BY WILLIAM KRISTOL
April 4, 2015
President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 2, 2015, to talk about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear talks. The president said the Iran nuclear deal -- if completed -- will make US, allies and the world safer. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Why? Because the deal can't be fixed. Even if sanctions relief were somewhat more gradual, even if the number of centrifuges were somewhat lower, even if the inspections regime were somewhat more robust—the basic facts would remain: Iran gets to keep its nuclear infrastructure, including the most sensitive parts of it. The sanctions come off. And the inspectors can be kicked out. So Iran, a state-sponsor of terror, an enemy of the United States, an aggressive jihadist power, a regime dedicated to the destruction of Israel, will become a threshold nuclear weapons state.
It's certainly fair to criticize the particulars of the deal, which is honestly less of a "deal" than a series of cascading concessions to Iran. Some of the particulars are so indefensible that they may become the best vehicle for stopping or killing the deal. In fact, Congress might advance several pieces of legislation or amendments along these lines, in addition to the cumbersome Corker-Menendez bill. For example: no sanctions relief if Fordow, which Obama himself said was utterly unnecessary for a peaceful nuclear program, stays open. No sanctions relief if there aren't any-time, any-place inspections. No sanctions relief if the centrifuges don't stop spinning, or if enriched uranium isn't shipped out of the country. No sanctions relief without recognition of Israel's right to exist. One could—and Congress should—multiply examples of the arrows that can be launched to try to bring down this vulnerable deal.
But it's important not to lose sight of the whole, even as one goes after its most vulnerable parts. The whole of the deal is a set of concessions to an aggressive regime with a history of cheating that will now be enabled to stand one unverifiable cheat away from nuclear weapons. In making these concessions, the U.S, and its partners are ignoring that regime's past and present actions, strengthening that regime, and sending the message that there is no price to be paid for a regime's lying and cheating and terror and aggression.
We opponents of the deal disdain to conceal our views and aims. We urge Congress to stop this bad deal. We urge Congress to kill it. We believe sanctions, sabotage, and the threat of military force can better constrain the Iranian regime's nuclear weapons program than this bad deal. But we will also say openly that, if it comes to it, airstrikes to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program are preferable to this deal that lets it go forward.
Britain has a parliamentary system of government, and so Neville Chamberlain's parliamentary majority ensured the Munich agreement would go forward. The U.S. Constitution, on the other hand, provides for a separation of powers. As Hamilton explains in Federalist #75:
"However proper or safe it may be in governments where the executive magistrate is an hereditary monarch, to commit to him the entire power of making treaties, it would be utterly unsafe and improper to intrust that power to an elective magistrate of four years' duration. ... The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which contain its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States."
It is now up to the members of Congress to do their duty, on this delicate and momentous occasion. It is up to members of Congress to refuse to accede to this set of concessions made by our current executive magistrate, concessions that would put one of the world's most dangerous regimes further along the road to acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons.