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On Iran Nuclear Deal

The linked article has more to do with the content and impact of the Obama Iran deal Trump just scrapped, but there should be equal focus on HOW it was done and how it was scrapped. Hyper-partisan shouting has replaced process and debate in Washington; that’s hardly a revelation. It certainly didn’t start with Trump. But it has real repercussions and this is an excellent example. The Iran deal was done without Senate ratification and therefore it’s not a treaty that would also require the Senate to participate in ripping it up. As Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse put it well, “live by the presidency, die by the presidency.”

If you’re okay with ‘your’ president getting his way and doing what you think is right by evading checks and balances and consensus, you have little room to complain when a president who isn’t your guy does the same. And arguing only merits while ignoring the importance of process becomes demagoguery, not democracy. That’s why the American Founding Fathers built in so many checks and balances. They looked around the world at all the monarchs and dictators and constant wars and realized that deliberation and even political gridlock was far preferable. Stretching and breaking the system inevitably leads to further abuses and further extremes.

I’ve been consistent on principles on this, not about party. I was a critic of the Iran deal at the time, and not merely of how Obama went about achieving it. And I’m obviously no fan of Trump’s at all. These are symptoms of a gravely ill system, one that will only get sicker if people act like the best response to extremism and abuse of power is more of the same from the other side of the aisle.

As a related note, it’s hypocritical blame the “obstructionist GOP Senate” for not approving what Obama wanted. That’s part of their responsibility as elected representatives of the American people. If you don’t like what they do, vote them out, don’t go around them. So “Trump is breaking America’s word!” isn’t exactly the case, because it was Obama’s word, without Congress, on the type of agreement intended to go before the legislature. And if you were happy to make huge commitments like this on the president’s word, this is what can happen. (And when Obama was asked why he didn’t strike Assad as he promised he would when the Syrian dictator used chemical weapons in 2013, Obama said it was because he wouldn’t get Congressional approval!) This type of inconsistency, one administration to the next, is fatal for any strategic planning, reliable relationships with allies, and deterrence of enemies.

Lastly, the other signatories of the Iran deal include Russia and China, who have very different agendas in the region, especially Putin’s Russia, as we’re seeing in Syria. Among the US allies, Germany and France in particular were very eager to do business with Iran without caring at all about the Iranian dictatorship’s brutality at home and sponsorship of terror regionally and worldwide.

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