It would be a stunning admission in a different age.
In order to circumvent Congress, Obama has watered down the agreement with Iran to dangerous levels that render the agreement meaningless from a Western point of view (reigning in Iranian nuclear program).
This is what happens when a policy has more to do with one’s own legacy, than actually stripping a dangerous, rogue regime of it’s weapons of mass destruction program.
Omri Ceren: ”Not only is the deal weaker than it might have been as a substantive matter, but it’s weaker specifically because the White House wanted to do an end-run around the Senate. It has the feel of bad policy done for bad reasons.”
He continues: Yesterday State spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at the daily briefing that the deal being worked out between the P5+1 and Iran would be a “nonbinding arrangement.” That sparked an exchange in which reporters asked what that could possibly mean, and were told it’s “a legal term” and “legal terminology.” Today Secretary of State John Kerry told the SFRC the same thing: “we’ve been clear from the beginning we’re not negotiating a legally binding plan.”
That set the Iran debate for the rest of the day, and it’ll be the topic for the rest of the week too unless something happens. To give you a sense of where the conversation is, I wanted to make sure you had the Daily Beast article that just got posted on the issue (pasted at the bottom).
Obama Administration Falls Into GOP’s Iran Letter Trap
The Republicans’ much-maligned open letter to Tehran has forced the White House to admit an uncomfortable truth: The deal might not outlast the Obama presidency.
Beyond the theatrics of the open letter that 47 Republican senators sent to Iran, it features a core of truth: the Obama administration is negotiating a deal that cannot be guaranteed beyond the president’s current term.
The Obama administration was so outraged with the Republican attempt to undercut the president’s foreign policy negotiations that it sent the Vice President, the White House press secretary, and others to attack the letter rather seriously—instead of treating as the “cheeky” reminder of Congress’ role that GOP senators intended.
In the process of engaging, the Obama administration highlighted that any deal with Iran would be, like many other past international security initiatives, a “non-binding” agreement. And by taking this bait, the administration undercut its own credibility in making longer-term assurances about American sanctions relief.
“A non-binding agreement with Iran is easier to make (because the President can clearly do it on his own) and easier to break (because there is no domestic or international legal obstacle to breaking it),” wrote Jack Goldsmith, a former Assistant Attorney General who now teaches law at Harvard, at Lawfare on Wednesday.
The letter, which was conceived of by freshman GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, was influenced in part by prominent national security hawk and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Kristol said he had no part in drafting or editing the letter, but did consult with the senator about it.