As the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers approaches, opponents of diplomacy this week are unleashing a multimillion dollar arsenal of advertisements aimed at persuading a handful of lawmakers from both parties to sabotage the agreement.
The stakes are high, with many analysts warning that a failure of the talks could put the U.S. on a path to yet another war. With that danger in mind, grassroots pro-diplomacy groups in the U.S. are doing what they can to counter the spending blitz. As Stephen Miles of Win Without War told Common Dreams, "a number of groups with shadowy donors and benign-sounding names that are part of a well-funded and orchestrated campaign to kill an Iran deal."
One of the groups most focused on sabotaging the pact is the American Security Initiative, which is chaired by prominent former senators, including Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.). Politico reported Tuesday that ASI "will spend about $1.4 million on the ad buys, beginning Wednesday, and run a full-page ad in The New York Times on June 29."
An ad featured on the organization's website severely condemns the pending deal, and urges constituents to tell Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reject any accord that does not include "unconditional inspections." Similar ads will target Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jim Risch (R-Id.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). The website discloses no useful information about who is providing the financial muscle behind this endeavor.
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ASI, however, is not alone in its lobbying efforts.
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Also this week, an organization that goes by the name Secure America Now launched a $1 million advertisement blitz also targeting Schumer, as well as Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Angus King of (I-Maine).
An inflammatory ad on the group's website, which also doesn't disclose funding sources, invokes IEDs in Iraq that have "killed or maimed America's troops overseas." The narrator, who says her father was killed in Iraq by such explosives, states: "And now President Obama would do a deal that lets Iran get a nuclear weapon."
A similar group, United Against Nuclear Iran, has also unleashed a campaign to the tune of millions of dollars.
The pressure efforts are relevant because, thanks to recently-passed legislation, Congress will have 30 to 60 days to review any final agreement between the p5+1 countries—the U.S., Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany—and Iran. If Congress were to vote against the deal, and amass the votes to override a presidential veto, Obama's hands would be tied on sanctions relief and the deal would likely be tanked.
Given those dynamics, opponents of diplomacy are scrambling to get a veto-proof majority.
But, according to Miles, "While they have millions of dollars, we have the American public on our side, and we are going to work hard to make sure their voices are heard in Washington. I think the reality is that this is going to come down to a handful of Democrats who will have a choice to make. Are they going to kill the deal and put America back on the path to war?"
Numerous polls show that the majority of the American public supports a negotiated agreement with Iran.
And this support extends far beyond U.S. borders. A report released this week by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran finds that civil society leaders interviewed unequivocally support a deal and fear that, if diplomacy were to fail, the results would be catastrophic for ordinary Iranians—who continue to suffer from years of devastating sanctions.
In an article published Wednesday in Foreign Policy, Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council wrote: "If the United States and its partners and Iran manage to come to a deal by end of this month, it will be a break from the pattern as old as humanity itself in which diplomacy is used to conclude, rather than prevent, war."
Pro-diplomacy groups say that the coming weeks will be a critical time for advocates of diplomacy to take to the streets, call their lawmakers, and otherwise publicly voice their support for a deal.