Paul R. Pillar
It has not been a smooth month for those who want to keep Iran in pariahdom forever and thus seek to kill any international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions bill that is the deal-killers’ principal vehicle at the moment and is in the Senate Banking Committee has not been attracting the hoped-for Democratic co-sponsors.
The strong position taken on the issue by President Barack Obama obviously is a major reason for this. And however unlikely this may seem with almost anything that happens these days in Congress, reason and good sense have probably had some effect – among those who realize that the bill adds no negotiating value whatever in threatening additional sanctions on an Iran that already knows full well such sanctions would follow any breakdown of negotiations.
With the exception of Sen. Robert Menendez (who has alienated himself from the President by wanting not only Iran but also Cuba to be in pariahdom forever), the deal-killing campaign has increasingly taken on an all-Republican flavor. That makes all the more obvious how, in addition to the other motivations behind the campaign, it has become a partisan endeavor to deny Mr. Obama a foreign policy achievement.
There also has been the widespread and thoroughly justified criticism of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the subject – criticism that has been wider than Boehner probably expected.