Patterico's Pontifications


Speaking of Dithering, the President Contemplates Iran

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:34 pm

[guest post by JVW]

There are so many areas of foreign policy to watch Joe Biden be dead wrong or even to eff up. His amateurish rekindling of the ridiculous Iran Deal is, we should hope, just about dead:

For those following the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, the Biden administration’s negotiations have been a feat of concession and weakness. The deal on the table, which is being packaged as a return to the (also weak) 2015 JCPOA, is actually much weaker; it gives Iran a legitimate, quicker path to a nuclear weapon and frees up billions in sanctions relief. Until quite recently, this shameful capitulation of a deal has evaded the scathing headlines it deserves. But now, as the most shocking details come to light, the Biden administration will have to answer for its strategic failure and suffer the political consequences should the deal go through.

After a year of negotiations, the details of the agreement are mostly finalized and a deal could be imminent based on Iran’s recent release of hostages. The final snag is the question over the IRGC’s terrorist designation. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the “effort to revive the 2015 nuclear deal agreement now hinges on perhaps the most politically sensitive issue in the negotiations: whether to remove the U.S. terrorism designation for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.” The Journal reports that this contentious question could “cause a breakdown in negotiations,” according to senior U.S. officials.

And not a moment too soon. Reports are that not only did the Biden Administration offer the removal of the IRGC’s terrorist designation, but they began dangling this as a carrot to goad Iran into reopening the JCPOA immediately once talks resumed nearly a year ago, thereby reducing its value as a bargaining chip. Indeed, even sources who are generally predisposed to cut the Biden Administration a break appear to be acknowledging that the latest round of talks have been an exercise in absolute appeasement of the mullahs, with very little being gained by the U.S. other than more empty promises which Iran will almost certainly fail to keep.

Fortunately, it would appear that a bipartisan consensus is emerging in Washington against the Biden Administration’s concessions to Iran and Russia. Israel and the Arab countries vying with Iran for hegemony in the Gulf Region are also highly skeptical of this deal’s merits, so much so that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are resisting President Biden’s request to produce more oil in a move that certainly looks like a protest against rapprochement with the mullahs. Unfortunately, this fissure with the Arab world — and yes, I know dealing with those thugs is no picnic — is playing right into the hands of both Russia and China, with the former still selling oil in Western markets and the later cultivating close ties with Riyadh and Abu Dahbi.

But, as we all learned seven years ago, there isn’t all that much that the Congress can do to prevent the Biden Administration from recklessly steaming forward. Naturally a revised JCPOA, like its predecessor, will not be ratified by the Senate as a formal treaty, and stands a strong likelihood of being revoked if and when a Republican President is inaugurated. Still, Iran will treat the agreement like a binding treaty, as will nations which do not understand the intricacies of U.S. Constitutional law and separation of powers. Andrew McCarthy lays out an multi-level case for how Congress can reassert its role in foreign policy by insisting that the new agreement be authorized legislatively as befitting new law. It strikes me as a fanciful notion, inasmuch as even those Democrats who oppose a new JCPOA will likely be loathe to embarrass the Biden Administration in an election year by joining Republicans to swat down his one foreign policy “achievement” in Congress.

At this point I think the best any of us can hope for is that Russia — who may be even more chaotic and disorganized than we are — shoots itself in the foot by demanding too many concessions from the U.S., more than even the feeble and weak Biden Administration is willing to grant. Thus do we find ourselves yet again in a disaster of our own making.


38 Responses to “Speaking of Dithering, the President Contemplates Iran”

  1. What do you suppose is the nucleus of Joe Biden’s devotion to JCPOA?

    1. He’s loyal to his former boss, and this is one of the few foreign policy “achievements” that Barack Obama had in his eight years in office.

    2. He doesn’t care one way or another, except that the Obama Administration alumni who staff the current Administration are hell-bent on restoring the JCPOA to salvage the reputation of their former boss.

    3. He and his team just have an absolute mania for undoing everything that happened during the Trump Administration.

    Other possibilities?

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. They are tied to the mullahs through Valerie Jarrett and hate America and all it stands for.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  3. He is an idealist who truly believes in American exceptionalism and thinks that the Iranians will trust us not to do to Iran what we did to Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, the Kurds, Afghanistan, (dare I mention Ukraine in 2014?), and to Iran itself during the Iran-Ira war, should they give up their nuclear aspirations. Because we’re the good guys and in their hearts the Iranians know it. The whole world knows it!

    nk (1d9030)

  4. *Iran-Iraq war*

    nk (1d9030)

  5. You had me worrying about the fate of poor Ira there for a moment, nk.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  6. Other possibilities?
    JVW (ee64e4) — 3/23/2022 @ 6:38 pm

    he thinks he’s making a deal with ukrainians?

    JF (e1156d)

  7. Russians and Wendy Sherman are involved.

    What could go wrong? =blink=

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  8. he thinks he’s making a deal with ukrainians?

    Possible. Quite possible. Excellent suggestion.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  9. He believes that something is better than nothing? (no, I do not think Iran is going to stop trying to develop nuclear weapons. At this point everyone should’ve learned that the only way to really prevent someone from trying to invade your country is to be a nuclear power)

    Nic (896fdf)

  10. Hold the debt increase hostage.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  11. The GOP in Congress can also state flatly that agreeing to this is an impeachable offense of “treason” and that, should they gain the House, they will move forward with that.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  12. Again, we run up against the consequences of INS v Chadha — where a legislative power delegated to the Executive was tempered by a legislative veto — that the Court stripped from the law without striking down the whole thing.

    A constitutional amendment allowing the legislative veto is desperately needed to rein in the executive superstate. Congress needs to be able to negate an act of legislative power, delegated for expediency, if they would never pass the damn thing.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  13. The GOP in Congress can also state flatly that agreeing to this is an impeachable offense of “treason” and that, should they gain the House, they will move forward with that.

    Ugh, they would probably do that too, just as payback for what they perceive as Democrats’ grandstanding with Trump’s impeachments.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  14. Ugh, they would probably do that too, just as payback for what they perceive as Democrats’ grandstanding with Trump’s impeachments.
    JVW (ee64e4) — 3/24/2022 @ 12:17 am

    The MSM would certainly report it in a much less charitable way, jaundicing half the nation – which half? Take your pick.

    felipe (484255)

  15. Speaking of poor leaders, the world over:

    And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh… Exodus 9:12

    felipe (484255)

  16. What I think it is, is that only America sanctioning Iran will be meaningless. Iran can totally tell us to shove it and do business with the rest of the world. We need the rest of the world to join in the sanctions. So we continue to “negotiate in good faith” for the eyes of our would-be allies.

    nk (1d9030)

  17. There’s no easy path for dealing with Iran. Should it be maximum sanctions to try to pressure and isolate the regime or should it be negotiated concessions that rely on imperfect inspections and that may only delay the inevitable? The preference for sanctions reminds me of Pakistan’s quest for the bomb and Prime Minister Bhutto’s willful pronouncement: “We shall eat grass but have our bomb”. I fear the Mullahs have a similar attitude. They exist because of their anti-American “Great Satan” ideology and getting the bomb is perceived as working against American interests. So even now with crippling sanctions….and the bold assassination of Soleimani, they push their nuclear ambitions forward and continue to be a regional irritant via terrorism and disruption.

    As with the Soviet Union, the collapse of the Islamic Republic will have to come from within….as Iranians see their ledership as the principle impediment to better lives. Of course Iranian prisons and graves are full of dissenters. My view is that Biden’s first jab at diplomacy is just too weak. Whatever deal brews it must have the possibility of opening up the fissures that will ultimately destabilize the regime. Again, no small task as the Mullahs understand their power source and saw what ceding ideological ground did for the Soviets. We can constrain Iran’s nuclear ambition, but not eliminate it. We can stand against Iranian internal and external abuses, but not engineer regime change. Theocratic autocracies are tough nuts to crack. Let’s not presume that there is an easy answer here.

    AJ_Liberty (3cb02f)

  18. 9. Nic (896fdf) — 3/23/2022 @ 7:56 pm

    He believes that something is better than nothing?

    I think that’s it, although it increasingly looks like it’s grasping at straws, with elements of 2 and 3 [loyalty, to his former boss, but really on the part of his appointees and Democrats in Congress plus undoing Trump – but they don’t undo everything]

    The deal has already collapsed. It collapsed when Russia wanted an exemption from the sanctions to help Iran build a nuclear power plant (permitted or encouraged under the new JCPOA deal, but forbidden under the Ukrainian war sanctions, enforced by potential secondary boycotts)

    All diplomats left Vienna.

    Sammy Finkelman (c04aa1)

  19. By the way, the JCPOA is nothing more than an informal agreement – it’s even called that. A “plan of action.”

    IF this, THEN that.

    Sammy Finkelman (c04aa1)

  20. Ugh, they would probably do that too

    Pray tell what’s the alternative method of correcting a president’s misuse of delegate power?

    Kevin M (38e250)

  21. He believes that something is better than nothing?

    I think it’s more a counting coup against Trump and the GOP, never mind the cost. As for “something being better than nothing”, well, it depends if that “something” is in your favor. Getting hit over the head is NOT better than not being hit over the head.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  22. IF this, THEN that.

    “If you plan, then we will” is not informal in any way.

    As in “If you plan to stop drinking, I will give you $1000.” They say OK and you hand over the money, but then they buy booze with it.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  23. Pray tell what’s the alternative method of correcting a president’s misuse of delegate power?

    Return to the proper role of the legislative branch serving as a check on the executive’s ability to negotiate and implement an “agreement” which is a treaty-in-everything-except-it’s-name. Stop treating the disease and start taking measures to prevent it.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  24. He believes that something is better than nothing?

    Something is better than nothing only if what you are willing to give up is lesser in value than what you are expecting to receive. If I buy a Mercedes Benz for $90,000 and then one week later sell it for $20,000, it’s kind of hard for me to justify that as “better than nothing,” especially if I really wasn’t forced to sell. Loosening restrictions on Iran (and Russia!) in exchange for some very tepid limits on weapons production — limits which we have every reason to believe they violated during the first go-around — is not one of those somethings that is better than nothing.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  25. “One of the things that I take some solace from is I don’t think you’ll find any European leader who thinks that I am not up to the job. And I mean that sincerely…” Joe Biden at Emergency NATO meeting in Brussels, 3/24/22

    He turns 80 on Nov. 20. The mere fact the issue was broached in that forum w/a war waging is terrifying.

    We’re so screwed.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  26. @JVW@23 I don’t think the legislative branch wants most of the powers they gave up, if they had them they might have to be responsible instead of acting like blowhards.

    Nic (896fdf)

  27. Biden administration may allow Russia to buy Iran’s excess enriched uranium under new nuclear deal

    ‘The Biden administration is considering allowing Russia to buy Iran’s excess enriched uranium under the terms of a new nuclear deal, U.S. officials said this week.

    Under the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPO) in 2015, Russia agreed to buy Irans excess uranium so that the regime could not build a nuclear weapon, a role that may be revived in the new deal. “Would it be a practical role for Russia to play the same role that it did in the JCPOA prior to the decision to withdraw from it, essentially to accept and to pay for the highly enriched uranium to get it out of Iran’s hands so that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon? I think that’s a role we’d be willing to entertain. Yes,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday.’

    W.T.F. So they can sprinkle it on Ukrainian wheat crops or in to their resevoirs, eh Joey?

    Attaboy, Joe.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  28. @JVW@23 I don’t think the legislative branch wants most of the powers they gave up, if they had them they might have to be responsible instead of acting like blowhards.

    That’s a reasonable fear, Nic, but there is that eternal hope that if you give a measure of responsibility to knuckleheads, sometimes they will actually grow into the role. Maybe a more assertive legislative branch would draw a higher quality of legislator, and perhaps voters would take their solemn duty to vet these miscreants a little more seriously. But then again, maybe not.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  29. Maybe a more assertive legislative branch would draw a higher quality of legislator

    Doubtful given the structure, methods, management and candidate financing necessary from the powers that be behind both of the current major parties.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  30. Last I heard, sanctions were supposed to be a weapon one wields against one’s enemies. If you’re imposing sanctions and hurting yourself and your allies, you’re doing it wrong. Food shortages- thankfully we have zoo meat to fall back on.

    mg (8cbc69)

  31. Who told you that we import food from Russia, mg?

    nk (1d9030)

  32. @17, it’s a combination of threats and rewards, which is tough. Trump’s rhetoric was maximally threatening, but it doesn’t appear that it was effective. Not sure Biden’s approach will be effective either. But this can’t be fixed by screaming ‘do what we want or else’

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  33. @30, Sanctions are a constraint on free trade and as such will harm both parties. In this case we will be denied access to the goods and services that Russia produces which will make us all less rich. If we’re smart about how we do them (so far so good) they will cause more poverty to Russia then to the rest of the world and demonstration a large cost to any nation (esp. China) that’s considering conquering nations allied with the US.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  34. The food shortage thing looks to me like just another one of these false predictions that people can make with overuse of statistics..

    The world is not at a tipping point.

    Prices, however, can rise. And places already having trouble (mostly because of war or bad government) can have it worse.

    Sammy Finkelman (c04aa1)

  35. Sometimes paying the peddler to bring you the geegaw from another place is worth it and sometimes it is not. Free trade is a mechanism, that you may use, or not, as it suits you, and anybody selling it to you as an unqualified good has his eye on your wallet.

    nk (1d9030)

  36. @35, On average free trade makes us all richer. But that doesn’t mean that every single person will be made better.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  37. In this particular instance, Mr. Google informs me that we import $69 million (that’s right, million, six zeros) worth of “food” from Tartary. Most of it in vegetable juices and oils. Which I consider a token to most favored nation status. I haven’t looked up 80% AK-74 receivers.

    nk (1d9030)

  38. Mental Intelligence Agency, nk.

    mg (8cbc69)

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