Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Iran

President Obama came to Wisconsin during the Independence Day holiday weekend and bragged about US jobs and the global economy. He acted as if his policies were changing the course and nature of working-class life in America. The truth is that they are, but not for the better. And while it is true that the “official” unemployment rate is down to 5.3%, the amount of hours worked in the US is precisely where it had been during the last year of the Clinton administration (2000).

In other words, over the course of the last two economic recoveries, no new work has been created. Yes, the economy has added millions of new part-time jobs, but they average only about twenty-four hours a week. In the meantime, high-paying and full-time factory jobs have been disappearing in America over the entire time span of the Obama presidency.

These are the true facts.

They coincide with the realization by trade union leaders and their millions of rank and file membership that this president can hardly be characterized as a friend to the working person. This is especially true since, just a week ago, Obama turned his back on workers and labor in order to pursue an economic and geopolitical agenda in Asia. This is the same Obama trade policy that had been supported by the vast majority of Wall St. and business leaders in the Republican Party.

Talk about chutzpah!

This president is the king of chutzpah. And that’s not easy to do on a holiday weekend that celebrates the overthrow of kingly authority in what was once a monarch’s colony. However, King Barack woke up to quite a shock on the day before July 4th. While having announced that the global economy has become a fact of life, and that navigating through its many pitfalls is difficult (to say the least), the Chinese stock market crashed by another 6% in just one session. Talk about a pitfall!

But Obama can’t have it both ways. If the global economy has indeed become a fact of life, then whatever happens in China is as much Obama’s problem (and fault) as anyone else’s. If his economic policy is global, then he stuck with a global economy that has made the American workers and their incomes suffer.

When Obama took office, the average American worker took home roughly fifty-seven thousand dollars per annum. Seven years later, that figure has dropped by roughly four thousand dollars. Simply put, the global economy has caused not only a massive work stagnation, but an historic drop in US worker income.

So why is the president bragging? If I’m not mistaken, I believe that he’s truly misinformed. He has drawn the faulty conclusion that partisan politics can trump reality. But it can’t. The people who vote for the Democratic Party (the bottom 75% making less than 35,000 dollars a year) know the economic score, and they’re tired of listening to those royal Democratic politicians who really represent the investment-wing of the party.

That’s why the independent socialist, Bernie Sanders, is drawing such large crowds. The Democratic base is plain tired of being lied to by the Party’s Wall St. wing of globalized investors. Where are the good paying jobs, and when are they coming back to America’s shores? The Democratic Party voters want to know!

So where does that leave the American Jewish community, a key component of the Democratic Party?

As perplexed with Obama’s globalized economy as everyone else. Especially as they watch both Europe and Asia unravel, and the emerging markets depreciate and inflate at the same time that American exports stagnate and workers paychecks decline.

But for the American Jewish community there is another major issue that rubs harshly across the body politic — the Iran nuclear deal and what it will really mean for Israel. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the Islamic Republic of Iran is hostile to the Jewish State. In fact, it has adopted an annihilationist policy toward Israel’s existence, and nearly everyone in the world Jewish community understands this fact.

However, at the White House in Washington, President Obama and his team have formulated a different approach toward Iran than most Jews or the hardline Republicans. As the so-called “peace party” in the Middle East, the Democrats and their president have spent the last seven years in an attempt to negotiate with Iran. They’ve done this under the premise that economics and liberal politics (life and liberty) will be a stronger motivation for Iran than religion or revolutionary ideology. Could they be right? It’s possible. But what if they’re wrong?

Although the administration believes that it has a solid grip on economic reality, the global facts speak differently. As workers’ benefits and pensions fall in America and Europe, internal demand in China has yet to offset Western decline. The world economy has been stagnating since 2007, and the facts on the ground are a lot more turbulent than the facts at the White House. Could the administration be just as wrong about Iran? And what if the global economy begins to deteriorate just as the Iran nuclear deal becomes fact? What happens then?

The Iranian revolution was an Islamic revolution first and foremost. In that respect, it resembles more the Islamic State (ISIS) than it does Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. As gays and other minorities are arrested and executed in Tehran, Obama’s White House is lit up in the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement. That might be just fine for the gay movement, but on the Iran nuclear deal, Obama is gambling that the Ayatollahs will eventually cooperate and normalize policy with Washington and its allies.

But the destruction of Israel is not something that most Jews would want to gamble on. What is it that makes the Obama administration believe that the lifting of sanctions will change Iran’s regional behavior? Won’t a good share of Iran’s frozen assets end up in the coffers of Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad?

And what economic fact could ever stop the Islamic Republic of Iran from severing its relationship with the current Assad regime or the 50,000-man militia Tehran controls against Sunnis in the Syrian war?

Meanwhile, Iran has completely destroyed any hope of a democratic Iraq through its support of pro-Iranian Shiite politicians and militias that kill Sunnis on sight. Within this environment, is it any wonder that Sunnis have latched on to the Islamic State (ISIS) for protection?

At the same time, there are over a hundred thousand Iranian missiles aimed at Israel from Tehran-controlled Southern Lebanon. In the last seven years, what has the Obama administration done in order to diffuse any of these missiles?

Meanwhile, year after year, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been listed by the US State Department as the leading state-sponsor of terrorism throughout the Middle East and the world.

What makes Obama think that any policy the Islamic Republic of Iran is now pursuing will change once the nuclear deal is signed and sanctions begin to be lifted? Isn’t it more likely that the Islamic Republic will feel LESS restraint regionally, in order to pursue its objectives once the nuclear threshold deal has been signed and Tehran is no longer considered to be an international outlier? Is this in fact the policy of the Obama administration, to capitulate to a revolutionary ideology that hearkens back to the tyranny of fascism and communism, only now with an Islamic bent?

In 1776, the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. Two hundred and thirty-nine years later, the US is on the cusp of signing a threshold nuclear weapons agreement with a country that not only hates it, but mocks its ideals, repudiates its allies, and threatens genocide against the only Jewish state in the world.

America claims that Israel is one of its best friends. Yet it is willing to gamble its friend’s future on a regime that openly seeks its friend’s destruction.

I pray that Obama’s arrogant gamble turns out for the best — that life, liberty, and the pursuit of Iran will somehow engage the Ayatollahs in the Islamic Republic to believe that economics is more important than religion and revolution. But I’m certain that Obama has been wrong about the nature of the American experiment with a globalized Wall St. economy. And I have grave doubts that this type of economy will somehow alter the hegemonic designs of the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).
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