Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Iran Deal: Congress Must Advise and Consent

Let me say at the outset that engaging Iran in negotiations on their nuclear programs is a good idea. However engagement is not enough and making a deal is not enough. It has to be a good deal that stands the test of time and is in the interests of both parties. It seems to me that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are far more eager to get a deal than the Ayatollah Khamenei and therein lies the problem.

For example President Obama is now in the process of selling a deal where there are two distinct interpretations with respect to the removal of sanctions, the intrusiveness of the inspections and the coverage of the inspections with respect to military facilities. Now Administration flacks are telling us that the Ayatollah's recent comments are for domestic political purposes only. Wrong! New York Times columnist Tom Friedman taught me a long time ago that unlike politics in the U.S. where private comments from political leaders should weigh more heavily than public comments; in the middle-east it is the reverse. It is practically irrelevant what the Ayatollah's minions say in private. What counts is what he says in public.

Furthermore with the Administration so invested in the deal, my guess is that they will look the other way if violations occur in the coming years. Indeed after the "red- line" in Syria and continued cuts to the military budget it makes it hard to believe that the current administration would act forcibly to correct violations of the deal.

Thus the deal has the smell of appeasement and it is the reason why Congress must use its power to advise and consent. If the shoe were on the other foot with a Republican president in power, Senators Obama, Biden and Kerry would screaming from the ramparts for Congressional involvement.

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