Secretary of State John Kerry went to talk to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Iran Deal on Thursday. He had one major point to prove — the nuclear agreement may not be perfect, the United States may have a number of other problems with Iran, and it may not solve the long-term problem of what Iran might do with nuclear enrichment decades from now, but it is definitely better than nothing.
Foreign Relations Committee chair Senator Bob Corker walked into the meeting skeptical, telling Kerry, “Not unlike a hotel guest that leaves only with a hotel bathrobe on his back, I believe that you’ve been fleeced.” Another senator said that the diplomats had been “bamboozled.”
At a minimum, the Obama administration needs to convince 34 senators or 146 House members that the deal is a good idea, or else Congress can override the veto the president will issue if lawmakers vote against it.
“The alternative to the deal we’ve reached isn’t what we’re seeing ads for on TV,” Kerry told the senators. “It isn’t a better deal, some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation. That’s a fantasy, plain and simple.”
Complete capitulation is exactly what several Republican presidential candidates said the U.S. should have waited for — a convenient request to make if your current job is to complain about government and conjure hypothetical situations in which you are always able to give voters exactly what they want without having to deal with meddling complexities or political reality. “I would have continued to put pressure on this regime to capitulate,” Rick Santorum said. “What we have here is not a capitulation.”
Kerry made a world in which the Iran deal didn’t pass sound as dramatically horrifying as those who said its success would be “the first fateful step toward a frenzied nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
“We will have squandered the best chance we have to solve this problem through peaceful means,” he warned.
Congress — which will be out of D.C. much of August thanks to summer recess — has to decide what to do with the agreement by September 17.