The White House has prepared for a full-court press to push for Congressional ratification of the Iran deal, but it hasn’t managed to bring one to the table. Robert Creamer, a felon convicted on fraud charges, is coordinating behind-the-scenes efforts to bring pressure on elected officials through left-wing activist group Ploughshares. In a conference call with the activists, Creamer stressed the President’s personal commitment to any deal that comes forward, and told activists to be “blitzing the hell out of the Hill.” Meanwhile, former CIA officer Valerie Plame has returned to the spotlight to lead a similar lobbying effort in favor of whatever deal is produced.
This, though Congress has already all but conceded ratification of anything that gets produced. Only 34 votes in the Senate will be necessary to obtain ratification because of a Republican-led maneuver designed to give the President more room to make a deal. Treaties properly require a two-thirds majority from the Senate.
Nevertheless, as the final deadline day passes – a day that, coincidentally, happens to be ‘Quds Day’ in Iran, a day for rallying against the existence of the state of Israel – no deal will be ready for Congress to review.
What could be behind the delay? Given the White House pressure, it is probably not concerns on our side that are driving the delay. That is not to say that such concerns are unwarranted. Indeed, even the administration has been admitting to serious concerns. An anonymous State Department official told The Daily Beast that they are “of course aware and concerned” about the release of a hundred billion dollars to an Iran that is still a state sponsor of terrorism. The President himself voiced concern over “destabilizing” activities by Iran in the region.
Those comments are probably not to be taken seriously. At a two hour meeting last night with Senate Democrats, the President also told them not to “get concerned about statements by the supreme leader” of Iran, a dictum that applies a fortiori to his own statements. Such statements in the press, the President is implying, are just posturing. They are about pressuring Iran in the negotiations process, not a statement of real hesitation. Still, it is difficult not to take seriously the words of Iranian Ground Force Commander Ahmad Reza Pourdastan. Speaking on Sunday, he told Iran’s Fars News Agency that even if “some agreements” are reached, “we should never hold a positive view of the enemy.” The United States, he went on to say, pursues “exploiting nations and putting them in chains,” whereas Iran is devoted to “truth and nations’ freedom.” What is more likely is that, as Senator Bob Corker and former CIA director Michael Hayden agreed in their discussion of the Iran deal, is that the President’s people see this as a legacy issue. Any deal, even a bad deal, is better than no deal.
It is probably Iran that is driving the delay, as a delay serves their purposes. As Senator Tom Cotton pointed out, delays like this allow them to continue to demand new concessions and new terms – a strategy that has already been highly successful for them. As long as no agreement is pursued, Iran continues enrichment and weapons research. Humiliating the American President by failing to come to a deal after he has become so invested in it strengthens Iran’s public perception.
Very likely the truth is the one suggested by veteran analyst Michael Ledeen, who confidently – and correctly – predicted two days ago that there would be no deal. “[Our] constant offer of more–more money, more gold, more limits on annoying inspections, more cooperation in the air and on the ground with Iranian forces, etcetera etcetera–solidified Khamenei’s conviction that there is no reason for him to approve a hated deal with the devil. It’s much better to keep talking until all the sanctions are gone, and Iran’s ‘right’ to pursue its nuclear projects is fully recognized.” Iran doubtless believes that, having gotten so much by way of concessions already, it can get a good deal more.