For what possible reason would a United States senator defend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?
That was the agreement between Iran and the U.S., China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany that established this: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”
According to Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Republican opponent in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, there could only be one explanation: disloyalty to President Donald Trump.
Yep, GOP candidate Josh Hawley’s line of argument on the issue is that witheringly simplistic.
“We should be standing with President Trump and Israel today,” read an email blast from Hawley’s campaign. “If you aren’t, you are standing with the mullahs and John Kerry. Sen. McCaskill needs to make it clear that she stands with President Trump and Israel, and not the mullahs.”
Right. Mullahs vs. MAGA (Make America Great Again). That’s what this complex issue boils down to. Which side are you on?
Hawley is not a stupid person. He is the Missouri attorney general, and he has a good shot at defeating McCaskill. What he is doing here, however, is betting on stupid. He is speaking to the least informed brains within the Trump base. It may work. It may not work. I guess we’ll see.
I expect many Republican candidates across the country will follow the lead of Trump, who this week verbally tore the Iran nuclear deal into tiny pieces and threw it onto the floor so he could stomp on it.
Trump called the 2015 agreement a “horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.” Sanctions on Iranian oil, among other goods, will be restored.
At the same moment Trump was announcing his repudiation of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel was telling people in the Golan Heights to get their bomb shelters ready. And, indeed, bombing did begin, with Israel fighter jets hitting targets in Syria, retaliation for an unsuccessful Iranian missile attack.
By Thursday, nearly two dozen people had died in the fighting.
Earlier polling had shown that a majority of the Israeli population believes that a war is coming.
A previous campaign broadside from Hawley, anticipating Trump’s quashing of the deal, noted a 2015 McCaskill press release titled, “Iran Deal is Flawed, But Alternative is Worse.”
In it, she described spending weeks digging into the nuances of the agreement and pointed out its complicated details. The document is not campaign pithy, but her take on the issue was on point with reality.
As the tensions build, the situation between Iran and Israel shows how quickly the president’s rash action — pitched as a way to ensure the safety of Israel — could lead to an escalation he wasn’t counting on.
The morning after his announcement, almost as if on cue, members of the Iranian parliament could be seen burning a paper U.S. flag and chanting “Death to America!”
Stunning footage, chilling really. Some commentators noted that such antics are rarely orchestrated within Iran’s parliament; usually they are kept to protests in the streets.
By violating what is our side of the agreement, Trump let Iran claim — and the rest of the world know — that it no longer has to abide by the language it had agreed to.
It remains to be seen whether or not Iran can be coaxed to honor the agreement by the remaining partner countries in the Iran deal — let alone how the current tensions might continue to escalate under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long pushed against the agreement.
Of course, much of this is Trump’s unwillingness to accept any legacy agreement or policy that involved President Barack Obama. That is a theme other Republicans have happily taken up for their upcoming campaigns.
The danger for those candidates is that they will end up running against a non-candidate — Obama.