Give the president a chance

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


APRIL 6, 2015 -- In 1971, when Bernie Kline and I visited the Founding Father of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, I remember two things he told us at his apartment in Tel Aviv. First, was that "the United States ought to recognize China" and secondly, "Egypt didn't want to destroy Israel." Menachem Begin, Golda Meir and other leaders in Israel were whining that "Egypt wanted to destroy Israel". But Prime Minister Ben-Gurion thought Israel could make peace with Egypt.

Today, we are hearing the same thing about Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu whines "that Iran wants to destroy Israel" but I think that President Obama is on the right course with Iran. It's reported that Iran could have enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in two years and this framework gives us verifiable notice in one year or longer that Iran has set aside much of its enriched uranium and stops going for a nuclear weapon.

This framework is not built on trust. Secretary of State John Kerry has been working tirelessly to make sure we have all the inspections necessary to verify the framework and final agreement. Russia and China have agreed to the framework and we've given President Putin of Russia every reason to not continue with the sanctions. Increase or continue with the sanctions and abandon the framework as many in Congress suggest and Russia and China could lift sanctions and the United States would be all alone. We ought to be thanking Secretary of State Kerry for his persistent work.

What if Russia delivers a nuclear weapon to Iran? We've given Putin every reason to do so. We started the trouble in Ukraine. The U.S. went thousands of miles to the Russian border, to a Russian country, Ukraine, to inject fifty five units of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to "spread democracy" in Ukraine.

First, we thought it best for Ukraine to join the European Union. Russia countered to have Ukraine join the Russian Eurasian Union. This contest between the United States and Russia continued for months but when Putin offered Ukraine $15 billion in economic assistance, Ukraine opted for Russia. This caused the overthrow of Ukraine's President which I'm sure NED and the CIA supported. The Russian Navy is stationed in Crimea and Crimea voted to join Russia. Civil war broke out in Ukraine between the Russian adherents in Ukraine and Kiev.

If Russia had traveled thousands of miles for Mexico and Canada to abandon NAFTA, and join the Russian Eurasian Union, we would be all over President Obama to protect the United States' interest. But when Putin moves to protect Russia's interest in Ukraine, we object to Putin's aggression. We have given Putin every reason to abandon sanctions against Iran and to deliver a nuclear weapon to Iran. Members of Congress who are opposing this framework with Iran are thinking only about contributions for their reelection and not the United States policy to secure Israel.

The important thing is to realize that the sanctions have worked. The advent of the nuclear weapon has checkmated our military in foreign policy. Today, the economic, like sanctions, and our Good Neighbor Policy have taken over foreign policy. China learned this in 1989 after Tiananmen Square. The U.S. had obtained a resolution in the United Nations to investigate human rights in China. China went to its economic friends in Africa and the Pacific and there has never been a hearing on the resolution.

Members in Congress who oppose this framework, or want more sanctions, ought to realize that the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China have all gone along with the sanctions and framework. Now, if we dump the framework as Prime Minister Netanyahu and many in Congress want us to do, and go back to sanctions, this doesn't stop Iran's research for a nuclear weapon and it doesn't stop Iran's production of enough uranium for a nuclear weapon. It doesn't continue Russia and China's agreeing to the framework and their joining in the sanctions. I would suspect Russia and China, who already have a nuclear weapon, to discontinue the sanctions.

Let's give President Obama a chance to reduce the framework into a formal agreement with Iran.

Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2015, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.

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