Here are the judgments of several senators on the Obama administration’s Iran deal:
Delaware senator Chris Coons: “Even if the Iranians comply with the letter and spirit of the agreement as negotiators for the United States understand it, a stronger, financially stable, and economically interconnected Iran will develop an expanded nuclear enrichment program after a decade, which—if it then chooses to violate the agreement—would allow it to quickly develop enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. This agreement—at best—freezes Iran’s nuclear enrichment program—it does not dismantle or destroy it as I hoped it would. . . . I am troubled that the parties to this agreement—particularly Iran—have differing interpretations of key terms, and I remain deeply concerned about our ability to hold Iran to the terms of this agreement as we understand them.”
Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow: “I do share concerns about parts of the agreement, including how Iran could use funds from sanctions relief to continue funding Hezbollah and other terrorists around the world. It is clear that they have been funding these activities despite the crippling sanctions. And we are right to be concerned that additional funds from sanctions relief, or any other sources from other countries if this agreement is not approved, could be used to continue these outrageous activities.”
Michigan senator Gary Peters: “This deal allows Iran, under the same leadership that refers to the United States as the Great Satan and calls for the destruction of Israel, to enrich uranium on its own soil. This core concession is in many ways a stark departure from our country’s past nonproliferation policies, and it concerns me that this agreement could set a dangerous precedent. . . . How can the United States say with moral authority that this deal is acceptable for Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, intent on regional hegemony, but deny it to others? . . . I am concerned that other nations will view this agreement with Iran as a change in U.S. policy and new precedent that may lead to increased global proliferation of nuclear enrichment and the potential for other nuclear threshold states to emerge.”
New Jersey senator Cory Booker: “With this deal, we are legitimizing a vast and expanding nuclear program in Iran. We are in effect rewarding years of their deception, deceit, and wanton disregard for international law by allowing them to potentially have a domestic nuclear enrichment program at levels beyond what is necessary for a peaceful civil nuclear program. . . . Finally, this deal includes the termination of the United Nations embargo on Iran’s conventional arms and ballistic missile technology after five and eight years, respectively. Even with increased vigilance by the United States and our allies, this will bolster Iran’s conventional weapons threats in the region.”
Oregon senator Ron Wyden: “This agreement with the duplicitous and untrustworthy Iranian regime falls short of what I had envisioned. . . . Critics are right that this agreement requires Iran’s leaders to freeze many activities rather than completely destroy or dismantle their nuclear infrastructure, as I and others had called for.”
These senatorial critics of the Iran deal are all Democrats. Yet they all support the deal they disdain. Why?
Because, they say, there’s no alternative. But this is manifestly untrue. The alternative would be the status quo ante—the status quo of 2012, say, when these senators campaigned for Barack Obama, praised his Iran policy (as it was then) of sanctions and diplomatic pressure, of denying Iran a nuclear weapons infrastructure and a greater ability to fund terror and aggression.
It’s pretty clear why they now support the deal. They’re scared of the consequences within the Democratic party of opposing Obama, of crossing the left, of standing against “peace.” And they think they can get the best of both worlds: They can unenthusiastically support the deal while expressing ineffectual and not-to-be-acted-on doubts, covering their bets, and then quickly moving on.
After all, they can reason, President Obama is the one who will be blamed if things go wrong. It’s his deal. We said we would have negotiated a better one. And anyway, who today blames the 390 members of Parliament who supported Neville Chamberlain’s government after Munich? Many of those supporting actors went on to successful political careers.