A recurring theme among Veterans wounded by Iranian weapons in Iraq is the foolishness of trusting the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. A new bipartisan group is making that point, as have other veterans independently.
The new group, “Veterans Against the Deal,” is a bipartisan 501(c)4 with some top names leading its roster. Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn is an adviser to the group. Flynn is well-positioned to understand the Iranian threat, as he was the author of a report highly critical of American intelligence during the Iraq war, and went on to lead efforts to reform military intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn has been sharply critical of President Obama’s efforts in Iraq against ISIS, where Iranian-backed Shia militias have been allowed to take a dominant role.
The group’s first video features a Staff Sergeant who received the Purple Heart after an Iranian blast badly wounded him, and crippled one of his comrades. He points out that the Iranian-backed militias would murder children in order to enforce their dominance over villages.
Executive Director Michael Pregent says that the group has Democratic as well as Republican donors, and will feature Democrats who are veterans in their ads.
There are many Veterans with reasons to be angry at Iran. Iran fielded as many as 30,000 operatives in Iraq during the war, and is thought to have killed perhaps a thousand American service members. No one doubts that the Islamic Republic will devote at least some of the money it will receive under the deal to terrorism. President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice has said that “we expect” Iran to send money to terror groups. United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry has said that he believes Iran “may” use money and weapons obtained under the terms of the deal to kill Americans, but that he regards their “Death to America” chants as “rhetorical excess.” President Obama himself stated that “We have no illusions about the Iranian government or the significance of the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force. Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. It supports proxy groups… including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq.”
Veterans Against the Deal is not the first to voice this sentiment. At Secure Freedom, retired Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Ziegenfuss called on the government not to trust Iran. “Iran is one of the largest suppliers of bomb-making materials that have killed more than a thousand US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Ziegenfuss said. He also made a video to underscore the point.
The claim to bipartisanship is also plausible given that the military’s Republican slant has often been overstated. It is true that military veterans of all ages are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. However, a plurality of service members identify as independent: only 27% of service members identify as Republicans, compared to 17% who identify as Democrats. They do skew more conservative than the general population. In 2013, fully 44% of the US military was drawn from the American South, a region where Democrats tend to be much more conservative than elsewhere.