The first attack on Biden’s Iran deal will come from the US Congress

There are midterm elections in November and the Republicans look set to win in a landslide - an Iran deal would be another albatross around the Democrats’ necks


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 07: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken speaks during a discussion at the Media Summit of the Americas at the ASU California Center on June 7, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The event coincides with the Ninth Summit of the Americas as leaders from North, Central and South America travel to Los Angeles for the summit to discuss issues such as trade and migration. The United States is hosting the summit for the first time since 1994, when it took place in Miami. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

August 26, 2022 15:00

The dog days of August are a time to go on vacation or start a war.

The politicians have escaped the humidity of Washington. Joe Biden has gone to ground in Delaware as he tries to shake off the Covid he picked up on his Middle East trip.

But the outfit that Saul Bellow called “The Good Intentions Paving Company” never closes.
The Biden administration’s pandering to the Iranian regime is paving the road to hell for the entire Middle East. With the passing of time, it’s getting increasingly hard to see the good intentions behind the Obama administration’s Iran deal and increasingly easy to see the bad outcomes.

The good intentions were good only for the United States: getting out of the Middle East, and to hell with allies, let alone the enemies who refused to be bombed into democracy.

The bad outcomes are already obvious.

An emboldened Iran already has a veto in Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa and Beirut. If there is a deal in Vienna — and the signs this week are that there might be — then Israel and its new Sunni allies will face a choice.

Either attack Iran now and risk falling out with the US and the EU or allow Iran to continue lying to the International Atomic Energy Agency and dodging sanctions until it wriggles through to a working nuclear weapon, with the attendant risks of radioactive fallout across the region.

In time, this road to hell will reach Europe, whose leaders are doing the shovel-work of preparing the text of a deal in Vienna. The Iranians will inevitably extend the range of their missiles. Quite soon, probably, given their deepening alliances with Russia and China.

The Biden administration seems incapable of joined-up thinking.

The US is fighting a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. Its leaders and media boast that American-supplied missiles are killing Russian generals, and that an American-led economic boycott is destroying Russia’s economy. Russia, meanwhile, is buying Iranian drones, the better to fight America’s Ukrainian proxies.

Yet the US is pushing a new Iran deal that will waive sanctions on both Russia and Iran. It will give Iran a flood of US dollars, which Russia needs, and it will allow Rosatom, Russia’s energy company, to cash out on a $10 billion contract to expand Iran’s nuclear site at Bushehr.

Should there be a deal in Vienna, the first attack on it will come not from Tehran; the mullahs will hold onto their winnings. It will come from the US Congress. The 2015 Iran deal was not a real treaty, state-to-state.

The Obama team knew that Congress would reject it, so they called it a “framework” between leaders.

A revived deal will have the same status. The Iranians know this, so they are insisting that the next US president must honour its terms.

If the winner of the 2024 presidential race is a Republican — and chances are that this will be the case — then there is zero chance of that. These days, American presidents go out of their way to dishonour their predecessors, especially when it comes to deals made in the Middle East.

Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesman, cannot bring himself to say the words “Abraham Accords”. Donald Trump tore up Obama’s Iran deal.

Anyway, a deal will be attacked long before that. In 2015, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

This obliged Obama to put a treaty to a vote in Congress and that is why Obama dodged the issue and came back with less than a treaty.

In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the administration would meet “whatever requirements” the 2015 Act has. Don’t hold your breath. The administration will do its best to avoid any kind of reckoning with Congress or public opinion, both of which oppose a new deal with Iran.

Unfortunately for Biden and Blinken, there are midterm elections in November. The Republicans look set to win in a landslide, regaining control of both houses of Congress.

An Iran deal would be another albatross around the Democrats’ necks. Biden, the least popular president since polling began, will be the lamest of ducks. This too is obvious and avoidable but no one is in charge in America these days.

The Good Intentions Paving Company works around the clock, and everyone can feel that a big crash is coming.

August 26, 2022 15:00

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