At first glance, the Iran nuclear deal appears to be another “other people’s problem” issue that does not relate to the everyday “bread-and-butter” concerns of the nationwide Black community. It’s not about another negative police relationship in which the police-as-warriors conflicts with the police-as-guardians. It’s not even about Cuba, or immigration (which both affect the Black community) or Obamacare. No, it doesn’t at first appear to be all that important to the Black community.
However, on second glance, maybe we should pay more attention. After all, a mushroom cloud out of the Middle East will not discriminate based on skin color, gender, political preference, or economic class. We’ll all fry.
So, when something really significant rises out of the hot air of typical Washington politics regarding this issue, we need to pay attention. There have been more speeches, exhortations and self- indulgent expressions jettisoned into the atmosphere concerning the Iran nuclear deal than any other Washington project except that old chestnut Obamacare. Most of it has been negative and most of it has been from those engaged emotionally much more than intellectually. According to many media reports, even at this date, very close to the coming Congressional vote on the issue, too many Congress people have still not fully read the document. They are simply against it on general principle and because the Israeli government has been so hostile to it.
At the end of the first week in August, 29 nuclear physicists, six of whom are Nobel prize winners in physics, wrote a letter to President Barack Obama. These folk are real-live experts in the field. They know how to measure when, where, and how concerning nuclear reactors and progress towards creating a nuclear bomb. They can come into a facility three weeks later and still make accurate assessments of prior nuclear activity in the area by measuring the air particles in the building. Their credentials are impeccable.
These 29 of America’s best scientists praised President Obama’s team for achieving the Iran nuclear agreement, saying that document represented the most comprehensive and important nuclear arms agreement in foreign policy history. They said the agreement was imminently verifiable, and that it should be approved by Congress. The scientists eviscerated all of the naysaying arguments put forward by others—mainly blowhard politicians without any expertise in the field.
For example, one common position among those against the deal is that the document will allow Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb within 15 years. The scientists in the letter said, “that Iran, before halting its nuclear project during the long negotiations” for the deal, was within a few weeks of having enough nuclear fuel to manufacture several nuclear bombs.
Two of the most prominent signatures on the letter are those of Richard L. Garwin, a physicist who helped design the world’s first hydrogen bomb and is virtually the last living physicist who helped usher in the nuclear age (as a colleague of Albert Einstein), and Siegfried S. Hecker, the Stanford professor who for more than a decade headed the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico, the birthplace in the U.S.A. of the nuclear bomb. The Los Alamos facility is responsible for the vast majority of nuclear weapons blueprints now in this country’s nuclear arsenal. A third one is that of Rush D. Holt, the head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the world’s largest general scientific society.
The Nobel laureate signatories include Princeton’s Philip W. Anderson; Leon N. Cooper of Brown University; Sheldon L. Glashow of Boston University; David Gross of the University of California Santa Barbara; Burton Richter of Stanford University; and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Congress will be voting on whether to approve this negotiated agreement during the first week of September. Most Republicans have already vowed to vote against approving it. However, the POTUS has also said that he will veto any Congressional vote against the deal. The Democrats are in the numerical minority in both houses of Congress, but they still hold the most important votes. To sustain a presidential veto against the agreement, the president must have at least 34 senators to vote with him. In that case, it doesn’t matter what the House of Representatives does. To override a presidential veto, Congress has to have two-thirds of both houses, and with 34 senators voting with the president, that won’t happen in the Senate. That’s all it will take.
What are the odds on this? The president will win it. If it gets as far as a presidential veto, Congress has only overridden presidential vetoes 110 times in U.S. government history; the last one was Richard Nixon’s opposition to the War Powers Act’s restriction on presidential prerogative in 1973. The president is ready to roll the dice. Stay tuned and stay engaged. This is important.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.