By Sal Bommarito
The impending Iran nuclear deal is one element of the ever-expanding enigma known as the Middle East. Every day the complexity of issues becomes more daunting exacerbated by indecision and rash diplomatic ploys.
President Obama and leaders from around the world must react to events in the Middle East influenced by a backdrop that includes ISIS fighters slaughtering other Arabs, a competitive Israeli election, a growing diplomatic rift between Israel and the U.S., a nuclear controversy, worsening tension between Shiites an Sunnis and an epic refugee problem.
Most of the issues are very important but none are existential with the exception of the Iran nuclear deal. The mass execution of innocents and the threat of civil wars in a strategic part of the world are disconcerting, but an Iranian nuclear capability is a game changer.
President Obama indicated at the outset of the current round of negotiations with Iran that a nuclear Iran was not a viable option. Things have changed dramatically over the past several months along with Obama’s objectives. He seems satisfied with a treaty that keeps Iran non-nuclear with a one-year lag if Iran opts out of the treaty; and the treaty expires in 10 years in any case.
Can you blame Congress for being unnerved by the new calculus? One day, our president is saying, “No nukes for Iran.” The next day, Iran is non-nuclear until they opt out, but no longer than a short decade.
The response of Republicans and Democrats to Obama’s efforts to keep them uninvolved was bipartisan; the lawmakers wanted to be able to approve a new treaty and any reductions in economic sanctions against Iraq. As Obama neared a deal with Iran, it appeared that he was prepared to be generous to our mortal enemy that has called for the annihilation of Israel and has been the most prolific supporter of terrorism in the region.
It’s probably a legacy thing. Obama has had very few memorable diplomatic achievements during his tenure, and he wants to make a big splash by ending the hostile relationship with Iran.
Republicans responded by asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress without [authorization, endorsement, approval] from the president. As the deadline for a deal approached, Senate Republicans sent an open letter to the Iranian leadership indicating that they were not happy with the proposals contained in the new deal, and that a new president or Congress could annul the treaty in the near future.
This action created a huge rift between the parties as it did break the traditional lines that separate the executive and legislative branches of the government. Many believe a president has the authority to negotiate a treaty, and after it is completed, the Senate votes to accept it or not. The Republicans were jumping the gun because they thought Obama overstepped his authority and was willing to give away too much relating to Iran’s ability to complete a bomb.
The question is, does Congress have a right, or even an obligation, to speak up and pre-judge a potentially dangerous arrangement by the president? Damn right it does! It’s unconscionable that the U.S. would negotiate a deal that would make Iran stronger militarily and create an existential threat to Israel.