Democrats defy White House, move on sanctions on Iran.

Senate Democrats defy White House, move on sanctions on Iran.

“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,” Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.” [Huffington Post]

IT DOESN’T get any more depressing than this when it comes to Middle East policy. The Senate, led by Democrats, now seems to have a veto-proof majority on the Iran sanctions bill that will screw the Obama administration and place Secretary John Kerry’s efforts on nuclear weapons and Iran in jeopardy.

The statement by Ms. Meehan has it right. Confrontation is what Democratic and Republican senators obviously want or they wouldn’t be so stupid as to give the reformers the finger.

A group of national security experts sent a letter to the Senate this past week asking them to pull the Iran sanctions bill.

Earlier I wrote what Robin Wright had to say about the current situation with Iran if WMD negotiations fail. One point she made was that it would lead to less freedom for women in Iran if the hardliners win, which can only happen with America’s help.

Democrats went a long way to scuttling Iranian reform by signing on to the sanctions bill in the middle of negotiations. It’s nothing less than diplomatic malpractice.

The statement of Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman:

This bill is in direct contradiction to the Administration’s work to peacefully resolve the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program. We know that this proposed legislation would divide the international community, drive the Iranians to take a harder line, and possibly end negotiations. This bill would have a negative bearing on the sanctions regime too. Let us not forget: sanctions work because we convinced our partners to take the steps that we seek. If our partners no longer believe that we are serious about finding a negotiated solution, then our sanctions regime would suffer.

If Congress passes this bill, it will be proactively taking an action that will make diplomacy less likely to succeed. The American people have been clear that they prefer a peaceful resolution to this issue. If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so. Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.

The President has been clear that he has a responsibility to fully test whether we can achieve a comprehensive solution through diplomatic means, before he pursues alternatives. Passing new sanctions legislation right now will undermine our efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution.