The Obama Administration is in the midst of an open fight with the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Congress. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced negotiations viewed as historic between the United States and its allies with Iran over its nuclear program. The negotiations have attracted international support and are viewed as a rare opportunity after the change in leadership in Tehran. Netanyahu however has called upon the pro-Israel lobby to scuttle the diplomatic efforts by imposing new sanctions against Iran. Despite that fact that new sanctions would eliminate allies and be widely viewed as evidence of bad faith by the United States, AIPAC and AJC easily pushed through the sanctions in the House and they are viewed as making strides in the Senate despite the opposition of the White House.
The ease of passing these sanctions shows the impressive strength of the groups in Congress. Administration officials have denounced the sanctions as a thinly disguised “march to war.” Indeed, as they have previously discussed, various members of Congress have been hankering for a new war against Iran with the support of well-known hawks.
I have little faith or trust in Iran which continues to be an oppressive regime that supports extremism and terrorism throughout the world while denying basic human rights to its people at home. However, it is relatively rare in our system to see a direct effort to block a diplomatic mission, particularly at the encouragement of a foreign leader. Congress does have a role in foreign relations and is within its rights to seek legislation of this kind. While some advocates of expansive executive power have suggested that such legislation can violate Article II in the interference of a president’s inherent authority over foreign relations, the framers clearly wanted such powers to be shared as evidenced in the Senate’s sole authority to approve treaties as well as the confirmation of nominees for foreign postings.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the intent behind the sanction is obvious: to leave no alternative to war: “It is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options, then, do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon? . . . The American people do not want a march to war.”
We very well could be seeing the successful scuttling of the last and most promising effort toward peace. It is also an impressive win for Benjamin Netanyahu who seems to have greater pull in Congress than Obama.
Source: Foreign Policy