Posted on September 10, 2015 in Countdown

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Action for Syrian Refugees

Like you, we read with heavy hearts the heartbreaking stories of Syrian refugees struggling to find their way through Europe after escaping the horrors of ISIL and the Assad regime in Syria. As yet the U.S. has done very little to resettle refugees, with just over a 1000 refugees currently resettled and a target next year of 10,000. Compare this to Germany (1/4 the size of the U.S. in population) who will take in an estimated 800,000 refugees. Of the 22 Presidential candidates Martin O'Malley was the first to speak up clearly for more action. The former Maryland Governor calls on the U.S. to accept at least 65,000 next year. Since O'Malley's clear statement on the need to do more, other candidates have begun to speak on this issue calling for "more to be done" but with few specifics and often couched in a need to have the refugees "thoroughly vetted." We are also happy to see GOP candidate Lindsey Graham state recently that he would "support emergency appropriation for refugees."  We certainly hope that aspirational statements on aiding Syrian refugees translate into action. The United States, "the nation of immigrants and refugees—can do more." We certainly agree Mr. O'Malley.


Remember when we tore up the North Korea agreement?

Now that the required 34 votes came through in the Senate, President Obama can rest a bit easier knowing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action aka "Iran Deal" will pass through Congress. Still, the campaign against the deal continues with several GOP candidates claiming they would overturn this deal on day one. They should maybe relax a bit on that. The last time we heard this sort of blind rejection, George W. Bush was dismantling his predecessor Bill Clinton's Agreed Framework with North Korea on their nuclear program, which had been working.  In the eight years that followed North Korea's nuclear weapons program went from no actual weapons and some hidden nuclear material during the Clinton years to a dozen nuclear weapons under Bush's leadership. Eventually the Bush administration tried to work on a new deal, which looked a lot like the original Clinton deal that was dismantled. So in the interest of sticking with an agreement that prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons, let's not let electioneering candidates blowing smoke turn into a mushroom cloud, to channel a sage George W. Bush Administration official on what turned out to be the imaginary Iraqi nuclear arsenal.


What’s "Suppin’ with Sharia”?

Increasingly popular presidential candidate Donald Trump joined another 2016 hopeful, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, to headline a “Tea Party Patriots” rally in Washington, DC to drum up opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Ever the provocateurs, Cruz and Trump not only used the time to predict the eventual nuclear bomb that will wipe out the Eastern seaboard, but they very publicly elevated their friendship and respect for notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney as well as his organization, cheekily called The Center for Security Policy. Well, there was definitely enough anti-Muslim fear-mongering for Gaffney’s taste, and the two candidates had help scoring those points thanks to Gaffney’s like minded friends Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck who were also on hand for the occasion. Best quote of the day probably goes to Palin, who said that the U.S.’s nuclear deal is “suppin’ with Sharia.” Though we’re not entirely sure what that means, we did note that what was missing from the hours of speeches was any serious talk about the merits of the deal itself. Trump just railed against it saying, “I’ve never seen a deal more incompetently negotiated than our deal with Iran.” And though Trump a few days earlier admitted to not being privy to the machinations, key actors, and procedures of foreign policy, apparently finds himself an expert on this score.


Don't know much about foreign policy

Real estate magnate, and TV personality Donald Trump isn't exactly a conventional presidential candidate, that much has been clear for some time. But the depth of his ignorance on foreign policy was only recently revealed on a conservative talk radio show hosted by Hugh Hewitt. Trump stated that he will know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah "when it's appropriate," continuing that he will "know more about it that you know, believe me it won't take long." When asked about the names of specific individuals leading Middle East groups, Trump said "Of course I don't know them. I've never met them." Interestingly Hewitt asked the same questions of GOP candidate Carly Fiorina and she answered confidently and correctly. Though the media was still chugging along the Trump train and covering his and others' attacks on Mr. Hewitt for daring to ask questions of an interviewee. We're looking forward to the rematch when the candidates all take to the stage next week for the second round of debates, which will be co-moderated with none other than, Hugh Hewitt. Stay tuned, we'll certainly be watching.


New Hampshire Will Have Another Arab American on the Ballot

Chris Sununu, New Hampshire’s third term Arab American executive councilor, announced that he will run for New Hampshire Governor as a Republican. Sununu, the son of former Gov. John H. Sununu and brother of former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, made the announcement during the Salem Republican Committee Labor Day Picnic, an event attended by two Republican Presidential candidates, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Carly Fiorina, and New Hampshire’s very own Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). As one of the first primary stops in the nation, the Granite state’s electoral importance is well known and the 2016 race for Governor is sure to be closely watched. According to analysts in New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan will not seek to retain her seat but will challenge Sen. Ayotte for a highly sought after Senate seat. Sununu is the first major candidate to formally launch a campaign for the governorship and it remains to be seen whether he will face a primary challenger and who his possible Democratic opponent may be.