Thursday, February 12, 2015

Test of Wills: Iran Sets Obama Up

Why the (toothless) Iran sanctions bill matters - Daniel Pipes, PhD

Nearly all the 54 Republican U.S. senators will vote in favor of the Kirk-Menendez bill requiring sanctions on Iran if the P5+1 negotiations fail. President Obama has promised to veto it. Now, the senate is gearing up for a high-drama vote; will Democrats provide the 13 to 15 votes needed for a veto-proof majority?

Lost in the shuffle is a little-noticed section of the bill that, if passed, guts it. The "Draft of Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015," posted on the website of Sen. Mark Kirk contains a "Waiver of Sanctions." Designed to win the support of skittish Democrats, it also undermines the bill's goal of forcing Obama's hand in the negotiations.

What's the point, one might ask, of the pro-sanctions side struggling so hard to attain a veto-proof majority when Obama can negate its provisions at will?

[W]hy does the White House expend so much political capital stopping this bill when it could let it pass and then kill it by invoking the waiver? Why the major combat over what amounts to a symbolic resolution?

[A]s he explained in the State Of The Union, he passionately wants Kirk-Menendez defeated because "new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails … [by] ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again."

In other words, the Iranian pseudo-parliament (the Majlis) is warning that the bill's passage – even if its sanctions are subsequently waived – in itself cancels the existing interim accord and ends the negotiating process. Iran's foreign minister also declared that the Majlis would retaliate against any new U.S. sanctions legislation by ramping up the nuclear program; and that new sanctions would damage the West's favorite Iranian politician, President Hassan Rouhani.

With this clever tactic, the Iranians have provoked a grand test of wills in Washington, turning Obama into their enforcer obliged to tame Congress; Majlis speaker Ali Larijani has warned that "If Obama can't solve his problems [with Congress], he himself will be responsible for the disruption of the negotiations." Rather than tell Tehran to take a hike, the administration (in keeping with its larger strategy) fell for this ruse, resulting in a forthcoming Senate battle royal.

Is this not reminiscent of the bazaar, where the wily merchant charmingly cheats the naïve tourist? The stake, however, is not the price of a Persian carpet but an apocalyptic rogue regime acquiring and perhaps deploying nuclear weapons.

And so, the toothless Kirk-Menendez bill actually does have real importance. It needs those 67 votes.
[The Washington Times]

Why Netanyahu Should Give His Speech - David Suissa

Like many other American Jews, I've had serious reservations about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to speak to Congress on March 3, against the wishes of President Barack Obama. If the most powerful man in the world is upset about something, you can't afford to just shrug that off.    
And yet, as much as I've had my issues with him over the years, I don't feel like joining in the anti-Bibi frenzy.

What is Obama so afraid of? Is it possible that he's afraid to start a vigorous debate on his Iran strategy that will expose it as potentially harmful to America's or Israel's interest?     

Let's put aside all the hysterics about politics and protocol. As sobering as those things may be, they pale in comparison to the strategic issue of how Obama deals with the Iranian nuclear threat. If he's about to sign an agreement that many experts agree is a bad one, don't we deserve a national debate, as an editorial in the Washington Post called for last week? 
(Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

Rolling Back the Iranian Threat - Mortimer B. Zuckerman

  • Just about every Western leader is consistently on record saying, "No deal is better than a bad deal." But the rhetoric does not match the reality. There are secret letters begging Iran for a compromise. No one is talking about dismantling Iran's program anymore. There is a sickening smell in the air, the harbinger of a bad deal.
  • We cannot leave Iran with thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium when it doesn't even need a single centrifuge to have peaceful nuclear energy. 
  • We also have to confront Iran's program for missiles. Iran doesn't need intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach Israel; they need them to reach Europe and the U.S. and the only thing to carry on an intercontinental ballistic missile is a nuclear warhead.

The writer is chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News.

(New York Daily News)


LHwrites said...

The Bill should fail for the very same reason that Netanyahu shouldn't speak. Obama certainly isn't afraid of anything here. It all speaks of the disrespect this Congress has shown while undermining the President at every turn. He is merely trying to ensure that this Congress does not continue to get away with poor behavior by achieving the same awful results that they did for the economy: they hampered the economy and cost the citizens of the US billions of dollars in unnecessary shutdowns and delayed economic growth. Now they want to do the same for foreign policy. If the democrats had done anything like this to George W. Bush the republicans would've labeled them traitors which they did by preemptively calling anyone who wasn't with the President as against him while he lied to our nation and committed boneheaded move after boneheaded move. Republicans love to complain when others adopt their own tactics because they are the biggest bunch of crybabies who ever failed to govern and they cannot seem to take it when there is a disagreement. The deck was stacked against the Dems by a midterm election taking place in a handful of states that were mostly leaning GOP. Let's see how the nations pays them back in 2016 for attempting to derail the economy and their traitorous actions against the President while he negotiates sensitive foreign policy.
And how will it play for Netanyahu? The latest polls don't look as good for him, here is an article a few days ago from CNN.
The bottom of the article talks about this.
On the Washington post blogs here is a poll that shows Netanyahu creating negative impressions with younger Americans.
This is not really the way to help the future of Israel.
Most of all, what Congress and Netanyahu are doing will achieve nothing because if the negotiations fail, as is seeming more and more likely, then sanctions will be the payback to Iran.
All Congress and Netanyahu are doing is trying to embarrass the President and make his foreign policy job harder. In the extremely unlikely event that there is a Republican president in the next 12 years; you can bet the other party is taking notes how to undermine him. The GOP is doing its best to ensure that government doesn't work in the future, just as they have shown by example the last 6 years.

Bruce said...

Netanyahu is not trying to embarrass President Obama. He is protecting his country's interests by trying to prevent a very bad deal, a deal that assures Iran retains nuclear breakout capacity.

The data also shows that a strong plurality of Americans support Israel.