After four years of using Iran to try to paint President Barack Obama as an impotent Carter, Republicans are now using the tough sanctions Obama imposed against Iran in order to block Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Defense Secretary. Try to follow the rampant hypocrisy.
John Cornyn is a high ranking Republican Senator from Texas. He wrote an opinion piece published today on CNN in which he describes all of the reasons why former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is not the right person for Secretary of Defense. Mainly, his objection appears to be that Hagel is against war. Specifically, war with Iran.
Cornyn objected that Hagel was against sanctions like Obama imposed on Iran, thereby implicitly praising Obama’s sanctions (you know Republicans are desperate when…):
In July 2008, Hagel recommended that Washington go beyond direct talks and establish a U.S. diplomatic mission in Tehran. Later that month, in a Senate Banking Committee vote, he was one of only two senators to oppose the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act. (Obama signed a subsequent version of this bill in July 2010.)
Cornyn is using the sanctions against Iran to beat Hagel over the head. He even goes so far as to say that Obama signed a “version” of these sanctions – in fact, Obama’s sanctions against Iran were much tougher than Bush’s. In other words, Cornyn is siding with these sanctions, saying Hagel is no good because he was against them — and yet, these sanctions are the very thing that Republicans have used against Obama.
(Note: Hagel clarified his position regarding the sanctions yesterday, telling the Pentagon that he supports strong sanctions against Tehran and that all options, including the military option, are on the table. In fact, “As a senator, he voted against unilateral economic sanctions on Tehran, although he supports the joint international penalties Obama also prefers.”)
Republicans have charged that Obama hasn’t done anything to deal with Iran. Now, even Cornyn is admitting that Obama did in fact impose these sanctions, and he’s using this fact to try to destroy a former Republican Senator’s nomination as Defense Secretary.
Even as Mitt Romney and the Republicans criticized Obama for being “Carter” on Iran, they refused to admit that his sanctions were the toughest they could be. What would be the next step, other than military invasion? They refused to tell us; they just promised that they would get it done.
Just what and where is the “red line,” we asked? They were silent, because they knew a new war would not win an election in 2012. In Israel, Romney backed military action against Iran and then quickly retreated after it didn’t fly so well with the American public.
During the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney desperately tried to make himself out to be Ronald Reagan in spite of his inability to speak publicly without creating an international uproar, Romney kept suggesting that Obama was weak on Iran — had done nothing, was impotent. At the time, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice set the record straight, saying that Iran was suffering due to the sanctions. She noted, “their oil production and currency have both plummeted 40%.” Even Netanyahu eventually gave Obama credit for leading the effort to impose sanctions on Iran.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the sanctions are working and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Iran’s economy is “on the verge of collapse.” Iran’s oil exports have fallen due to the sanctions as well. (Europe also has sanctions against Iran.)
So, for years sanctions were nothing but now, a desperate Republican party holds those same sanctions up as a reason to oppose Chuck Hagel. Most damning of all, Cornyn prefaces his objection by writing, “One of the biggest foreign-policy challenges of Obama’s second term is preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” Oh, so they don’t have them now? Wait a minute. For twenty years, Republicans have been warning us that Iran was going to nuke us.
Worse yet, in using the sanctions as part of his argument against Hagel, Cornyn admits that sanctions work, or at the very least are an important part of keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The real reason Republicans don’t want Hagel is because as a Vietnam Veteran who was twice awarded the Purple Heart, his approach to foreign policy and national security mirrors President Obama’s diplomacy-first approach. Speaking at a Vietnam War commemoration, Hagel said, “War is not an abstraction. It is brutal and is always accompanied by the haunting portends of dangerous unintended consequences, uncontrollables and unpredictables.”
Hagel finished his speech by praising the Obama administration for its commitment to veterans, “In my lifetime America has not known two more committed leaders to its men and women in uniform and its veterans and their families than President Obama and Vice President Biden.”
Hagel values our veterans and knows the horrors of war. This means he won’t cooperate with the war agenda of the GOP.
Leave it to President Obama to nominate as Defense Secretary the one Republican opposed to war mongering. With Hagel, Obama gets someone who deeply understands the moral imperative of Obama’s foreign policy and whose nomination also kills the Republican narrative that Obama is not bipartisan. Is it little wonder the Republicans are screaming?
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.