Democrats for the mullahs
The latest word from Vienna is that the July 7 deadline has come and gone, and now the P5+1 and Iran hope to wrap things up by Friday, July 10.
The three-day slippage may not appear to be a big deal, but it is a delay the administration hoped to avoid, since the Corker-Menendez bill provides for 60 days for congressional review of an Iran agreement if the terms are submitted to Congress after July 9, but only 30 days if submitted by that date. Given summer vacations and the general undesirability (heat, humidity) of being in the nation's capital during the summer months, the extra 30 days allows for both houses of Congress, controlled by Republicans in each case, to set up less compressed schedules for reviewing the agreement, calling in witnesses and taking the votes. And of course, it provides more time for skeptical lawmakers and their staffs to read the details of what has been conceded and given away and to try to determine what our side got in exchange for removing most sanctions -- American and international -- almost immediately, and providing about $150 billion to Iran.
The White House under U.S. President Barack Obama, most specifically Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, has stated that getting this deal done is as big a deal for the administration as passing Obamacare was. In the case of the health care legislation, one of the administration's leading supporters in Congress, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the bill needed to be passed so we could find out what was in it. With the Iran deal, it appears, the vote will come after examination, an improvement, I think, at least regarding the process.
When the deal is signed, as it almost certainly will be, there will be momentum behind those who have negotiated it. Secretary of State John Kerry, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, and other administration officials will of course put the best spin on the catastrophic giveaway that has resulted from their obsessive pursuit of an agreement with Iran, which seems to have removed the word "no" from their vocabulary. The White House will control the narrative in the short term as many sympathetic media organizations -- the major networks, many magazines and newspapers -- will be only too happy to earn brownie points by facilitating the administration's selling of the deal.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer has called the deal the worst agreement in American diplomatic history, which is saying something, even if some think he is still being too generous in his assessment.
Krauthammer lays out how much the P5+1 have given up on inspections, the documentation of prior Iranian nuclear activity, and on both nuclear and non-nuclear sanctions relief.
"Instead of welcoming Congress' attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium," he said.
And what is left?
"A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history."
The pursuit of a deal has been justified by a desire to "bring Iran into the community of nations" while preventing its development of a nuclear weapon. As MK and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren describes in his new book "Ally," the language the Obama team has used to describe the goal of the outreach to Iran and how it sees the "achievement" with Iran matches almost word for word the language used to describe the nuclear "breakthrough" the Clinton team believed it had secured in nuclear talks with North Korea in the mid-1990s. Some of the same functionaries have been involved in both sets of talks, so it is no great surprise that they could be conned twice by similarly untrustworthy but more focused opponents, who have been both more skillful as negotiators and have successfully played off the intense Western desires for deals. Iran has stuck to its single-minded pursuit of financial gain without pain, with no significant constraints on its ability to break out to becoming a nuclear armed nation.
The latest current estimate for breakout time, provided by Alan Kuperman in an article in, amazingly enough, The New York Times (otherwise known as the Obama administration's house organ), is that the deal being finalized in Vienna will extend the breakout period from two to three months. To be charitable, we could call this a 50% improvement. Maybe there is a secret codicil (a handshake deal) that Iran won't actually break out to get the bomb until Obama has left office. This way, Kerry can obtain his Nobel Peace Prize to replace the Vietnam war medals he tossed away when he smeared his fellow soldiers and sought to first establish himself as a future political player.
An article announcing the brief extension to the negotiations included a summary of what issues remained to be ironed out, as provided by the French foreign minister: "French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters the still unresolved issues in the talks are the freeze of Iranian research and development, the sanctions 'snapback,' and the possible military dimensions of past Iranian nuclear work."
Later in the day, there was a leak that the dimensions of past Iranian nuclear work was now a resolved issue, meaning that like so many other issues once considered important to our side, it had been finessed so that Iran need not do anything.
The near certainty that a deal will be forthcoming, and very soon, is that the administration is already working to stiffen the resolve of Democrats in the House and Senate to back Obama, and resist pressure from skeptics or critics of the deal, a group whose number has grown as American resolve has disappeared. Democratic senators were bused to the White House on the evening of July 7 to get their first heavy sell.
The White House may well lose on the initial vote on the deal in both the House and Senate. Only six Democrats need to join all the Republicans in the Senate (if they stay united) to break a filibuster and then vote down the deal. But it is after a presidential veto of that action that the real tough sledding begins -- an override vote. While the odds look very longagainst opponents lining up enough Democratic members to achieve a two-thirds override vote in either the House or Senate, the White House is almost certainly anxious to avoid the embarrassment of a stinging defeat on the vote in either branch of Congress at any stage of review.
The White House is also going back to a strategy it employed to pass Obamacare, when it needed every single Democrat in the Senate to get to 60 votes and break a Republican filibuster. Representatives of nearly 100 progressive groups held a conference call with White House officials on Monday to discuss strategy on how to pressure wavering Democrats on the Iran vote. Most astonishingly, the details of the Iran deal appeared to be entirely irrelevant to the various groups. This is to be all about party loyalty, and supporting the president and his agenda, because this is very important to him. In time, after the critics make their case, the deal will likely be sold as a choice between war and peace, as administration spokespeople have already regularly argued, as if negotiating a better deal or walking away were never real options. Also to be expected will be an argument that Democrats need to be standing up for America and its leadership rather than standing up for the right-wing Israeli government, which has already shown its "disrespect" for the White House.
Even worse, many of the president's allies appear to be unabashedly pro-Iran at this point. This includes former felon Robert Creamer, the husband of Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. The congresswoman seems to revel at this point in sticking it to Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while joyously telling her constituents she is pro-Israel and working to stop an Iranian nuclear program.
Creamer "urged participants on the call to 'step up' their pro-Iran efforts." The call itself was "organized by the liberal pro-Iran group Ploughshares Fund, which has spent millions of dollars to slant Iran-related coverage and protect the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts."
The administration will send its representatives to Congress to make a case for the deal. But they seem to think that even more important to winning will be the millions of phone calls and emails and petitions to Democrats, telling them to back the president. This, they seem to believe, will simplify the decision process -- sort of along the lines that Democrats are good, and Republicans are bad, which is about the level of depth the progressive advocates can deliver.
This kind of substantive argument may well make the difference in the votes of some members over a treaty that is not being treated like a treaty, but is probably more important than many treaties that have been signed in American history. In this case, given what we know of the agreement, a vote by Democrats to stick with Obama is really a vote for the mullahs.
Iran and the Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Democrats for the mullahs
The language of the coming battle in Congress , could determine the outcome. Many of the President’a allies are unashamedly pro-Iran from NIAC to Ploughshares. In other words, their interests lie with Iran, not America. The White House negotiating team has behaved in recent months as if were Iran’s lawyers, trying to get other nations in the P5 + 1 who were more skeptical of all the give-aways, in line. Some supporters of the Administration who will now try to defend the indefensible,are simply left wing hacks, like J Street, whose only job is to defend anything this President tells them to defend.