Top 5 Reasons Obama defeated GOP, AIPAC effort to vote Down Iran Deal

by Juan Cole Juan R. I. Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March, 2009) and he also recently authored Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and many other works. He has translated works of Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran. He has been a regular guest on PBS's Lehrer News Hour, and has also appeared on ABC Nightly News, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Iraq War, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iranian domestic struggles, the Arab Spring and its aftermath, and foreign affairs. He has a regular column at He continues to study and write about contemporary Islamic movements, whether mainstream or radical, whether Sunni and Salafi or Shi`ite. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years, and continues to travel widely there. 11.09.2015

40 Democratic senators and two independent senators stood with President Obama on Thursday, preventing any congressional condemnation of the UN Security Council’s Vienna agreement with Iran over its civilian nuclear enrichment program. By the genteel rules of the senate, proponents of the censure vote needed 60 senators to prevent a filibuster. They had 58.

Four Democratic Senators sided with the Israel lobbies loyal to far right Likud Party prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but that the lobbies could not persuade more Democrats makes this defeat their most severe since the early 1980s when they failed to block weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. This Iran vote was far more consequential.
How did Obama win?

1. First, the Israel lobbies in Washington made the issue a partisan one– a huge mistake on their parts. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and billionaire gadfly Sheldon Adelson all associated the deal with the Democratic Party, and opposition to it as Republican. When, outrageously, the GOP invited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to address Congress, the Democrats in Congress asked for a sidebar with him, and he absolutely refused. I think we may conclude that when the Israel lobbies support positions susceptible of bipartisan support, they can have fair success. But when they support the position of one party against the other, they likely lose. They also lose when they are not united. A major member of the Israel lobbies, J Street, lobbied heavily for the deal.

2. The Obama administration arranged for Democratic members of Congress to be briefed by US allies in Europe that were involved in the negotiations. British PM David Cameron, French Pres. Francis Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel came out strongly for the deal. The Europeans pointed out that no one in the international community was going to continue sanctions on Iran if the deal was shot down.

3. Democrats were scarred by the Iraq War, and Obama’s argument that without the nuclear deal there likely will be a US war on Iran down the road, proved persuasive.

4. In the Democratic party, by the beginning of September, the Iran deal had 70% support. Adelson’s, and Saudi Arabia’s, campaigns of commercials on radio and television backfired. Congresspeople tend to listen to their constituents.

5. Cheney.

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