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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yes, Congress can amend Obama's Iran sellout

The constitution of the United States is actually a pretty well-written document. According to Mark Dubowitz, it would allow Congress to amend what most Americans see as a very bad deal with Iran.
There is ample precedent to amend the deal. Congress has required amendments to more than 200 treaties before receiving Senate consent, including significant bilateral Cold War arms control agreements with the Soviets like the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty, as well as multilateral agreements like the Chemical Weapons Convention negotiated with 87 participating countries, including Iran, by President Bill Clinton. And it’s not just Republicans putting up obstacles. During the Cold War, Democratic senators like Henry Jackson withstood pressure from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who insisted that the deals they negotiated go unchanged. This all happened at a time when Moscow had thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at America.
Should Congress follow in this proud tradition and disapprove of the Iran deal, there are three possible scenarios. Each presents challenges. But each is preferable to this fatally flawed agreement.
The power of U.S. financial sanctions always depended on the private sector’s appetite for risk. In the event of a congressional disapproval, or a vote in which a simple majority of senators reject the deal, major European companies likely will hold off on investment until a new president comes into office in 2017. They will also be concerned about the legal and reputational risk of doing business with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (who dominate strategic sectors of Iran’s economy like finance, energy, construction, and automotive and will still be designated a proliferation sponsor by the United States). Treasury has already issued guidance that international companies should be very circumspect before reentering the Revolutionary Guards-dominated Iranian market.
This leverage can be used to get a better deal, one that would require that nuclear, arms, and ballistic missile restrictions don’t sunset until the U.N. Security Council (where America retains its veto) votes to lift them. It would remove the Iranian nuclear snap back language and include Tehran’s explicit acknowledgement that sanctions can be reimposed for terrorism, human rights abuses, ICBM development, and on other non-nuclear grounds. It also would include other changes like the requirement that IAEA weapons inspectors physically enter and thoroughly investigate any suspect military or non-military site, something U.S. lead negotiator Wendy Sherman said in a recent congressional hearing will not always be necessary because soil sampling carried out by Iran will be sufficient.
It won’t be easy getting changes to the deal as it now stands. It will require additional leverage. But the United States will never again have the kind of powerful secondary sanctions leverage that it does today. Congress now has an opportunity to ensure that we maintain and use that power. The aim should not be to torpedo diplomacy. Rather, it is to defuse that ticking time bomb by making critical amendments to this Iran deal that lower the risk of a future war.
Jennifer Rubin adds:
Dubowitz does not consider the potential that Iran will race to breakout — and for good reason. Iran’s participation in the talks shows us that Iran wants to get the bomb without risking its regime (by military strength). So long as it can cajole the West, keep its infrastructure in place and rebuild its economy, it can be patient. If it would try to make a dash, it would face the threat of military action from Israel, and theoretically from the United States. Iran was not willing to pursue that risky proposition and with the potential to get partial sanctions relief, there is no reason to believe it would do so. Ironically, “war” (as in “this deal or war”) is the most far-fetched scenario.
As Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) argues today, if the deal goes into effect, we will be in a much worse position in five or 10 years than we are now. “We have more leverage than we will ever have, but under this deal that leverage will flip in approximately nine months, when most major sanctions are relieved. Iran will further deepen its regional strength,” he argues. “Unfortunately, the agreement ties our hands in countering Iran’s efforts. If we try to push back, Iran will threaten to speed up its nuclear development since it already will have a windfall of money, a rapidly growing economy and alliances built with our partners, who will feast on the mercantile benefits of doing business with Iran.” In other words, the deal does not buy us time; it forfeits our leverage and increases Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and determination to get its bomb (even if it has to wait 10 years).
Doing the deal, then, is the risky proposition — by increasing violence in the region in the short term and practically ensuring major military conflict down the road (sanctions won’t be available) with a stronger and more confident Iran. Not doing the deal is the safe move — for it keeps our leverage, allowing for more effective coercive diplomacy by the next president. Most important, it would begin the process of reassuring our Sunni and Israeli allies that we intend to push back on Iran, a necessary precondition for limiting Iran’s influence and, not coincidentally, also instilling confidence in the war against the Islamic State.
Too bad Corker is the guy who led the surrender of Congress' treaty power. That would have made rejecting this deal a whole lot easier. 

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At 8:22 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

The whole deal is the Godfather, complete with kneecap threats. Looks like a two-track obfuscation: make and buy. So the "make" process has been allowed to go on throughout these years and on into the future. And the "buy" track is already unleashed by the $$BBillions of sanctions money flowing into Iran. The Treaty process **required** by the U.S. Constitution could have stopped the Obama/Clinton/KhmerRouge Posse's Euthanasia of Israel (and a bunch of everybody else, too), and Corker, AIPAC, etc. had NO AUTHORITY to eliminate it because they weren't willing to slug it out to the bitter end. If we were to go down, it sured would be better to go down fighting than to just lie down. Mafia style threats galore:



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