Saturday, May 21, 2016

21-May-16: Darker sides of the JCPOA, the agreement that never was, emerge

Aspirational J Street: Changing the world is an
expensive undertaking [Image Source]
In the US world of liberal public radio, there's considerable agitation in reports emerging yesterday (like "Did $100K grant to NPR help sell Iran nukes deal?" from the website of an NPR affiliate) that large swags of cash were instrumental in the process of making that pro-JCPOA echo chamber of which Ben Rhodes recently boasted. 

It turns out NPR got $100,000 of that, which is making some people in NPR's world uncomfortable and for good reason. How do you do an honest job when someone is sending you cash to do it in a specific way?

But compared with some others, NPR got chickenfeed.

Ploughshares Fund, one of the "outsourcing" agencies (that's our word, not his) Rhodes explicitly mentioned in that famous NYT Magazine interview, is described in a Friday report ["Group that helped sell Iran nuke deal also funded media", Associated Press] as being really proud of the role it played:

Ploughshares boasts of helping to secure the deal. While success was "driven by the fearless leadership of the Obama administration and supporters in Congress," board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote in the annual report, "less known is the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory." The 33-page document lists the groups that Ploughshares funded last year to advance its nonproliferation agenda.

If the name is not already familiar, there's some background in a Wall Street Journal piece from last year that explains how Ploughshares Fund was part of a behind-the-scenes White House strategy designed to "help overcome opposition to an Iran nuclear agreement". Ploughshares is
a San Francisco group started in the 1980s to resist nuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union. The nonprofit group has invested more than $7 million in the past four years in think tanks, media organizations and activist groups focused on championing diplomacy with Iran. The Ploughshares coalition includes a former Iranian government spokesman, the liberal Jewish organization J Street and a group of former American diplomats who have held private talks with Iranian government officials.,, ["Barack Obama Ramps Up Lobbying on Iran as Deadline Looms", Wall Street JournalMarch 29, 2015]
Its website states its goals in admirably succinct terms:
How do we do it? By funding organizations and people who promote the elimination of nuclear weapons, prevent the emergence of new nuclear states, and build regional peace.
Who else got some of those Ploughshares payments? According to AP
  • National Iranian American Council: $281,000
  • The Arms Control Association: $282,500
  • Brookings Institution, $225,000
  • Atlantic Council, $182,500 
among others.

But, as far as we can tell from the reports, one group scored more than twice the amount any other did
"J-Street, the liberal Jewish political action group, received $576,500 to advocate for the deal." [AP]

If J Street (of whom we asked some JCPOA-related questions a few months back here) has explained this yet, we're not aware of it. It's not one of those achievements that people proud of their work ought to hide, you might think. Especially if regional peace is part of what it achieved. (We're not clear on which region.)

By the way, all the talk - yet again - of a deal or an agreement or a treaty or something signed with the Iranians is seriously misleading, as we explained in "29-Jul-15: Built not on trust but on... verification". Nothing was signed with them, and that's a deliberate part of Iran's strategy.

No comments: