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Est. April 5, 2002
July 30, 2015 - Issue 617

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Huckabee Says U.S.
“Chose Dishonor”
In Coming To
Iran Nuclear Agreement


"People seem to be more and more
convinced that diplomacy is more
effective than war and want
more of the former."

It’s probably a good thing that Mike Huckabee doesn’t have any power over questions of war and peace in the Middle East, because he said this week that the U.S. had “a choice between war and dishonor (and)…you chose dishonor,” he declared in condemning the nuclear agreement reached this month with Iran.

The former Arkansas governor and erstwhile candidate once again in the race for the Republican nomination for president was interviewed by several national news outlets, after his charge that the agreement, led by President Obama and negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry would lead Israel “to the door of the oven,” a reference to Auschwitz or the Holocaust.

As might be expected, Huckabee’s remarks, which he has repeated over and over in the past several days, apparently has achieved his goal for now: Taking the press’ focus from the outrageous statements of Donald Trump and putting the spotlight on himself, as he tries to rise from the middle reaches of the polls in the Republican roster of presidential nomination candidates. He may claim to be speaking aloud the sentiments of American Jews and the Jewish people of Israel, he is not likely following their feelings about the agreement too closely.

Huckabee tried to liken the agreement, which is approved by many nations and the United Nations, to the capitulation of Neville Chamberlain to Hitler just before World War II, not everyone in either Israel or the U.S. agrees with him. By citing the “choosing of dishonor” statement, he was trying his best to emulate Winston Churchill, who did make such a statement, in the same words. But Huckabee is no Churchill, whose nation came under attack. Huckabee is by no means either a national security or defense advisor to Obama or any other head of state, and by no means does he serve in an advisory capacity to the Israelis.

The former governor has stated in recent days that he has visited Auschwitz: “I have been to Auschwitz three times…I have stood at that very place…” That’s like saying, “I have been to the slave quarters. I know what slavery was like.” Although criticism of his statement came from President Obama, and from Democrats and Republicans, alike, along with many organizations, including Jewish organizations, he said he would not apologize. He did, however, take over the spotlight from Donald Trump, the real estate mogul who decided just weeks ago to try a run for president as a Republican and, in doing so, he took the lead in the polls over his 16 rivals for the post, with Huckabee trailing considerably behind.

Although Huckabee did not disclose the identity of his advisors on Middle East policy (if he has any), they must not have done their homework. According to the Jewish Daily Forward, there are splits on the Iran nuclear agreement among those who generally are counted on to make Israeli policy and they are not as quick to condemn the agreement as the governor. One thing is for sure, Huckabee’s position on the Iran agreement is in line with the thinking of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that may be why the governor is so adamant in his trashing of the agreement, which will come up for a vote in Congress in the coming weeks.

J.J. Goldberg, writing in The Forward this week, referred to a “deep crack” in what is commonly described as wall-to-wall support for Netanyahu’s “war against the Iran nuclear agreement,” and he names a number of current and former officials who depart from the prime minister’s longtime near hysterical response to any discussions with Iran, let alone negotiations over that nation’s nuclear program. He cited as an example Ehud Barak, onetime chief of Israel military intelligence, Israel Defense Forces, chief of staff, and prime minister, was Netanyahu’s defense minister from 2009 to 2013 and helped develop Netanyahu’s Iran strategy.

Noting that Israel is the strongest state in the region, Barak was quoted by The Forward as saying, “The most important thing we need to do right now is restore working relations with the White House. That’s the only place where we can formulate what constitutes a violation (of the agreement) what’s a smoking gun and how to respond.” Few discuss the possession by Israel of nuclear weapons, the estimated number of which varies, from 200-400, but an accurate count is not possible, because it is an “open secret” and Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty. (NPT), a treaty signed by 190 countries. Missing from the list are India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and South Sudan.

Some months ago, Republican senators signed a letter to the Iranian leadership, essentially saying that any agreement they reach with President Obama about their nuclear program could be rescinded by the next president. They wrote the letter in hope that the next president would be a Republican. That letter was in the same category of chutzpah as U.S. House Speaker John Boehner inviting Netanyahu to speak before his chamber without so much as a note to President Obama that he was inviting a head of state to enter the country, something that the executive branch usually arranges. Huckabee was not involved in any of these in-your-face offenses toward Obama, but you can imagine he wishes he had been. His “holocaust” remark was a way for him to disrespect the president, yet again, even though he is a minor player in the football squad that is running for the GOP nomination.

Keeping Israel’s “options open” by rejecting the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is a way to hold out the prospect of bombing Iran if Netanyahu feels they have acted inappropriately. After all, the prime minister had the tacit approval of such an action from none other than Senator John McCain, who during the 2008 presidential campaign was heard to sing, “Bomb, bomb, bomb…bomb, bomb Iran,” to the tune of an old popular song, “Barbara Ann.”

Not too much has been heard from the GOP field of presidential hopefuls, but most of them can be sure to be placed alongside Huckabee in their effort to kill the Iran nuclear agreement. They have not made as much of their opposition as the governor, whose intention is clear. There are only two options for him: war or dishonor and he would choose war, thinking that this would ingratiate him with Netanyahu and big funders of Israel (and Right Wing candidates, mostly Republican) like Sheldon Adelson, the business tycoon who dumps millions into American elections. The would-be president from Arkansas would not have to see his children in harm’s way, so war would be a relatively easy choice for Huckabee, as it is with so many who have themselves avoided military service.

In the heat of a presidential campaign (as ridiculous as it is to start campaigning a year-and-a-half before an election), anything can happen and anything can be said, regardless of the facts or reality, itself. Huckabee is a good example of this. Like many politicians in their own countries, he ignores the American electorate and what they may think of continuing endless war and, worse, he ignores the opinions of the Israeli electorate, at least those who are not living in a fog of abject fear. People seem to be more and more convinced that diplomacy is more effective than war and want more of the former.

The Middle East would not be the firebox that it is, if Iraq had not been invaded by the Bush-Cheney Administration, an act seen by many around the world as a war crime. The domino theory showed itself to be alive and well in the aftermath of that tragedy, with the several countries that have been destroyed or rendered inoperable, in addition to the collapse of Iraq. Widespread violence in the region has been the result.

If Huckabee were sincere about his fears of Iran’s developing a nuclear weapon in a dozen or 15 years (as has been predicted as the earliest it would be possible by some top Israeli officials, military and civilian), he might do well to address the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by the U.S., Russia, and the other nuclear nations. But that is not the governor’s game. He’s running for a presidential nomination and that takes precedence.

As this week’s story in The Forward reported about those Israelis concerned about the Iran nuclear agreement, “All agree that undermining Israel’s alliance with America is a far greater existential threat than anything Iran does.” Huckabee should listen…and do his homework. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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