“So Pres Obama goes to #Panama, meets with Castro and attacks me – I’m sure Raúl is pleased”
This is what it looks like when a backbiting, betraying warmonger like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cries because reality is being too mean to him.
Not now, John.
Or, to be more specific, the president’s “attack”:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Sir, you head back to the United States with the task of convincing the American people and Congress on two major foreign policy initiatives — the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran, and likely soon, the decision to remove Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terror. Recent remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini have raised doubts among some as to whether that deal can occur in Iran. And Senator Schumer, an ally of yours, has — wants Congress to have the right to vote on removal of sanctions. Presidential politics are likely to play a part in this Cuba decision inevitably. So I’m wondering if it would take a lot of political capital just to get one done, let alone two. Have you bitten off more than you can chew?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No. (Laughter.) You may be surprised by that response, Jim. Let me take them in turn.
First of all, with respect to Cuba, there is majority support of our policy in the United States, and there’s overwhelming support for our policy in Cuba. I think people recognize that if you keep on doing something for 50 years and it doesn’t work, you should try something new.
And so the American people don’t need to be persuaded that this is, in fact, the right thing to do. I recognize that there are still concerns and questions that Congress may have; we’ve got concerns and questions about specific activities that are taking place in Cuba, and human rights and reform. And there were two members of the Cuban civil society that were in attendance at the meeting that I had yesterday who expressed much of what they have to go through on a day-to-day basis. They were supportive of our policy of engagement with Cuba.
And so I don’t think that it’s so much we have to persuade anybody. The issue of the State Sponsor of Terrorism list — as you know, the State Department has provided a recommendation; it’s gone through our interagency process. I’ll be honest with you, I have been on the road, and I want to make sure that I have a chance to read it, study it, before we announce publicly what the policy outcome is going to be.
But in terms of the overall direction of Cuba policy, I think there is a strong majority both in the United States and in Cuba that says our ability to engage, to open up commerce and travel and people-to-people exchanges is ultimately going to be good for the Cuban people.
Now, with respect to Iran, I have always been clear: We are not done yet. What we were able to obtain was a political framework between the P5+1 nations and Iran that provided unprecedented verification of what is taking place in Iran over the next two decades that significantly cuts back on its centrifuges, that cuts of pathways for it to obtain a nuclear weapon, and that calls for, in return, the rolling back of sanctions in a phased way that allows us to snap back if Iran violates the agreement. That’s the political framework. That was not just something that the United States and Iran agreed to, but Iran agreed to a political framework with the other P5+1 nations.
Now, what’s always been clear is, is that Iran has its own politics around this issue. They have their own hardliners. They have their own countervailing impulses in terms of whether or not to go forward with something, just as we have in our country. And so it’s not surprising to me that the Supreme Leader or a whole bunch of other people are going to try to characterize the deal in a way that protects their political position. But I know what was discussed at — in arriving at the political agreement.
What I’ve always said, though, is that there’s the possibility of backsliding. There’s the possibility that it doesn’t get memorialized in a way that satisfies us that we’re able to verify that, in fact, Iran is not getting a nuclear weapon, and that we are preserving the capacity to snap back sanctions in the event that they are breaking any deal.
And that’s why the work is going to be so important between now and the end of June to memorialize this so that we can all examine it. And we don’t have to speculate on what the meaning of a deal is going to be. Either there’s going to be a document that Iran agrees with the world community about and a series of actions that have to be taken, or there’s not. Part of the challenge in this whole process has been opponents of basically any deal with Iran have constantly tried to characterize what the deal is without seeing it.
Now, if we are able to obtain a final deal that comports with the political agreement — and I say “if” because that’s not yet final — then I’m absolutely positive that that is the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And that’s not my opinion; that’s the opinion of people like Ernie Moniz, my Secretary of Energy, who is a physicist from MIT and actually knows something about this stuff. That’s the opinion of a whole bunch of nuclear experts who examined the deal.
Very rarely do you see a consensus — “consensus” is too strong a word — a large majority of people who are experts in the field saying this is actually a realistic, plausible, meaningful approach to cut off the pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, and that it is more likely to succeed not only than maintaining current sanctions or additional sanctions, but more likely to succeed than if we took a military approach to solving the problem.
Again, that’s not uniquely my opinion. That is — talk to people who are not affiliated with the administration, some of whom were skeptical about our capacity to get a deal done and have now looked at it and said if we’re able to actually get what was discussed in the political framework, it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
Now, there’s politics and political pressure inside of the United States. We all know that. The Prime Minister of Israel is deeply opposed to it. I think he’s made that very clear. I have repeatedly asked, what is the alternative that you present that you think makes it less likely for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and I have yet to obtain a good answer on that that.
And the narrow question that’s going to be presented next week when Congress comes back is what’s Congress’s appropriate role in looking at a final deal. And I’ve talked to not only Bob Corker, but I’ve talked to Ben Cardin, the Ranking Member on the Democratic side. And I want to work with them so that Congress can look at this deal when it’s done. What I’m concerned about is making sure that we don’t prejudge it, or those who are opposed to any deal whatsoever try to use a procedural argument essentially to screw up the possibility of a deal.
Last comment I’m going to make on this. When I hear some, like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran — that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries. And we’re seeing this again and again. We saw it with the letter by the 47 senators who communicated directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran — the person that they say can’t be trusted at all — warning him not to trust the United States government.
We have Mitch McConnell trying to tell the world, oh, don’t have confidence in the U.S. government’s abilities to fulfill any climate change pledge that we might make. And now we have a senator suggesting that our Secretary of State is purposely misinterpreting the deal and giving the Supreme Leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretations.
That’s not how we’re supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who’s President or Secretary of State. We can have arguments, and there are legitimate arguments to be had. I understand why people might be mistrustful of Iran. I understand why people might oppose the deal — although the reason is not because this is a bad deal per se, but they just don’t trust any deal with Iran, and may prefer to take a military approach to it.
But when you start getting to the point where you are actively communicating that the United States government and our Secretary of State is somehow spinning presentations in a negotiation with a foreign power, particularly one that you say is your enemy, that’s a problem. It needs to stop.
Was a time when Mr. McCain would have said similar things about foreign policy, but apparently that was all just politicking and lies on his part.
It isn’t exactly a difficult point to figure; as one mnsbc commenter pointed out:
We are reminded at times by those on the right that when we went into Iraq Hillary and a bunch of other Democrats voted yes on this action. Yes,they did but we may want to remind those on the right that these democrats believed what they were being told by the then president (Bush) and were willing to back him up because thought this was the correct thing to do.They backed up the president at the time. How quaint is that?
We might note the irony―Democrats were expected to back the president on what turned out to be a falsely-founded frolic into war; Republicans are expected to oppose the president in order to foster a futile frolic into war―except it’s not really ironic. Rather, it is pretty much how this goes. This is the #GOP47, and their mission is clear: The United States should go to war in Iran; this is the New American Century.
Mr. McCain is hardly a green hand in Washington; he knows damn well he got off easy.
So, yeah. Not now, John. Quit crying.
McCain, John. “So Pres Obama goes to #Panama”. Twitter. 11 April 2015.
Obama, Barack. “Remarks by the President in Press Conference after the Summit of the Americas”. The White House. 11 April 2015.
Madden, Chris. “We are reminded at times by those on the right that when we went into Iraq Hillary and a bunch of other Democrats voted yes on this action”. mnsbc. 13 April 2015.