Monday, March 16, 2015

Dems to Buck Obama Deal

Senator Heidi Heitkamp [D] of North Dakota is ready to oppose White House

Democrats Prepared to Buck White House on Iran - Burgess Everett

The president's challenge in Congress on Iran isn't limited to the 47 Republican senators who signed last week's missive arguing that a nuclear agreement could be revoked by the next U.S. president. The bill that would give Congress 60
days to reject or approve any deal has nearly a dozen Democratic supporters.

Indeed, a day after the controversy over Sen. Cotton's letter erupted, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado co-sponsored Corker's congressional review bill, the 11th Democrat to signal support.

U.S. Removes Iran and Hizbullah from List of Terrorism Threats
The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Communities, an annual report delivered on Feb. 26, 2015, to the Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hizbullah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports. The report noted Iran's efforts to combat Sunni extremists.

At the same time, both Iran and Hizbullah were listed as terrorism threats in the assessment of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. 
(Times of Israel)

The Way Forward on Iran - Walter Russell Mead

While the Senators' letter to the Supreme Leader of Iran should have been addressed either to President Obama or to Secretary Kerry as a matter of protocol, as a matter of law the Senators are right. Any deal negotiated between President Obama and Iran will not be legally binding - either on the U.S. or Iran. The President has the authority to bind himself through an agreement with a foreign power; he does not have the authority to bind the Congress, the courts, or his successors.     

The President's defenders are right that in many ways America's Iran diplomacy has been handled with deftness and skill. Keeping Russia, China, Britain, Germany, and France all on the same page while the U.S. both tightens sanctions against Iran and works to hammer out a nuclear deal is a rare feat of cat-herding.     

But President Obama has only herded some of the cats who need to be corralled; he appears to assume that Israel, Congress, and Saudi Arabia have no choice but to fall in line. Yet Netanyahu's speech to Congress and the Cotton letter were very public statements that they are unhappy and don't intend to go along. Moreover, news that the Saudis are stepping up their own nuclear program suggests that President Obama can't end the nuclear arms race in the Middle East without their support.    

The administration's failure to contain Iran's ambitions on the ground in the region undermines the objective of getting to some kind of reasonable accommodation between Washington and Tehran. Lifting sanctions at a moment when Iran is running rampant across the Middle East threatens to shift the balance of power even further in its favor, a prospect that contributes significantly to the spread of radicalism and chaos - and makes the Saudis much more likely to go nuclear themselves.

What's needed here is an internal American negotiation to get an overall approach to the Middle East that commands enough support to be sustainable from one administration to the next. In the same way, our Iran policy shouldn't be dividing us from our closest Middle East allies. 
The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. 
(American Interest)


LHwrites said...

#47Traitors is still the most popular hashtag on Twitter. I myself have picked up many followers this week pushing for charges of treason. Netanyahu is plunging in the polls and his last desperate gasp of promising if he is elected there will be no two state solution, no attempts at peace, is a last ditch power grab by appealing to, what he hopes, are a lot of Israelis who feel privately a lot different than what the polls suggest publicly. There may be 11 misguided Dem senators, but even they weren't dumb enough to commit treason. Menendez is one of them and he has his own ethics troubles to deal with. it's difficult for the old guard when they've been proven wrong time and time again and the world is marching on without them. They like to think it won't continue to turn without them...but it will.

Bruce said...

The Senators are not, in my opinion, misguided. They and Menendez are heroes, bucking a leftward trend in foreign policy.

LHwrites said...

We definitely have a difference of opinion on this. But the Mideast is a disaster and it was made so by people who were sure they knew what was best. They thought a lot like these Senators and Netanyahu. They were proven wrong time and time again and their attitudes and actions to back them up created this disaster. They are the reason that there is a new trend in foreign policy. The old trend was a disaster.

Bruce said...

To over emphasize the role that politicians play in shaping the middle east is to misunderstand the dynamics underlying the region.