Iran Deal Isn’t Going To Be Stopped

Out of everybody I have read who has opined about the outcome of the nuclear negotiations with Iran, only Aaron David Miller has been so bold as to assert that a successful settlement will be a sure thing. Here is his take on why reaching the comprehensive agreement is guaranteed:

“Think that the mullahs will overplay their hand and sink the nuclear deal? Hoping that President Barack Obama’s administration will toughen up and fight for a bargain Tehran can’t accept? Wishing that Congress will play spoiler in the eleventh hour? Don’t hold your breath. The gods of negotiation have spoken and have bestowed their blessings on the interim framework agreement—and what will come after it. The sun, moon, and stars are now aligning in favor of an accord (especially one favorable to the Iranians). Here’s why: The closed circle. I know from experience as an adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations on Israeli-Palestinian talks that negotiators tend to fall in love with their negotiations, particularly when they convince themselves that what’s at stake is a matter of peace or war—and even more so when they believe they’ve exhausted every other possible alternative… The negotiators want to protect their achievement. The greater the pressure from the outside (see: Congress, Israel, and Saudi Arabia), the greater the need to circle the wagons… Last week’s Corker-Cardin compromise has offered Congress a way into the nuclear deal, which is what legislators have been demanding for months. The bill suggests that Congress is looking for a way to keep its oar in the water without having to assume responsibility for steering the whole ship. Unless the final accord agreed to by June 30 is a fire sale in which the administration gives just about everything away, few in Congress will want to be seen responsible for the consequences of scuttling a deal, which could include the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program and maybe even war… And if worse really comes to worst and there’s a real fight between the administration and Congress, the president will be able to sustain a veto override by marshaling just 34 Senate Democrats… It’s certainly possible that some sticking point or change of heart on the Iranian side could still blow up the negotiations. And it’s a long way to June 30. But on balance there’s a pretty good chance that an agreement is going to emerge. Few thought that an interim agreement would be reached. Most believed that if something did come about it would be a very bad bargain. That proved incorrect. In fact, most honest observers were surprised by the level of detail that came out of Lausanne. So don’t throw good money after bad. What’s done is done: A nuclear agreement is coming.”

Although Elizabeth Drew doesn’t outright proclaim that the deal is assured in her piece ‘Iran: The Deal on the Deal’, she might as well since she concludes that since “those who have deep misgivings or are opposed to a deal don’t have a workable alternative to at least postponing Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon for ten years,” the only thing left for the skeptics is to “raise a lot of tough questions but in the end declare themselves satisfied to proceed with the deal.” Indeed they won’t be able to do anything beyond venting their reservations about the agreement before finally resigning themselves to it because, as House Speaker John Boehner concedes, they don’t have the votes to override the president’s veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval. But the Iran hawks won’t exactly be feeling downcast after going down in defeat. Their opposition was always theatrical. Everyone in Washington knows full well that, given the geopolitical reality, Obama’s deal is the best to be had.

So, aside from wanting to be the ones getting the credit for landing a deal with Iran, what are the phony anti-dealers after? Jack Goldsmith, in a post about what was motivating some Iran hawks to bin the Corker-Cardin bill with poison pill amendments, arrived at three reasons for them making that (since failed) gambit—reasons which also get to the heart of their opposition to the deal in general.

“First, they might want to burnish their credentials as anti-Iran hawks. (Amendment sponsors include presidential candidates Senators Cruz and Rubio.) Second, they might think that passing the Review bill and then failing to overcome a veto is worse politically (i.e. looks like more of a win for the President) than if the bill does not pass and they are unable to muster the veto-proof votes to kill the Iran deal. Perhaps they think the stakes of the loss are lower without the extensive and elaborate information-gathering and review that the Iran Review bill contemplates. Third, the unamended bill allows Democrats to appear slightly tough on Iran by voting to review the Iran deal and to delay its implementation, safe in the knowledge that the leader of the party can still negotiate and implement the kind of deal he wants. The amendments complicate this position since the Democrats have to vote (and take a stand on) them.”

Put simply, the hawks’ resistance was a valuable opportunity for Republicans to score political points against the President and making campaign fodder for 2016.