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Dear Senator Cantwell

September 8, 2015

Dear Senator Cantwell,

I have known and admired you for almost two decades, since we were both in high-powered, high-tech business careers. We were at two different companies then, sometimes friendly, sometimes adversarial, but always a respectful relationship.

Your first run for the U.S. Senate was the first political campaign I ever supported, before I was a “pro-Israel” political activist, or any other kind. You took on an incumbent, and you impressed me as being both smart and principled, just the sort of person I wanted to represent me in the “other” Washington. You haven’t disappointed, and I have remained an admirer and supporter ever since.

Now you may hold the pivotal vote on the most critical decision of your political career. Knowing that you are still that smart and principled person, I also know—because we have met in person and talked about it twice this summer—that you are struggling with this monumental decision.

You’re smart enough to know that it’s a lousy deal. You know it will enrich the most aggressive regime in the world. It will embolden a regressive theocracy to further repress its citizens. It will boost the murderous Assad regime and ensure that more bodies of Syrian toddlers will wash ashore. The deal will help Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon build even more sophisticated rockets and tunnels with which to attack Israel.

The proposed agreement gives retroactive absolution to the Mullahs’ decades of violating international law and flaunting UN Security Council resolutions. It acknowledges theirs long-coveted (and unprecedented) “right to enrich” uranium. It provides the funding, technological support, legitimacy, even security assistance to Iran’s so-called “civilian” nuclear program. It basically ensures a nuclear-threshold Islamic Republic in 10 to 15 years, or sooner if they cheat.

And you know they will cheat. It’s what Iran has always done. They have already announced that they don’t intend to comply with the “American interpretation” of the deal—in other words, with what you and your colleagues think they agreed to do.

You know that when they cheat, we will have no recourse. The diplomatic process will have been exhausted and failed. The sanctions will have melted away; indeed the gold rush has already begun. And you know that the much-touted “snap-back” is a myth; if we can’t maintain effective unilateral sanctions now, before the deal goes into effect, there’s no way we will be able to unilaterally re-impose them later, once Iran has received its windfall and after all those multinational corporations have opened their branches in Tehran.

You know that the deal makes war more likely, not less. That it will accelerate the Middle East arms race, adding more and more advanced weapons to the world’s most volatile region. That once we have given away all our diplomatic and economic leverage, all we will have left, tragically and incredibly dangerously, will be a military option.

You’re smart enough to know all of this. So the test is now one of principles.

Years from now, we will look back at the summer of 2015 and ask ourselves, how could we have allowed this to happen. We will have to apologize to our children and grandchildren, and to generations to come in the Middle East, for letting them down.

Please do the smart and principled thing. Oppose this terrible deal.

Anxiously yours,


Update: Just after I sent this note to Sen. Cantwell, she announced that she would support the nuclear deal with Iran. In light of this news, I decided to make what had been intended as a private message into a public blog post.

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