On Thursday morning, Senator Cory Booker posted an Eleanor Roosevelt quote to Twitter: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
Then he announced that he would support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers is known.
The day before, the deal with Iran was assured approval in Washington when Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the 34th senator to support it. That means that a presidential veto would stand if Congress votes against the deal. By the end of Thursday, two more senators had joined Mr. Booker in support of the deal. That bring the total votes in favor to 37, nearing the 41 needed to sustain a filibuster in the Senate and ensure that the Congressional resolution against the deal does not even reach the White House.
Mr. Booker posted a 3,500 word essay explaining his decision, titled “Supporting the Iran agreement is the better of two flawed options.”
“Accepting this deal and moving forward with vigilance and continued commitment to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is preferable to a world in which a debilitated sanctions regime and fractured community of nations allows Iran to acquire many of the benefits of this deal without accepting its meaningful constraints,” he wrote.
Accepting the agreement, he added, does not mean accepting Iran’s goals.
“After hours and hours of study, research, deliberation and consultation, I am more convinced than ever that eliminating the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is among the most important global security challenges of our time.”
He continued that “to make this deal work, we must be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.”
He allowed that “rejecting this deal is a legitimate policy choice that should not be condemned or casually dismissed by those of us who support the deal.”
But after discussing the likely results of rejecting the deal, he wrote, “I believe rejection of the deal would allow Iran to achieve an aim it has wanted all along: a significant unwinding of sanctions without the constraints on its nuclear program that this deal provides.”
That said, “we must also pursue a more robust regional strategy aimed at patching the deal’s shortcomings. I have had a series of conversations with the President and various members of the Administration, and have made my very significant, specific concerns clear. Should these concerns not be addressed to a satisfactory extent by the Administration, I will aggressively pursue them through Congressional action.
“This deal can by no means be a final act in our diplomatic dealings with Iran, but must rather be a beginning of an era of increased vigilance, strict accountability, and rigid oversight. I believe that this attention to detail by which stakeholders on all sides of this issue have advocated will ensure that Congress and future Administrations renew a commitment to stability in the region and maintain the availability of all options, including the use of military force.
“This deal does not provide a permanent solution and it is clearly no panacea. It will demand America’s continued principled leadership, and with that leadership offers our best opportunity among limited and flawed options to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“As we move forward, we must abandon the heated rhetoric and simplicity of argument that has developed around an issue with such complexity and nuance. If only it were so simple. This deal will not bring absolute security, but nor would its alternative. It will be incumbent on our nation — and on all nations that find the Iranian pursuit of a nuclear weapon unacceptable — to act with resolve, courage, and unwavering determination to ensure that the unthinkable never happens. That requires honest and constructive debate.
“While I may differ with many friends on the choice this deal presents us — and I do believe that this deal presents the better path of two options to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — we share precisely the same goal. I am united with all who are determined to ensure that we never again see genocide in the world. That means not allowing Iran to ever obtain a nuclear weapon, period, regardless of what it takes.
“I have come to recognize that on both sides of this debate there are people who want peace and share my fervent determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Both those who support this deal and those who oppose it have reasonable arguments as to why their chosen path is the right one or the better option for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran without the necessity for military conflict,” he concluded.