The nuclear agreement between the U.S., Iran, and other world powers cleared an important congressional hurdle in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, but don't expect former vice president Dick Cheney to be happy about it.
Despite holding no elected office, former vice president Dick Cheney has emerged as one of the most visible—and hawkish—opponents of the Iran deal, delivering a blistering speech Tuesday morning alleging that the accord "will give Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland."
“I know of no nation in history that has agreed to guarantee that the means of its own destruction will be in the hands of another nation, particularly one that is hostile," Cheney told the audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington, D.C. think tank, to mark the return of Congress after a summer recess.
According to Cheney, the deal—which has garnered widespread support from all corners—will "facilitate and enable the Iranian regime’s support for terror and terrorist groups, including those who have attacked the United States and are threatening our security, our allies and our interests." He also claimed the deal threatens the security of "our Arab allies across the Middle East," Europe, and "the Jewish People."
However, just 15 minutes into his speech, Cheney was interrupted by a young woman bearing a different message.
"Dick Cheney is a war criminal. We want peace," yelled Michaela Anang, an organizer with the anti-war group CODEPINK. Holding a banner which read: "Wrong in Iraq, Wrong in Iran," Anang was swiftly escorted from the room, but not before momentarily derailing Cheney's speech—and engaging in a game of tug-of-war with an unidentified audience member, who aggressively sought to seize her cloth sign. The incident was captured in the following video footage.
"Dick Cheney is a notable war criminal, has committed atrocities during his time as vice president and beyond, and is a known supporter of torture," Anang told Common Dreams following the direct action. "That is something I am not OK with, as a young person and an activist. My generation wants peace. We're tired of war, and we're tired of war mongers like Cheney."
Anang was not the only person on Tuesday to question the former vice president's track record. The following video, released by the White House, is entitled, "Vice President Dick Cheney: Wrong Then, Wrong Now."
There was another key show of opposition to Cheney's anti-diplomacy agenda on Tuesday.
Shortly after the former vice president delivered his speech, three key Senate Democrats declared they will vote in favor of the Iran deal, bringing its total number of public supporters in the Senate to 41. This threshold gives backers of the deal enough votes to prevent passage of the disapproval resolution, meaning there will be no need for a presidential veto. The public commitments followed a grassroots pressure campaign, waged by people in Iran, the diaspora, and across the United States.
The development was embraced by backers of diplomacy.
"This victory, which countless organizations and individuals contributed to, proves the power of grassroots advocacy," said Rabbi Joseph Berman, government affairs liaison for Jewish Voice for Peace. "This achievement demonstrates that advocates of peace and justice can win over the well-financed advocates of war."
Unclear if deliberate or coincidental, but flood of key Senators announcing Iran Deal support right after Cheney spoke is funny either way.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 8, 2015
However, the deal's backers say that efforts are far from over.
"Now that there is sufficient support in Congress to protect the agreement, we should move swiftly to implement its terms," declared Global Zero, an international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, in a statement released Tuesday.
And Phyllis Bennis, who directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, argued last week: "Now we have to look to the future and figure out strategies to win new victories over the existing wars, occupations, and real—not imagined—nuclear weapons, all enabled and furthered by U.S. policies, that continue to create millions of new refugees, escalating violence, and instability across the Middle East and beyond."