The P5+1 negotiations with Iran should be over and done with and a final deal celebrated across the globe but this superbly scripted show must go on. The U.S. is so caught up in this drama of its own making that it’s loath to break character. Maybe Washington policymakers are counting on getting honored by the Academy Awards for the best acting off the silver screen? Their pretending that Iran has a rogue nuclear program in violation of the NPT and has to be sanctioned is surely Oscar-worthy. Actually I’m guessing the U.S. refused to close the narrow gaps because President Barack Obama is planning on “unexpectedly” (wink) reaching an agreement before the next deadline. He’s saving the diplomatic triumph as an October surprise which would swing the midterm elections in favor of the Democrats. “America–if you want this deal to stick, don’t vote in a Republican-majority Congress,” will go the slogan and it will resonate with a public that favors successful diplomacy.
Not that Republicans will thwart the proceedings. As opposed as they seem to the final deal, the Republican’s hawkishness on the deal is in truth influenced by midterm considerations. They know how good resisting Obama makes them look to their constituents. Trying to secure election victories is all that’s at play here because Republicans are well aware that if Congress undercuts the deal the EU will bid adieu to the U.S-led sanctions regime. Europe walking away is no empty threat either, as Benjamin Armbruster explains:
“Even if a deal is reached, it’s possible that Congress could play spoiler and refuse to repeal Iran sanctions legislation. In that scenario, a recent report from the European Council on Foreign Relations recommended that the EU should not follow the U.S. lead and instead take a more “proactive” approach.
The EU “could do so by offering Iran a European economic package that in essence creates additional phases to the implementation process of a final deal. Europe could carry out this phase on its own, by taking a different stance in comparison to the US Congress regarding sanctions relief provided to Iran,” the report says. “This more active and independent strategy for détente with Iran is one that Europe should seriously debate if the position taken by Congress opposes not only the U.S. president but also European interests.”
Yeah, Europe potentially aligning itself with Iran would be a nightmare for the United States. The horror would mount as Russia and China rush to join Iran’s side too and then suddenly there’s a bloc that would pose a powerful check against the U.S.’s efforts to manage Iran’s rise in the world. That’s why the Republican and Democrat “opponents” of diplomacy have every intention of relenting when presented with the comprehensive agreement. They wouldn’t dare risk such a tectonic geopolitical shift. But Congress won’t be going away empty-handed. The Middle East has an unmatched appetite for weaponry and a revived Iran would drive the demand up all the more. I can already hear the legislators’ collective drooling (Homer Simpson-like) over the juicy opportunities to deliver scads of contracts to the arms manufacturers in their districts. And–who knows?–we might start arming Iran too fueling the next regional arms race. America has supported both sides simultaneously before.