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OP-ED | Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation Cautious On Iran Deal

by | Aug 14, 2015 4:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Analysis, US Foreign Policy, Congress, Opinion, White House

Back when George W. Bush was president, it was always interesting to see where members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation would position themselves on Bush’s initiatives. Seemed like most of the time, Democrats stood uniformly in opposition — with the notable exception of Sen. Joe Lieberman, who showed his independence from them by supporting Bush’s Iraq war resolution and giving the commander-in-chief a peck on the cheek at the 2005 state-of-the-union address.

Rep. Nancy Johnson voted with Bush on many of his initiatives but parted ways with him on energy and environmental policy. She paid dearly, however, for authoring Medicare Part D, a Bush policy that provided prescription drugs for the elderly but prohibited the federal government from negotiating with the drug companies for cheaper prices.

But the current delegation’s position on the recently negotiated deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program has aroused my interest like few others. While President Obama has done his best to paint opponents of the deal as dupes, warmongers, or extremists, the reality is much more complex.

Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New Yorker who will likely become the next Democratic leader of the Senate after the hapless Harry Reid fades away into retirement next year, came out against the deal. As I’m sure Obama would admit, Schumer is hardly a trigger-happy victim of deception. He has good reasons for opposing the deal — some political, some substantive.

That said, it was hardly a profile in courage either. The normally camera-mugging Schumer made the announcement last Thursday night via press release as 24 million Americans were watching the buffonery of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential candidate debate on Fox News.

Make no mistake: Schumer’s announcement was significant — not so much for the vote counting, since a veto override would be a mountain to climb — but for the cover it will provide other Democrats who are wary of the deal that will be voted on next month.

Disclosure: I reluctantly support the deal. Without it, Iran could get a nuclear weapon in just a few months. The best guess is that even a coordinated military strike would only drive nuclear development underground and forestall it for about three years. The deal’s restrictions on centrifuges lasts for 10 years. On enriched uranium, 15 years. Both are contingent on the lifting of economic sanctions. If you view Iran’s nuclear development as inevitable — after all, as the old saying goes, you can’t bomb knowledge — then at least this deal allows us to manage the decline.

Where does Connecticut’s congressional delegation stand on the proposed agreement? Let’s start with the senators:

Earlier this month, Chris Murphy came out for the deal. The junior senator believes that if we reject the deal, it would actually be better for Iran: “American sanctions would remain, but the global sanctions regime would, at best, fray, and, at worst, fall apart. Iran would be able to resume its nuclear program, and our inspectors would be kicked out of the country, causing us to lose visibility of their potential progress toward a weapon.” My sentiments exactly, senator. Well said.

As of this writing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who like Schumer is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel, had not made up his mind. He issued a statement on July 14 that included the usual boilerplate of congratulations to the various parties for successfully negotiating the deal. But Blumenthal was quick to add that the agreement “must be airtight, comprehensive and enduring — and, perhaps most importantly, strictly verifiable and enforceable.” Might Schumer’s rejection of the deal give Blumenthal the cover he needs to do the same? Expect an answer soon.

Not to be outdone, the House delegation (all Democrats) are a mixed bag.

While acknowledging the imperfections of the deal, Reps. John Larson, 1st District, Joe Courtney, 2nd District, and Jim Himes, 4th District, have come out for the deal, while Rosa DeLauro, 3rd District, and Elizabeth Esty, 5th District, are on the fence.

If Esty or DeLauro were to come out against the deal, as Schumer did, it will be interesting to see if there are any repercussions. Obama is a lame duck. With Schumer’s announcement, the Democratic congressional leadership is divided.

In a paroxysm of hyperbole, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called the deal a “diplomatic masterpiece.” Now that’s more offensive than rejecting the agreement out of hand. There must be consequences. I smell another satirical piece in The Onion.

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is news editor of The Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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(11) Archived Comments

posted by: SocialButterfly | August 14, 2015  10:13am

Blumenthal as the political master-mind he is is stalling as always is “playing politics with this issue.” What else is new?

posted by: LongJohn47 | August 15, 2015  6:31am

I can’t imagine Rosa splitting from Pelosi on this vote, and I believe Esty will also end up supporting the President.

Blumenthal, however, is in play.  The pressure from both sides is intense, and he seems truly conflicted.  Either way it’s a difficult vote.

posted by: Wakewhenover | August 15, 2015  8:35am

The despicable catfish Blumenthal will wait until the override amount is set (Like Chuckie) and then with Barry’s blessing vote against the deal.
34 Liberal Dem votes (like lapdog Murph) are needed, he will wait for that, then vote no.  Then he will move on to the stuff he concentrates on in the Senate, like consumer protection- low hanging fruit, instead of our economy and Islamists bent on killing us.
One party rule here in CT

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 15, 2015  10:21am


I think it is important to note that 92 countries, including the majority in the Middle East, support this agreement.

It should be noted, and most notably by Bibi Netenyahu, that these very same fear mongering neocons said many of the exact same things about the Interim Agreement which clearly was responsible to bring; or actually force, these negotiation together, as they criticize this one.

So where are those red lines now?

It is obvious Schumer needs to please a big part of his contingents but lets not forget he is as equally beholden to Wall Street and the special interests who have and will continue to benefit financially from prolonging conflicts and wars in the Middle East.

I mean this can go on for another 30 years…it is obscene to think we must tolerate this in the 21st century.

Sadly the opinion polls of Americans supporting the continually wasting of blood and treasure in the Middle East is still predominate these very same folks and are more than happy to allow themselves to be distracted by all this and at the very same time ignore the state of affairs here at home.

Clearly Schumer can read these tea leaves just as good as anyone else and will utilize it to his political advantage, especially if Hillary wins in 2016.

It should also be acknowledged that Iran has just as many issues with ISIL, as the majority of the world does, and they do have Iran backed militia boots on the ground in both Iraq and Syria battling them.

If this agreement helps to bring Iran into the world community and allow these folks to take responsibility for their own messes and to figure out this quagmire, the US will be better off for it.

We have many more important issues back at home to focus our efforts and tax dollars on.

posted by: Rod Lopez-Fabrega | August 16, 2015  5:49am

I hope CT politicians who are still on the fence about negotiations with Iran will consider this. It’s pretty basic:

We have treaties to support Israel, Saudi Arabia and other ‘friends’ in the Middle East should they need military support against an aggressor state.  Grandstanding and bombastic comments by Iranian mullahs—most likely for political consumption at the local level—have been leveled at Israel.

These have been taken at face value by some in Israel—most visibly by Benjamin Netanyahu, current Prime Minister of Israel. ‘Bibi’, as he is called by his nervous supporters, is ready to drag the United States and a good part of the world into a holocaust in order to protect his country. As an unofficial member of the few countries that already have nuclear arsenals, he is eager in a preemptive strike to neutralize Natanz and other Iranian sites suspected of nuclear activities.

Mr. Netanyahu continues clumsily to do his undiplomatic best to pull the United States into the endless conflagration that would result in order to try to finish what he alone could not. That is an understatement. Nuclear war equals Armageddon. In any case, it overlooks the truth that, even if Iran were so foolish as to cheat on the agreement to suspend its nuclear activities, the bomb it develops would hardly match the thousands of nuclear weapons at the disposal of the United States and its western allies. Iran’s only possible response would be to spread its new, illegal and outnumbered nuclear capability to the terrorist elements out there. The resulting matchup is unthinkable for the destruction that would ensue to all participants and on a level that even a fortress America could not contain.

Before buying the proposal that Mr. Netanyahu is eager to enforce by whatever means, including electoral pressures on our Congress, it is useful to note that his point-of-view on this issue is not universally acceptable in Israel itself or in the Jewish diaspora.

Frequent headlines from Haaretz, the admittedly liberal English language publication from Israel, make this clear. “Benjamin Netanyahu Is a Danger to Israel”; “Netanyahu’s anti-Iran Campaign Doesn’t Consider Disastrous Effects on U.S. Jews”; “Netanyahu Must Stop Silencing Intel Chiefs Who Find Iran Deal Acceptable”; the shockingly blunt, “American Jewry Doesn’t Need Israel to Save It”; and as negotiations continue, “Poor Netanyahu, the World Has Taken Away His Most Beloved Toy the Iranian Bomb”. And there are more…

Even the most militant or politically invested opponents of the Iran deal surely must agree that negotiation is the only sane option at this moment in time.

posted by: oldtimer | August 19, 2015  4:54pm

Just announced by the AP… The UN will allow Iran to inspect its own military sites! And it was reported yesterday that the “side deals” Iran reached with the UN, will NOT be made public at Iran’s insistence! Anyone, ANYONE, who thinks they can defend Obama for this deal, hasn’t an iota of common sense!

posted by: shinningstars122 | September 6, 2015  8:10am


Yes the celebrity factor has always been the mantel for candidates from either party.

It used to be the wealthy families, the Roosevelt’s, the Rockefeller’s, the Kennedy’s and even the Bush’s, that was the cream of the crop.

Now with Trump any talking heading reading a tele-prompter is sufficient.

If you thinks the established parties have the vision, and leadership to shift our state and country well keep hoping for that person on the white horse.

Sadly all these folks are really capable of doing is perpetuating the same failed economic policies, that for the last 40 years that have brought the middle class to it’s knees.

posted by: Truth_To_Power | September 7, 2015  8:05am

Rod Lopez-Fabriga uses the tired argument of nuclear deterrent when he claims “the bomb it (Iran) develops would hardly match the thousands of nuclear weapons at the disposal of the United States and its western allies”, while conveniently overlooking the fact that such deterrence only works for those governments who do NOT want to be retaliated against. The Iranian government cares little for such outcomes and WANTS to cause a conflagration if it means they get to make the first nuclear strike against Israel and/or the U.S.

Mr. -Fabriga is corrent is stating that “Even the most militant or politically invested opponents of the Iran deal surely must agree that negotiation is the only sane option at this moment in time.”. Unfortunately, the Kerry/Obama team ceased the negotiations just when we were getting somewhere, in favor of appeasement and selling out the rest of the Mideast as well as the world for their own aggrandizement.

Shiningstar - in his usual close-minded manner - states “We have many more important issues back at home to focus our efforts and tax dollars on.” I wonder where on that list of important issues a ‘dirty bomb’ courtesy of Iran - deposited in one of our major population centers - would fall?

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 7, 2015  10:41am

@Shiningstars122: I must respond to your usual politically challenged repetitive stances. You say:  “Now with Donald Trump
any talking heading reader reading a teleprompter is sufficient.” However you are describing Barack Obama who won two presidential elections with his mastery of the teleprompter. The teleprompter did not Help Obama in making an atrocious peace deal with Iran where he virtually gave away the kitchen sink due to his limited ability as a negotiator that his community adviser background did not prepare him for. Donald Trump does not need a teleprompter like Obama as he can think and act for himself as the successful businessman that Obama never was. Voters made a big mistake by electing an unknown Obama twice and now people are counting on electing Donald Trump in the polls to get this sinking country buoyant once again

posted by: LongJohn47 | September 7, 2015  8:29pm

TtP - the Iranians are bad actors but they’re not suicidal, and if your analysis of the Middle East hinges on this assumption then you’ll never understand what’s going on.

BTW, when Obama was re-elected he was very well known, and the majority of voters compared him to Romney and voted to keep the President.

posted by: oldtimer | September 8, 2015  6:26am

CT’s brainless congressional delegation believes that the best way to keep Iran in check is to allow them to inspect their own military sites, allow them 24 day notification that we want to inspect their non military sites and release billions of dollars to them to promote terrorism.

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