As lawmakers and outside experts consider the Iran nuclear deal, we see a common conclusion:
Yeah, the deal stinks, but voting “no” would be worse.
This is wrong for multiple reasons.
First, the deal makes further conflict in the region certain even apart from its nuclear provisions.
We are, in essence, arming our enemy and bolstering its economy so it can continue to attack our allies in the region. Aside from the moral monstrosity of the proposition, we invite further attacks on Sunni states and Israel, and, at some point, a military showdown with an emboldened Iran permitted to waltz into the nuclear power club.
As sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the nonpartisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies, puts it, “The deal has to be rejected to position the next president with sufficient political support to take a tougher position against Iranian aggression, renegotiate some of the worst flaws of the deal and reconstitute [a] sanctions regime that is getting dismantled.”
In other words, preventing war begins with preserving sanctions, blocking Iran’s access to conventional weapons and missiles, and reworking a deal before Iran gets a bomb. Dubowitz argues that the deal “is predicated on a snapback sanction device as the only peaceful enforcement mechanism, which will be practically and politically impossible to implement over time. It will leave a future U.S. president with only military force to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon.” Preventing that Hobson’s Choice begins with a “no” vote on the deal.
Moreover, former ambassador Eric Edelman reminds us, “The administration used to say that a bad deal was worse than no deal but they have now switched over to a new line — this deal, whatever its flaws, is better than no deal and the only alternative is war.”
But the notion that Congress must rubber stamp a deal was rejected when the president signed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act calling for an independent review.
If the president thought Congress should be disqualified from making its own finding, he should have vetoed the bill.
In addition, the idea that Congress must approve the deal so the United States retains its international credibility is bizarrely wrong.
The deal is a repudiation of our closest allies. In giving Iran access to conventional weapons, it is a direct violation of our pledge to Sunni states to push back on Iranian aggression. If the United States is to have any hope of retaining moral and geopolitical influence, it must reject a sweetheart deal with its sworn enemy — and Israel’s — and repair the alliance with non-jihadi states in the region.
There could be nothing more damaging to American credibility than a deal that caves in to Iran on each and every red line this, the previous president and the international community drew.
If lawmakers are worried about the prospects for war in the region and U.S. credibility, there is no real choice but to reject this deal.
Jennifer Rubin is a columnist for The Washington Post.