The debate about the Iran deal reveals a fundamental divide in our politics.
Here is how I frame the two points of view–and you will have no doubt of where I stand.
Or can we take a chance on working with others–in this case Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany–to do something that just might avoid war as well as avoid further nuclear proliferation?
The former is the Netanyahu way, and I must say often the John McCain way, and certainly the way of the current crop of Republican presidential contenders.
President Obama took office, and has held office, during a time of international shifting currents. We are no longer the sole super power, even though we have more military prowess than anyone else. Even so, he has wisely tried to minimize our military engagement around the world, while being unafraid to use our force when it could do something significant. I actually think President George Bush was moving in this direction as well, after the disaster of Iraq and even Afghanistan.
So far as I can tell, not a single Congressional Republican is supporting the Iran treaty deal. Two Senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, were considered undecided. Senator Flake gave in to pressure and announced his No vote. That still leaves Senator Collins. She gets in trouble fairly often for voting her own way, but she may be the only one.
There are not many Democrats opposing it, but there are some, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the presumed next Majority Leader after the next election. He is a big deal in his caucus, and no one is calling him names, at least in public. But I think it safe to say that any Republican in Congress supporting the treaty will get called a lot of ugly names.
This is distressing. It really has become a partisan struggle.
Actually, I think it has become, once again for some, about President Obama. Too many just can’t stand the idea that he might do some really good, and big, things. They are automatic votes against anything significant that he proposes. That is not, of course, true for all of them, or even for most. But they do comprise a significant body of Republican legislators.
However, that is small potatoes. The bigger issue is how the United States chooses to live with others in the world.
Donald Trump wants to make America great again. He defines that as being Number One–having more marbles than anyone else, having the toughest military, and basically standing astride the world.
His fellow contenders basically agree, except for Senator Paul of Kentucky. But even he is soft-peddling his aversion to intervention in the world.
This harking back to Reagan, or Eisenhower, or McKinley (and Theodore Roosevelt) to be honest, no longer works. The world is very different. China’s economy can unsettle all the rest of us. Asia as a whole is the new world (again, I suppose we should say). Britain and France need us, but not like they used to, and Germany has shown she will go it alone if necessary.
We cannot bully our way around the globe. We must learn to play well with others.
Ultimately, that will be the way to stop ISIL and the religio/politico fanatics in Teheran and actually save their hated neighbors in Tel Aviv (who too often act like fanatics themselves). As long as we keep insisting on bombing and sending in troops as the way to solve everything, falsely self-identified Islamic extremists will continue to win the recruiting campaign, and the violence will continue recycling.
Grown ups are needed. I thank God every day that we have one in the White House (albeit he can be petulant and distant at times). It seems Merkel of Germany is one, too, and perhaps Hollande of France.
I pray for more, right here in the United States, as well as around the globe.