Op-Ed: On The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement

September 11, 2015

charles-rangelBy Rep. Charles B. Rangel

Fourteen years ago a terrible thing happened to our country, to our city, when terrorists attacked us on September 11. 

Then there were no Republicans, there were no Democrats; there were only Americans who said we have to come together.  Now is not the time for us to engage in exchanges that separate us. As we face the decision on how to deal with Iran we must bring our nation together.

Whether we like it or not, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement (JCPOA) is going to be the policy of the United States of America. Before voting on the deal I announced today on the House floor that I have decided to support it because it is in the best interest of our great nation.  Let me be clear: I think in many ways this is a bad deal. But it is the best we can get. While there are risks if we approve it, rejecting it would be a grave historical mistake.

What we do know is that the international powers – not just China, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, but many others – truly believe that this is the best possible way to avoid war and prevent a nuclear Iran.

I do not think any of us can say with any degree of certainty that this agreement is going to hold or that we can contain the dangerous ambitions of the leadership in Iran. What we do know is that the international powers – not just China, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, but many others – truly believe that this is the best possible way to avoid war and prevent a nuclear Iran. 

I understand Israel’s concerns over this agreement, in which most of the restrictions disappear after 10 or 15 years.  But this is what we can do now. We pulled together the powers of the free world and beyond who saw that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not just a threat to Israel, but to the entire world. 

The JCPOA has received international support from a broad array of leaders who see it as a critical element of maintaining world peace.  I also simply do not see any alternative to the JCPOA that would not raise tensions in the Middle East and around the world while leaving Iran closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.  The idea of “getting a better deal” is a fantasy.  This is the only hand we have to play.  Rejecting the deal will leave us isolated on Iran and many other key world issues, especially any future sanctions, and if necessary, require military action.

To those who say we cannot trust Iran on this deal, I say: If we trusted Iran we would not need this deal.  The only thing we — Republicans and Democrats, liberal and conservative — have to concern ourselves with is how we can enforce it against a country that has no history of telling the truth.

If ever there was a time for us to come together and support a policy that time is now. While I will not be in Congress in the years ahead when the JCPOA is implemented, I will take pride in knowing that I took action to make the world safer for the United States of America, Israel, and future generations.

As a veteran, I know all too well that war is unpredictable and sometimes inevitable. I also know that the greatest casualties of war are those who fight it and innocent civilians. As such, I joined a minority in Congress in opposing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War. History has shown that the Iraq War was a tragic mistake that has cost our nation dearly while making the world less safe. 

Like others who have known the horrors of war, I say we should always give diplomacy a chance before we put any American in harm’s way.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, who represents New York’s 13th congressional district, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1971 and is a decorated Korean War veteran.

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