Retired generals say GOP senators' opposition to Biden on Iran endangers US and its allies

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Retired U.S. Army Gens. Paul Eaton and Steven Anderson support President Joe Biden's efforts to return to the Iran nuclear deal.

Republicans who have declared their intentions to prevent the Biden administration from reestablishing an international deal to limit Iran's nuclear program are endangering the United States and its soldiers, two retired Army generals told the American Independent Foundation.

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson praised President Joe Biden's ongoing efforts to renew the agreement initiated under former President Barack Obama in 2015 and thrown out by former President Donald Trump in 2018.

Both Eaton and Anderson are affiliated with the progressive veterans advocacy group VoteVets, one in a coalition of groups that support returning to the Iran agreement.

Under the original agreement, Iran was required to subject its nuclear facilities to international inspections and to reduce its stockpile of uranium, among a host of requirements intended to limit that nation's capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

The Biden administration is working in concert with international partners and intermediaries to negotiate a return to the agreement. There are currently several areas of significant contention between the United States and Iran, but the Biden administration has continued to be engaged in the process.

But in March, 49 Republican senators (all the Republicans in the Senate except Rand Paul) announced their opposition to renewing the agreement in a letter to Biden.

Eaton, who served in the Army for 33 years both in the United States and in Somalia, Bosnia, Albania, and Iraq, told the American Independent Foundation that Trump's decision to pull out of the agreement "did great damage" to America's efforts to keep Iran from increasing its nuclear capacity and said that abandoning the process is "now held up as a great example of how not to trust the United States of America."

"It's important not to undermine the power of the United States and the prosecution of foreign policy," Eaton said of the senators' letter. "That's what the Republicans are doing." Harking back to a comment made in 2016 by a sitting U.S. senator when his party backed then-candidate Donald Trump for president, Eaton added, "In the words of Lindsey Graham, his party has gone batshit crazy."

Eaton said working toward a deal was important to the "sanctity of the word of the United States of America and the trust that America will fulfill its foreign policy obligations" and the failure to fulfill those obligations "has a bearing on our troops, their safety" and "their own trust in their government."

"Anything we do to undermine our establishments is undermining the fabric of our American society, so the trust factor is huge," he concluded.

Anderson served in the Army for 31 years, including tours in Korea, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Germany, and the United States and at the Pentagon as a deputy chief of staff.

Anderson said it was "absolutely wrong" for Trump to leave the Iran agreement and that "without a doubt" doing so had made the situation more dangerous for the United States and its allies. Anderson said the Obama-era agreement "contributed to a more secure world" and the decision to abandon it was "embarrassing."

Anderson said the letter from the GOP senators was further proof that the Republican Party is "the party of Trump and ... he's calling the shots."

"That is really painful for me as a former Republican," Anderson noted, describing himself as a "hardcore Republican my entire political life." He said the party's embrace of Trump and his policies was "going off the deep end" and "was really, really sad."

Anderson compared the unified GOP opposition to a renewed Iran deal to the thinking that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol and "the last year of obfuscation and avoidance of any kind of accountability on the part of the Republican Party."

"It just shows how sick, truly sick the Republican Party is right now that they would not be able to support a deal like this with Iran," he added.

Without a deal in place to limit Iran, Anderson said he believes "our national security is at risk" because "there's nothing stopping them, there's nothing holding them back."

He said, "Our soldiers are more at risk, our fellow citizens are more at risk."

In December 2021, three years after Trump's withdrawal from the Iran agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Iran had increased its capacity to enrich uranium.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.