By Andrew C. McCarthy — September 18, 2015
Boeing 747SP-86 of Iran Air. (Dmitry Pichugin)
"Why on earth would Republicans do that?” That is a question I’ve been asked at least a dozen times since illustrating that the GOP has played a cynical game in connection with President Obama’s Iran deal.
“Follow the money” is a common answer to questions about political motivation. It may not explain everything in this case, but it is certainly relevant.
This spring, Republican leadership colluded with the White House and congressional Democrats to enact a law — the Corker-Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act — that guaranteed Obama would be authorized to lift sanctions against Iran (the main objective of the terrorist regime in Tehran). The rigged law authorized Obama to lift sanctions as long as Republicans could not pass a resolution of disapproval. As Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, and other GOP leaders well knew, there was no way they would ever be able to enact a disapproval resolution over Obama’s veto. But the process choreographed by Corker-Cardin meant they would be able to complain about the deal and vote to disapprove it — thereby creating the impression that they were staunchly against the lifting of sanctions that they had already authorized.
Why on earth would Republicans do that? Well, their incentive to obscure the earlier approval vote with the theater of a futile disapproval process is clear: The Iran deal is intensely unpopular among the GOP’s base supporters, just as it is unpopular across the country. Incumbents who hope to be reelected want to be perceived as staunch opponents of the things their constituents abhor. But why isn’t this perception the reality — why wouldn’t GOP congressional leaders actually be staunch opponents? Why wouldn’t they zealously use their every power to stop the deal?
Perhaps because not all Republican backers object to Obama’s Iran deal. The deal’s enthusiasts may be a tiny minority of GOP supporters, but they represent big bucks. Often in Washington, the numbers that matter are measured in dollars, not votes.
Take Boeing, for example.
Based in Chicago, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company, with revenues expected to surge past $96 billion this year. It is a major GOP donor. It gives mountains of money to Democrats, too, but the lion’s share of its political contributions go to Republicans.
For the 2014 campaign cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org, the company gave about 60 percent of its whopping $3,250,000 in donations to the GOP. Major recipients included such establishment pillars as the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee ($38,000 each), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($33,000). Significant contributions were also made to McConnell ($13,000), Boehner ($25,000), Senator Lindsey Graham ($39,000), and many others. And that’s apart from the nearly $17 million the company spent in 2014 on lobbyists, 80 percent of whom have transitioned to the other end of the trough after careers in government.
It just so happens that Boeing stands to reap huge money from Obama’s lifting of the sanctions.
Iran’s airline industry has been crippled by these severe restrictions, which are aimed against commerce connected to the regime’s illegal uranium enrichment, terror promotion, and weapons trafficking. Once the sanctions are lifted, the mullahs are expected to order up at least 100 new aircraft in just the next year, and 400 over the next decade. That means tens of billions of dollars in sales for manufacturers positioned to satisfy those pressing needs.
No company is better positioned than Boeing. It not only has the models Iran wants and the production capacity to fill huge orders. Boeing also ingratiated itself with the mullahs last year by leaping into action when President Obama, eager to keep Iran at the negotiating table, granted some limited sanctions relief. Reuters reported that the company “sold aircraft manuals, drawings, charts and data to Iran Air.”
Interesting thing about that: Iran Air, the national carrier, is most notorious for providing material support to the barbaric Assad regime in Syria and the Hezbollah terrorist network that props it up.
As detailed earlier this week in an important report by Emanuele Ottolenghi and Ben Weinthal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (published by Politico’s European edition), the U.S. Treasury Department designated Iran Air as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction in 2011, ordering the freezing of its assets. Serving as an arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (the force principally responsible for killing hundreds of American troops in Iraq and 19 American airmen in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia), Iran Air transported rockets and missiles, as well as military personnel and weapons, to Syria. It also violated a U.N. arms embargo by sending along dual-use materials that can be converted to military applications.
Oh . . . and given that Obama’s Iran deal depends on the terrorist regime’s good-faith cooperation with inspectors and compliance with restrictions on its nuclear work, it is probably worth mentioning how Iran Air managed to carry out its WMD proliferation: as Messrs. Ottolenghi and Weinthal explain, it systematically lied about the content of the cargo on its flights. Nevertheless, in the implementation of the Iran deal approved by Corker-Cardin, Obama will be dropping the designation against Iran Air.
To sum up: Obama cuts a deal with Iran. The implementation of the deal is abetted by legislation pushed by the Republican-controlled Congress despite massive opposition from the GOP base. Under the deal, a major GOP donor stands to make billions selling aircraft to Iran. Iran will use the aircraft to fortify the Assad regime (which Obama and GOP leadership claim to want to topple) and to promote terrorism by networks with a history of murdering Americans.
See? Everybody wins, right?
Well, everybody except those of us whose idea of a win involves cashiering, not cashing in on, a mortal enemy of the United States. That happens to be a vast number of people . . . in case you were wondering why the Republican candidates now topping the polls are the outsiders running against the Beltway GOP establishment.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.
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