Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan sought Senate approval of arms control treaties. But President Barack Obama has evaded the U.S. Constitution that requires two-thirds Senate approval for a treaty. That’s why he keeps calling “it” a “deal.” Instead, in Obama’s upside-down world, the burden shifts: two-thirds of both the Senate and House must override a certain presidential veto of expected Congressional disapproval. Even such a resolution of disapproval is now problematic, because Obama, to avoid an embarrassing rebuke, encourages Senate Democrats to filibuster.
Where is Donald Trump in all this? Trump has the genesis partly right. He says it was incompetent John Kerry against the Persians (“great negotiators who have no respect for him, he falls off bicycles at 73”). Actually our chief negotiator (Trump would love this) was Wendy Sherman, with a degree in sociology. She was a social worker before becoming director of the pro-abortion EMILY’s list. But presumably Sherman is qualified, because she negotiated similarly with North Korea. How did that go? That nation is now a nuclear military power led by megalomaniac Kim Jong-un.
About that agreement President Bill Clinton said, “This is a good deal for the United States. North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected.” Substitute “Iran” for North Korea and “Israel” for South Korea, and you have current Obama-Kerry rhetoric.
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act of 2015, President Obama was required to submit to Congress the entire agreement, including, explicitly, any related “side agreements.” But Obama failed to submit the secret protocols with the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As constitutional lawyer David Rivkin has pointed out, this omission means the 60-day Congressional review period never started, and, this is critical: the president cannot waive sanctions against Iran.
Today Donald Trump is drawing media coverage at the “Stop the Iran Deal” Rally in Washington. That’s good for the cause. Mr. Trump, for better or worse, defines news. During August, new disclosures almost daily revealed the deal was even worse than imagined, but the media barely covered these revelations. Indeed, the special interests, lobbyists and foreign business interests that Trump rails against – these are the beneficiaries behind this sell-out deal. Donald Trump, instead of engaging in personality disputes for the last four weeks, could have owned this issue. And in the process, he would have become a leader in national security. He still can.
This is serious foreign policy, not a trivia contest. Arguably, Hugh Hewitt did ask “gotcha questions” for Trump to identify Qasem Soleimani, Hassan Nasrallah, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdad. What’s next, a pronunciation quiz? But Hewitt is right — knowing the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah is consequential. If Trump had studied the Iran deal even slightly, he would have known Hezbollah is Iran’s proxy in Lebanon. And that Iran will use money provided by Obama to improve Hezbollah’s rockets to start a war against Israel.
Trump also would known all this is about much more than Israel. This deal establishes Iranian hegemony over the region, funds a geometric expansion of terror, and destabilizes the region with a renewed conventional arms race and cataclysmic nuclear proliferation. This deal also is contrary to U.S national security because it provides a pathway for Iran, with or without cheating, to create an offensive nuclear capability, including a delivery system to attack the United States.
Donald Trump is a master negotiator. He has explained how a Trump administration would have negotiated with Iran, and I believe him. Apply more pressure and increase sanctions. No negotiations until four hostages are released. Keep use of force on the table, walk away if necessary. Any agreement would delay and stagger sanctions relief, only as unrestricted inspections verify compliance.
This is arguably much easier than identifying, finding and rounding up, and then transporting and deporting, upwards of twelve million men, women and children in the United States illegally.
Mr. Trump, has had his share of revolving partnerships, corporate restructurings and bankruptcies. He knows how to pick up the pieces and put them back together. He is strong and decisive. He is known to drive a hard bargain. But a deal is a deal, and you keep your word. Yet, if there is a loophole, your lawyers find it. This is not a done deal until the Fat Lady sings, and that’s Congress. There is still time to turn this around. You say politicians are all talk. What are you doing at this rally today? David Rivkin is your kind of lawyer. Call him up and show us what you’re made of.