Maneuvers in the Senate making it possible for the United States to approve the deal the international community concluded with Iran over its nuclear program were messy but correct, and very much in the nation’s interest.
Although lawmakers debated who won and who lost in last Thursday’s Senate action to block a Republican resolution to reject the accord, what is clear is that the United States was victorious. If Congress had scuttled U.S. participation in the agreement, arrived at through years of hard negotiations by U.S. representatives including three Cabinet officers, the costs to America would have been substantial.
First of all, the rest of the world, including the U.S. partners in the deal — China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — would simply have moved along in implementing the agreement through the International Atomic Energy Agency, leaving the United States hopelessly hamstrung by its own governmental process. That predicament also would have hindered America’s participation in any future effort to tackle a similar international problem through collective negotiation.
U.S. adherence will strengthen the agreement immeasurably and help ensure that Iran respects its terms over the long haul. There is also no question that America’s enforcement of economic sanctions against Iran were critical to its finally knuckling under to curbing its nascent nuclear program. If Iran slips in observing the accord, the resumption of sanctions by the United States will be crucial to making it step back in line.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have learned from the experience that Americans are not enthusiastic about foreign leaders interfering in important U.S. policy decisions. Nor are they necessarily responsive to lobbying efforts that try to tilt the table, such as those of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent $30 million opposing the accord.
All in all, senators who worked to keep the Iran deal on track acted clearly in America’s interests.