“The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.” —Anne Lindbergh
Sherman Brandishes His Support of Israel and the Jewish Community
Congressman Brad Sherman gave a speech in Encino, California, at Temple Valley Beth Shalom, during Shabbat services, on August 15, 2015. Sherman, who seemed exhausted and unenthusiastic from the outset, began by saying he had recently supported Israel by passing the Iron Dome Replenishment Act and that he had sponsored a bill to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Sherman also mentioned an American-Israeli alternative energy bill that he was supporting and acknowledged the rising wave of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Sherman then brought up Iran. “People throw around sanctions as if we can turn them up or down at will,” said Sherman, explaining that primary sanctions are what America can do and that secondary sanctions are those which necessitate European and Asian cooperation, and that those are the most important ones. Sherman continued: “Other countries can get a little insulted when the United States Congress tells them what to do.” And presidents have been reluctant to demand of foreign leaders that they force their oil companies and banking institutions to shut down their business dealings with Iran. Sherman credited Obama with persuading foreign leaders to get on board with sanctions. “Give Obama and his team credit; he has done a better job than any of the prior administrations,” said Sherman, saying the Obama people had done “yeoman’s work.” Sherman then commented that the same Obama people will now be advising those foreign leaders to drop the sanctions.
Iran’s Nuclear Forest
Sherman then addressed what Iran needs to pose a threat with a nuclear weapon: fissile material, weaponization capability, and a delivery system. After explaining the process by which fissile material can be brought to 3% and then to 90% enrichment, Sherman said that stopping weaponization by Iran is not the way to stop their becoming a nuclear power. “The symbol of being a great tyranny,” according to Sherman, is the possession of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles. However, Sherman then followed up, saying, “But the fact is you can smuggle a nuclear weapon inside a bale of marijuana,” which means that Iran already has a delivery system, “as long as Iran has a couple of guys that want 72 virgins apiece,” Sherman intoned. This means it is the fissile material that must be the focus of any agreement. Sherman then indicated that allowing Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program allows them to “grow the forest” of nuclear capability needed to make weapons. “One tree” in such a forest is the fissile material produced for one nuclear weapon.
Sherman Predicts No Override of Obama’s Veto
Sherman then claimed, according to Obama’s party line, that the deal with Iran was not a treaty, although it does fit the definition of one and, as such, should be submitted to the US Senate for a 2/3 ratification vote. Sherman predicted that there will not be the 2/3 vote needed to overcome a presidential veto on the disapproval measure being introduced. Sherman went on to suggest that this is not a legally binding treaty, calling it “the lowest form of a handshake.” Sherman then said that Iran will violate the deal—or not—based on what is in its interest.
Sherman Sees Obama as Strong on Sanctions
Sherman then said that neither Clinton nor Bush enforced sanctions against any oil companies with respect to Iran, that only Obama has done so. Of course, Sherman failed to note that Obama’s economic policy has consistently targeted oil companies domestically as well. So, his attempts to sanction oil companies’ dealings with Iran are not surprising. Sherman also leaves out the fact that, in 2010, Iran sanctions passed 99-0 in the Senate and 408-8 in the House, thereby thwarting any attempt on Obama’s part to veto such legislation, which Obama has repeatedly opposed, even as late as January 2015.
Sherman said that we finally got effective sanctions, under Obama, with the international banking system brought into the mix, in 2012. Twenty-one months ago, we were finally able to slow Iran’s efforts, since Obama “put more time and effort into this than any other international issue.” Sherman expressed his appreciation for the fact that Obama tried so hard to get a good deal, even if the result was a mixed bag, comprised of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The first year or two, there would be good and bad things, but over the next decade, the deal would get ugly, in Sherman’s view. Sherman went on to describe the “good things”: Iran has to give up 97% of its enriched uranium, which is enough to create ten bombs, and Iran must also give up 2/3 of its centrifuges. Then Sherman told of “the bad,” saying that Iran would be getting its hands on “$56 billion dollars of its own money” (using a low-ball estimate that is normally given as $100-$150 billion in the press) that it would use for three things: 1) to help its people (which is debatable); 2) to use for graft; and 3) to “kill a lot of Sunni Muslims, some who deserve it and some who do not.” Sherman sounded like an Obama apologist at this point, and then he added, “Iran has done more to kill ISIS fighters than we have, and they will continue to do more as this deal goes through.” Sherman seemed to be arguing in favor of the deal. Then Sherman allowed that the “leftovers” would be used for terrorism against Americans and Jews, as if this were an acceptably small consequence.
The really ugly part of this deal, according to Sherman, is that Iran will be able to have unlimited centrifuges inside a decade, as well as heavy water reactors and nuclear reprocessing plants. So, Iran will be able to “sneak out” in its capability to field weapons. “It is difficult,” said Sherman, “when a man has an entire forest to restrain him from stealing one tree.” If Iran follows the terms of the deal, their break-out time-frame will eventually be reduced to days.
The inspection regime is problematic, since it takes 24 days to be able to inspect a facility. In asking for an inspection, we must provide probable cause, revealing the source of our information in the process and possibly compromising the safety of people in Iran who are helping us. “So we will be reluctant to come forward.” Sherman said that we could catch them on the issue of using uranium, however, since uranium leaves behind a radioactive signature that can be detected 24 days later.
Sherman does not like the secret side-deals, although he did not speak much about those, choosing instead to minimize the issue. Obama “loves this deal and will do everything possible to defend it,” said Sherman, warning that the opposition to the deal will not be enough to thwart a veto.
Preventing the Ugly
Sherman said that, for the first two years, Iran will comply with the deal, because “on day one, they have got to deliver the goods; they have to have decommissioned their centrifuges and given up their stockpile.” Sherman said that we are going to “get the good and the bad” no matter what, implying that Obama will follow the deal, even if it does fail with a 2/3 override. Sherman’s goal is “to prevent the ugly” that is coming after Obama leaves office.
In Sherman’s ideal world, there would be only one vote held, with no override vote to follow, and, in the end, we would unite to support the deal. Sherman said that the headline will eventually read as follows: “Proponents of Iran Deal Win Crucial Victory in Congress!”
A Seemingly Reluctant No-Vote
Sherman then announced that, since his unification idea never received traction, he was now prepared to vote against the deal and try to persuade others to do the same. But, upon saying this, Sherman cast his eyes downward, crestfallen. Sherman said Netanyahu wanted a deal that would eliminate all of Iran’s centrifuges, but suggested, dispiritedly, that, under those terms, Iran still could acquire fissile material from North Korea. Sherman ended by emphasizing that the agreement is not legally binding on America in the future.
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