Excerpt from “The Factors that Determine What Makes a Revolution Violent or Nonviolent”

Excerpt from “The Factors that Determine What Makes a Revolution Violent or Nonviolent”

What is a Revolution?

A revolution is described as a distinct form of change, whether it be social or political and takes place within a brief time span. Many elements are involved in defining a revolution and are debated by many theorists. For the purpose of this paper, a revolution is defined as a fundamental change in the social and political structure of a current government and/or society that takes immediate effect within political, societal and economic structures. A mere exchanging of politicians or political parties is not sufficient to be considered a revolution, but rather a complete overhaul of politicians, laws, regulations, economic rationalization and societal stipulations must take place. A revolution must affect all parts of society inclusively, including the youth, children, adults, elderly, men and women. It must not exclude race, sexuality, religion or any other minority part of society.

There are many methodologies that explore how revolutions begin, are executed and structured.  There are micro and macro revolutions, as well as political, societal and socioeconomic revolutions, as well. Also taken into consideration is whether a revolution is sparked by internal or external sources.

Social Movements
“A social movement can be defined as a persistent and organized effort on the part of a relatively large number of people either to bring about or resist to social change.”  Although few social movements fit into the categories of being either a “change-resistant conservative revolution” or a “change-oriented liberal revolution,” benefits arise in understanding the goals and motives of such movements. Furthermore, reducing a category to being either revolutionary based or reform based. A reform movement is oriented around changing existing policies, whereas revolutionaries seek the complete upheaval and replacement of the system at hand. Within the scope of revolutionaries, there are further categories of Rightest revolutionaries and Leftist revolutionaries. Rightist revolutionaries seek a return to “traditional” values and institutions, preferring to put aside social equality in favour for social order “through institutional change,” whereas, the Leftist revolutionaries’ goal is to:

…change major social and political institutions in order to alter the dominant economic, social, or political relationships within a society. Usually involved is a redistribution of valuable resources between the rich and the poor, with more equal access to educational opportunities, medical services, higher wage levels, or in the case of a predominantly agricultural society, land, a stated goal.

Although sociologists attempt to categorize social movements, social movements have the ability to be rooted in a combination of conservative and liberal change, just as revolutions can be not completely liberal or completely conservative, but have a mixture of characteristics.

What Causes Revolutions?

Revolutionary movements develop for a number of reasons, differing from country-to-country and society-to-society. Below is a list of elements in no specific order of essential factors in the development of revolutions:

  1. Mass frustration resulting in popular uprisings among urban or rural populations: A large proportion of a society’s population becomes extremely discontented, which leads to mass-participation protests and rebellions against state authority. In technologically limited agricultural societies, the occurrence of rural (peasant) rebellion or at least rural support for revolution has often been essential (Foran 2005, 2006; Goldfrank 1994; Goldstone 1991; 1994; 2001a; Greene 1990).
  2. Dissident elite political movements: Divisions among elites (groups that have access to wealth or power of various types or are highly educated and possess important technical or managerial skills) pit some elite members against the existing government (Foran 2005; 2006; Goldfrank 1994; Goldstone 1991; 1994; 2001a; Greene 1990).
  3. Unifying motivations: The existence of powerful motivations for revolution that cut across major classes and unify the majority of a society’s population behind the goal of a revolution (Foran 2005; 2006; Goldstone 1994; 2001a; Greene 1990).
  4. A severe political crisis paralyzing the administrative and coercive capabilities of the state: A state crisis occurs in the nation experiencing or about to experience development of a revolutionary movement. The crisis, which may be caused by a catastrophic defeat in war, a natural disaster, an economic depression or the withdrawal of critical economic or military support from other nations, or by any combination of these factors, may deplete the state of loyal personnel, legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and other resources. The state then becomes incapable of carrying out its normal functions and cannot cope effectively with an opposition revolutionary movement (Foran 2005; 2006; Goldfrank 1994; Goldstone 1991; 1994; 2001a; Greene 1990).
  5. A permissive or tolerant world context: The governments of other nations do not intervene effectively to prevent a revolutionary movement from developing and succeeding in a given nation (Foran 2005; 2006; Goldfrank 1994; Goldstone 2001a).

                  Milestones of a Revolution

Once these factors are in place, a revolution has the ability to blossom and take place. Although in the event, a revolution lacks any of these factors, a revolution is more prone to failure.  A revolution’s success is not only measured in the overthrowing of a power, but also in the construction of a new social/political/economic order.

Once a revolution begins to take place evident progress occurs in a series:

  1. A society’s intellectuals, most of whom in the past normally supported the existing regime, turn against it;
  2. The old regime tries to save itself from revolution by attempting reforms that ultimately fail to protect the old order;
  3. The revolutionary alliance that eventually takes power from the old government is soon characterized by internal conflicts;
  4. At first, the post-revolutionary government is moderate;
  5. Disappointment with the failure of moderate revolutionaries to fulfil expectations leads to more radical revolutionaries gaining control;
  6. The radicals take more extreme actions to fulfil revolutionary aims, including the use of coercive methods against those whom they perceive resist or threaten the fulfilment of revolutionary goals;
  7. Eventually, more pragmatic moderate revolutionaries replace the radicals.

Revolutions have the ability to divide a group of people in two- the first being those who oppose the old order and those who prefer to side with the old order; something being experienced in Libya today and to a much less degree in Egypt. “Needless to say, if the structural change is a slow one, an evolution, then there will be sufficient time to adjust and absorb so that the changes will become less threatening.”

Revolutions can be sub-categorized into internal revolutions and external revolutions:

The external revolution may be successful or not, accompanied by a regular war or not, but the goal is usually clear: autonomy in decision-making. Precisely because that goal is so clear, such a national revolution is often not accompanied by any social revolution. Instead, it becomes an achievement in its own right.

The internal revolution is a social revolution and a much more complex phenomenon involving a change not only in the structure relating the country to the outside but also in the internal structure. It is difficult to see how this can be brought about without some positively formulated goal, some relatively clear-cut idea of the alternative to domination is freedom from domination; for the internal revolution the matter is more open-ended and more complex. Since it is more complex it is often simplified, and one mechanism of simplification is to see an automatic link between the two types: if only the external revolution can be achieved the internal revolution will come almost by itself.

Armed Conflict

“Between 1900 and 1999, the world produced about 250 new wars, internal or civil, in which battle deaths averaged at least two-thousand per year… Those wars caused about a million deaths per year.”  Here, Tilly indicates the great influence of armed conflict on battle deaths, but what is an armed conflict or an internal war?

“Conflict” can be defined as the state of relations experienced when two or more parties have mutually exclusive goals… Internal wars involve violent conflict, but they may fall short of the levels of violence that we typically associate with wars. Included in this category are the following: coups d’etat, whereby one elite seeks to replace another elite element in the government; revolutions, which are mass movements aimed at removing the government;  and insurrections.”

Although there is no clear and universal definition of the criteria of what constitutes a war, Keith Krause, an expert in Human Security in World Politics describes the main characteristic differentiating a war from an armed conflict is that wars occur between nations and armed conflicts occur within nations.

In similar fashion, the definition of nonviolence is also debated, but in contrast, Kurt Schock describes eighteen misconceptions of nonviolence in attempt to define what violence is.

  1. Nonviolent action is not inaction (although it may involve the refusal to carry out an action that is expected, that is, an act of omission), it is not submissiveness, it is not the avoidance of conflict, and it is not passive resistance… The term passive resistance is a misnomer when used to describe a non-violent action. There is nothing passive or evasive about nonviolent resistance, as it is an active and overt means for prosecuting conflicts with opponents…
  2. Not everything that is not violent is considered nonviolent action. Nonviolent action refers to specific actions that involve risk and invoke non-violent pressure or nonviolent coercion in contentious interactions between opposing groups.
  3. Nonviolent action is not limited to state-sanctioned political activities. Nonviolent action may be legal or illegal. Civil disobedience, that is, the open and deliberate violation of the law for a collective social or political purpose, is a fundamental type of nonviolent action.
  4. Nonviolent action is not composed of regular or institutionalized techniques of political action such as litigation, letter writing, lobbying, voting, or the passage of laws… nonviolent action is context specific. Displaying anti-regime posters in democracies would be considered a low-risk and regular form of political action, whereas the same activity in nondemocracies would be considered irregular, would involve a substantial amount of risk, and would, therefore, be considered a method of nonviolent action…
  5. Nonviolent action is not a form of negotiation or compromise… and should be distinguished from means of conflict resolution.
  6. Nonviolent action does not depend on moral authority, the “mobilization of shame,” or the coercion of the views of the opponent in order to promote political change…
  7. Those who implement nonviolent action do not assume that the state will not react with violence…
  8. The view that suffering is central to nonviolent resistance is based on the misguided assumption that nonviolent action is passive resistance and that nonviolent action is intended to produce change through the conversion of the oppressor’s views (Martin 1997)…
  9. Nonviolent action is not a method of contention that is used only as a last resort when the means of violence are unavailable…
  10. Nonviolent action is not a method of the “middle class” or a “bourgeois” approach to political contention. Nonviolent action can be and has been implemented by groups from any and all classes and castes, from slaves to members of the upper class (McCarthy and Kruefler 1993)…
  11. The use of nonviolent action is not limited to the pursuit of “moderate” or “reformist” goals. It may also be implemented in the pursuit of “radical” goals.
  12. While nonviolent action by its very nature requires patience, it is not inherently slow in producing political change compared to violent action (Shepard 2002)…
  13. The occurrence of nonviolent action is not structurally determined. While there are empirical relationships in geographically and temporally bound places and time periods between the political context and the use of a given strategy for responding to grievances.
  14. The effectiveness of nonviolent action is not a function of the ideology of the oppressors…
  15. Similarly, the effectiveness of nonviolent action is not a function of the repressiveness of the oppressors…
  16. The mass mobilization of people into campaigns of nonviolent action in nondemocracies does not depend on coercion.
  17. Participation in campaigns of nonviolent action does not require that activists hold any sort of ideological, religious, or metaphorical beliefs…
  18. Similarly, those who implement nonviolent action do not have to be aware that they are implementing a particular class of methods…

                    Demographics

The Middle East and North Africa region has been the site of early civilizations and empire expansionism for centuries. This, involved migrations of people and as empires fell or new civilizations started, minority populations—those left behind by previous empires remained and became engulfed in their new surrounding societies. We would now categorize these areas as Arab nations. There are many ethnic minority groups in the MENA, some of which had been living in the region before the emergence of Islam.  According to the Islamic Human Rights Council, as of 1990, there were approximately thirty million minorities living in Arab nations out of the 220 million overall populations. As of recent statistics, there are more than 340 million Arabs in the MENA region, this number, however, includes the many ethnic minorities that do exist in the area, including the Kurds, Armenians, Aramaeans, Chaldeans, Turkmens, Cherkess, Turks, Zangians, Nubians, Berbers, Banyans, Haratins, Gnawas, Tauregs, Chechens, Romanis, Ajamis, Moors and Assyrians.

Bahrain being one of the more prominent nations in the news concerning the Arab Spring is home to the Ajamis and Banyans. The Kurdish population is very much concentrated in the regions of Iraq and Syria, whereas the Armenian population extends out into Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. It is estimated that      15-20% of the Iraqi population is Kurdish and 5% are Turkmen, with sizeable populations of Cherkess, Armenians and Chechens. Lebanon and Jordan’s non-Arab population is estimated to be around 5%, respectively. Kuwait’s expatriate community makes up slightly less than half of the total Kuwaiti population, which played a major role in the protests that erupted in Kuwait. Aramaeans and Chaldeans are estimated to account for more than 100,000 citizens of the Arab population. Many Moroccans, Algerians and Libyans are of Berber descent and genetic testing in Morocco further supports the theory made by Berberists that despite the conquest of North Africa by Arab nations and the predominance of the Arabic language, the population remains ethnically Berber.

Sources:

Johan Galtung,  A Structural Theory of Revolutions. (Rotterdam UP, 1974), Introduction.

Galtung, Op. Cit. 19.

James DeFronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2007), 9.

Charles Tilly, The Politics of Collective Violence. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003), 55.

Rye Schwartz-Barcott and Carolyn W. Pumphrey, Armed Conflict in Africa. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2003), 4.

Keithe Krause, “Human Security in World Politics. ”Human Security in World Politics Lecture Notes”, (The Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland 2011) accessed 20 June 2011.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission, “IHRC – Minorities in the Arab World”, Islamic Human Rights Commission [web document] (27 January 2004) <http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=989>, accessed 17 July 2011.

CIA World Factbook, “Bahrain”, CIA World Factbook [web page] (2007) <Cia.gov>, Accessed 17 July 2011.

Human Rights Watch, “Syria”, Human Rights Watch [web page] (1996) <http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1996/Syria.htm&gt;,  Accessed 17 July 2011.

Armenian Diaspora, “Armenian Population in the World”, [web page] News from Armenia, Events in Armenia, Travel and Entertainment. <http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html>, 17 July 2011.

CIA World Factbook, Op. Cit. Iraq.

CIA The World Fact book, Op. Cit. Jordan.

CIA The World Fact book, Op. Cit. Lebanon.

CIA The World Fact book, Op. Cit. Kuwait.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission, Loc. Cit.

BBC News, “Africa | Q&A: The Berbers.” BBC News, 12 Mar. 2004, 23, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3509799.stm&gt;, accessed 17 July 2011.

N. Harich, et al., Classical Polymorphisms in Berbers from Moyen Atlas (Morocco): Genetics, Geography, and Historical Evidence in the Mediterranean Peoples. (Annals of Human Biology 29.5, 2002) 473-87.

It’s in my DNA

Hello Folks!

As a Palestinian, I always imagined that my ancestral history was coloured with the many territorial conquests of what is often defined as the Middle East. I’ve always wanted to do one of those DNA tests that tell you where you’re “really from.” But those things can be quite pricey and anyone who knows me knows that I’m living on a pinch these days. Now, somehow, don’t ask me how because I don’t remember, I found out about this free study called Genes for Good that is being done through the University of Michigan. I filled out a couple of surveys and questionnaires about myself and they sent me a spit kit. It was kind of icky, but I got through the spit kit experience and mailed my sample in. Being a free test and all, they did warn me that it would take months to get my results back. There are tons of participants, so it only makes sense. You can’t argue with free, am I right? This week, I finally got my results. The results are a tad general and I’d be interested to get some more specific results, but I’m satisfied and intrigued to learn more about my history.

Here I am. This is me:

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I did have the option to request the raw data, which I did. I received it, and while they did give me some instructions on how to read it, I can’t seem to make sense of it. Maybe I can learn more about myself through this raw data, but I could use some help trying to break it down. Any suggestion? Drop me a line at heba@dartmouth.edu if you have any grand ideas or some user-friendly data software suggestions.

Or just get in touch because now that you know a little about me, it’d be cool to learn a little about you too.

Peace and Pistachios,

Heba

 

Because apparently, you can’t have too many versions of a CV

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Messing About with the Many #Canva #Resume #Template

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There is nothing casual about civilian casualties

Are you a Daily Mail reader? I won’t lie, I usually read the Daily Mail for a laugh. Some of these stories they come up with… they’re just interesting and chuckle-worthy to say the least. I do, however, know that I should never read an article concerning a serious matter on the Daily Mail website. But alas, I torture myself every time and even worse, I always scroll down to the comments section to read the vile things people feel so confidently typing, but rarely say in person.

Some of the worst things I’ve read include:

Comments about how “Real” refugees shouldn’t have phones- Many refugees are fleeing war. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have possessions. Cell phones are no longer a first world standard. Get over it because I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of refugees don’t have these fancy contracts and money to spend speaking hours on the phone.

Comments about how “real” refugees shouldn’t be allowed to wear makeup- First of all, I saw the video this ignoramus was commenting on and the woman did not have makeup up. She was and is naturally gorgeous. Perfect contours, skin and thick eyebrows. She’s prettier than all of us put together. That comment was pure jealousy. Plus, considering everything these refugees have been through, so what if she gets to put on a tiny bit of makeup. She deserves to feel beautiful and like her normal self after the torment of fleeing her country and home.

Comments about how refugees are only in it for the benefits- You know what benefit they really want. The benefit of life!!! I can’t entertain that nonsense.

Comments about how Syrians should fight for their country- This is the silliest comment of all. Syrians have been fighting for their country for years. They’re not only fighting against ISIS, you know. They’re fighting against the Assad regime and the US and Russia and the whole list of countries that have been striking Syria. What weapons do these innocent civilians have that they can use against a whole world? The numbers don’t add up. The worst part is so many refugees are children. Do we really expect children to fight? Because if we allowed that the Daily Mail commenters would comment about how child soldiers are wrong.

Comments about how refugees desire to continue their education makes them economic migrants and not refugees- You realize that these people have had their entire lives come to a complete halt. They’ve literally been sitting around starving and waiting to die. A whole generation of young Syrians is growing up illiterate and unable to do basic math or know much about anything other than war. These refugees aren’t coming over just so they can take advantage of university education. No, if they could have stayed in Syria and continued their education they would have. But there are no teachers left in schools in Syria because there are no schools left. The schools that are left get used as shelters and makeshift community centers.

Comments about how “we” should bomb “them all”- That is an incitement of terror and makes you complicit in murder. Just putting that out there, you horrible human being. I have no problem with seeing ISIS and Assad terrorist thugs get blasted off this earth, however the legal thing to do would be to capture them and try them in a court of international law, in which they would be found guilty and live a long and tortuous life in maximum security prisons. But there is nothing casual about bombing an entire city, killing innocent civilians and calling them casualties.

Comments about how everyone in Raqaa is an ISIS terrorist and that if they weren’t they would have left- Yes, Raqaa is an ISIS headquarter. Yes, ISIS controls the city, but is everyone there a supporter of ISIS, no? But to openly oppose it would leave you dead or tortured. Why don’t people leave? They don’t have the money. Sure smugglers could get you out, but where would you go? The smugglers will take all your money, risk your life and leave you penniless on a raft in the Mediterranean or in the desert on the way to a desolate refugee camp or in some other destroyed part of Syria.

Comments judging refugees for being separated from their families- Seriously? Is this the Olympic category for most vile comment made? Because if it is, you win. People get separated from their families in all sorts of ways that most people would find inconceivable. But it happens all the time. Talk to anyone whose family has been through a war or some sort of catastrophe: I can guarantee you that a majority of people will tell you they have at least one family member that ended up alone or separated from the rest.

Comments about how refugees have “such nice tents”- This dude commented on how her tent was so nice that she couldn’t possibly be a “real” refugee and that she probably has all this money stashed away. How deep in the dirt is your head exactly? Much of this type of supplies has been provided by aid workers, charity organizations and normal human people with hearts that donated much needed goods, such as tents. Do you want to live on a tent on a street corner when it’s raining and cold? No, especially since winter is nearing. You’re just a horrible person for thinking this

Comments stating the run of the mill stereotypes- The long list of racial slurs, insults, and stereotypes that I won’t humor by listing. You know the type orientalist rubbish that is slanderous, libel, disgusting and horrible filth, but Facebook won’t take it down because they’re too worked up taking pictures down of women’s bodies.

 

My conclusions: Firstly, humans are awful. I don’t know how people can be awful. I doubt most of these hateful commenters could handle  day in the life of a refugee. If you really think “we don’t owe them anything,” then you clearly have no idea how complicit our governments are in making Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world, the situation that they are in today.

Secondly, we haven’t learned from history one bit. These comments– ugh just look at some of the things people said during WWII about refugees. Please and compare those comments to now.

And lastly, I can’t be the only one who sees comparison in 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq with the Paris Attacks and the subsequent bombing of Raqaa.

Civilians, particularly children are innocent and pay the highest toll in wartime situations. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know what the answers to terrorism, racism, discrimination and bigotry are. Offhand I would say education, but we all know the world isn’t that simple.

All I want is for people to think for 30 seconds before they type these horrible comments. I pray your ignorant minds become enlightened with knowledge, wisdom and empathy.

 

Secretary of State John Kerry Nuclear Agreement with Iran September 2, 2015

 

 

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 REMARKS

September 2, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry Nuclear Agreement with Iran

September 2, 2015

National Constitution Center

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

SECRETARY KERRY:  Dick, thank you so much for a generous introduction.  I’ll say more about it, but I want to say good morning to all of you here.  It is great for me to be able to be here in Philadelphia.  I am delighted to see so many young people with us.  I know school has started and I know the choice between coming here and sitting in class was a very tough one.  (Laughter.)  We’re glad you made the choice you did.

I am particularly grateful that Senator Lugar chose to come here this morning in order to introduce me and to reaffirm his support for this agreement.  But I’m even more grateful for his service to our country over a course of a lifetime.  As a former colleague of his on the Foreign Relations Committee, which he referred to in his introduction, I can bear witness that Dick Lugar is one of the true legislative pathfinders of recent times, with a long record of foreign policy accomplishments.  And what he and Sam Nunn did is a lasting legacy of making this world safer.  He is also someone who has consistently placed our country’s interests above any other consideration, and he has a very deep understanding of how best to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.  He is one of our experts when it comes to that judgment.

So it is appropriate that the senator is here with us this morning, and I think every one of us here joins in saying thank you to you, Dick, for your tremendous service.  (Applause.)  It’s also fitting to be here in Philadelphia, the home ground of this absolutely magnificent Center to the Constitution, the Liberty Bell, and one our nation’s most revered founders, Benjamin Franklin.  And I must say I never quite anticipated, but this is one of the great vistas in America, and to be able to look down and see Independence Hall there is inspiring, I think, for all of us here.

I would say a quick word about Ben Franklin.  In addition to his many inventions and his special status as America’s first diplomat, Franklin is actually credited with being the first person known to have made a list of pros and cons – literally dividing a page in two and writing all of the reasons to support a proposal on one side and all of the reasons to oppose it on the other.

And this morning, I would like to invite you – all of you, those here and those listening through the media – to participate in just such an exercise.

Because two months ago, in Vienna, the United States and five other nations – including permanent members of the UN Security Council – reached agreement with Iran on ensuring the peaceful nature of that country’s nuclear program.  As early as next week, Congress will begin voting on whether to support that plan.  And the outcome will matter as much as any foreign policy decision in recent history.  Like Senator Lugar, President Obama and I are convinced – beyond any reasonable doubt – that the framework that we have put forward will get the job done.  And in that assessment, we have excellent company. 

Last month, 29 of our nation’s top nuclear physicists and Nobel Prize winners, scientists, from one end of our country to the other, congratulated the President for what they called “a technically sound, stringent, and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance … that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.”  The scientists praised the agreement for its creative approach to verification and for the rigorous safeguards that will prevent Iran from obtaining the fissile material for a bomb.

Today, I will lay out the facts that caused those scientists and many other experts to reach the favorable conclusions that they have.  I will show why the agreed plan will make the United States, Israel, the Gulf States, and the world safer.  I will explain how it gives us the access that we need to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful, while preserving every option to respond if Iran fails to meet its commitments.  I will make clear that the key elements of the agreement will last not for 10 or 15 years, as some are trying to assert, or for 20 or 25, but they will last for the lifetime of Iran’s nuclear program.  And I will dispel some of the false information that has been circulating about the proposal on which Congress is soon going to vote.

Now, for this discussion, there is an inescapable starting point – a place where every argument made against the agreement must confront a stark reality – the reality of how advanced Iran’s nuclear program had become and where it was headed when Presidents Obama and Rouhani launched the diplomatic process that concluded this past July.

Two years ago, in September of 2013, we were facing an Iran that had already mastered the nuclear fuel cycle; already stockpiled enough enriched uranium that, if further enriched, could arm 10 to 12 bombs; an Iran that was already enriching uranium to the level of 20 percent, which is just below weapons-grade; an Iran that had already installed 10,000-plus centrifuges; and an Iran that was moving rapidly to commission a heavy water reactor able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for an additional bomb or two a year.  That, my friends, is where we already were when we began our negotiations.

At a well-remembered moment during the UN General Assembly the previous fall, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had held up a cartoon of a bomb to show just how dangerous Iran’s nuclear program had become.  And in 2013, he returned to that podium to warn that Iran was positioning itself to “rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it.”  The prime minister argued rightly that the so-called breakout time – the interval required for Iran to produce enough fissile material for one bomb – had dwindled to as little as two months.  Even though it would take significantly longer to actually build the bomb itself using that fissile material, the prime minister’s message was clear: Iran had successfully transformed itself into a nuclear threshold state.

In the Obama Administration, we were well aware of that troubling fact, and more important, we were already responding to it.  The record is irrefutable that, over the course of two American administrations, it was the United States that led the world in assembling against Tehran one of the toughest international sanctions regimes ever developed.

But we also had to face an obvious fact: sanctions alone were not getting the job done, not even close.  They were failing to slow, let alone halt, Iran’s relentless march towards a nuclear weapons capability.  So President Obama acted.  He reaffirmed his vow that Iran would absolutely not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon.  He marshaled support for this principle from every corner of the international community.  He made clear his determination to go beyond what sanctions could accomplish and find a way to not only stop, but to throw into reverse, Iran’s rapid expansion of its nuclear program.

As we developed our strategy, we cast a very wide net to enlist the broadest expertise available.  We sat down with the IAEA and with our own intelligence community to ensure that the verification standards that we sought on paper would be effective in reality.  We consulted with Congress and our international allies and friends.  We examined carefully every step that we might take to close off each of Iran’s potential pathways to a bomb.  And of course, we were well aware that every proposal, every provision, every detail would have to withstand the most painstaking scrutiny.  We knew that.  And so we made clear from the outset that we would not settle for anything less than an agreement that was comprehensive, verifiable, effective, and of lasting duration.

We began with an interim agreement reached in Geneva – the Joint Plan of Action.  It accomplished diplomatically what sanctions alone could never have done or did.  It halted the advance of Iran’s nuclear activities.  And it is critical to note – you don’t hear much about it, but it’s critical to note that for more than 19 months now, Iran has complied with every requirement of that plan.  But this was just a first step.

From that moment, we pushed ahead, seeking a broad and enduring agreement, sticking to our core positions, maintaining unity among a diverse negotiating group of partners, and we arrived at the good and effective deal that we had sought.

And I ask you today and in the days ahead, as we have asked members of Congress over the course of these last months, consider the facts of what we achieved and judge for yourself the difference between where we were two years ago and where we are now, and where we can be in the future.  Without this agreement, Iran’s so-called breakout time was about two months; with this agreement it will increase by a factor of six, to at least a year, and it will remain at that level for a decade or more. 

Without this agreement, Iran could double the number of its operating centrifuges almost overnight and continue expanding with ever more efficient designs.  With this agreement, Iran’s centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds for 10 years. 

Without this agreement, Iran could continue expanding its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is now more than 12,000 kilograms – enough, if further enriched, for multiple bombs.  With this agreement, that stockpile will shrink and shrink some more – a reduction of some 98 percent, to no more than 300 kilograms for 15 years. 

Without this agreement, Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Arak would soon be able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium each year to fuel one or two nuclear weapons.  With this agreement, the core of that reactor will be removed and filled with concrete, and Iran will never be permitted to produce any weapons-grade plutonium.

Without this agreement, the IAEA would not have assured access to undeclared locations in Iran where suspicious activities might be taking place.  The agency could seek access, but if Iran objected, there would be no sure method for resolving a dispute in a finite period, which is exactly what has led us to where we are today – that standoff.  With this agreement, the IAEA can go wherever the evidence leads.  No facility – declared or undeclared – will be off limits, and there is a time certain for assuring access.  There is no other country to which such a requirement applies.  This arrangement is both unprecedented and unique. 

In addition, the IAEA will have more inspectors working in Iran, using modern technologies such as real-time enrichment monitoring, high-tech electronic seals, and cameras that are always watching – 24/7, 365.  Further, Iran has agreed never to pursue key technologies that would be necessary to develop a nuclear explosive device. 

So the agreement deals not only with the production of fissile material, but also with the critical issue of weaponization.  Because of all of these limitations and guarantees, we can sum up by saying that without this agreement, the Iranians would have several potential pathways to a bomb; with it, they won’t have any. 

Iran’s plutonium pathway will be blocked because it won’t have a reactor producing plutonium for a weapon, and it won’t build any new heavy-water reactors or engage in reprocessing for at least 15 years, and after that we have the ability to watch and know precisely what they’re doing.

The uranium pathway will be blocked because of the deep reductions in Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity, and because for 15 years the country will not enrich uranium to a level higher than 3.67 percent.  Let me be clear:  No one can build a bomb from a stockpile of 300 kilograms of uranium enriched only 3.67 percent.  It is just not possible. 

Finally, Iran’s covert pathway to a bomb will also be blocked.  Under our plan, there will be 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities.  As soon as we start the implementation, inspectors will be able to track Iran’s uranium as it is mined, then milled, then turned into yellow cake, then into gas, and eventually into waste.  This means that for a quarter of a century at least, every activity throughout the nuclear fuel chain will receive added scrutiny.  And for 20 years, the IAEA will be monitoring the production of key centrifuge components in Iran in order to assure that none are diverted to a covert program.

So if Iran did decide to cheat, its technicians would have to do more than bury a processing facility deep beneath the ground.  They would have to come up with a complete – complete – and completely secret nuclear supply chain: a secret source of uranium, a secret milling facility, a secret conversion facility, a secret enrichment facility.  And our intelligence community and our Energy Department, which manages our nuclear program and our nuclear weapons, both agree Iran could never get away with such a deception.  And if we have even a shadow of doubt that illegal activities are going on, either the IAEA will be given the access required to uncover the truth or Iran will be in violation and the nuclear-related sanctions can snap back into place.  We will also have other options to ensure compliance if necessary.

Given all of these requirements, it is no wonder that this plan has been endorsed by so many leading American scientists, experts on nuclear nonproliferation, and others.  More than 60 former top national security officials, 100 – more than 100 retired ambassadors – people who served under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, are backing the proposal – as are retired generals and admirals from all 5 of our uniformed services.  Brent Scowcroft, one of the great names in American security endeavors of the last century and now, served as a national security advisor to two Republican presidents.  He is also among the many respected figures who are supporting it.  Internationally, the agreement is being backed, with one exception, by each of the more than 100 countries that have taken a formal position.  The agreement was also endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on a vote of 15 to nothing.  This not only says something very significant about the quality of the plan, particularly when you consider that 5 of those countries are permanent members and they’re all nuclear powers, but it should also invite reflection from those who believe the United States can walk away from this without causing grave harm to our international reputation, to relationships, and to interests. 

You’ve probably heard the claim that because of our strength, because of the power of our banks, all we Americans have to do if Congress rejects this plan is return to the bargaining table, puff out our chests, and demand a better deal.  I’ve heard one critic say he would use sanctions to give Iran a choice between having an economy or having a nuclear program.  Well, folks, that’s a very punchy soundbite, but it has no basis in any reality.  As Dick said, I was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when our nation came together across party lines to enact round after round of economic sanctions against Iran.  But remember, even the toughest restrictions didn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program from speeding ahead from a couple of hundred centrifuges to 5,000 to 19,000.  We’ve already been there.  If this agreement is voted down, those who vote no will not be able to tell you how many centrifuges Iran will have next year or the year after.  If it’s approved, we will be able to tell you exactly what the limits on Iran’s program will be.

The fact is that it wasn’t either sanctions or threats that actually stopped and finally stopped the expansion of Iran’s nuclear activities.  The sanctions brought people to the table, but it was the start of the negotiating process and the negotiations themselves, recently concluded in Vienna, that actually stopped it.  Only with those negotiations did Iran begin to get rid of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.  Only with those negotiations did it stop installing more centrifuges and cease advancing the Arak reactor.  Only then did it commit to be more forthcoming about IAEA access and negotiate a special arrangement to break the deadlock. 

So just apply your common sense:  What do you think will happen if we say to Iran now, “Hey, forget it.  The deal is off.  Let’s go back to square one”?  How do you think our negotiating partners, all of whom have embraced this deal, will react; all of whom are prepared to go forward with it – how will they react?  What do you think will happen to that multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the bargaining table in the first place?  The answer is pretty simple.  The answer is straightforward.  Not only will we lose the momentum that we have built up in pressing Iran to limit its nuclear activities, we will almost surely start moving in the opposite direction.

We need to remember sanctions don’t just sting in one direction, my friends.  They also impose costs on those who forego the commercial opportunities in order to abide by them.  It’s a tribute to President Obama’s diplomacy – and before that, to President George W. Bush – that we were able to convince countries to accept economic difficulties and sacrifices and put together the comprehensive sanctions regime that we did.  Many nations that would like to do business with Iran agreed to hold back because of the sanctions and – and this is vital – and because they wanted to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  They have as much interest in it as we do.  And that’s why they hoped the negotiations would succeed, and that’s why they will join us in insisting that Iran live up to its obligations.  But they will not join us if we unilaterally walk away from the very deal that the sanctions were designed to bring about.  And they will not join us if we’re demanding even greater sacrifices and threatening their businesses and banks because of a choice we made and they opposed.

So while it may not happen all at once, it is clear that if we reject this plan, the multilateral sanctions regime will start to unravel.  The pressure on Iran will lessen and our negotiating leverage will diminish, if not disappear.  Now, obviously, that is not the path, as some critics would have us believe, to a so-called better deal.  It is a path to a much weaker position for the United States of America and to a much more dangerous Middle East.

And this is by no means a partisan point of view that I just expressed.  Henry Paulson was Secretary of Treasury under President George W. Bush.  He helped design the early stages of the Iran sanctions regime.  But just the other day, he said, “It would be totally unrealistic to believe that if we backed out of this deal, the multilateral sanctions would remain in place.”  And Paul Volcker, who chaired the Federal Reserve under President Reagan, he said, “This agreement is as good as you are going to get.  To think that we can unilaterally maintain sanctions doesn’t make any sense.”

We should pause for a minute to contemplate what voting down this agreement might mean for Iran’s cadre of hardliners, for those people in Iran who lead the chants of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and even “Death to Rouhani,” and who prosecute journalists simply for doing their jobs.  The evidence documents that among those who most fervently want this agreement to fall apart are the most extreme factions in Iran.  And their opposition should tell you all you need to know.  From the very beginning, these extremists have warned that negotiating with the United States would be a waste of time; why on Earth would we now take a step that proves them right?  

Let me be clear.  Rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to Iran; it would be broadcasting a message so puzzling most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend.  After all, they’ve listened as we warned over and over again about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program.  They’ve watched as we spent two years forging a broadly accepted agreement to rein that program in.  They’ve nodded their heads in support as we have explained how the plan that we have developed will make the world safer.

Who could fairly blame them for not understanding if we suddenly switch course and reject the very outcome we had worked so hard to obtain?  And not by offering some new and viable alternative, but by offering no alternative at all.  It is hard to conceive of a quicker or more self-destructive blow to our nation’s credibility and leadership – not only with respect to this one issue, but I’m telling you across the board – economically, politically, militarily, and even morally.  We would pay an immeasurable price for this unilateral reversal.  

Friends, as Dick mentioned in his introduction, I have been in public service for many years and I’ve been called on to make some difficult choices in that course of time.  There are those who believe deciding whether or not to support the Iran agreement is just such a choice.  And I respect that and I respect them.  But I also believe that because of the stringent limitations on Iran’s program that are included in this agreement that I just described, because of where that program was headed before our negotiations began and will head again if we walk away, because of the utter absence of a viable alternative to this plan that we have devised, the benefits of this agreement far outweigh any potential drawbacks.  Certainly, the goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon is supported across our political spectrum and it has the backing of countries on every continent.  So what then explains the controversy that has persisted in this debate?  

A big part of the answer, I think, is that even before the ink on the agreement was dry, we started being bombarded by myths about what the agreement will and won’t do, and that bombardment continues today.

The first of these myths is that the deal is somehow based on trust or a naive expectation that Iran is going to reverse course on many of the policies it’s been pursuing internationally.  Critics tell us over and over again, “You can’t trust Iran.”  Well, guess what?  There is a not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement that depends on promises or trust, not one.  The arrangement that we worked out with Tehran is based exclusively on verification and proof.  That’s why the agreement is structured the way it is; that’s why sanctions relief is tied strictly to performance; and it is why we have formulated the most far-reaching monitoring and transparency regime ever negotiated.  

Those same critics point to the fact that two decades ago, the United States reached a nuclear framework with North Korea that didn’t accomplish what it set out to do.  And we’re told we should have learned a lesson from that.  Well, the truth is we did learn a lesson.  

The agreement with North Korea was four pages and only dealt with plutonium.  Our agreement with Iran runs 159 detailed pages, applies to all of Tehran’s potential pathways to a bomb, and is specifically grounded in the transparency rules of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which didn’t even exist two decades ago when the North Korea deal was made because it was developed specifically with the North Korea experience in mind.  Lesson learned.

The reality is that if we trusted Iran or thought that it was about to become more moderate, this agreement would be less necessary than it is.  But we don’t.  We would like nothing more than to see Iran act differently, but not for a minute are we counting on it.  Iran’s support for terrorist groups and its contributions to sectarian violence are not recent policies.  They reflect the perceptions of its leaders about Iran’s long-term national interests and there are no grounds for expecting those calculations to change in the near future.  That is why we believe so strongly that every problem in the Middle East – every threat to Israel and to our friends in the region – would be more dangerous if Iran were permitted to have a nuclear weapon.  That is the inescapable bottom line.

That’s also why we are working so hard and so proactively to protect our interests and those of our allies. 

In part because of the challenge posed by Iran, we have engaged in an unprecedented level of military, intelligence, and security cooperation with our friend and ally Israel.  We are determined to help our ally address new and complex security threats and to ensure its qualitative military edge. 

We work with Israel every day to enforce sanctions and prevent terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah from obtaining the financing and the weapons that they seek – whether from Iran or from any other source.  And we will stand with Israel to stop its adversaries from once again launching deadly and unprovoked attacks against the Israeli people. 

Since 2009, we have provided $20 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, more than half of what we have given to nations worldwide. 

Over and above that, we have invested some 3 billion in the production and deployment of Iron Dome batteries and other missile defense programs and systems.  And we saw how in the last Gaza War lives were saved in Israel because of it.  We have given privileged access to advanced military equipment such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Israel is the only nation in the Middle East to which the United States has sold this fifth-generation aircraft.  The President recently authorized a massive arms resupply package, featuring penetrating munitions and air-to-air missiles.  And we hope soon to conclude a new memorandum of understanding – a military assistance plan that will guide our intensive security cooperation through the next decade. 

And diplomatically, our support for Israel also remains rock solid as we continue to oppose every effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, or to pass biased resolutions against it in international bodies.  

Now, I understand – I understand personally there is no way to overstate the concern in Israel about Iran and about the potential consequences that this agreement – or rejecting this agreement – might have on Israel’s security.  The fragility of Israel’s position has been brought home to me on every one of the many trips I have made to that country.

In fact, as Secretary of State, I have already traveled to Israel more than a dozen times, spending the equivalent of a full month there – even ordering my plane to land at Ben Gurion Airport when commercial air traffic had been halted during the last Gaza War; doing so specifically as a sign of support.

Over the years, I have walked through Yad Vashem, a living memorial to the 6 million lost, and I have felt in my bones the unfathomable evil of the Holocaust and the undying reminder never to forget.

I have climbed inside a shelter at Kiryat Shmona where children were forced to leave their homes and classrooms to seek refuge from Katyusha rockets. 

I visited Sderot and witnessed the shredded remains of homemade missiles from Gaza – missiles fired with no other purpose than to sow fear in the hearts of Israeli families.

I have piloted an Israeli jet out of Ovda Airbase and observed first-hand the tininess of Israel airspace from which it is possible to see all of the country’s neighbors at the same time.

And I have bowed my head at the Western Wall and offered my prayer for peace – peace for Israel, for the region, and for the world.

I take a back seat to no one in my commitment to the security of Israel, a commitment I demonstrated through my 28-plus years in the Senate.  And as Secretary of State, I am fully conscious of the existential nature of the choice Israel must make.  I understand the conviction that Israel, even more than any other country, simply cannot afford a mistake in defending its security.  And while I respectfully disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the benefits of the Iran agreement, I do not question for an instant the basis of his concern or that of any Israeli.

But I am also convinced, as is President Obama, our senior defense and military leaders, and even many former Israeli military and intelligence officials, that this agreement puts us on the right path to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon.  The people of Israel will be safer with this deal, and the same is true for the people throughout the region. 

And to fully ensure that, we are also taking specific and far-reaching steps to coordinate with our friends from the Gulf states.  President Obama hosted their leaders at Camp David earlier this year.  I visited with them in Doha last month.  And later this week, we will welcome King Salman of Saudi Arabia to Washington.  Gulf leaders share our profound concerns about Iran’s policies in the Middle East, but they’re also alarmed by Iran’s nuclear program.  We must and we will respond on both fronts.  We will make certain that Iran lives up to its commitments under the nuclear agreement, and we will continue strengthening our security partnerships.

We’re determined that our Gulf friends will have the political and the military support that they need, and to that end, we are working with them to develop a ballistic missile defense for the Arabian Peninsula, provide special operations training, authorize urgently required arms transfers, strengthen cyber security, engage in large-scale military exercises, and enhance maritime interdiction of illegal Iranian arms shipments.  We are also deepening our cooperation and support in the fight against the threat posed to them, to us, and to all civilization by the forces of international terror, including their surrogates and their proxies. 

Through these steps and others, we will maintain international pressure on Iran.  United States sanctions imposed because of Tehran’s support for terrorism and its human rights record – those will remain in place, as will our sanctions aimed at preventing the proliferation of ballistic missiles and transfer of conventional arms.  The UN Security Council prohibitions on shipping weapons to Hizballah, the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in Yemen – all of those will remain as well.

We will also continue to urge Tehran to provide information regarding an American who disappeared in Iran several years ago, and to release the U.S. citizens its government has unjustly imprisoned.  We will do everything we can to see that our citizens are able to safely return to where they belong – at home and with their families.

Have no doubt.  The United States will oppose Iran’s destabilizing policies with every national security tool available.  And disregard the myth.  The Iran agreement is based on proof, not trust.  And in a letter that I am sending to all the members of Congress today, I make clear the Administration’s willingness to work with them on legislation to address shared concerns about regional security consistent with the agreement that we have worked out with our international partners.

This brings us to the second piece of fiction: that this deal would somehow legitimize Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  I keep hearing this.  Well, yes, for years Iran has had a civilian nuclear program.  Under the Nonproliferation Treaty, you can do that.  It was never a realistic option to change that.  But recognizing this reality is not the same as legitimizing the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  In fact, this agreement does the exact opposite.  Under IAEA safeguards, Iran is prohibited from ever pursuing a nuclear weapon. 

This is an important point, so I want to be sure that everyone understands:  The international community is not telling Iran that it can’t have a nuclear weapon for 15 years.  We are telling Iran that it can’t have a nuclear weapon, period.  There is no magic moment 15, 20, or 25 years from now when Iran will suddenly get a pass from the mandates of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – doesn’t happen.  In fact, Iran is required by this agreement to sign up to and abide by the IAEA Additional Protocol that I mentioned earlier that came out of the North Korea experience.  And that requires inspections of all nuclear facilities.

What does this mean?  It means that Iran’s nuclear program will remain subject to regular inspections forever.  Iran will have to provide access to all of its nuclear facilities forever.  Iran will have to respond promptly to requests for access to any suspicious site forever.  And if Iran at any time – at any time – embarks on nuclear activities that are incompatible with a wholly peaceful program, it will be in violation of the agreement forever.  We will know of that violation right away and we will retain every option we now have to respond, whether diplomatically or through a return to sanctions or by other means.  In short, this agreement gives us unprecedented tools and all the time we need to hold Iran accountable for its choices and actions.

Now, it’s true some of the special additional restrictions that we successfully negotiated, those begin to ease after a period – in some cases 10 or 15, in others 20 or 25.  But it would defy logic to vote to kill the whole agreement – with all of the permanent NPT restrictions by which Iran has to live – for that reason.  After all, if your house is on fire, if it’s going up in flames, would you refuse to extinguish it because of the chance that it might be another fire in 15 years?  Obviously, not.  You’d put out the fire and you’d take advantage of the extra time to prepare for the future. 

My friends, it just doesn’t make sense to conclude that we should vote “no” now because of what might happen in 15 years – thereby guaranteeing that what might happen in 15 years will actually begin to happen now.  Because if this agreement is rejected, every possible reason for worry in the future would have to be confronted now, immediately, in the months ahead.  Once again and soon, Iran would begin advancing its nuclear program.  We would lose the benefit of the agreement that contains all these restrictions, and it would give a green light to everything that we’re trying to prevent.  Needless to say, that is not the outcome that we want, it is not an outcome that would be good for our country, nor for our allies or for the world

There is a third myth – a quick one, a more technical one – that Iran could, in fact, get away with building a covert nuclear facility because the deal allows a maximum of 24 days to obtain access to a suspicious site.  Well, in truth, there is no way in 24 days, or 24 months, 24 years for that matter, to destroy all the evidence of illegal activity that has been taking place regarding fissile material.  Because of the nature of fissile materials and their relevant precursors, you can’t eliminate the evidence by shoving it under a mattress, flushing it down a toilet, carting it off in the middle of the night.  The materials may go, but the telltale traces remain year after year after year.  And the 24 days is the outside period of time during which they must allow access.

Under the agreement, if there is a dispute over access to any location, the United States and our European allies have the votes to decide the issue.  And once we have identified a site that raises questions, we will be watching it continuously until the inspectors are allowed in. 

Let me underscore that.  The United States and the international community will be monitoring Iran nonstop.  And you can bet that if we see something, we will do something.  The agreement gives us a wide range of enforcement tools, and we will use them.  And the standard we will apply can be summed up in two words: zero tolerance.  There is no way to guarantee that Iran will keep its word.  That’s why this isn’t based on a promise or trust.  But we can guarantee that if Iran decides to break the agreement, it will regret breaking any promise that it has made.

Now, there are many other myths circulating about the agreement, but the last one that I’m going to highlight is just economic.  And it’s important.  The myth that sanctions relief that Iran will receive is somehow both too generous and too dangerous.

Now, obviously, the discussions that concluded in Vienna, like any serious negotiation, involved a quid pro quo.  Iran wanted sanctions relief; the world wanted to ensure a wholly peaceful nature of Iran’s program.  So without the tradeoff, there could have been no deal and no agreement by Iran to the constraints that it has accepted – very important constraints.

But there are some who point to sanctions relief as grounds to oppose the agreement.  And the logic is faulty for several reasons.  First, the most important is that absent new violations by Iran the sanctions are going to erode regardless of what we do.  It’s an illusion for members of Congress to think that they can vote this plan down and then turn around and still persuade countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, India – Iran’s major oil customers – they ought to continue supporting the sanctions that are costing them billions of dollars every year.  That’s not going to happen.  And don’t forget that the money that has been locked up as the result of sanctions is not sitting in some American bank under U.S. control.  The money is frozen and being held in escrow by countries with which Iran has had commercial dealings.  We don’t have that money.  We can’t control it.  It’s going to begin to be released anyway if we walk away from this agreement.

Remember, as well, that the bulk of the funds Iran will receive under the sanctions relief are already spoken for and they are dwarfed by the country’s unmet economic needs.  Iran has a crippled infrastructure, energy infrastructure.  It’s got to rebuild it to be able to pump oil.  It has an agriculture sector that’s been starved for investment, massive pension obligations, significant foreign reserves that are already allocated to foreign-led projects, and a civilian population that is sitting there expecting that the lifting of sanctions is going to result in a tangible improvement in the quality of their lives.  The sanctions relief is not going to make a significant difference in what Iran can do internationally – never been based on money.  Make no mistake, the important thing about this agreement is not what it will enable Iran to do, but what it will stop Iran from doing – and that is the building of a nuclear weapon.

Before closing, I want to comment on the nature of the debate which we are currently engaged in.  Some have accused advocates of the Iran agreement – including me – of conjuring up frightening scenarios to scare listeners into supporting it.  Curiously, this allegation comes most often from the very folks who have been raising alarms about one thing or another for years.  

The truth is that if this plan is voted down, we cannot predict with certainty what Iran will do.  But we do know what Iran says it will do and that is begin again to expand its nuclear activities.  And we know that the strict limitations that Iran has accepted will no longer apply because there will no longer be any agreement.  Iran will then be free to begin operating thousands of other advanced and other centrifuges that would otherwise have been mothballed; they’ll be free to expand their stockpile of low-enriched uranium, rebuild their stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, free to move ahead with the production of weapons-grade plutonium, free to go forward with weaponization research.    

And just who do you think is going to be held responsible for all of this?  Not Iran – because Iran was preparing to implement the agreement and will have no reason whatsoever to return to the bargaining table.  No, the world will hold accountable the people who broke with the consensus, turned their backs on our negotiating partners, and ignored the counsel of top scientists and military leaders.  The world will blame the United States.  And so when those same voices that accuse us of scaremongering now begin suddenly to warn, oh, wow, Iran’s nuclear activities are once again out of control and must at all costs be stopped – what do you think is going to happen?  

The pressure will build, my friends.  The pressure will build for military action.  The pressure will build for the United States to use its unique military capabilities to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program, because negotiating isn’t going to work because we’ve just tried it.  President Obama has been crystal clear that we will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  But the big difference is, at that point, we won’t have the world behind us the way we do today.  Because we rejected the fruits of diplomacy, we will be held accountable for a crisis that could have been avoided but instead we will be deemed to have created.

So my question is:  Why in the world would we want to put ourselves in that position of having to make that choice – especially when there is a better choice, a much more broadly supported choice?  A choice that sets us on the road to greater stability and security but that doesn’t require us to give up any option at all today. 

So here is the decision that we are called on to make.  To vote down this agreement is to solve nothing because none of the problems that we are concerned about will be made easier if it is rejected; none of them – not Iran’s nuclear program, not Iran’s support for terrorism or sectarian activities, not its human rights record, and not its opposition to Israel.  To oppose this agreement is – whether intended or not – to recommend in its policy a policy of national paralysis.  It is to take us back directly to the very dangerous spot that we were in two years ago, only to go back there devoid of any realistic plan or option.

By contrast, the adoption and implementation of this agreement will cement the support of the international community behind a plan to ensure that Iran does not ever acquire or possess a nuclear weapon.  In doing so it will remove a looming threat from a uniquely fragile region, discourage others from trying to develop nuclear arms, make our citizens and our allies safer, and reassure the world that the hardest problems can be addressed successfully by diplomatic means.

At its best, American foreign policy, the policy of the United States combines immense power with clarity of purpose, relying on reason and persuasion whenever possible.  As has been demonstrated many times, our country does not shy from the necessary use of force, but our hopes and our values push us to explore every avenue for peace.  The Iran deal reflects our determination to protect the interests of our citizens and to shield the world from greater harm.  But it reflects as well our knowledge that the firmest foundation for security is built on mobilizing countries across the globe to defend – actively and bravely – the rule of law.

In September 228 years ago, Benjamin Franklin rose in the great city of Philadelphia, right down there, to close debate on the proposed draft of the Constitution of the United States.  He told a rapt audience that when people of opposing views and passions are brought together, compromise is essential and perfection from the perspective of any single participant is not possible.  He said that after weighing carefully the pros and cons of that most historic debate, he said the following:  “I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”

My fellow citizens, I have had the privilege of serving our country in times of peace and in times of war, and peace is better.  I’ve seen our leaders act with incredible foresight and also seen them commit tragic errors by plunging into conflicts without sufficient thought about the consequences.

Like old Ben Franklin, I can claim and do claim no monopoly on wisdom, and certainly nothing can compare to the gravity of the debate of our founding fathers over our nation’s founding documents.  But I believe, based on a lifetime’s experience, that the Iran nuclear agreement is a hugely positive step at a time when problem solving and danger reduction have rarely been so urgent, especially in the Middle East.

The Iran agreement is not a panacea for the sectarian and extremist violence that has been ripping that region apart.  But history may judge it a turning point, a moment when the builders of stability seized the initiative from the destroyers of hope, and when we were able to show, as have generations before us, that when we demand the best from ourselves and insist that others adhere to a similar high standard – when we do that, we have immense power to shape a safer and a more humane world.  That’s what this is about and that’s what I hope we will do in the days ahead.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

# # #

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance in Response to the Syrian Crisis

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 FACT SHEET

March 31, 2015

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance in Response to the Syrian Crisis

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power announced today at the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait that the United States will provide nearly $508 million in additional life-saving assistance to benefit those affected by the war in Syria. This is the largest announcement of funding the United States has made for this humanitarian crisis, which demonstrates the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent needs.

This new funding brings the total U.S. contribution to assist those affected by the conflict in Syria since its start in 2011 to nearly $3.7 billion. The funding will support the activities of both international and non-governmental organizations, including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN World Food Program (WFP), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It will provide food, water, medical care, shelter, protection, and other necessities to millions of civilians suffering inside Syria and nearly 4 million refugees from Syria in the region. It will also provide assistance to host governments and communities throughout the region that are struggling to cope with the strain of supporting them. The announcement comes after the United States provided more than $1.5 billion to those affected by the conflict in fiscal year 2014, the largest amount of assistance the United States has ever provided to a single crisis in one year.

The new funding comes in response to the $8.4 billion United Nations 2015 appeals for Syria and the region, its largest set of appeals to date.  Behind the numbing statistics are humans whose lives are at stake: the refugee boy who is forced to leave school to support his family by begging on the streets, the widow in a besieged Damascus suburb who struggles to feed her children, and the father seeking urgent medical care for an injured child in a city where few doctors remain.

The United States recognizes that along with our emergency relief response, we must look at the longer-term development needs of Syria’s neighbors – boosting their health care and education systems, and supporting their economies amid the strain of hosting millions of refugees.  In addition to providing humanitarian aid to refugees, this funding will be programmed in a manner that is mindful of the development needs of host countries and host communities in those countries.

Though nearly all of Syria’s population is affected by the conflict, Syria’s youth continue to pay the heaviest toll.  With U.S. support, the UN and its NGO partners helped over 360,000 Syrian refugee children in neighboring countries enroll in school in 2014, triple the number enrolled in 2013.  Despite this progress, the UN estimates that two million children inside Syria are out of school and one in five schools have been damaged or destroyed.  In the region, the UN estimates that half of Syrian refugee children are not in school. 

The onslaught against civilians and aid organizations by the Syrian regime and extremist groups we are seeing shows that the principles of humanitarianism that founded the United Nations remain under attack from multiple sides in Syria.  We cannot allow this kind of regressive brutality to go unchallenged. Impartial and neutral humanitarian organizations must be allowed to do their jobs; civilians must be protected.

The United States remains committed to assisting those affected by this terrible war, and strongly urges all donors, organizations, and individuals concerned about the situation to contribute to the 2015 UN appeals.

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance for the Syria Crisis, By Country

INSIDE SYRIA: Nearly $270 million. Total to date: $1.82 billion

There are now 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, and U.S. humanitarian assistance reaches 5 million people across all of Syria’s 14 governorates.  This new assistance will support life-saving food, emergency medical care, funding for shelter and critical water, and sanitation and hygiene projects to help those affected by the crisis.  It will also provide critical relief supplies and much-needed counseling and protection programs to help the most vulnerable, including women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.

Of special concern are Syria’s children who have been traumatized by war and many of whom have been out of school for more than two years.  The new funding will support children’s needs in education, nutrition, health, and psychosocial care, while also providing additional safe and nurturing spaces for Syria’s children to learn, play, and deal with the stresses of conflict.

LEBANON: More than $118 million.  Total to date: $792 million*

The UN estimates that Lebanon is the highest per capita refugee hosting country in the world.  Today’s announcement increases support to both refugees and host communities.  With the additional funding, UN and international organization partners can continue to deliver immediate cash assistance for food, rent assistance, education, healthcare, shelter assistance, and basic relief items like blankets, heaters, and hygiene kits.  The UN is also using efficient electronic cards to distribute aid and reach more people in need.

The additional U.S. funding will also support Lebanese refugee-hosting communities through improvements in municipal water and sanitation systems, support to local community centers and clinics, and improving school facilities.  The WFP program has had a direct impact on the local economy, creating over 1,300 jobs and enabling participating stores to double their revenue.  

The number of refugees from Syria now living in Lebanon includes approximately 45,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria.  Approximately half live in Palestinian refugee camps that were overcrowded even before the influx from Syria, with few resources and limited opportunities to improve their situation.  Additional U.S. support to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Lebanon provides needed aid, including cash, relief supplies, education, and medical care, to Palestinian refugees from Syria in camps and other communities.

JORDAN: Nearly $67 million.  Total to date: $556 million*

In Jordan, 85 percent of Syrian refugees live outside of refugee camps, in Jordanian towns and cities.  Our additional funding will benefit both refugees and Jordanian host communities. 

Our additional support to Syrians in Jordan aims to alleviate the need for children to work instead of going to school by funding continued cash assistance to cover refugees’ basic needs and shelter costs.  This funding also goes toward improving school facilities, so that all children, including those with disabilities, can access the education they need and deserve.

The WFP electronic food voucher program has led to $2.5 million investment in physical infrastructure by the participating retailers; created over 350 jobs in the food retail sector; and generated $6 million in additional tax receipts for the Jordanian government.

U.S. funding also includes support to UNRWA for the needs of some 15,000 Palestinian refugees in Jordan who have fled the conflict in Syria, helping vulnerable refugees access health care, educational services, and cash assistance for essential needs.

TURKEY: Nearly $28 million.  Total to date: $259 million*

U.S. funding assists Turkey in addressing the humanitarian and protection needs of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps, urban areas, and host communities.  This funding will be used to increase the number of social workers, child development specialists, psychologists and interpreters in refugee camps, as well as in 11 provinces hosting Syrian refugees.  Funding to UNHCR will provide tents, blankets, kitchen sets, targeted support to particularly vulnerable refugees, and technical support to government authorities. Funding for UNICEF helps provide programming for children emphasizing life skills, as well as awareness-raising on landmines.  WFP provides refugees with electronic food cards that allow families living in camps to purchase nutritious food items to meet their daily needs, and the World Health Organization coordinates the regional emergency health response to communicable diseases and will strengthen primary health care and disease surveillance, prevention, and response.

IRAQ: More than $17 million.  Total to date: $165 million*

In Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government hosts 96 percent of Syrian refugees in the country, and has provided more than 2,000 square miles of land for the establishment of 11 camp and transit sites.  This new funding will be used to repair health centers, expand schools, and improve water sanitation systems in the community.  Other funding will go toward initiatives targeting women and girls, to provide vocational and language training, general literacy training and reproductive health.

EGYPT: Nearly $9 million.  Total to date: $78 million*

The increased funding will provide assistance to Syrian refugees who continue to face significant challenges as urban refugees in Egypt.  The U.S. contribution will assist humanitarian partners in expanding assistance in major refugee-hosting cities such as Cairo and Alexandria with community-focused projects for refugees and host families in an effort to address the deteriorating protection environment.  Assistance will also target prevention of and responsiveness to gender-based violence, protection and education for children, increased self-reliance and livelihood opportunities, distribution of food vouchers, and improved access to health care services.

*Figures are rounded to the nearest million.

Funding Numbers by Country

Country

Kuwait Announcement

Total – Since FY 2012

Inside Syria

$270 million

$1.82 billion

Lebanon

$118 million

$792 million

Jordan

$67 million

$556 million

Turkey

$28 million

$259 million

Iraq

$17 million

$165 million

Egypt

$9 million

$78 million

TOTAL

$508 million

$3.69 billion

*Figures are rounded to the nearest million and may not sum to total due to rounding

Funding Numbers by Organization

Organization

Kuwait Announcement

Total – Since FY 2012

UNHCR

  $144 million

$914 million

WFP

  $100 million

$1.168 billion

NGOs

  $108 million

$834 million

UNRWA

  $57 million

$241 million

UNICEF

  $61 million

$300 million

Other (admin)

  $1 million

$7 million

ICRC

  $23 million

$103 million

IOM

  $2 million

$26 million

WHO

  $0.4 million

$30 million

UNFPA

  $8 million

$26 million

UNFAO

 $2 million

$3 million

UNDP

  $1 million

$12 million

Other Organizations

– – – – –

$15 million

TOTAL

$508 million

$3.69 billion

 

*Figures are rounded to the nearest million and may not sum to total due to rounding

For more detailed information on the U.S. government’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, please visit: http://www.usaid.gov/crisis/syria.

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MENA Internship – Summer/Fall 2015: Search For Common Ground

JOB DETAILS:

Organisation: Search For Common Ground

Deadline Sat, 28 Mar 2015

Job type: Volunteer

Location: United States

The Organization

Search for Common Ground (SFCG) is an international non-profit organization that promotes peaceful resolution of conflict. With headquarters in Washington, DC and a European office in Brussels, Belgium, SFCG’s mission is to transform how individuals, organizations, and governments deal with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and toward cooperative solutions. SFCG seeks to help conflicting parties understand their differences and act on their commonalities. With a total of approximately 600 staff worldwide, SFCG implements projects in 35 countries, including in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.  The organization is an exciting and rewarding place to work, with a dedicated and enthusiastic staff who love their work.  You will be joining a highly motivated staff with a good team spirit and there will be opportunities to grow in the role.

Summary of Position

Search for Common Ground seeks a professional, motivated, and creative intern to join the Middle East – North Africa regional team. Based in Washington, DC, the intern will provide support to SFCG’s offices and programs in MENA, including Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, and Jerusalem. Duties of this internship will contribute to the development of programs for sustainable peace and conflict transformation in the MENA region, and will give interns an opportunity to practice high-level, professional skills.

Interns must be available to work 24-40 hours per week. This internship is unpaid. We are looking for an intern to begin mid-May 2015. Interns must commit to at least 3 months, but preference will be given to those who can continue through Fall 2015.

Responsibilities:

  • Assisting with grant proposal development for country and regional programs.
  • Researching contextual information to enhance program design.
  • Editing reports from country offices for language and fluidity.
  • Assisting with donor reports and other communications.
  • Maintaining the MENA team’s communications strategy, including compiling updates from country offices, revamping website content, and creating visibility pieces for social media.
  • Collaborating with other departments to share MENA expertise.
  • Provide front desk back-up support through greeting visitors, answering calls and receiving packages during the receptionist’s lunch hour. (For this service you will remunerated if eligible to work in the US.)
  • Planning travel and meeting logistics
  • Performing other supportive duties as needed.
  • Perform French and/or Arabic translations if possible.

As job descriptions cannot be exhaustive, the position-holder may be required to undertake other duties that are broadly in line with the above key responsibilities.

Required Qualifications:

  • BA or MA (completed or in progress) in international relations, conflict resolution, Middle East studies, international development, or a related field.
  • Excellent writing, editing, and communication skills in English.
  • Computer proficiency.
  • Interest in peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
  • Familiarity with the MENA region.
  • Ability to maintain professionalism, creativity, and enthusiasm while working in a fast-paced, multi-cultural environment with minimal supervision.
  • Self-starter, able to work independently, and willing to take on tasks small and large.
  • Prior international or cross-cultural experience.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Ability to write and translate in French and/or Arabic preferred.

Salary: This internship is unpaid.

To Apply:

Please submit a (1) resume, (2) cover letter, and (3) writing sample (400-600 words: NO MORE) through our online application system at https://sfcg.bamboohr.com/jobs/view.php?id=219. This should be combined into 1 document and all uploaded into the “resume” space in the online system. Please follow this instruction. In the cover letter, besides highlighting your qualifications, please include the dates you will be available, the number of hours per week you are able to commit, and your goals for the internship. Submission deadline is March 28, 2015.