The president, we understand, is going to be meeting with key senators to brief them on Iran negotiations, which means to try to talk them out of additional Iran sanctions. This is proof positive that Secretary of State John Kerry’s briefing to the Senate was unconvincing if not counterproductive. We nevertheless hear that Sen. Harry Reid ( D-Nev.) may not allow sanctions to be attached to the defense authorization bill. (A stalwart friend of Israel would not do this.) And it is unlikely that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) will mark up a stand-alone sanctions bill in the banking committee this week.
If Obama has all the procedural blocks in place, why, then, the need to meet with skeptical senators? Perhaps the Democrats need GOP cover to sink the sanctions procedurally. Maybe the French are holding firm and the president won’t be able to ram through his interim deal this week.
Senators would be well advised to hold firm and instead deliver their own message to Obama. First, they should condemn any deal that lifts or delays sanctions without Iran’s renouncing the nonexistent right to enrich and beginning to dismantle its illegal nuclear weapons program. Second, in order to make the military option more credible, they should say they are prepared to pass an authorization of force allowing the president to act in the event there is not complete compliance with the six Iranian resolutions. Third, there is no reason why the France President Francois Hollande can’t address Congress — just as he addressed the Knesset — to express his complete solidarity with the bipartisan foreign policy of the United States that sanctions are to be used to pressure Iran to comply with United Nations resolutions and France is determined to make certain Iran doesn’t get the bomb.
Anti-Iran sellout lawmakers can’t stop the president from trying to make a deal with Iran, but they can bolster allies and explain to the president the ramifications of a bad interim deal. They not only “can”; they must.