Can Congress Stop The Iran Nuclear Deal?
In the end, the odds that Congress can actually stop the new deal regarding Iran's nuclear program are pretty low.
Not surprisingly the negative reactions to the agreement reached today regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons research program, the early takes on which James Joyner cataloged this morning, have continued and now many Republicans are already vowing to kill the deal when it comes up for a vote in Congress:
It will be days before Congress receives the full nuclear agreement with Iran and all of its classified annexes for review, but hawkish GOP lawmakers immediately began picking apart the final deal reached early Tuesday as “dangerous” and a “possible death sentence for Israel.”
Congressional Republicans have been warning President Barack Obama against a deal with Tehran for months, telling him to simply walk away as the negotiations dragged on past initial deadlines. But in the wee hours Tuesday, the administration announced a final deal to scale back Iran’s nuclear program and ease strict economic sanctions, so GOP critics’ job has shifted to building support in Congress to scuttle the deal by blocking Obama’s ability to lift those sanctions.
“You’ve created a possible death sentence for Israel,” fumed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I’ve ever seen in the history of watching the Mideast.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who got a call from Obama on Monday night that an Iran deal was “imminent” — accused the president of not keeping his word on dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and holding sanctions to Iran until international investigators verified that the country’s leadership is holding up its end of the bargain. Boehner said Obama “has abandoned his own goals.”
“What I know of it thus far is unacceptable,” Boehner told reporters. “It’s going to hand a dangerous regime billions of dollars in sanctions relief while paving the way for a nuclear Iran.”
“If it is in fact as bad a deal as I think it is at this moment, we’re going to do everything we can to stop it,” Boehner added.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also reiterated the GOP hardline on the Iran agreement. “We will fight hard to reject this deal with every tool that we have,” vowed Scalise.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the deal appeared to further the administration’s “flawed” approach and said Congress’s job is now to “weigh why a nuclear agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”
The GOP-led Congress plans to review the deal for two months before voting on whether to lift sanctions sometime in September, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters on Monday night. Obama will need to rally at least 34 senators to his defense to blow up a veto-proof majority, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is already predicting that Obama will struggle to do so.
“The American people are going to repudiate this deal, and I believe Congress will kill the deal,” Cotton said on Morning Joe.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that he anticipated that Congress would at the very least withhold majority support for the deal, if not vote to block it altogether.
“Failure by the president to obtain congressional support will tell the Iranians and the world that this is Barack Obama’s deal, not an agreement with lasting support from the United States,” said Rubio, who has vowed to scuttle the deal if he becomes president.
Of course, most Republicans were already likely to oppose any deal. And though the party has large majorities on Capitol Hill, the GOP will need to persuade Democrats to buck the president.
Obama kicked off his latest sales job on Tuesday morning, vowing in a statement from the White House to veto any legislation that would threaten the deal.
With Vice President Joe Biden at his side, Obama said he welcomed a “robust debate” in Congress but urged lawmakers to think of the alternative to the deal negotiators struck — a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.
“We give nothing up by testing whether or not this problem can be solved peacefully,” Obama said.
Under the agreement that Congress and the President entered into earlier this year that resulted in the passage of the law that will govern Congressional consideration of this deal, it seems at first glance as if the odds are against Congress’s ability to stop the deal. As soon as the President sends a copy of the agreement that was reached today in Vienna to Congress, a clock will begin ticking on how long Congress has to act. Had a deal been reached by June 30th, that time period would have been a mere thirty days but since the negotiations went past that deadline the time period is now sixty days, a good part of which will cover the Congressional recess in August. In essence, though, the law now gives Congress until some time in mid-September (the exact date will depend on the day on which the deal is officially “presented” to Congress as required by law) to consider the matter. If they fail to pass anything, then the deal will have been considered approved and implementation will go forward. That’s unlikely to happen, of course, so the bigger will be what happens when Congress actually casts a vote on the deal.
Very shortly, of course, we will start seeing hearings in both the House and Senate regarding the agreement and Republicans and the Administration will both hone their arguments for what will surely an energetic floor debate. In the end, though, it’s unclear what it will all accomplish. When Congress does vote, the law provides that what they will be voting on is essentially a resolution of disapproval that would prevent the President from lifting many of the sanctions against Iran if it were to become law. However, in his announcement this morning, President Obama has already said that he will veto any such measure sent to him by Congress. This, of course, will then mean that Congress would have to attempt to override the Presidents veto, which of course requires a 2/3 majority in both Houses of Congress. In the House of Representatives, this would mean that at least 44 Democrats would need to vote with all 246 Republicans to override the President’s veto. In the Senate, it would mean that at least 13 Democrats would have to vote with all 54 Republican Senators to override the President’s veto. It’s certainly possible that public perception about the deal could end up being negative enough that even Democrats would feel the need to vote against their own President on what is arguably the biggest foreign policy initiative of his entire Presidency. However, as I noted in April, it seems rather unlikely that this is going to happen and the approval mechanism that was passed into law then certainly seems to favor the President. No less than Speaker John Boehner himself has privately acknowledged that Republicans lack the votes to stop the deal.
As things unfold over the next two months, then, the important things to watch won’t be what Republicans in Congress or the Republicans running for President have to say about this deal. While there may be one or two limited exceptions, it has been apparent for some time that Republicans were going to be opposed to the deal regardless of what the contents happened to be. Additionally, it seems likely that they will be able to stay united enough in the House and Senate to pass the resolutions of disapproval that will send the matter to the President. The important people to watch will be the Democrats on Capitol Hill and, to no small degree, Hillary Clinton who will likely end up providing much guidance to her fellow Democrats. In her initial comments about the matter today, Clinton was quite positive and may have put herself in the position of being the person that keeps the Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill united in support of the deal. Other Democrats to watch included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and the man who will take over for Harry Reid as leader of the Senate Democrats in 2017, New York Senator Chuck Schumer. All three of these people have already said that they are reserving judgment until they’ve had a chance to review the deal and how they respond to it will have a huge impact on how other Democrats respond to it. If, for example, they come out against it, which is certainly possible for Schumer who has been a staunch defender of Israel is entire career, then a veto override may become more likely. As it stands now, though, it seems fairly clear that the President has the advantage here. While that could certainly change as the process goes forward, as we sit here today the most likely outcome is that Congress will be unable to stop the deal from going forward.
The fact that we expect Republicans to be 100% united in their opposition to a treaty they have not read tells you everything you need to know about the GOP.
They reject the treaty out of hand and are now pushing for war with Iran. Is there any logic to their position? Nope. But the black man in the White House must be thwarted even if it means a trillion dollar war and thousands more dead Americans and tens of thousands of dead Iranians.
It takes 2/3rds of both houses, and they don’t have the numbers. And won’t get them-America is war-weary and war-wary right now and exhausted from our previous adventures. The hostage crisis was more than 30 years ago and America is more than willing to move past that too. So there’s no place to get enough popular support to move the numbers past the obvious supporters anymore
So Obama will get this-even at the cost of a veto of whatever dreck Congress actually passes. And once the veto is upheld, there’s two more years of relaxed relations-perhaps to the point that it would be impossible to restart the mess.
This seems to me the best shot we have at both preventing war, and a nuclear Iran.
If anyone has any better ideas that aren’t based on Unicorn tears and/or a magical President…I’m listening.
Netanyahoo also blasted it without reading it. Of course he is just a little bit more of a scared-y-cat than Butters.
There might be a handful of Republican dissenters on this, probably more likely in the House than in the Senate, and that would make the issue of a veto override even more complicated for opponents. But, yes, you are largely correct.
So the Republican positions seems to be one of two options.
The more popular, but still stupid, option: Walk away from the negotiating table and give Iran no reason at all to do anything but develop the bomb as quickly as possible.
And from the Netanyahu loyalists in congress, the second option: Bomb Iran. Bomb bomb Iran. Keep bombing, then bomb some more. This would, quite obviously, prompt Iran to develop the bomb as quickly as possible in addition to retaliatory actions, probably against Israel.
One can only conclude that Republicans are quite eager for Iran to get a bomb quite quickly, despite their rhetoric. Or they’re just morons.
Well they made damn sure N. Korea got one…so perhaps you are onto something.
Has anyone made an actual, substantive argument against this deal?
I think we have two countries – Israel and Saudi Arabia – who want the United States to fight their religious war for them. To this end they have purchased much of Congress.
But we do not have a national interest in backing the most extreme elements in Judaism, and we do not have a national interest in picking a side between Sunni and Shia. America’s national interest is in keeping the peace, and to that end an easing of relations with Iran may be a very good thing.
I keep hearing people parrot the ‘Iranian’s are backers of terrorism’ line, but I do not recall Iranians flying airliners into skyscrapers. I do recall Saudis doing that. As for Iranian anti-Americanism, I’ve been far less offended by Iranian rent-a-mobs ritually chanting ‘death to America’ than I have been by the Prime Minister of Israel – a client state, our dependent, the nation that exists largely because of our help – sticking his nose crudely into American domestic politics.
These options are not mutually exclusive.
I also don’t see Iran bombing its neighboring countries, like the Saudis.
Or prefer ISIS over the Kurds, like our NATO ally, the Turks.
Even Reagan tried arms deals with Iran. That has conveniently been forgotten.
Of course, the US didn’t do anything so crude as putting the Iranians into the “Axis of Evil”.
As has been pointed out many times, Iran is a rational actor. What is most rational is to look for ways to defend yourself when you have American armies on both your Western and Eastern fronts. Our irrational approach to Iran has addled our foreign policy for decades now.
Congress won’t stop the deal, not only because they’re mostly useless, but also because of this.
I heartily support the deal, and despise the GOP hawks, but this line is idiotic. Support for Israel is a position held by something like 60% of the public, and probably 80% of the electorate. To imply that republican blind support for ISrael is a product of some nefarious vote buying and not this simple political reality is just despicable.
Google Hezbollah in Beirut, or in Argentina…
Seriously- as I said, I fully support the deal, and I think US should tactically cooperate with Iranians when needed, but this attempt to present Iran as being on the side of the angels, unfairly maligned by AIPAC, is more than problematic.
This is an opportunity for the Democrats to do what the Republicans do so well – control the narrative! It’s very simple. Their stance should be united on the following narrative – “You are against this deal? Why do you want war with Iran?” That theme should dominate the headlines for the opposition. It’s straight to the point, and simple enough to understand in a country where the majority have no appetite for war. It would be great to watch the GOP back off their stance if it were to catch on. Unfortunately, I have no confidence that Democrats can pull it off.
…even if it means a multi trillion dollar war and tens of thousands more dead Americans and hundreds
tensof thousands of dead Iranians.
There. Just a little tweaking.
Of course it can. It won’t but it can.
There are all sorts of scenarios that could result in the Congress blocking the Iran deal from all Republicans and enough Democrats voting “Nay” to withstand a presidential veto to impeaching the president. I don’t think any of them will happen.
This is what I am talking about. Yes, Iran is a rational actor in the sense that unlike what Bibi and his GOP buddies hallucinate, it is not planning to take over the world anytime soon. However, ever since the Islamic regime came to power, it had been busily exporting its ideology, arming all sorts of militias, and making war against Israel its central organizing ideological principle. Iran had been doing all that, and bankrolling Hezbollah, a body that does engage in international terrorism, long before the US was on its borders. Again, none of that means we shouldn’t be talking and cooperating with it- we did with Mao’s China, after all! However, we shouldn’t forget that yes, Iran is a revolutionary power- for now at least.
I agree that it is unlikely that the Republicans have the votes to override this. My local conservative talk radio station is generally running positive stories about it. It will be interesting to see the priority list for the R’s in Congress. Repeal Obamacare? Down with gay marriage? Benghazi? Iran nuke deal? There are only twenty four hours in a day. At some point the R’s become the party of lost causes. The association of the party with things that were decided yesterday will be a ball and chain for them. People want to vote for something and not refight the battles that were lost already.
That already happened.
Most of the 60 days Congress has to reject the deal will be over their summer recess…so little chance of any action coming from this Congress.
@michael reynolds: Wow! Ya think we can do this war for a trillion? That’s pretty low cost considering that Iran is a much more formidable enemy than Iraq.
More to the point, from what I’ve been reading over the years, the conditions that lead to the treaty are fairly straight forward: We can either watch the progress of nuclear development in Iran (and possibly slow down the progress on/mitigate the need for a nuke) or we can keep the sanctions going and Iran will make nuclear progress anyway. The second option seems to me to lead to “didn’t see THAT comin'” in response to an announcement that various seismological stations around the world have detected tremors in the ME that resemble those of an underground nuclear test.
I caught the first few minutes of Rush and he was in James P, “it’s worse than you could ever possibly imagine” mode. Unfortunately I had to get out of the car before he got to explain his grand unifying theory of why Obama would so spectacularly sell out the U.S.
There was no way the talk radio base would say anything but this. Now they are going to spend the next month trying to back every representative and senator into a corner where they have to oppose the deal or they will be joining forces with Satan himself. It could be like the government shutdown of a couple years ago. Who knows.
I remember the 2008 election all too well, when Cheney and his successors spent the entire election season rattling the saber at Iran. I believe animosity towards Iran (and all-too easy fearmongering of the Muslim “other”) has become an ingrained part of the party’s identity.
I have no idea if this is an objectively good deal or not; but I do know that there is no way that the GOP would say it is a good deal, no matter what the terms of the deal are. So we’ll see what happens.
Oil is going to be loosened up…a further stabilizing of the market and presumably lower costs.
And 80 million consumers hungry for goods (American) they haven’t been able to get for years.
Plenty of good things happen because of this…it’s not all about nukes.
ever since the Islamic regime came to power, it had been busily exporting its ideology, arming all sorts of militias, and making war against Israel its central organizing ideological principle.
You are right about the first two, but that last one is a pretty ridiculous overstatement.
@LaMont: While I think that keeping that message up as a drumbeat is probably a good idea, I don’t see the outcome that on the GOP side that you do.
Republicans(ahem) Conservatives really DO want war with Iran, really believe that they can “win” and “destroy Iran’s nuclear capability,” and probably see it as a free shot (after all, they will be sending other people’s children to do the fighting–theirs will all be in university). The Republicans probably know that the majority of the population is war weary and wary, but they need to pander to their ever-more fragile constituency, so they will need to double down and “stand boldly against the calls of the people who don’t love their country enough to protect it.”
Now what could go wrong from a busted deal? Are there any other countries besides Saudi Arabia and Israel that might like to see Uncle Sam entangled in Iran? I can think of a certain nation not far to the north of Iran that is already at odds with us over Ukraine and might LOVE to divert our attention. I can think of another country that buys Iranian oil but is having some economic queasiness right now and might like to divert our attention away from the South China Sea. Any others?
That needs some correcting:
Most Republicans hate this president and
peoplelike to compare this to Chamberlain in Munich but there is one critical difference: Chamberlain didn’t know he was Chamberlain until he became Chamberlain. it is a completely phony analogy
@Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I don’t think they necessarily want a war; they just think the problem is that a Democrat is handling the deal. Only a Republican president would be butch enough to stare down the Iranians, just like Ronaldus Maximus stared down the commies, and make them give up everything (and recognize Israel too).
When you’re in the opposition party you can promise unicorns, why not.
@humanoid.panda: Juan Cole has a slightly different point of view of the Iran-Israel relationship: No, Mr. Netanyahu, Iran isn’t trying to Take over the world & it isn’t ISIL
That’s funny… Seems every single Republican in both the House and the Senate disagrees with you. So genius, what do you know that they don’t?
I don’t know if they actually want a real, boots on the ground war, but it’s not the worst option for the GOP. I think it’s clear their primary objection is simply to Obama negotiating with Iran at all, regardless of the details of any final agreement. There’s no electoral / political upside for Republicans in a diplomatic solution, and that’s all they’ve cared about for a while. It’s FYIGM taken to it’s logical conclusion, where the good of their own country no longer matters.
Or the party of the original American-made Lost Cause…
See South Carolina and the Confederate battle flag.
(Of course, the Ds beat that drum first, but they got out of that business during the 50s and 60s.)
@James Pearce: Why would GOPs, many of whom are in the pocket of big oil, want $2 gasoline.
@James P: Don’t forget Yalta! It’s always Yalta just like it’s always Munich, it’s always 1945 just like it’s always 1938. C’mon, you remember the words of that ol’ song!
@Steve V:You do remember what happened the last time Ronaldus Maximus engaged in negotiations with the Iranians, don’t you?
Boehner and Scalise’s comments sounded an awful lot like, “We’re going to put on a show before we lose.” Obama has generally been a pretty good vote counter. Pretty much a done deal.
@gVOR08: He’s got Nancy Pelosi in his corner too. I wouldn’t bet against her.
So the best outcome we could hope for if the Rs were in charge of negotiating would be a North Korea like outcome where Iran gets the bomb and we have no leverage, the middle outcome is a contained conventional US – Iran war, and the worst outcome is global nuclear war?
We’ve come to place where one party advocates kicking the snot out of anyone that sasses us as the preferred and automatic option, consequences be damned. And to a large degree, it’s not even that we got sassed, it’s that the other party doesn’t want to reflexively kick the snot out of those guys who sassed us.
Best line from that…
Probably. Remember the original axis of evil? The GOP invaded Iraq and ignored North Korea, so we probably dodged a bullet when they didn’t get around to doing anything about Iran.
@OzarkHillbilly: Juan Cole knows more about the Middle East than I will ever learn, but he is not without blinkers: he,for example, supported the Lybian bombing campaign..
@OzarkHillbilly: Also, I don’t see how what I said differs from what I said. I said that yes, Bibi’s BS about Iran taking over the world is a hallucination, but Iran is a problematic actor nevertheless. Cole says the same, but adds that Israel is worse. Even if it is true, it is rather besides the point, to the extent that Israel does not have a common border with Iran and would not be threatening it if Iran did not see Israel as enemy.
I should have disambiguated – if I may steal a Wiki word. There is Israel, and then there is the Likud government of Israel. I support Israel, always have. I do not support Netanyahu or Likud or the Settlers or Bibi’s war.
Netanyahu’s position, which boils down to, “You guys go start a war with Iran because I’ve been hyping fears of Iran for votes,” is the problem. We are being set up for a war by our putative ally. And if you don’t think Israel and its Likud and Likud-adjacent supporters in Congress are pushing for war, you’re missing a lot of the news.
There is a great big Grand Canyon-sized gap between those of us who support Israel as a concept, and those who are pushing for Bibi’s war. The GOP supports Netanyahu and war, and that is different not just in degree but in kind from the affection and loyalty the American public holds for a small middle eastern democracy. It’s like equating European anti-Bush feeling with anti-Americanism.
Right this minute Capitol Hill is thick with Likud lobbyists, and Saudi lobbyists making promises and threats. Promises to swell campaign funds and threats to send that money instead to political foes. Does that explain everything? No, of course not, I always assume motives are multiple. We could debate whether bribery and threats are more or less a factor than ODS or simple war-mongering or even stupidity (which must never be discounted.) But do I think Israeli and Saudi money and influence are partly responsible for this mad rush to condemnation? Of course. Obviously.
@humanoid.panda: We all have blinders, only a matter to what extent.
Other than a side reference to Bibi’s delusions, I don’t see a single word in all this about Israel’s actions. You talk about “Iran making war on Israel it’s central organizing ideological principle” but I don’t see a single direct action against Israel by Iran. You can talk about the proxy wars Iran is waging against Israel in Lebanon and Gaza, but you can’t do it with out acknowledging Israel’s *mostly illegal* actions in both those places (both directly and thru proxy).
*(i say ‘mostly illegal’ because I want to allow for the possibility that JC is being a little hyperbolic there)*
I am certainly not saying that Iran is a saint of a country, rather I am saying that the difference between Israel and Iran has been shrinking to my eyes. Once upon a time one would say, “Yeah, those Israeli’s are real bstrds, but they’re our bstrds.” These days it seems more like we are their bstrds.
And for the record, I don’t think you and JC are all that much different in your point of view, but their is a hell of a difference where you put the emphasis.
And they never know what the hell they’re talking about when they yell “Yalta!” No context, no notion of where we were militarily, politically, etc… Americans are brilliant myth-makers, and one of the myths is that the American people were gung-ho about WW2. We were gung-ho about Japan, we were not gung-ho about Germany, and we’d just been through four years of propaganda about good ol’ Uncle Joe and the brave Russian people. The idea that the American people would have supported a land war with the Red Army in 1945 is nonsense.
So “Uncle Joe” got what he wanted in 1945 because he had a big ass army and we were still thinking we’d have to take Japan house-by-house as we had every reason to expect, and we did not know if the bomb would work, so no, we were in no position whatsoever to pick a fight with Stalin. FDR was nearly dead, the Soviet army in and adjacent-to Europe was huge, and the American people would never have stood for it.
Daniel Larison says that many Republicans are warning Congress not to sabotage this deal because a vast majority of Americans support it including a majority of Republicans. But the congesscritters know what side their bread is buttered and it’s Israel and Saudi Arabia so they won’t listen.
I’m pretty confident there will a handful of Republicans who quietly stake out a “realist” position – likely enough to offset any Democrats who feel the need to demonstrate their pro-Israel bona fides. Therefore, a veto override strikes me as a far fetched outcome.
More interesting will be seeing where all the GOP Presidential candidates come down. Will any of them have the balls to take the pro-deal stance and give the non-interventionists in the party (the few Daniel Larison types) some place to go besides Hillary. I’ve been looking for a reaction from Rand “I’m not the warmonger they are” Paul, but so far he’s been suspiciously silent. I doubt he’ll stick his neck out, but maybe he’ll surprise me.
Secretary Kerry was in the driver’s seat. He held a winning hand (US military, and sanctions) and folded. Someone else should have negotiated this agreement; someone experienced in the art of negotiating from strength and who would have taught Iran a textbook lesson in dealing with the US. Someone who could have given them an old fashioned American a_ _ whupping !
Where was Kerry’s poker face when we needed it ?
“You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” (Rogers)
The sanctions were beginning to fail, as Iran was beginning to drive a wedge between the US and the rest of the world on this. Russia has been pushing to lift the sanctions for a while. Sanctions from the US alone have minimal value.
And, the American people do not want another war in the Mideast. So, that’s not really a serious threat. A few bombing runs is about all we had to offer there. And, it would mean attacking our ally in the war against ISIS.
James P, this is how Poe is done. You need to take some lessons from Tyrell.
“Never go full retard.”
I can’t tell if they were serious comments, or parody. It’s kind of sad there isn’t a difference anymore.
And all the world’s major powers. (Plus Germany!)
Jesus H. Christ, Tyrell, who is this fantasy man who would have given Iran what fer?” Your party’s great saint, Ronald Reagan, sent them a cake and some free missile parts. George HW Bush did nothing. George W. Bush did nothing other than sanctions. All the while the Iranians were building and researching and refining.
The last GOP president, W, was in charge when the North Koreans went nuclear. Mr. Bush’s response? Nothing. And various presidents did f-ck-all while Pakistan went nuclear. So spare us the Republican tough guy rhetoric.
This is not some dick-measuring contest, we’ve got real issues and real interests and bogus macho swagger and empty talk about how much more manly and tough someone else would have been is really silly.
And by the way, we were not in a position of strength. The Iranians live there, we don’t. So one way or the other, no matter what we did short of nuclear genocide, the Iranians were going to still be there and we wouldn’t be.
Sanctions rely on compliance from every major power – Russia, China, India, Germany, UK, France there are a whole bunch of countries and companies itching to do business so sanctions were already fraying and would have come apart the instant we walked out of negotiations. And then what, pray tell?
I wonder which US oil company will be the first into Iran? That, btw, is why IMO the Republican opposition in Congress will not be as fierce as people think. If there is one thing the Republicans are beholden to, it’s Big Oil. And I’m betting Big Oil will want to get back into Iran ASAP.
Let’s wait and see what position the Chamber of Commerce takes on this. If they come out in favor of the deal, Republican opposition will quietly subside, despite the best efforts of AIPAC and the neo cons. Halliburton and Exxon gotta make money, after all.
It sickens me that there were literally no Republicans in this essential negotiation. In my younger days (geez, I’m only 54 but sound like 80) there were Republicans who actually cared about American lives, and International balance, but all of those Republicans were voted out of the party long ago. Out of the whole Republican Senate, we are left with McCain, someone who actually gives a crap but, god help me, far from the sharpest pencil in the pack.
You know,for the first time in 30 years years I’m thinking about buying an American car (I never thought I would say that a Ford (the Fusion) was far superior to a VW (the Passat)) but it took 30 years to overcome the rusting junk heaps of the late seventies and eighties of my youth. (Okay, there was the ’97 Saturn with the ‘sporty’ engine that burned a quart of oil every 400 miles after 80K. And the dealer who told me ‘they all do that’. Very premature forgiveness) And now I’m in the same mindset with Republicans. But they haven’t even begun their turn around. For someone with any knowledge of world events, well, to vote for a Republican is the equivalent of voting for… what, Sarah Palin?
All the opponents of the deal talk about the sanctions “bringing Iran to its knees” When these opponents are asked just why our partners would continue sanctions after after the US walked away from the table , those same vociferous opponents get real quiet and then change the subject.
The plain and simple of it is those sanctions would have collapsed had the USA walked away, because it’s not in the interest of the Europeans, the Russians, or the Chinese to continue the sanctions. They’re doing it because they trust this Administration to negotiate in good faith and because they don’t want a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The moment this Administration walked away is the moment they would start trade talks with Iran and they wouldn’t have given a sh!t what Netanyahu or Tom Cotton thought. China has to find energy to meet the needs of 1.3 billion people. They don’t care about Revelations, the Holocaust , or a small , non oil exporting Middle Eastern country that the United States kowtows to for some unfathomable reason. They’re ready to build a pipeline from Iran to western China. Also ready to build a pipeline is India, another country with a billion mouths to feed and little or no feeling for Israel.
What folks like Cotton, Kristol, and the rest of the neo con crowd don’t seem to understand is that it’s a multipolar world and the US can’t just stamp its feet and expect the rest of the world to just fall in line. The US might be the biggest gorilla in the forest, but there are now some other gorillas with ideas of their own.
And this is exactly my problem with what you are saying :based on the fact that half of their electorate is somewhere to the right of Bibi, why do you think GOP congressmen need threats and cajoling to do what they do? why explain by nefarity what can be explained by stupidity and partisan politics?
The thing is that, before the Iranian revolutiion, these Israeli acts didn’t stop Iran from being an Israeli ally. It’s hostility to Israel, whether justified or not is not therefore the result of Israeli actions, but of the ideological predilections of the current Iranian regime.. Again- this doesn’t make Israel’s actions justified, or the deal not worth making, but it does emphasize that the idea that Iran is all about self-defense and has no ideological roots for its actions is a strong over-simplification.
@Ron Beasley: Larison is a smart dude, but when it comes to the GOP elecrorate, he likes to pretend that it is what it’s not. The idea that a majority of republican voters are for the deal is simply ludicrous.
@stonetools: This is exactly right. If they manage to override a veto, unlikely, and the US backs out the rest of the world will still support the agreement and most the sanctions will be lifted anyway.
None. US sanctions for terrorism and such are still in place.
But after the Iranian revolution of 1979 came the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1984, and the West Bank intifada, and the various Gaza conflicts. You can’t pretend that Iran was acting in a vacuum, and that Israel didn’t take very real and concrete steps that were a provocation to Iran.
But that’s exactly my point: Lebanon and the intifada all took place 3,000 miles away from Iranian borders. They constitute a provocation to Iran only if you take its claim to have Israel as no. 1 enemy seriously, which some of you are denying.
Well, about 700 miles, but who’s counting?
Lebanon is a majority Muslim state, of whom the Shiite Muslims make up about 30% of the total population. It’s not a stretch to understand how Iran, which sees itself as the protector of Shiites in the Muslim world, would find an Israeli attack on their co-religionists to be a provocation. (Just as, for example, France would feel if the US invaded Quebec).
It was reported last night that young Iranians were dancing in the streets of Tehran chanting. “Death to no one.”
I have not been able to find a copy of this agreement on line. If anyone knows of a source, I would appreciate it.
I understand that the issue of the American citizens imprisoned in Iran was not addressed. This should have been part of the negotiations, but maybe they are still working on their immediate release.
Well, in that case, the US, who both has the world’s largest Jewish population and a significant amount of people who view defending Israel as religious duty, is well within its rights to intervene in the Middle East, isn’t it? How about the US, the developed country with highest commitment to Christianity, intervening to defend Christian communities in Syria/Iraq I mean, you can’t have it both ways: either you are for states intervening in the Middle East for ideological reasons, or you aren’t.
[And, of course, the only reason Shi’a communities in Lebanon are endangered by Israeli attacks in Lebanon is because Hezbollah kept launching cross-border atttacks after Israel retreated to the international border- and Hezbollah could do that due to Iranian financing and training and weapon shipments. Why can you very clearly see that US blank check to Israel increases its aggressiveness, but can’t see applies to Iran and the various militias it supports?]
PS: according to Google, the distance between Tel Aviv and Tehran is 987 miles- my bad.
@Tyrell: It took me about 3 milliseconds to locate the text,.here: http://dynamic.faz.net/download/2015/irandealtext.pdf
Maybe looking for it on the website of the Glenn Beck show is not the best way to obtain information?
@Tyrell: You need to realize once and for all this is a not a bilateral agreement. American-specific disputes are not a priority.
@humanoid.panda: Thanks for the link and reply.
I was actually looking for it on the Four Blood Moons sites.
@Tyrell: I don’t know which is worse. That I believe you. Or that if you intended it as irony that you’d expect anyone in the reality based community to have ever heard of Four Blood Moons.
(I looked so you don’t have to. It’s some end times thing.)
OT, I’ve been reading around the various Internet websites to research this issue, but this from the page at Wikipedia has taken up rent in my head:
I don’t know who I want to write this book. Carl Hiaasen maybe, about corrupt Florida politicians closing a land deal to finance work with Turkish pistachio smugglers, and how it led to the death of the man looking into it for the local sentinel, and how this really pissed off his girlfriend which led her to go on a roaring rampage of revenge.
@gVOR08: I immediately presumed it was a hoax. It was way too metal to be taken seriously.
Funny that the Four Blood Moins actually exists…and every single other thing he has typed has been pure fantasy.
If Bibi wants to have a war with Iran, I’d appreciate it if he could wage his own wars and stop trying to get the US to do his dirty work for him.
You want a war; you fight it. And that goes for Republicans as well: unless you’re willing to send your own kids and will raise taxes to pay for the cost of said war, fuggehtabahtit.
What on earth makes you think they aren’t there already?
@gVOR08: No, it was just a joke. I have read the “Four Blood Moon” material. We will see what they have to say after October and nothing happens.
Same for the widespread Jade Helm 15 military training exercise which starts today and ends in September.
Even if those sanctions are still in place, there will be inevitable pressure from the business community to modify them. The US oil companies will see BP, Statoil, ENI, Schlumberger, and other major foreign oil companies jumping into Iran and making megabucks. How long do you think it will be before they want some?
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you will soon see American businessmen, geologists and engineers showing up in Iran for “educational” visits- in reality, scouting out the territory.
Well, no, I’m not having it either way. I’m not FOR Iran opposing Israel, merely explaining WHY Iran has quite credible and logical reasons, based on its strategic situation and ties with co-religionists, to oppose Israel.
You know, this type of counter-argument where someone explains why something is happening, and the opponent, either out of malice or stupidity, pretends that the explanation of is actually an argument for, is not only dishonest, it’s kind of school-yardish.
That’s not even a hypothetical: a main reason why the US is such a strong Israeli ally is precisely because of its large Jewish population. If we can understand why American Jews are sympathetic to and want to defend Jews in Israel, we should be able to understand why Iranian Shiites are sympathetic to and want to defend Shiites in Lebanon.
And Tehran is roughly at the center of Iran, so its western border is even closer to Lebanon.
If only we could have had the same negotiation team Bush had when dealing with the North Koreans. We might have gotten the same deal.
@Rafer Janders: Ok -you win on the borders claim. Do you still think that strategically thinking, Israeli moves, that take place 3 countries away (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) are a threat to Iran on anything but ideological basis?
It is quite exceptional how quickly you go from someone agreeing with you on policy, but not on reasoning behind it to “stupidity and malice.” This I think the tragic downside of conservatives going crazy: it taught liberals that anyone disagreeing with them must be crazy.
Let me repeat my point again, slowly: Your initial argument was that Iran was an essentially defensive power, unlike Israel. I argued that no, Iranian behavior in the Middle East is driven by ideological considerations: namely defending, and if possible empowering, Shi’ite communities, and making sure those communities are controlled by forces friendly to Iran. You answer that Iran is doing that only because it feels responsible for the Shi’ite communities of the Middle East. In other words- you are actually agreeing with me, you’re just coding an essentially offensive move (fighting wars at some remove from one’s borders) as defensive moves. In the same way, I am sure right wing Israelis can explain to you how any move Israel made is defensive- and have some point, just like the Iranians do, because yes, Israel IS surrounded by many groups that want her harm, and unlike Iran, Israel really is a tiny country that can be easily conquered unless it maintains a very agressive military stance. That argument doesn’t make sense, in the end, because what Israel does often exceeds the limits of self-defense, but the same goes for Iran and any reasonable definition of a defensive posture.i
Your point that Iran isn’t a cuddly puddly-tat of a country is well taken (Not sure if anyone actually argued that…). However, neither is the US or Israel. Israel has done some stuff, and actually has an (undeclared) nuclear arsenal of its own. The goal of the agreement was to slow down Iran’s progress toward a nuclear bomb, while allowing it to pursue the legitimate goal of developing a nuclear energy industry, and bringing it back into the international community of nations. That last is, btw, why Israel and the neocons oppose the deal, according to Fred Kaplan. Money quote:
The more Israel and the neocons can portray Iran as a nation of bloodthirsty religious maniacs rather than rational actors with understandable differences from the USA, the more they can argue that we should simply go to war with them right away, rather than bother with a diplomatic settlement that’s doomed to fail, given the nature of those perfidious Iranians.Once we start interacting with them and finding out that they are a rather normal country, then the likelihood of war will fade and the other issues we have with Iran will become amenable to diplomatic settlement.
You know, you’re right, I completely withdraw the stupidity and malice line. It was typed in a fit of annoyance and was unfair. I was wrong and I apologize.
I don’t “still” think that because I never said that. If you disagree, please cite for me the line where I claimed that. I merely said Israeli actions were a “provocation” to Iran.
Again, not my initial argument. Never claimed that. If you disagree, please cite the sentence where I supposedly wrote that, because I certainly can’t find it above.
Honestly, I think you’re arguing with what you assume I’m saying, not what I’m actually saying, because your characterization of my words is not actually supported by, you know, my words.
I don’t disagree with you about the engagment, but I do think you are underestimating how much “resistance,” muqawama, is a central value to the regime. A good case can be made that engagement will in rather short order reduce this to platitudes- like Marxism in China, but the fact remains that for now the US has to both interact with Iran diplomatically and be aware that is not quite a normal state.
And as for that view being a grist for the neocon mill, which I think is the major problem you and Rafer have with my posts: I don’t think those assholes should dictate the limits of our thinking.
Here you go.
The way I read this, this means that for Iran, Israel is a strategic threat, not just in the ideological sense (i.e, threatening co-religionists) but also in the traditional sense: threatening the security of Iran’s borders. Am I wrong?
I think my views on Iran, Israel, and ideology need some unpacking. Here is what I think: leaving aside Bibi’s need for an existential threat, if Iran were to be ruled by a strict non-interventionist tomorrow, Israel would not have any quarrel with it. This is not because Israel is some kind of charity worker, but because Israel has a very limited set of interests: secure borders, and neighbors unable or unwilling to threaten it (of course,the way it goes pursuing its interests is ruinous more often than not). Iran’t quarrel with Israel, on the other hand, is based on an extensive view of what Iranian interests are: and those include cultivating resistance to Israel and Zionism as a rather central (but not the only or most important!) component. Furthermore, there are components within the regime- the Revolutionary Guard, most importantly, for whom exporting the revolution, and figthing Zionism and America is indeed a central component of their mission statement. Those things might be changing- the Guard, for insrtance ,has tactical alliance with the US in Iraq, but still, we are not in the future yet.
And another thing: we might be talking past each other because my background is in Soviet history, where the distinction between ideology and interests is something people have been debating for century. My obsession with those kinds of distinction might therefore appear arcane to normal people.
I do think that the Iranian regime does whip up anti-American and anti-Zionist sentiment and see these causes as part of its raison-d’etre. But I also think the average Iranian is losing patience with these causes. Note this article, from 2005.
Iranians were celebrating in the streets after the agreement was announced, and they were not celebrating victory over America, but rather the ending of the sanctions and rapprochement with the US and the rest of the world.
Now US-Iran relations won’t now be unicorns and rainbows from here on in, and there are plenty of Iranian hardliners who want to sabotage the agreement, but it seems that a lot of Iranians want rapprochement with the West to happen.
Yes, that’s wrong. It’s not what I meant.
(I mean, of course Israel is a potential strategic threat to Iran, as Israel is a hostile power with nuclear weapons, is in conflict with Iranian allies in Lebanon, and is closely allied with Iran’s enemy the US. But that’s a thousand-mile view threat, it’s not an active threat to Iran’s borders or to the regime’s existence).
(Another little-known fact: during the Iran-Iraq War, Israel provided weapons, supplies and intelligence help to Iran against Saddam).
It is worth noting that there have been zero substantive objections to the agreement with Iran. Kevin Drum asks the following question:
But I don’t think he’ll be getting an actual answer.