Joe Biden’s defense of the Obama administration’s policy for appeasement of Iran is most notable for its parallels to the strategies being employed by Congress to stop it. Last night, the Vice President told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that the P5+1 has no real way to stop Iran from building at least eight nuclear weapons in the short term. The best policy to pursue, Biden explained, is to cozy up to the regime in the hopes that they won’t bother to fulfill their two-decade pursuit of nuclear hegemony, or worse:
Iran would have enough enriched uranium within three months to be able to make up to eight nuclear weapons if negotiations with the international community blow up, Vice President Joe Biden said late Thursday, noting that “the path has already been paved” for that outcome. …
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other,” Biden said. “They already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material. Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.” …
“President Obama, decided for the first time — people forget this — to make it an explicit, declared policy of the United States of America, no such policy existed before President Obama uttered it — that all instruments of American power to prevent — not contain, not contain — to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran would be used to prevent that from happening,” Biden said.
In other words, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, or perhaps more accurately, hope they join you. Good luck with that. I doubt Israel is as sanguine about those prospects.
Bear in mind that this was a defense of the administration that has been in charge of foreign policy for the last six years. They’ve tightened the screws on sanctions during that time, and so has Congress, but they’ve also been insisting for most of that time that Iran was years away from building a bomb. All during that time, Iran has insisted that they weren’t planning to build nuclear weapons and that their infrastructure was entirely aimed at medical and energy-producing technologies. Now, suddenly, Biden accepts the Israeli estimate of 90 days to a nuclear device, and says that’s why we have to make a deal now, with the same entities who Biden tacitly admits has been lying the whole time.
Er … okay.
What can Congress do to stop this? Not much, as it turns out, because the Obama administration has the authority to temporarily suspend most sanctions for months at a stretch. The Corker-Menendez effort attempts to give Congress a way to block that authority, which Obama initially opposed, but suddenly changed his mind and now supports. If it passed and Obama signs it into law, Congress could vote to disapprove the deal and force sanctions to remain in place, a measure that Obama could veto — and it would be almost impossible to override it unless the deal was so bad that his core of support among Senate Democrats simply couldn’t swallow it.
In a meeting with conservative writers yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner wondered about that change of heart, but also insisted that the bill was the only leverage Congress would get. “We have no role [now],” Boehner said. “Would I like to see a stronger bill? It is what it is.” When asked whether Republicans in Congress saw any way to stop a bad deal from happening, Boehner replied, “Today we have no ability. We’re looking for every piece of leverage we can get.” As Allahpundit noted last night, though, it might be better to have Congress wash its hands of the deal altogether rather than to rely on 13 Senate Democrats to help sustain a veto override, and give Obama the talking point that he took the deal to Congress and they didn’t block it.