In Washington, D.C., the rules of reality are in a perpetual state of flux. Language is bent to fit the dogmatic necessity of the day. Such is the case with the Iranian Nuclear Deal (remember, do not call it a treaty).
The overall consensus of the Iranian Nuclear Deal (as outlined with the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action), even by those who support it, is that it is not a great deal. The theme by supporters within the United States is that although this is a flawed deal, it is the best deal that could be brokered. Whether that belief is correct is open to interpretation, but it is the only deal on the table. After all is said and done, that is the reality, except to Senate Democrats and the president.
There are three key public documents that come into play to get even a marginal understanding of this deal. The first is the 2013 Joint Plan of Action, which outlined the initial focus of the negotiations (November 2013). The second is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which outlines the final provisions that each of the involved parties agree with (July 2015). The third is the Congressional Research Service – Iran Nuclear Agreement (August 2015).
However, there are also “undisclosed” elements of the deal negotiated by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency. These provisions include site inspections rules and procedures, verification techniques and administrative repercussions. None were provided to our congressional representatives, but our State Department negotiators cannot say with any degree of confidence that they know what the IAEA provisions even say, and how they impact enforcing the final agreement. In the absence of transparency and validated knowledge, there is not one person within our federal government who can say with absolute clarity that we as a nation know the totality of this agreement. The American people have been denied an opportunity to properly discuss this agreement, and some in Congress chose to set us on a course where we did not even afford ourselves as a nation the opportunity to properly vet it.
One reality is that few of our national representatives have read any of the public documents related to this deal and our nation has little faith that many would even comprehend what they were reading if the did. Another reality is that the American people were promised a vetting of this agreement and an opportunity to publicly debate it.
On May 7, every Senate Democrat in attendance voted to support the debate and vote of the final agreement (99-1, in favor). This vote included New Hampshire’s senior Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would require the completed deal to be submitted to Congress, which could then vote to approve or disapprove the nuclear deal within 30 days. However, the overwhelming majority of these same Democrats broke their promise on Sept. 10.
Senate Democrats blocked a Republican resolution of the Iran deal from going to a final vote. The vote to move to a public debate on the Senate Floor and a final vote, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 58 to 42. The Democrats went back on their commitment of May 7, disregarded the lack of transparency and a full vetting of this agreement, and ignored the will of the American people.
This vote on Sept. 10 was nothing more than political hijinks and an insult to the American people, a dereliction of duty on the part of Senate Democrats, including Shaheen. There should be no illusions regarding the outcome of the debate and the vote had it been allowed to occur. The debate would have shown the lack of transparency in the negotiating process and a lack of understanding of the unknown elements of the agreement. There would have been bipartisan support to pass the disapproval of the Iran agreement, which the president had already indicated he would veto. There were not enough votes to override the veto, so the agreement would have gone into effect.
Yet President Obama and Senate Democrats hailed this purely political vote as a victory. In reality, what this vote did was stop debate, prevent an up and down vote on the agreement, and saved President Obama the embarrassment of vetoing the agreement. That is what those in Washington claim as a victory for America. Brava Sen. Shaheen and her fellow Democrats.
I support peace, so long as the security of our country is assured. I have many concerns about this deal, as we all should. I am extremely concerned that politics was used to circumvent the treaty clause of the U.S. Constitution. There are serious issues with the lack of proper examination of this agreement and the manner in which it was enacted set us off on the wrong foot. The effort of negotiating for peace not only requires a great deal of humility, but also transparency and honesty. In the end, like all agreements (and treaties), this deal is nothing more than a piece of paper, but some would prefer a piece of paper to nothing at all, while promoting the straw man suggestion that the only alternative is war. In that desire, many have ignored the lack of transparency and integrity, which weakens our resolve as a nation and walks away from our obligation to the American people.
We are now obligated to support and enforce this agreement. I pray Iran adheres to the agreement and all parties act in good faith. I also hope those who rushed to pass this deal at all costs do not regret their handling of this agreement. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will be out of government shortly after this agreement goes into effect. They will either bask in the glory of the realization of a strong and verifiable Iranian agreement or watch from a distance its disintegration. Will those who sued for peace be willing to support military action if this deal fails? Only time will tell.