Democrats and Republicans in Congress criticized the Obama administration’s decision to allow the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to vote on the final Iran deal before Congress could review it. Early on Monday, the UNSC unanimously endorsed the deal reached over Iran’s nuclear program. The leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), released a joint statement that they are “disappointed that the UN Security Council passed a resolution on Iran this morning before Congress was able to fully review and act on this agreement.” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), another member on the committee, sent out a tweet that he was also disappointed and that “Congress must play a role.”
Congressional reaction to the vote on Monday underscores the long struggle between Congress and the administration over the appropriate role for the legislature to play in the negotiations with Iran. After the vote, Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) issued a statement that read, “By ignoring bipartisan requests to postpone the U.N. Security Council’s legally-binding vote on the Iran nuclear agreement until Congress is able to vote, the Administration undermined the role of Congress, a co-equal branch of government.” In May, both chambers of the legislature overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, also known as the Corker-Cardin legislation, to signal to the administration that Congress demands a role in any final deal.
Last Thursday, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman confirmed that the vote in the UNSC would take place before the 60-day congressional review period ended. She remarked that the administration could not simply say, “Well excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress”. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) declared, “This is exactly what we were trying to stop. We wanted the American people to understand this agreement before it went in place.” Members of Congress publicly called on the administration to postpone the vote. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) declared, “I agree with Senators Cardin and Corker that the U.N. Security Council should wait to move ahead with a resolution implementing parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action until after Congress has completed its review of the agreement with Iran.”
President Barack Obama’s decision to enact a policy of engagement with Iran, rather than opposing its regional ambitions outside of the nuclear deal, will likely lead to an escalation of Iranian aggression, Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl wrote in an op-ed today.
Diehl contrasted Obama’s Iranian negotiation strategy with how President Ronald Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union in the mid-1980’s.
Reagan’s insight was that it was possible to strike deals with Moscow on nuclear arms while simultaneously waging an uncompromising Cold War. Obama’s ideology, which he has applied to Cuba and Burma as well as Iran, is that the United States should seek not to defeat its adversaries, but to coax them into more cooperative behavior.
Consequently, Obama has strongly resisted Reagan’s methods. He has starved Syrian rebel forces of the arms and training they seek to defeat Iran’s closest ally. He declined to speak up for Iran’s domestic opposition even when it staged a street rebellion against the regime in 2009. He has never attempted to secure Iranian compliance with human rights norms, as did Cold War treaties with the Soviet Union. At his news conference last Wednesday, he coldly described the possibility of a strengthened Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy army in Syria and Lebanon, as an acceptable tradeoff for the nuclear deal.
Diehl called Reagan’s arms control treaty “a modest success” and noted that Reagan’s continued opposition to the Soviet Union on other fronts greatly contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was “an epochal achievement.”
In contrast, Diehl wrote, “Obama may be able to point, 15 years from now, to an Iran that remains non-nuclear. But the most likely effect of his engagement policy is not the implosion of the Islamic republic, but its perpetuation.”
Diehl argued that Obama is “more interested in tactical geopolitical benefits” than in pushing Iran to change its behavior on human rights or exporting terrorism.
A consensus has emerged among experts in recent months—including Foreign Policyeditor David Rothkopf, former State Department official Aaron David Miller, Washington Institute of Near East Policy fellows Mehdi Khalaji, Soner Cagaptay and James Jeffrey, and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz—that the nuclear deal will have the effect of further destabilizing the Middle East. (via TheTower.org)