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Andrew McCarthy on the Iran deal

Monday, November 21, 2016 16:56
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On the Iran deal, Andrew McCarthy writes,

…the Constitution is plenty strong enough to foil the ambitions of a rogue president. True, Congress cannot compel the president to execute our law faithfully. But if the president is derelict in his duty to submit an international agreement to the Senate for its approval, or to the full Congress for implementation as ordinary legislation, then the agreement will not have the force of American law. It remains a mere executive agreement between the president and other chiefs of state. That means it may be rescinded at any time, by either the president who entered it or a successor president.

the Obama administration concedes that the jihadist regime in Tehran continues to support terrorism and remains one of only three countries our government designates as state sponsors of terrorism. Indeed, the administration further admits that Tehran will divert some of the lavish money streams it got from the Iran deal to terrorist organizations. It goes without saying, moreover, that a major purpose of the deal, from Tehran’s perspective, was the preservation of Iran’s nuclear and other weapons programs.

Because the Framers were leery of foreign entanglements, they ensured that international agreements would not be legally binding unless Congress concurred in a president’s claim that they served America’s interests. Thus, to be cemented in law, such agreements must be either (a) ratified after Senate consent by a two-thirds supermajority or (b) implemented through legislation passed by both congressional chambers in the constitutional manner — i.e., enacted by simple majorities in the House and Senate.

…At first, Obama had no intention of going to Congress. Not knowing how easy it would be to roll GOP leadership, he calculated that he had no chance of getting his legacy “achievement” approved as either a treaty or legislation. Thus, the president’s original plan was to (a) make a beeline to the United Nations Security Council; (b) get its resolution endorsing the deal; (c) argue — unconstitutionally — that this U.N. resolution made the deal binding international law despite the absence of U.S. congressional assent; and (d) persuade big corporations and financial institutions to enter long-term commercial deals with Iran. This scheme was more political than legal: Change the facts on the ground so drastically that, even if the deal was not binding under federal law, other countries that wanted lucrative Iran business would revolt if the next president tried to rescind Obama’s handiwork and revive sanctions enforcement.

…But then Corker decided that, rather than steely opposition, bipartisan cooperation — with Democrats generally supportive of Obama’s Iran policy — was the way to go. With Democrats “helping” Corker write the INARA, Obama realized he’d get a windfall: not just the Security Council resolution but also congressional legislation that would effectively repeal the sanctions.

…That outcome is a disaster for U.S. national security — worse than what would have happened if Congress had done nothing. I explained why that is so when Congress failed to enact a disapproval resolution: The language of the INARA can be read to state that Congress has lifted the sanctions.

Had there been no INARA — even better, had the Republican-controlled Senate and House passed resolutions affirming the sense of each chamber that the Iran deal was a non-binding executive agreement that needed congressional approval in order to have legal effect in the United States — President Donald Trump could have, upon his inauguration, simply rescinded the deal and announced that all congressional sanctions would henceforth be fully enforced. But thanks to Corker’s INARA, it is very likely that the nuclear sanctions are dead; they’d have to be reenacted from scratch. Indeed, it is the assumption that the INARA killed the sanctions that induced big corporations to commence business with Iran — such as Boeing’s aforementioned $17.6 billion deal to supply aircraft to the “Death to America” regime.

Even in disagreement, I admire a number of these lawmakers. I also believe that Senator Corker — and other principal INARA supports, like Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham — really do oppose our Iranian enemies. That’s why I spent so much time and energy pleading with them to reconsider their course. I think they just miscalculated. Some of them naively believed that, somehow, an administration more contemptuous of Congress than any in our history could be squeezed into revealing the terms of the atrocious deal. Many of them, mindful of the 2016 election then on the horizon, undoubtedly believed the political upside of hammering Democrats on Obama’s Iran policy outweighed the legal downside of allowing Obama to eradicate the sanctions.

We now also know there were secret arrangements between the Obama administration and the mullahs to forgive Iranian noncompliance regarding caps on retention of low-enriched uranium and heavy water. The administration further agreed that the IAEA would no longer provide broad reporting on Iran’s nuclear programs. And who can forget the notorious ransom? Although the INARA directed Obama to disclose all ancillary agreements to Congress, the administration concealed the arrangement by which it paid Tehran $1.7 billion in exchange for the release of four American hostages — a ransom paid in cash under the guise of settling 38-year old financial claims from a failed arms deal.

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