna in order for the Iran deal to pass "constitutional" muster.
Hiding behind the skirts of the Constitution -- or what they interpret as the intent of the Constitution -- is a typical maneuver practiced by the Rand Paul wing of the ostensibly "libertarian" movement in order to explain away their total capitulation to the War Party. Amash's non-explanation is reminiscent of Rand Paul's supremely stupid legislation demanding that Congress issue a formal declaration of war against ISIS -- as if clothing an invasion of yet another Middle Eastern country in "constitutional" clothing would somehow make it more palatable to libertarians.
Amash goes on and on, trying to put his vote in a "constitutional" framework, but ultimately winds up borrowing a line from none other than Donald Trump, declaring:
"Finally, even if we set aside the constitutional defects and related consequences discussed above, it is unconscionable that the Obama administration would negotiate a final agreement that does not secure the release of the three American hostages held in Iran -- Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian -- or information on the whereabouts of a former FBI agent abducted in Iran, Robert Levinson. The nuclear deal provides Iran access to billions of dollars in unfrozen assets and the almost immediate removal of major U.S. and international economic sanctions on Iran's financial and energy sectors, followed by the termination of most nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in just a few years. If Iran is unwilling to return American hostages to their families as part of this agreement, then we cannot trust that Iran will act in good faith as sanctions are lifted."
What this tells us is that Amash never did have an "open mind," as he claims, regarding the Iran deal, because any serious student of the US-Iran negotiations, or diplomacy in general, knows that when it comes to bridging the gap between longtime adversaries only narrowing the framework of any agreement will lead to a successful conclusion. The release of the three people being held in Iran has nothing whatsoever to do with making sure Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons, and it is simply silly (in a Trumpish sort of way) to assert that failure to release them shows "we cannot trust that Iran will act in good faith as sanctions are lifted." If Amash and his phony "Freedom Caucus" buddies are going to demand this, then why not include a demand that the Iranians free all their political prisoners, institute complete religious freedom, and give every oppressed Iranian a pony?
Amash is tired of fighting his own party: he recently survived a tough primary fight in the course of which his neocon-funded opponent accused him of being "Al Qaeda's best friend." And in spite of his pretensions, Amash is no Ron Paul -- he doesn't want to be the only Republican congressman to buck the neoconservative tide on this issue. If he thinks the neocons will let up on him because of his opposition to the Iran deal he had better think again, but I emphasize his pitiful capitulation in order to make a larger point.
The continuation of the neocon campaign against the Iran deal in spite of the fact that the deal will go through anyway has a purpose, one which includes cementing neoconservative control of the GOP. The Republican party is, today, an agent of a foreign power; it is the party of Benjamin Netanyahu. This was formalized when House Speaker John Boehner invited Bibi to undermine the Iran agreement in a speech to Congress, an invitation extended behind the President's back. Not since the heyday of the cold war, when the Communist Party USA functioned openly as Moscow's instrument, has an American political party bended its knee so brazenly to an overseas master. The battle over the Iran deal has effectively eliminated whatever reluctance some GOPers had to becoming Bibi's congressional handmaidens. If the Iran deal confirms that Congress is no longer "Israeli-occupied territory," as Pat Buchanan once put it, then its Republican component is now the political arm of the IDF.