Today’s news that 34 members of the US Senate are now on record as supporting the Iran nuclear agreement is a significant milestone and a victory for President Obama’s policy of using diplomacy to tackle even the toughest international disputes. It is now clear that opponents of the agreement will not have sufficient votes to block it in Congress.
After a great national debate that has taken place over the past two months, rational argument, solid analysis and sober reflection have won over wild exaggeration, scaremongering and a flood of money. Supporters of the agreement, including J Street, were vastly outspent by opponents – but almost every lawmaker who began this debate undecided and was willing to listen to both sides ended up supporting the deal.
It is sad that most Republicans, led by all of their presidential hopefuls, took a position of reflexively and thoughtlessly opposing the agreement – just as they have opposed almost all of President Obama’s initiatives. That left the real debate to be carried out almost exclusively among Democrats. We are grateful they listened so carefully to their constituents. We are also pleased at the role the Jewish community played in the discussion – and the fact that most American Jews remained stalwart supporters of the deal.
It is important to note that although today’s benchmark is significant, opponents of the agreement to block all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon have not given up. There remains the danger that they will try to attach killer amendments to the resolution to disapprove of the agreement. They may also seek to introduce later legislation in the Congress that would effectively nullify the international community’s commitment to lift many sanctions against Iran in return for its verified implementation of its side of the agreement.
We must remain vigilant and ready to oppose such efforts. This agreement makes Israel, the United States and the world safer. It must now be implemented.