Iraq War Veterans say, ‘Every Politician Involved in the Iran Deal Will Be Held Accountable. Blood Will Be On Their Hands’

DEAL OR NO DEAL. WAR AND PEACE. MIX AND MATCH. PHOTOGRAPHER: KENA BETANCUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
DEAL OR NO DEAL. WAR AND PEACE. MIX AND MATCH. PHOTOGRAPHER: KENA BETANCUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A group of Iraq war veterans is launching a million-dollar effort to oppose President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, trying to counter the president’s argument that those who are against the deal are in favor of war.

Obama has said recently that there are only two camps: those who support the deal versus those who would prefer a bloody and costly war like the conflict in Iraq. The new ad campaign complicates that, asserting that the deal itself will lead to more war. And the voices putting forth that case do not prefer war; they are soldiers who have had enough of it.

The group, Veterans Against the Deal, was founded last month as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, and it does not disclose its donors. Its national campaign starts today, including television ads in states whose members of Congress are undecided on the Iran deal. Lawmakers will vote on it in September.

The first of the group’s videos features retired staff sergeant Robert Bartlett, who was badly injured by an Iranian bomb while serving in Iraq in 2005. “Every politician who is involved in this will be held accountable, they will have blood on their hands,” he says in the ad. “A vote for this deal means more money for Iranian terrorism. What do you think they are going to do when they get more money?”

The first ad will go up in Montana, aimed at Democratic Senator Jon Tester. Subsequent ads will air in North Dakota, West Virginia and elsewhere. The group will also send veterans to speak at events in key states.

“We are going to challenge those people who are on the fence,” Executive Director Michael Pregent, a former intelligence adviser to Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Ray Odierno who served in Iraq, told me. “Our main argument is that veterans know Iran better than Washington, D.C., does. You’ve got a lot of veterans out there who are pretty upset about this, so we are looking to capture their voices and make sure they are heard.”

The campaign does not actually dwell on the nuclear issue, but on a more immediate threat: When Iran receives up to $100 billion of its frozen assets as part of sanctions relief, it could use that money to increase its nefarious activities all over the region. Top officials including Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have testified that Iran is likely to use at least some of this cash to fund violence in places like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. According to Dempsey, Iran was directly responsible for the deaths of at least 500 American service members during the Iraq war.

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Source: Bloomberg View | Josh Rogin

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