Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Waiting for the Transcript

I'm listening to President Obama defend his Iran deal. The misrepresentations and errors are so thick that I am eager for the transcript for a thorough fisking.

UPDATE: Well, here it is in all its partisan and misleading glory (I'll highlight in bold what stands out as most egregious and add comments in bracketed italics):

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you very much. I apologize for the slight delay. Even Presidents have problems with toner. (Laughter.)

It is a great honor to be back at American University, which has prepared generations of young people for service in public life. I want to thank President Kerwin and the American University family for hosting us here today.

Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace. The Berlin Wall had just been built. The Soviet Union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed. China was on the verge of acquiring a nuclear bomb. Less than 20 years after the end of World War II, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real. With all of the threats that we face today, it’s hard to appreciate how much more dangerous the world was at that time.

[To paraphrase another man, I knew John Kennedy's view on nuclear enemies. Obama is no Jack Kennedy. And Kennedy wouldn't recognize President Obama's Democratic Party as his own.]

In light of these mounting threats, a number of strategists here in the United States argued that we had to take military action against the Soviets, to hasten what they saw as inevitable confrontation. [Oh please, trying to compare a few voices arguing for preventative nuclear war in 1963 to people who don't like the current nuclear deal--who outnumber deal supporters 2:1 according to a recent poll--is grossly misleading.] But the young President offered a different vision. Strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world. But he rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing. Instead, he promised strong, principled American leadership on behalf of what he called a “practical” and “attainable peace” -- a peace “based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.”

[One, I wish we had a president defending our values around the world. Two, after that "vision" of peace, we had 26 more years of war footing before we won the Cold War. Three, there was no gradual evolution of the USSR. They collapsed under our pressure on the economic, diplomatic, and military fronts. And four, in that time Russia went from what, fewer than 100 ICBMs and SLBMs in 1960 to nearly 2,400 of the same--with multiple warheads--by 1979. ]

Such wisdom would help guide our ship of state through some of the most perilous moments in human history. With Kennedy at the helm, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully. [Yes, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully. The Soviets backed down. We didn't accept a small number of nukes in Cuba. We got them all removed.] Under Democratic and Republican Presidents, new agreements were forged -- a Non-Proliferation Treaty [At best, the current Iran treaty delays nuclear proliferation in Iran--and encourages it in the region as nations respond to Iran's threat.] that prohibited nations from acquiring nuclear weapons, while allowing them to access peaceful nuclear energy; the SALT and START Treaties which bound the United States and Soviet Union to cooperation on arms control. [The SALT treaties were about reducing the potential for surprise developments and not reducing arsenals, which grew. By the time of START, the warhead counts were well into "bouncing the rubble territory." Is this our future with Iran?]  Not every conflict was averted, but the world avoided nuclear catastrophe, and we created the time and the space to win the Cold War [Note that we didn't count on the Soviets changing to be our partner.] without firing a shot at the Soviets.

The agreement now reached between the international community and the Islamic Republic of Iran builds on this tradition of strong, principled diplomacy. [As Munich was, at the time, nearly universally celebrated for providing "peace for our time." It is only in retrospect that it got a bad reputation.] After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. [As North Korea worked around the limits and then just broke them, so too will Iran. The regime wants nukes--and needs them as our Left has continuously told us.] It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program. [And it is still filled with holes and will be inadequate. Is the narrow nuclear program claim meant to avoid discussing the failures of the broader Iraq WMD inspections program?] As was true in previous treaties, it does not resolve all problems; it certainly doesn’t resolve all our problems with Iran. It does not ensure a warming between our two countries. But it achieves one of our most critical security objectives. As such, it is a very good deal.

Today, I want to speak to you about this deal, and the most consequential foreign policy debate that our country has had since the invasion of Iraq, as Congress decides whether to support this historic diplomatic breakthrough, or instead blocks it over the objection of the vast majority of the world. [The rest of the world doesn't need to deal with a threat that gets worse. We do. The rest of the world is happy to enjoy the false peace that this deal represents and count on us to deal with the problem that will develop. And much of the rest of the world is made up of people who would love to see us face a nuclear Iran.] Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. [Say, what's the price tag on a free presidential speech broadcast nationwide?] And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should -- for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal. [And here we see that the president isn't trying to sway the public that opposes the deal 2:1. He is transparently seeking to persuade enough weak-willed Congressional Democrats too afraid on Netroots to do something--voting against the deal--that the president compares to voting for war with Saddam's Iraq.

Now, when I ran for President eight years ago as a candidate who had opposed the decision to go to war in Iraq, I said that America didn’t just have to end that war -- we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. It was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy; a mindset that put a premium on unilateral U.S. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus; [The Iraq War was the most telegraphed war in history; Saddam refused chances to resolve access issues for WMD inspections; and President Bush organized a sizable coalition in support of the invasion.] a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported. [No, the intelligence was nearly universal that Saddam had WMD. And Saddam definitely did not prove he had no WMD as we was required to do under the ceasefire. Further, Saddam maintained the ability to restart chemical weapons production when he had the opportunity.] Leaders did not level with the American people about the costs of war, insisting that we could easily impose our will on a part of the world with a profoundly different culture and history. [Yes, the cost estimates were wrong. In part we didn't know how much damage Saddam had done to Iraq. We thought avoiding destruction of infrastructure would avoid the need to rebuild from war damage. In fact, we needed to rebuild from Saddam. Further, we did quickly and cheaply destroy Saddam's government and military. If not for Iran's--with their hand puppet Syria's--effort to essentially invade Iraq with insurgents and terrorists, Iraq's oil production would have recovered fairly quickly and Iraq could have been rebuilt much more cheaply and without the civilian casualties that overwhelmingly took place after major combat operations ended.]   And, of course, those calling for war labeled themselves strong and decisive, while dismissing those who disagreed as weak -- even appeasers of a malevolent adversary. [so appeasing an enemy is bad? Nice to establish that. And just who misses Saddam and his "republic of fear?"]

More than a decade later, we still live with the consequences of the decision to invade Iraq. Our troops achieved every mission they were given. But thousands of lives were lost, tens of thousands wounded. That doesn’t count the lives lost among Iraqis. Yet our problems now are because the president refused to give our military the easiest mission--staying after 2011 to defend our gains.] Nearly a trillion dollars was spent. [Over 8 years. Compare that to the nearly $800 billion spent just on the president's "stimulus" program of "shovel-ready" projects at the stroke of a pen.] Today, Iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict, and the emergence of al Qaeda in Iraq has now evolved into ISIL. [Remains? After we left you boasted of the progress of Iraq. It was our absence that allowd ISIL to grow and failed to check sectarian divisions.] And ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.[Yeah, and Stalin was perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. But after World War II, we opposed the Soviets and stopped them from exploiting that gain to defeat us. See JFK for his role in that. In 2011, we walked away from Iraq and allowed Iran to penetrate and influence a free Iraq still too weak to resist Iranian pressure without our help.]

I raise this recent history because now more than ever we need clear thinking in our foreign policy. [Please, he's clouding thinking by pushing the Pavlovian Leftist reaction to the Iraq War. I'm shocked that the words "Halliburton!!" and "Cheney!!" weren't sprinkled throughout the speech.] And I raise this history because it bears directly on how we respond to the Iranian nuclear program.

That program has been around for decades, dating back to the Shah’s efforts -- with U.S. support -- in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop nuclear power. [So the president really doesn't see the difference between a non-nutball ally with nuclear technology and a nutball regime with the same? And I lack the ability to appreciate "nuance?" Further, Kennedy's diplomacy required us to support peaceful nuclear energy technology as an alternative to nuclear weapons--not as a path to nuclear weapons] The theocracy that overthrew the Shah accelerated the program after the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, a war in which Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to brutal effect, and Iran’s nuclear program advanced steadily through the 1990s, despite unilateral U.S. sanctions. When the Bush administration took office, Iran had no centrifuges -- the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb -- that were spinning to enrich uranium. But despite repeated warnings from the United States government, by the time I took office, Iran had installed several thousand centrifuges, and showed no inclination to slow -- much less halt -- its program. [So basically, the president is saying that the Iranians have been amazingly determined to get nuclear weapons despite the price they have had to pay. Yet somehow the force of hope and change--and the lifting of sanctions--has convinced the nuttiest of the nutballs to abandon their quest for nuclear weapons.]

Among U.S. policymakers, there’s never been disagreement on the danger posed by an Iranian nuclear bomb. Democrats and Republicans alike have recognized that it would spark an arms race in the world’s most unstable region, and turn every crisis into a potential nuclear showdown. It would embolden terrorist groups, like Hezbollah, and pose an unacceptable risk to Israel, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to destroy. More broadly, it could unravel the global commitment to non-proliferation that the world has done so much to defend. [The president just made the basic case against this deal.]

The question, then, is not whether to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but how. Even before taking office, I made clear that Iran would not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon on my watch, [And there you have it folks, the president just wants to delay the embarrassing step of Iran going nuclear for a year and a half until he leaves office. Mission accomplished!] and it’s been my policy throughout my presidency to keep all options -- including possible military options -- on the table to achieve that objective. [Please. Why pretend that was ever true? You know it isn't true--you claim this deal is the only alternative to war. And more important, Iran knows it was never true.] But I have also made clear my preference for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the issue -- not just because of the costs of war, but also because a negotiated agreement offered a more effective, verifiable and durable resolution. [Like the 1994 North Korea deal?]

And so, in 2009, we let the Iranians know that a diplomatic path was available. Iran failed to take that path, and our intelligence community exposed the existence of a covert nuclear facility at Fordow. [Yet it took us three years to call them on this after they started construction. Oh wait, the president only needs half that time.]

Now, some have argued that Iran’s intransigence showed the futility of negotiations. In fact, it was our very willingness to negotiate that helped America rally the world to our cause, and secured international participation in an unprecedented framework of commercial and financial sanctions. [Presumably, the bargain was that these sanctions would lead to an effective deal and not just any deal no matter how flawed. And you are telling me that "smart diplomacy" of the non-Bush era couldn't persuade the sainted international community to stick with us if we said we needed more time to get a better deal?] Keep in mind unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran had been in place for decades, but had failed to pressure Iran to the negotiating table. What made our new approach more effective was our ability to draw upon new U.N. Security Council resolutions, combining strong enforcement with voluntary agreements from nations like China and India, Japan and South Korea to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil, as well as the imposition by our European allies of a total oil embargo.

Winning this global buy-in was not easy -- I know. I was there. In some cases, our partners lost billions of dollars in trade because of their decision to cooperate. But we were able to convince them that absent a diplomatic resolution, the result could be war, with major disruptions to the global economy, and even greater instability in the Middle East. In other words, it was diplomacy -- hard, painstaking diplomacy -- not saber-rattling, not tough talk that ratcheted up the pressure on Iran.

With the world now unified beside us, Iran’s economy contracted severely, and remains about 20 percent smaller today than it would have otherwise been. No doubt this hardship played a role in Iran’s 2013 elections, when the Iranian people elected a new government that promised to improve the economy through engagement with the world. [Arggh! He pretends Iran has actual free elections rather than campaigns by people pre-screened by the nutballs. But we're supposed to believe the mullahs have lots of shovel-ready construction programs ready to roll?] A window had cracked open. Iran came back to the nuclear talks. And after a series of negotiations, Iran agreed with the international community to an interim deal -- a deal that rolled back Iran’s stockpile of near 20 percent enriched uranium, and froze the progress of its program so that the P5+1 -- the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the European Union -- could negotiate a comprehensive deal without the fear that Iran might be stalling for time. [There are many ways to make progress. The Iranians aren't stupid. And they've already bought 6.5 years of time in this administration.]

Now, let me pause here just to remind everybody that when the interim deal was announced, critics -- the same critics we’re hearing from now -- called it “a historic mistake.” They insisted Iran would ignore its obligations. They warned that sanctions would unravel. They warned that Iran would receive a windfall to support terrorism. [No, I wasn't happy with the deal as a promise of things to come. But we didn't have a lot of time to see how that played out. We dismissed their nuclear fuel stockpile violation as consistent with that deal, remember.]

The critics were wrong. The progress of Iran’s nuclear program was halted for the first time in a decade. Its stockpile of dangerous materials was reduced. The deployment of its advanced centrifuges was stopped. Inspections did increase. There was no flood of money into Iran, and the architecture of the international sanctions remained in place. In fact, the interim deal worked so well that the same people who criticized it so fiercely now cite it as an excuse not to support the broader accord. Think about that. What was once proclaimed as a historic mistake is now held up as a success and a reason to not sign the comprehensive deal. So keep that in mind when you assess the credibility of the arguments being made against diplomacy today.

[I'm assuming the president is being dishonest rather than accept he believes this. The past temporary deal was a mistake. The permanent deal is a bigger mistake. What is inconsistent with at least wanting to maintain a lesser level of mistake?]

Despite the criticism, we moved ahead to negotiate a more lasting, comprehensive deal. Our diplomats, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, [PBUH] kept our coalition united. Our nuclear experts -- including one of the best in the world, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz -- worked tirelessly on the technical details. In July, we reached a comprehensive plan of action that meets our objectives. [Which, if you'll recall, was to keep Iran from going nuclear "on my watch."] Under its terms, Iran is never allowed to build a nuclear weapon. [But in 10 years, all UN resolutions that give the Security Council the power to enforce that are ended.] And while Iran, like any party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is allowed to access peaceful nuclear energy[Well, except for America. But that's another issue.] the agreement strictly defines the manner in which its nuclear program can proceed, ensuring that all pathways to a bomb are cut off. [Iranians are nutballs--not stupid. They will find a way, given their longstanding determination.]

Here’s how. Under this deal, Iran cannot acquire the plutonium needed for a bomb. The core of its heavy-water reactor at Arak will be pulled out, filled with concrete, and replaced with one that will not produce plutonium for a weapon. The spent fuel from that reactor will be shipped out of the country, and Iran will not build any new heavy-water reactors for at least 15 years.[Let's be specific. Iran can't acquire plutonium from their own facilities. Money may not buy happiness but $100 billion and counting sure can buy plutonium.]

Iran will also not be able to acquire the enriched uranium that could be used for a bomb. As soon as this deal is implemented, Iran will remove two-thirds of its centrifuges. [Which is more that they had when President Obama took office. And this negates early administration vows that Iran would not be allowed to have any centrifuges.] For the next decade, Iran will not enrich uranium with its more advanced centrifuges. [But they can work with them to prepare for the day when they can.]  Iran will not enrich uranium at the previously undisclosed Fordow facility, which is buried deep underground, for at least 15 years. Iran will get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is currently enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs, for the next 15 years. Even after those 15 years have passed, Iran will never have the right to use a peaceful program as cover to pursue a weapon.[But we'll have no ability to enforce that other than war.]

And, in fact, this deal shuts off the type of covert path Iran pursued in the past. There will be 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities. [Monitoring of their current facilities, In Iran.] For decades, inspectors will have access [not unlimited. And Iran will adapt. Remember how Saddam took the exception to inspecting his palace homes and exploited it by building more exempt palaces?] to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain -- from the uranium mines and mills where they get raw materials, to the centrifuge production facilities where they make machines to enrich it. And understand why this is so important: For Iran to cheat, it has to build a lot more than just one building or a covert facility like Fordow. It would need a secret source for every single aspect of its program. No nation in history has been able to pull off such subterfuge when subjected to such rigorous inspections. And under the terms of the deal, inspectors will have the permanent ability to inspect any suspicious sites in Iran. [Remember, this only affects facilities in Iran. Iran works with North Korea and until Israel bombed it, Syria was the site of a North Korean-built secret reactor. Remember too that these are IAEA inspectors and not American inspectors. And the suspicions are IAEA suspicions and not based on ours. Will the IAEA again be a friend of Iran's nuclear ambitions as it was under ElBaradei?]

And finally, Iran has powerful incentives to keep its commitments. Before getting sanctions relief, Iran has to take significant, concrete steps like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpile. If Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. We won’t need the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council; America can trigger snapback on our own. On the other hand, if Iran abides by the deal and its economy begins to reintegrate with the world, the incentive to avoid snapback will only grow.

[This is nonsense. If sanctions snap back, past benefits to Iran remain. And the deal specifically exempts new deals from snapback provision. So Iran can lock in deals immune to snapback. Say, here's an interesting way to lock in commerce in defiance of "snapback" promises: "China and Iran are mulling a $1 billion deal that would see China trade 24 Chengdu J-10 fourth-generation fighter jets in exchange for control of Iran’s biggest oil field for two decades, a report in the Taiwanese newspaper Want Daily said Thursday." And so soon! I'm sure Iran and their trading partners will get even more creative in ways to nullify this mythical ability to punish Iran.

Further, I'm not so sure that it is consistent with the UN Charter to amend the Security Council veto provision by negating that power for this deal. Our Congress may have gone along with this in regard to treaty ratification powers and this deal. I doubt Russia and China will ultimately go along. Given that the deal frontloads sanctions relief, once Iran gets relief we are hostage to the deal even if Iran cheats because we have no way to snapback money and weapons or signed deals while Iran could pocket all that and cancel the deal. They'll have their yellow cake, and eat it, too.]

So this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives -– this is the strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated. [None have worked so far. Yet Iran agreed to it knowing they can get around it--remember how determined the president said Iran has been in their pursuit of nuclear weapons?] And because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support. [Of course, the rest of the world knows Israel would be the first target for Iranian nukes and that Israeli retaliation might end the mullah threat.] The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it. The majority of arms control and non-proliferation experts support it. Over 100 former ambassadors -- who served under Republican and Democratic Presidents -- support it. I’ve had to make a lot of tough calls as President, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls. It’s not even close. [Yeah, that's the problem. Not even close to being a hard decision for him.]

Unfortunately, we’re living through a time in American politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prism, evaluated by headline-grabbing sound bites. And so before the ink was even dry on this deal [There were plenty of leaks. Were those early leaks wrong?] -- before Congress even read it [which is how Obamacare was passed, recall] -- a majority of Republicans declared their virulent opposition. [And you and Kerry are in favor of it even though you haven't read the side IAEA deals with Iran to enforce the deal!] Lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into arm-chair nuclear scientists, disputing the assessments of experts like Secretary Moniz, challenging his findings, offering multiple -- and sometimes contradictory -- arguments about why Congress should reject this deal. But if you repeat these arguments long enough, they can get some traction. So let me address just a few of the arguments that have been made so far in opposition to this deal. [And this will be an honest description of his opponents' arguments? Are you new to this administration?]

First, there are those who say the inspections are not strong enough because inspectors can’t go anywhere in Iran at any time with no notice.

Well, here’s the truth: Inspectors will be allowed daily access to Iran’s key nuclear sites. If there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious, undeclared site anywhere in Iran, inspectors will get that access, even if Iran objects. This access can be with as little as 24 hours’ notice. And while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take up to 24 days, once we’ve identified a site that raises suspicion, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in. And by the way, nuclear material isn’t something you hide in the closet. It can leave a trace for years. The bottom line is, if Iran cheats, we can catch them -- and we will.

[This is misleading. No inspectors will be American. We have access to known facilities--but not certain military facilities. We have to give the reasons for wanting access. Iran can propose alternate methods of verification. The process can take longer than 24 days. "We" don't get to push inspections--the IAEA does. Traces will be explained away as remnants from past pre-deal work. And how long will it take to catch them? And if we do catch them, will we risk Iran scrapping the deal to push them on a violation?]

Second, there are those who argue that the deal isn’t strong enough because some of the limitations on Iran’s civilian nuclear program expire in 15 years. Let me repeat: The prohibition on Iran having a nuclear weapon is permanent[But UN authority to enforce it ends in 10 years. And there are lots of places in the deal which say that Iran "intends" to do this and that. Not exactly rock solid, no?] The ban on weapons-related research is permanent. Inspections are permanent. It is true that some of the limitations regarding Iran’s peaceful program last only 15 years. But that’s how arms control agreements work. [So this is how we treat non-nuclear Iran? Like a peer superpower competitor already nuclear with conventional power that threatened our NATO allies and Japan? Is the end state nuclear parity between America and Iran?] The first SALT Treaty with the Soviet Union lasted five years. [SALT was designed to limit surprise developments in an ongoing nuclear arms race.] The first START Treaty lasted 15 years. [And START reflected that we both had so many nukes we both recognized we could afford to start reducing them.] And in our current situation, if 15 or 20 years from now, Iran tries to build a bomb, this deal ensures that the United States will have better tools to detect it, a stronger basis under international law to respond [Oh please, just how are we using the sainted international community to deal with North Korea's nuclear status despite the 1994 agreement?], and the same options available to stop a weapons program as we have today, including -- if necessary -- military options. [And Iran will have better defenses.]

On the other hand, without this deal, the scenarios that critics warn about happening in 15 years could happen six months from now. By killing this deal, Congress would not merely pave Iran’s pathway to a bomb, it would accelerate it. [So he president is promising to do nothing to stop Iran if he doesn't get his way? Not even force which he says he always reserves? Not even smart diplomacy to keep and strengthen sanctions in a world joyous that we have nuanced rather than cowboy leadership? The world won't trust and follow a president who won a friggin' Nobel Peace Prize for his potential to achieve nuclear non-proliferation before he knew where all the bathrooms in the White house are??!!]

Third, a number of critics say the deal isn’t worth it because Iran will get billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Now, let’s be clear: The international sanctions were put in place precisely to get Iran to agree to constraints on its program. That's the point of sanctions. Any negotiated agreement with Iran would involve sanctions relief. So an argument against sanctions relief is effectively an argument against any diplomatic resolution of this issue.

[Sigh. No, opposing sanctions relief in this deal isn't the same as opposing every deal. But I'm sorry, this president does not have the reputation for me to accept his word that this is a good deal. And this is our first Nuanced-American president? Silly me, I thought we were trying to stop Iran and not put in place a theoretical hiatus after which they can resume work faster.]

It is true that if Iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money -- revenue frozen overseas by other countries. But the notion that this will be a game-changer, with all this money funneled into Iran’s pernicious activities, misses the reality of Iran’s current situation. Partly because of our sanctions, the Iranian government has over half a trillion dollars in urgent requirements -- from funding pensions and salaries, to paying for crumbling infrastructure. Iran’s leaders have raised the expectations of their people that sanctions relief will improve their lives. Even a repressive regime like Iran’s cannot completely ignore those expectations. And that’s why our best analysts expect the bulk of this revenue to go into spending that improves the economy and benefits the lives of the Iranian people.

[I've seen estimates much higher. But this is bad enough. And as Iran gets back into the world economy, they will get more and more money on top of the release of frozen assets. The idea that Iran will use their new money for "urgent" requirements at home. Apparently, Iran has been happy to fund more urgent requirements in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, and elsewhere. But now with more money, these aggressive activities won't get more resources. Please tell me our president doesn't really believe that rot. And surely, the bulk of the money will go to non-military needs. But a huge pile of money minus the bulk still leaves a lot of additional money to cause trouble.]

Now, this is not to say that sanctions relief will provide no benefit to Iran’s military. Let’s stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to. We have no illusions about the Iranian government, or the significance of the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force. Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. It supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and the interests of our allies -- including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq. They try to destabilize our Gulf partners. But Iran has been engaged in these activities for decades. They engaged in them before sanctions and while sanctions were in place. In fact, Iran even engaged in these activities in the middle of the Iran-Iraq War -- a war that cost them nearly a million lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

[Got it. Because Iran has prioritized all these bad things for so long, and since sanctions haven't stopped them, we might as well open the spigot and hope for the best. The man is giving "nuance" a bad name.]

The truth is that Iran has always found a way to fund these efforts, and whatever benefit Iran may claim from sanctions relief pales in comparison to the danger it could pose with a nuclear weapon.

[Isn't this one of those "false choices" the president always says we must avoid? A nuclear Iran is bad. And aggressive, terror-supporting Iran is bad. Yet he has chosen the latter and we're to celebrate?]

Moreover, there’s no scenario where sanctions relief turns Iran into the region’s dominant power. Iran’s defense budget is eight times smaller than the combined budget of our Gulf allies. Their conventional capabilities will never compare with Israel’s, and our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge helps guarantee that. Over the last several years, Iran has had to spend billions of dollars to support its only ally in the Arab World -- Bashar al-Assad -- even as he’s lost control of huge chunks of his country. And Hezbollah has suffered significant blows on the same battlefield. And Iran, like the rest of the region, is being forced to respond to the threat of ISIL in Iraq.

[Prior to the revolution, Iran was the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. They took Arab islands in the Gulf and still hold them. Unless Iran drives through Iraq and Jordan to attack Israel, Israel's conventional military superiority is meaningless. Iran could be the dominant power over Iraq, Kuwait, the small Gulf states, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and even Saudi Arabia whose military power is actually pretty weak despite all the money the spend.

Unless Iran's allies Assad and Hezbollah are defeated, their current stresses will one day subside and Iran will still have their allies. Why depriving Iran of the money to keep supporting these two bad actors isn't the obvious response is beyond me. As for ISIL, Iran is spending much of their time building up Hezbollah-like capabilities inside Iraq that look to Tehran for leadership rather than Baghdad. And we go along.]

So contrary to the alarmists who claim that Iran is on the brink of taking over the Middle East, or even the world, Iran will remain a regional power with its own set of challenges. The ruling regime is dangerous and it is repressive. We will continue to have sanctions in place on Iran’s support for terrorism and violation of human rights. We will continue to insist upon the release of Americans detained unjustly. We will have a lot of differences with the Iranian regime.

[Is he serious? Nobody says Iran is poised to take over the world. And nobody is claiming they are poised to take over the Middle East. What they can do is expand their influence in ways dangerous to us and the entire West. And after giving Iran a big pay day, the idea that keeping some in place will check Iran's dismal human rights and terrorism activities is folly. As for the hostages Iran holds? I'm sure the fix is in to release them right before Congress votes. Why not? Iran can always get more.]

But if we’re serious about confronting Iran’s destabilizing activities, it is hard to imagine a worse approach than blocking this deal. Instead, we need to check the behavior that we're concerned about directly: By helping our allies in the region strengthen their own capabilities to counter a cyber-attack or a ballistic missile; by improving the interdiction of weapons shipments that go to groups like Hezbollah; by training our allies’ special forces so that they can more effectively respond to situations like Yemen. All these capabilities will make a difference. We will be in a stronger position to implement them with this deal. And, by the way, such a strategy also helps us effectively confront the immediate and lethal threat posed by ISIL.

[You know what else would make a difference? Not shoveling money at Iran to help them wage cyber-war and build ballistic missiles, ship weapons to terrorists, and destabilize countries. How does it look to our allies that we arm their enemy Iran and then "make up for it" by selling our allies more of our weapons to defeat the threat we have enabled? Like we deal with enough conspiracy theories in the region already.

As for Iran and ISIL, Iran aided al Qaeda in Iraq through their ally Syria during the Iraq War, and they are using the ISIL threat to infiltrate Iraq and build their influence there. Heckuva job!]

Now, the final criticism -- this sort of a catch-all that you may hear -- is the notion that there’s a better deal to be had. “We should get a better deal” -- that’s repeated over and over again. “It's a bad deal, need a better deal” -- (laughter) -- one that relies on vague promises of toughness, and, more recently, the argument that we can apply a broader and indefinite set of sanctions to squeeze the Iranian regime harder.

[We need a better deal. And that relies on the specific advice not to suck at diplomacy.]

Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they’re just not being straight with the American people. Sanctions alone are not going to force Iran to completely dismantle all vestiges of its nuclear infrastructure -- even those aspects that are consistent with peaceful programs. That oftentimes is what the critics are calling “a better deal.” Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.

[Sanctions would buy time. Perhaps if President Obama understood Iranian society enough in 2009, he wouldn't have stiff-armed the opposition by looking the other way while the mullahs stomped down the resistance to mullah rule, and we might be closer to having a sane Iranian government that defines sovereignty differently. Such a government might decide that they don't nukes, and if they do they won't be the same level of threat.]

Moreover, our closest allies in Europe, or in Asia -- much less China or Russia -- certainly are not going to agree to enforce existing sanctions for another 5, 10, 15 years according to the dictates of the U.S. Congress. Because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on Iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It was not based on the belief that Iran cannot have peaceful nuclear power. And it certainly wasn’t based on a desire for regime change in Iran.

As a result, those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. Instead of strengthening our position as some have suggested, Congress’s rejection would almost certainly result in multilateral sanctions unraveling. If, as has also been suggested, we tried to maintain unilateral sanctions, beefen them up, we would be standing alone. We cannot dictate the foreign, economic and energy policies of every major power in the world.

[Until the deal, we had UN resolutions mandating sanctions--which aren't reliant on Congress. President Obama is killing those sanctions. One would think that "smart diplomacy" could keep allies on board sanctions to get a good deal. Aren't we the anti-Bush country now? Who knew hope and change aren't as good as advertised?]

In order to even try to do that, we would have to sanction, for example, some of the world’s largest banks. We’d have to cut off countries like China from the American financial system. And since they happen to be major purchasers of or our debt, such actions could trigger severe disruptions in our own economy and, by the way, raise questions internationally about the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency.

[I've read that claim is sheer nonsense. It's as if our president believes Iran has sanctions on us! Talk about a fantasy world.]

That’s part of the reason why many of the previous unilateral sanctions were waived. What’s more likely to happen, should Congress reject this deal, is that Iran would end up with some form of sanctions relief without having to accept any of the constraints or inspections required by this deal. So in that sense, the critics are right: Walk away from this agreement and you will get a better deal -- for Iran. (Applause.)

[Other than giving Iran nukes, I'm not sure what would be better than this deal. We have validated Iran's nuclear ambitions with this deal without even forcing Iran to admit they did pursue nuclear weapons. Iran still isn't cooperating on this issue. We should walk away and remain available to talk again.]

Now, because more sanctions won’t produce the results that the critics want, we have to be honest. Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option -- another war in the Middle East.

[What rot. Is the president saying he will declare war on Iran absent a deal? This is such nonsense that I don't understand how a person with a brain stem could nod in agreement.]

I say this not to be provocative. I am stating a fact. Without this deal, Iran will be in a position -- however tough our rhetoric may be –- to steadily advance its capabilities. Its breakout time, which is already fairly small, could shrink to near zero. Does anyone really doubt that the same voices now raised against this deal will be demanding that whoever is President bomb those nuclear facilities?

[If the objective is to keep Iran from being a nuclear threat, yes that would be one alternative if Iran pushed that hard. President Obama seems to be shocked that somebody might issue a "red line" (as he did with Assad in Syria) on WMD--and then actually enforce it (which the president did not enforce and actually denied setting it).

But we aren't there yet. Of course, if you only want to pretend to have solved the problem and check out of the White House in January 2017 before the bill comes due, by all means support this deal.]

And as someone who does firmly believes that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon, and who has wrestled with this issue since the beginning of my presidency, I can tell you that alternatives to military action will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports.

[Again, if the president had said this deal isn't good enough the world wouldn't have backed more talks to get a better deal? Isn't he the one the world has been waiting for? They'd mistrust the Nobel Peace Prize recipient on this issue? But the president just seems to believe Iran shouldn't get nuclear weapons during his term of office. Bad for the legacy, of course.]

So let’s not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war -- maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon. And here’s the irony. As I said before, military action would be far less effective than this deal in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That’s not just my supposition. Every estimate, including those from Israeli analysts, suggest military action would only set back Iran’s program by a few years at best, which is a fraction of the limitations imposed by this deal. It would likely guarantee that inspectors are kicked out of Iran. It is probable that it would drive Iran’s program deeper underground. It would certainly destroy the international unity that we’ve spent so many years building.

[Ah, another false choice. As for limits on military actions? That's what we said about Operation Desert Fox in 1998, which apparently dealt a death blow--in conjunction with continued sanctions--to Saddam's active WMD programs. And once we knock down Iran's programs, it will be easier to keep it down. Why is the comparison an ongoing deal constantly monitored which we assume works for ten years versus a single military strike that we assume doesn't work? 

If the deal doesn't work as assumed, the military alternative looks better.

If the military option works better than assumed, the military alternative looks better.

And if you allow that the military alternative is an ongoing option like a no-fly zone--a no-nuke zone--then the military alternative looks even better if the president really believes Iran must not get a nuclear weapon.

Of course, I've long said that the real solution is regime change. Once we hit Iran, we have to work to overthrow the regime. Remember, Iranians tend to hate their government and like us. We have room to harm the mullahs. I don't want war. I want Iran to have nukes even less.]

Now, there are some opponents -- I have to give them credit; there are opponents of this deal who accept the choice of war. In fact, they argue that surgical strikes against Iran’s facilities will be quick and painless. But if we’ve learned anything from the last decade, it’s that wars in general and wars in the Middle East in particular are anything but simple. (Applause.) The only certainty in war is human suffering, uncertain costs, unintended consequences. We can also be sure that the Americans who bear the heaviest burden are the less than 1 percent of us, the outstanding men and women who serve in uniform, and not those of us who send them to war.

[Interesting that the president says Iran's neighbors have nothing to worry about because they spend more than Iran; but that we should shrink from confronting Iran despite our much heavier dominance by that metric.

Yes, war can spin out of control. That applies to Iran, too. If they escalate, we can escalate to smashing their oil industry, seizing Kharg Island, or seizing Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf. Or we can start targeting leadership. Let's focus on what we can do to them and not be paralyzed worrying about what they can do to us. We smashed up their fleet in 1988 yet there was no big war, recall.]

As Commander-in-Chief, I have not shied from using force when necessary. [Stop me before I kill again?] I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat. [It would be nice if he had a firm commitment to win the campaigns he has ordered young Americans to fight.]; I have sat by their bedside sometimes when they come home. I’ve ordered military action in seven countries. [I told you he took the lead!]There are times when force is necessary, and if Iran does not abide by this deal, it’s possible that we don’t have an alternative.

But how can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives; that has been agreed to by Iran; that is supported by the rest of the world; and that preserves our options if the deal falls short? How could we justify that to our troops? How could we justify that to the world or to future generations?

[War is not the immediate alternative to this deal. And I don't believe this deal prevents Iran from getting nukes, so no matter how much time it is given, it simply cannot work--unless the objective is to make this the next president's problem.]

In the end, that should be a lesson that we’ve learned from over a decade of war. On the front end, ask tough questions. Subject our own assumptions to evidence and analysis. Resist the conventional wisdom and the drumbeat of war. Worry less about being labeled weak; worry more about getting it right.

I recognize that resorting to force may be tempting in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of Iran. It is offensive. It is incendiary. We do take it seriously. But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to taunts, or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.)

In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)

[That's simply a shameful and unpresidential--and wrong--thing to say. My general rule should kick in, but this is the president saying this. This is how he thinks. Weep over that. Who's being hyper-partisan now? Boy, I'm so old I remember when dissent was patriotic. But no more.]

The majority of the Iranian people have powerful incentives to urge their government to move in a different, less provocative direction -- incentives that are strengthened by this deal. We should offer them that chance. We should give them that opportunity. It’s not guaranteed to succeed. But if they take it, that would be good for Iran, it would be good for the United States. It would be good for a region that has known too much conflict. It would be good for the world.

[Iranians do not live in a democracy. They have formal voting but no freedom to run whatever candidate they want and no rule of law. Pity the president didn't give Iranians the opportunity to really push their government in a different, less provocative direction then protesters were begging President Obama to offer them support against the mullahs who swept them from the streets and into prison cells (and worse).]

And if Iran does not move in that direction, if Iran violates this deal, we will have ample ability to respond. The agreements pursued by Kennedy and Reagan with the Soviet Union, those agreements, those treaties involved America accepting significant constraints on our arsenal. As such, they were riskier. This agreement involves no such constraints. The defense budget of the United States is more than $600 billion. To repeat, Iran’s is about $15 billion. Our military remains the ultimate backstop to any security agreement that we make. I have stated that Iran will never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. I have done what is necessary to make sure our military options are real. And I have no doubt that any President who follows me will take the same position.

[President Obama has not earned the right to compare himself to either president. Those deals were different, as I said. As for the military spending disparity, didn't the president just finish telling us that our military action is too risky because Iran could expand the war? Now he implies we could smash them up easily if Iran violates the deal? If this was a movie, isn't this a continuity problem?]

So let me sum up here. When we carefully examine the arguments against this deal, none of them stand up to scrutiny. That may be why the rhetoric on the other side is so strident. I suppose some of it can be ascribed to knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar; rhetoric that renders every decision that’s made a disaster, a surrender -- “you're aiding terrorists; you're endangering freedom.”

[The man who just compared opponents of the deal to Iranian hardline mullahs has a lot of nerve complaining about partisanship. As for the scrutiny, the president just knee-jerk dismisses it. Even off-the-cuff scrutiny shows the flaws.]

On the other hand, I do think it’s important to acknowledge another, more understandable motivation behind the opposition to this deal, or at least skepticism to this deal, and that is a sincere affinity for our friend and ally, Israel -- an affinity that, as someone who has been a stalwart friend to Israel throughout my career, I deeply share.

[And here we start the "dog whistle" complaints that the Jews and their money are trying to manipulate the 99% who support the deal. UPDATE:

This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.

It's like the hope and change are indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.]

When the Israeli government is opposed to something, people in the United States take notice. And they should. No one can blame Israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with a government like Iran’s -- which includes leaders who have denied the Holocaust, embrace an ideology of anti-Semitism, facilitate the flow of rockets that are arrayed on Israel’s borders, are pointed at Tel Aviv. In such a dangerous neighborhood, Israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot depend on any other country -- even its great friend the United States -- for its own security. So we have to take seriously concerns in Israel.

But the fact is, partly due to American military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided at unprecedented levels, Israel can defend itself against any conventional danger -- whether from Iran directly or from its proxies. On the other hand, a nuclear-armed Iran changes that equation.

And that’s why this deal ultimately must be judged by what it achieves on the central goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal does exactly that. I say this as someone who has done more than any other President to strengthen Israel’s security. And I have made clear to the Israeli government that we are prepared to discuss how we can deepen that cooperation even further. Already we’ve held talks with Israel on concluding another 10-year plan for U.S. security assistance to Israel. We can enhance support for areas like missile defense, information sharing, interdiction -- all to help meet Israel’s pressing security needs, and to provide a hedge against any additional activities that Iran may engage in as a consequence of sanctions relief.

[Iran has been amazingly determined to get nuclear weapons despite the costs and isolation. At best this deal suspends that drive for a decade--but during that decade allows Iran to prepare to accelerate even faster after than period if they choose.]

But I have also listened to the Israeli security establishment, which warned of the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran for decades. In fact, they helped develop many of the ideas that ultimately led to this deal.

So to friends of Israel, and to the Israeli people, I say this: A nuclear-armed Iran is far more dangerous to Israel, to America, and to the world than an Iran that benefits from sanctions relief.

[Another false choice. We have to choose between Iran that has nukes or Iran with increased capability to foment chaos in the region? This whole "smart diplomacy" isn't all that we were promised, is it?]

I recognize that Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees -- disagrees strongly. I do not doubt his sincerity. But I believe he is wrong. I believe the facts support this deal. I believe they are in America’s interest and Israel’s interest. And as President of the United States, it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally. I do not believe that would be the right thing to do for the United States. I do not believe it would be the right thing to do for Israel. (Applause.)

[God help us, I do believe our president believes he got a good deal. He and Kerry probably high fived and Biden told them it is a big freaking deal.]

Over the last couple weeks, I have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better, plausible alternative. I have yet to hear one. What I’ve heard instead are the same types of arguments that we heard in the run-up to the Iraq War: Iran cannot be dealt with diplomatically; we can take military strikes without significant consequences; we shouldn’t worry about what the rest of the world thinks, because once we act, everyone will fall in line; tougher talk, more military threats will force Iran into submission; we can get a better deal.

[Another false choice. It is simply nonsense to say that a bad choice becomes good if no alternative is immediately proposed. The issue is this deal right now. Given that it took this administration 6 years to come up with this awful deal, perhaps they should allow opponents a little more consideration in coming up with their own 159-page deal (and an unknown number of pages in secret side deals.] 

I know it’s easy to play on people’s fears, to magnify threats, to compare any attempt at diplomacy to Munich. But none of these arguments hold up. They didn’t back in 2002 and 2003; they shouldn’t now. (Applause.) The same mindset, in many cases offered by the same people who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong, led to a war that did more to strengthen Iran, more to isolate the United States than anything we have done in the decades before or since. It’s a mindset out of step with the traditions of American foreign policy, where we exhaust diplomacy before war, and debate matters of war and peace in the cold light of truth.

[President Obama isn't arguing the merits of the deal. He's appealing to the knee-jerk reaction of his base that rabidly opposed the Iraq War--say, why did President Obama send our troops back to Iraq if what we achieved was so bad?--in order to get a third plus one of Democrats in either house of Congress to uphold a veto of a Congressional vote to reject the deal.]

“Peace is not the absence of conflict,” President Reagan once said. It is “the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.” President Kennedy warned Americans, “not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than the exchange of threats.” It is time to apply such wisdom. The deal before us doesn’t bet on Iran changing, it doesn’t require trust; it verifies and requires Iran to forsake a nuclear weapon, just as we struck agreements with the Soviet Union at a time when they were threatening our allies, arming proxies against us, proclaiming their commitment to destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed at all of our major cities -- a genuine existential threat.

[The ability to verify is weak--even if it is technically the best ever, as he claims. And it absolutely relies on Iran changing to make it work. It's the only way the deal makes sense, as I've written. We are betting that by buying (we hope) a decade of time, during that time Iran will become a state that does not want nukes or is no more dangerous than France with nukes.

The rest is just feel-good drivel unrelated to the deal. So I conclude here.] 

We live in a complicated world -- a world in which the forces unleashed by human innovation are creating opportunities for our children that were unimaginable for most of human history. It is also a world of persistent threats, a world in which mass violence and cruelty is all too common, and human innovation risks the destruction of all that we hold dear. In this world, the United States of America remains the most powerful nation on Earth, and I believe that we will remain such for decades to come. But we are one nation among many.

And what separates us from the empires of old, what has made us exceptional, is not the mere fact of our military might. Since World War II, the deadliest war in human history, we have used our power to try to bind nations together in a system of international law. We have led an evolution of those human institutions President Kennedy spoke about -- to prevent the spread of deadly weapons, to uphold peace and security, and promote human progress.

We now have the opportunity to build on that progress. We built a coalition and held it together through sanctions and negotiations, and now we have before us a solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, without resorting to war. As Americans, we should be proud of this achievement. And as members of Congress reflect on their pending decision, I urge them to set aside political concerns, shut out the noise, consider the stakes involved with the vote that you will cast.

If Congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear program, or the sanctions we have painstakingly built. We will have lost something more precious: America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy; America’s credibility as the anchor of the international system.

John F. Kennedy cautioned here, more than 50 years ago, at this university, that “the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war.” But it’s so very important. It is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world so full of strife.

My fellow Americans, contact your representatives in Congress. Remind them of who we are. Remind them of what is best in us and what we stand for, so that we can leave behind a world that is more secure and more peaceful for our children.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

[Remind the world we are America. Vote this deal down.]