On the day Jews were celebrating Simhat Torah, Judaism’s most joyous day, in the United States President Donald Trump was making history by speaking boldly against Iran and president Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement.
President Trump decided not to re-certify the disastrous deal, giving Congress the option of imposing crippling economic sanctions against Iran for its support of terrorism and illegal ballistic missile program. Only this kind of pressure on Iran and its international business partners might actually stop Iran from going nuclear – the pivotal end-goal the current deal fails to provide.
Amazingly, in the Jewish community barely a word has been uttered by leaders and activists alike about the need for Congress to kill the deal once and for all, a measure that would require all 52 Republican senators being joined by eight Democrats. Even those Jewish activists who worked tirelessly to stop the deal back in 2015 have gone mum. AIPAC, the Jewish community’s most important lobby, heroically spent tens of millions of dollars and organized massive fly-ins of supporters to stampede the halls of Congress all in an effort to stop Obama from sealing the deal in 2015. What are their plans now? Will a lobbying effort be launched to kill the deal now that there’s a round two? Many who were previous opponents of the deal have been seduced by the chorus of media commentators begging Trump not to scrap the deal – one that has been as loud as it has been constant.
The arguments offered by these advocates generally boil down to the same two points. Firstly, if we abandon the deal, our international reputation will suffer as we show we can’t be trusted. Second, even if we do opt out, our allies may not follow. In other words, we’ve lost our leverage.
Let’s start with the primary point raised by deal’s supporters. If America pulls out of a deal it signed on to, our international standing will take a debilitating hit.
After all, who will ever want to sign an agreement with a partner that has a history of pulling out? Firstly, the dangers of a nuclear Iran more than justify the deal’s revocation by a new administration. This is especially true considering the fact that, as a democracy, administration and policy changes are to be expected from the United States. It might not be something a dictatorship like Iran can understand, but we as Americans certainly should.
It was Senator Tom Cotton who famously wrote to Ayatollah Khameini that given that Obama chose not to ratify the deal with Congress, it could be revoked by a different president with the stroke of a pen.
Much more critical is the fact that Iran isn’t keeping the deal. In September, Israeli intelligence learned that IAEA inspectors were denied entry into a critical Iranian military installation at Parchin. Recently the Institute for Science and International Security, a conglomerate of leading scientists, released a report demanding that the IAEA gain access to Parchin, an area they said was marked by “plenty of evidence of past Iranian nuclear weapons activity” and most likely houses high-explosive storage bunkers and shock-physics laboratories.
Though the deal stipulates that Iran must allow inspectors access to all sites of suspected nuclear development, an official from Iran’s nuclear implementation committee announced quite bluntly last week that “Americans will not be allowed to inspect the military bases.”
So much for Iran’s cooperation.
Moreover, those heralding the reputation risks ignore the far more delegitimizing effects that would accompany a continued American commitment to the deal.
After all, in signing the Iran agreement America endangered some of its most important allies such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and most importantly the State of Israel, all of whom legitimately fear Iranian hegemony in the Middle East. In fact, we’re already feeling the effects of the plummeting value of our friendship. Two weeks ago King Salman of Saudi Arabia made the first ever royal visit to America’s foremost international competitor, Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to The Guardian
’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour, the message was clear. “The kingdom [is] looking to diversify into wider set of alliances,” due no doubt in part to its “fears about US reliability.”
America must stop Iran and restore the faith of our most dependable allies. To continue to prioritize a horrible agreement with a sworn and swindling enemy over decades-old alliances with vital and moral friends like Israel amounts to sheer folly.
Which brings us to the most commonly used argument, that America can’t retreat from the Iran deal because Europe and Asia are making too much money to renege. After all, the other signatories to the Iran agreement have vowed to stand by the deal even if we don’t. So long as they refuse to sanction Iran, the rogue regime will maintain the economic capability to produce a nuclear weapon.
To this I respond simply: Russia, China and Europe will abide by any move we make.
The United States, the world’s largest economy, boasts a financial system worth a whopping $19 trillion. No major economy will risk losing access to that. Certainly not in exchange for access to Iran’s $400 billion economy.
Sure, Russia, China and Europe will threaten non-compliance. But in the end, they’ll comply. In fact – as explained by Richard Goldberg, one of the leading architects of congressional sanctions against Iran – that’s exactly the pattern. When Senators Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) put together a bill imposing crippling sanctions on the National Bank of Iran, a “livid” Obama administration begged them to withdraw. European allies, they warned, had sworn not to comply. In the end, “every European and Asian ally that had come to Capitol Hill to lobby against the amendment fully complied with it after it came into force.”
The same occurred months later when Europeans refused to cut Iran out of the global SWIFT financial network. Legislation was drafted to cut SWIFT out of US markets, and the Europeans gave in. Precisely the same story played out through the passage of the Iran Threat Reduction Act and the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act.
The lesson: “Cry as they might along the way, no European or Asian corporation is going to choose a terrorist regime over access to the US dollar.”
In short, we as a nation already have the power to stop Iran. Or, to speak President Trump’s language, in this instance, America is Already Great Enough.The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 31 books, including Judaism for Everyone. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.