Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Statesmanship Award
- Rep. Ted Deutch, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa
- Moderator: Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
FDD presented its Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Statesmanship Award to two distinguished members of Congress who have spearheaded efforts on Capitol Hill to confront global terrorism and Iran’s hegemonic ambitions: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), the subcommittee’s ranking member.
The award’s late namesake was the first woman to represent America at the U.N. A staunch anti-communist and supporter of Israel, she was also a founding member of FDD. Presenting the award, FDD investor Mark Argosh of Westport, Connecticut, expressed his deep gratitude to the lawmakers for their work facing the Iran threat “in all its dimensions.” Argosh said both have shown “real grit and a laser-like focus in countering the rising tide of global terrorism,” and hailed them as “passionate advocates for human rights.”
The discussion was moderated by Jonathan Schanzer, FDD’s Vice President for Research. The lawmakers differed on certain tactics for addressing America’s geopolitical challenges, but stood united on the need to counter a resurgent Iran and Islamic extremist movements worldwide.
On Iran nuclear negotiations:
- Deutch: “Real questions” remain over the specifics of the Iran nuclear framework agreement announced this month. These include the timing of sanctions relief, what kind of work is permitted to continue at the Fordow and Arak facilities, whether the U.N. will be able to fully inspect any site in the country, and whether Iran will “come clean” on past military dimensions of its nuclear work. I could not support an agreement that supports the immediate lifting of Iran sanctions as Khamenei and Rouhani demand. We must be able to ensure that any money released to Iran does not go to its nuclear program or to terrorism.
- Ros-Lehtinen: International demands of the Islamic Republic on its nuclear program have been “watered down so much” that it would be “foolish for Iran not to comply.”
- Deutch: If U.N. Security Council members have a vote on a final Iran deal, then so should the U.S. Congress. The current version of the Corker bill for Congressional review of an Iran deal contains compromises amenable to both parties, and it is encouraging that President Obama has announced he will not exercise his veto.
- Ros-Lehtinen: It would be “ludicrous” for Congress not to be allowed a say over something as consequential to American security as a final Iran nuclear deal. However, the idea of the U.S. president asking Congress its opinion is “fantasy football,” as he views Congress “as a nuisance.”
- Deutch: There are currently $100 to $150 billion in Iranian frozen assets. “It wouldn’t take a lot of that money to advance [Iran’s] destabilizing efforts” in the region, such as its support for the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.
- Ros-Lehtinen: Once Iran sanctions are lifted, it will “open the floodgates” of money to the Islamic Republic. “We are freeing up a lot of money that is going to be used against U.S. interests.” China recently announced it would help Tehran build five new nuclear plants, and Russia has announced it would sell S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, but the U.S. administration simply “looks the other way.”
On U.S. leadership, human rights and support for allies:
- Deutch: Human rights has to remain prominent in our foreign policy considerations. Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of 200,000 of his own citizens “should matter to us.”
- Ros-Lehtinen: The United States lately has been “a bystander” in global affairs, leaving our allies to “wonder about where America stands.” We thank the Saudis for standing up to fight in Yemen, but America should “not walk away from the world stage,” and we “should not be so ready to make deals with all the bad guys in the world.” The president spent an hour with Cuban leader Raul Castro, but did not have a minute for Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. Our allies notice these inconsistencies.
- Deutch: Throughout the Middle East, “we have lost many relationships that matter, starting with the relationship between the United States and Israel.” Given that Israel is the only true democracy in the region, and the only one to uphold human and women’s rights, that relationship “has to be paramount.”