Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Why Manchin Opposed The Iran Deal After He Was For It

LobeLog

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced earlier today that he will oppose the agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. He joins a short list of Senate Democrats, including Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), that have broken with their party to oppose the deal.

Although Menendez, Schumer, and Cardin had offered hints that they were conflicted about the agreement and that their support was, by no means, a certainty, Manchin had openly flirted with supporting the deal. In an appearance on Face The Nation on July 26, he said that he was “leaning very strongly” toward supporting the agreement. Manchin presented the choice between the JCPOA and the alternative as a choice between war and peace, telling CBS host John Dickerson:

The only other option is go to war, and I’m not ready to send our people into harms way again until people in that part of the world want to clean up their own mess.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe the following Tuesday, Manchin further defended the deal: “The bottom line is, do we go it alone, or with other allies?”

Manchin warned that if Iran had “bamboozled” Secretary of State John Kerry, as he had heard suggested, “then they bamboozled all the P5 and most of the free world. I’d rather go with the world than myself.”

Manchin’s About-face

But Manchin’s statement today, announcing his opposition to the deal, seemed to contradict his defense of the administration’s diplomacy back in July.

Although acknowledging that West Virginian constituents would pay a high price in any future military conflicts due to having “one of the highest rates of military service in the nation,” Manchin now rejected the argument he made in July that “the only other option is go to war.” He said:

However, I don’t believe a vote against this deal forces us to abandon the diplomatic path. We must continue to pursue peace, but on terms that promise a lasting peace for the United States and our allies.

Manchin didn’t offer an explanation of how he plans to pursue a diplomatic path with Iran and America’s European allies if the U.S. fails to approve the JCPOA, or whether his warning about the dangers of going it alone and splitting with European negotiating powers still holds water.

He probably won’t have to explain these contradictions anytime soon. Forty-one Senate Democrats now support the deal, enough to prevent a disapproval motion from reaching President Obama’s desk.

Manchin’s opposition, coming in the final days of vote whipping, was probably calculated to have little impact on the legislative outcome and destined for a footnote in the long battle over the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy initiative.

But the question remains: Why did Manchin ultimately decide to side with Senate Republicans and only three other Democrats to oppose the Iran deal and contradict his own arguments supporting the agreement?

Reasons for Reversal

The best explanations point to political pressures rather than actual concerns about the JCPOA, which he had already defended as the best option to prevent another war in the Middle East.

Manchin was targeted by anti-Iran deal groups, including AIPAC, over the summer, presumably due to his position as a Democratic senator from a state in which Obama only carried 35.5% of the vote in 2012.

Anti-deal advertising, paid for by the dark-money group American Security Initiative and the AIPAC-affiliated Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, dominated political ad buys over the summer months in West Virginia, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

While pressuring him on the airwaves, pro-Israel donors also provided Manchin with considerable campaign contributions. NORPAC, a political action committee that backs AIPAC, endorsed his 2010 Senate candidacy. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Manchin received $122,110 since 2010 from pro-Israel donors, many of them affiliated with NORPAC.

Strikingly, only three of those donors, with contributions totaling $5,800, were actually from West Virginia.

Indeed, the campaign contributions from AIPAC-associated groups, heavy spending on ads pressuring Manchin, and the senator’s precarious position as a Democrat representing a state whose constituents voted against the Democratic president in both 2008 and 2012, all paint a picture of a Democrat who, if the votes allowed it, would seek the opportunity to split with the president on a pivotal vote.

And although Manchin made compelling arguments in favor of the deal in July, there were hints that he might waiver as early as March, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress to decry Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran, a move so divisive that 58 Democrat chose to boycott the speech.

David Weigel, reporting for Bloomberg Politics, wrote:

“My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal,” said Netanyahu. “Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

Very few Democrats applauded that line; those who did, like Arizona Representative Krysten Sinema and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, had to win over conservative voters.

Rep. Sinema (D-AZ) hasn’t yet announced whether she will support the deal.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

John Bolton is Donald Trump’s national security adviser. The controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, Bolton— Trump himself—has been criticized even by leading neoconservative hawks with whom he has long been aligned.


Charles M. Kupperman is a former Reagan official with strong ties to the defense industry and militaristic organizations.


Nominated for the post of attorney general by Donald Trump, William Barr held the same post under George H.W. Bush, and established a reputation as a staunch conservative and supporter of executive authority.


Pundit Charles Krauthammer, who died in June 2018, was a staunch advocate of neoconservative policies and aggressive U.S. military actions around the world.


Former Weekly Standard editor and current Fox News commentator Bill Kristol is a longtime neoconservative activist who has been a leading right wing opponent of Donald Trump.


Jon Kyl, a hawkish conservative, served in the Senate from 1996-2013 and again in 2018, and helped guide Brett Kavanaugh through his confirmation process.


Paul Ryan (R-WI), Speaker of the House from 2015-2018, was known for his extremely conservative economic and social views and hawkish foreign policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The same calculus that brought Iran and world powers to make a deal and has led remaining JCPOA signatories to preserve it without the U.S. still holds: the alternatives to this agreement – a race between sanctions and centrifuges that could culminate in Iran obtaining the bomb or being bombed – would be much worse.


With Bolton and Pompeo by his side and Mattis departed, Trump may well go with his gut and attack Iran militarily. He’ll be encouraged in this delusion by Israel and Saudi Arabia. He’ll of course be looking for some way to distract the media and the American public. And he won’t care about the consequences.


When will Mike Pompeo realize that his ideological proclivities against Iran and disregard for people’s desire to live freely and in dignity are no substitute for regional progress?


As this past week began, with the shutdown of parts of the US government entering its third week, Republicans, desperate to force the Democrat’s hand, decided to play the “Israel card.” The effort failed.


National Security Advisor John Bolton is bringing reinforcements into the White House to bolster his push for war with Iran.


President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull troops out of Syria has given hardliners reason to celebrate, even as they prepare for the next battle with what they believe are US-supported jihadist forces.


Although a widespread movement has developed to fight climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster — yet.


RightWeb
share