You’ve probably heard about how Chelsea Clinton skewed Bernie Sanders’ health care proposal.
She did it by omission: she said that Sanders wanted to “dismantle” Medicare, Obamacare, and private insurance – which is true – but she left out that Sanders would introduce a single-payer, universal health plan (“Medicare for all”) in place of what he takes apart. By telling a half-truth, Clinton made it sound like Sanders wanted government to abandon the field in health care, which is hardly the sort of thing Democratic voters want in a presidential candidate.
What you may not have realized is that the opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal have been pulling a Chelsea Clinton for months now. The difference is that, unlike Clinton, they’ve been getting away with it.
In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan. Stealth power of viruses bearing names such as Stuxnet and Flame are now notorious in the world of cyber-sabotage (Photo: /Vahid Salemi, File)
Didn’t you hear? Iran has poured concrete into their nuclear reactor at Arak (so that it no longer generates weapons-grade plutonium), it’s put 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium – 98 percent of all it possessed – on a boat to Russia, and it is dismantling two-thirds of its uranium-enriching centrifuges.
If you’re an opponent of the Iranian nuclear deal, there’s a good chance you didn’t know any of that. Because, as often as the deal has been pilloried by critics such as Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Thomas Sowell, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, they hardly ever mention that Iran has had to settle for a mere 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium, far too little for a nuclear arsenal.
No, you hardly ever hear these critics spell out the concessions Iran has already made. Instead, we keep hearing that “we get nothing” out of the deal, that President Barack Obama is “giving” Iran the bomb, even that he wants Iran to have a nuclear weapon (which certainly explains why he unleashed the Stuxnet virus to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities).
Funnily enough, the same pundits who rail against “low-information voters” – people who've been “dumbed down” by media misinformation to the point that they “don’t know what they think they know” – have generated exactly that level of opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal. They’ve devised a selective information gap just like what they (often correctly) berate the mainstream media for creating.
This is not to say that opposition to the Iran deal is wrong. There are legitimate concerns regarding whether we’ll be able to catch Iran if they violate the deal, as well as what happens a decade or so from now as terms of the deal begin to expire.
But if you’re going to oppose the deal, you have a responsibility do it honestly, based on giving people the full story about what it involves, rather than covering up details that don’t support your case. Certainly there are aspects that it’s fair to question, but there are also parts that are verifiable wins. After all, it’s hard to see how Iran could fake giving away 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium.
And even if you take the position that there’s more wrong with the deal than right about it, rejecting the deal would have involved risks of its own. How would Iran be further from getting a nuclear weapon if it held on to 11 tons of enriched uranium, kept running thousands of additional centrifuges, retained a nuclear reactor that spits out weapons-grade plutonium, and were allowed to keep its known nuclear supply chain free from prying eyes?
“By keeping the sanctions on Iran, that’s how!” OK, but the other P5+1 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) had made it clear they wouldn’t press for more sanctions or concessions. If these countries dismantled the sanctions regime before Iran signed a deal, Iran would get economic relief while holding on to all its nuclear bullets.
Again, that doesn’t mean people were wrong to oppose the deal. It’s a gamble either way. (I believe we could have gotten more concessions from Iran, such as a written admission that they had been developing nuclear weapons all along, contrary to their public declarations.) But the notion that the deal simply green-lights Iran’s nuclear program, giving them the go-ahead to get a nuke, is just flat-out untrue.
It’s a blatant falsehood, as glaringly obvious as a single-payer government-run health care plan sitting next to a 25,000-pound pile of enriched uranium.
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