Commentary — The following two articles are examples of how Zio the Republican presidential hopefuls have become. Lindsay Graham stated on CBS’s Face the Nation that every Republican candidate except Rand Paul would have negotiated a “better deal” with Iran (read “started a war with Iran”) than President Obama. He even conceded that his erstwhile nemesis Hillary Clinton would have negotiated a better deal. Meanwhile, Rick Perry has made it clear that his campaign will center on the deal, stately unequivocally that one of the first things he will do if elected will be to scrap it.
The Republican hopefuls are jockeying for position ahead of the first in the nation primary — the Sheldon Adelson primary.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that nearly anyone, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, could negotiate a better nuclear deal with Iran than the current framework the Obama administration was able to secure.
Anyone, that is, except his fellow Republican, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
“Is there a better deal to be had? I think so. What I would suggest is if you can’t get there with this deal is to keep the interim deal in place, allow a new president in 2017, Democrat or Republican, to take a crack at the Iranian nuclear program,” Graham said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “The best deal I think comes with a new president. Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side except maybe Rand Paul could do better.”
He argued the current framework is “the best deal Barack Obama could get with the Iranians because they don’t fear nor do they respect him and our allies in the region don’t trust the president.”
The president sought to head off critics in Congress like Graham when he hailed the framework of the deal in a Rose Garden address last week.
“When you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: do you really think this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than another war in the Middle East?” he said.
Graham said he “doesn’t buy that for one minute.”
“It’s the best deal he could get but the question is, is Barack Obama the best person to deal with the Iranians given his miserable foreign policy failure? Does anybody really believe the Iranians will take the billions of dollars that we’re about to give them and build hospitals and schools?” he said. “I believe there’s a better deal. I don’t want a war, but at the end of the day I don’t want to give Iran the tools and the capability to continue to destroy the Mideast and one day destroy us by building bigger missiles and until they say they will not destroy the state of Israel, until they stop their provocative behavior, I think we’d be nuts to give them more money and more capability.”
He was also critical of the Bush administration, saying it was a “miserable failure” at reigning in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Graham argued that the real success story is congressional sanctions, which brought Iran to the negotiating table.
Like many other lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, Graham said Congress should have to approve the deal. He says he is willing to give the administration until June to write the final agreement, but after that, “I insist that Congress review the deal, debate and vote on it before the deal becomes final.”
In his view, Congress should continue with sanctions that have been in place during the interim deal, but wait to lift any more until there is “the best opportunity to get the best result.”
“Require Iran to change its behavior stop destroying the Mideast, stop bringing down governments one after another, stop chanting death to America, death to Israel, then when they change their behavior, allow the new president without the baggage of Barack Obama see if they can negotiate a good deal,” Graham said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn’t yet said whether he’s running for president, yet he will announce Monday that if he wins the White House he intends to trash President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran as one of his first official acts.
Perry will give what his staff is calling a major speech on national security at the Citadel in South Carolina Monday. In advance of the speech, Perry talked with reporters about his views on Obama’s and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy and what he would do to change it. He said atop his agenda is getting rid of the deal that the Obama administration is negotiating with the Iranian regime, a framework for which was announced last week.
“Should I run for president, and be so fortunate to be elected, one of my first actions in office would be to invalidate the president’s Iran agreement, which jeopardizes the safety and security of the free world,” Perry will say in his speech, according to an advance copy of his remarks.
Perry insists that contrary to Obama’s claims, the deal enables rather than prevents a nuclear Iran, and will further destabilize the Middle East by creating a regional competition for nuclear weapons: “He says it prevents a nuclear Iran. Just the opposite, this agreement enables it. And no agreement is better than a bad agreement.”
I asked Perry what he would do as president after scuttling the deal. With no agreement, no negotiations and no inspections on Iran’s many nuclear facilities, how would a President Perry propose to stop Iran from getting the bomb?
He said he would seek to further cripple Iran’s economy, undermine the Iranian regime by increasing support for its internal opposition, and then rely on military strikes to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary. “The message needs to be: As soon as that election result comes in November of 2016, any agreement between the president of the United States and the Ayatollah is a worthless piece of paper,” he said.
The U.S. should then work with Israel and America’s Arab allies to increase pressure on Iran’s economy, he said, with airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities as a last resort. “The Israelis have dealt with this twice, to take out their ability to use their nuclear facilities, and that certainly is an option that needs to be on the table,” he said.
Perry’s comments put him squarely in line with the letter to Iran’s leaders penned by freshman Senator Tom Cotton last month and signed by 47 Republican Senators, which warned that any deal Iran signs with the Obama administration won’t last past Obama’s presidency.
By pledging to end the deal, Perry is going further than some of his potential 2016 GOP rivals such as Jeb Bush, who have criticized the deal but not said exactly what they would do about it if elected. “Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” Bush said last week. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”
There can be no real progress with Iran so long as that country continues exporting terrorism and oppressing its own people, Perry told reporters on Monday’s conference call. He said the U.S. should sell crude oil on the international market to further cripple the Iranian economy. He said there should be a more expansive covert program to support Iranian dissidents and opposition to the ayatollahs and the Iranian regime.
In his call with reporters, Perry harshly criticized Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and said that she shares responsibility for Obama’s foreign-policy failures. “She’s either going to have to stand up and say ‘I was a complete and utter failure as Secretary of State,’ or she’s going to have to take ownership of these issues,” Perry said. “I think you are going to find a secretary of state who is going to be looked upon as a failure.”
Perry said Clinton did not stand up for Israel while she was a top cabinet official: “Our oldest friend and most vibrant democracy in the Middle East, Israel, is being put in jeopardy and she was part of that.”
Dr. Duke in Buenos Airies on TV with Adrian Salbuchi.