Defense31 March 2015

Notes from Norm: A Red Line the President Should Not Cross

Tuesday, March 31st represents a day when a group called the P5+1, have set a deadline to conclude talks regarding limits on Iran’s nuclear program.

The nations, which include Germany and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, depending on the time of day, and which media outlet is reporting on it, are either closer than ever before to an agreement – or far apart on the critical remaining issues.  

Secretary of State John Kerry, in the last 24 hours, said that there remain “tricky issues” when trying to finalize an agreement.

The word “tricky” may be the most appropriate word one can use to describe the machinations the Obama Administration has undergone to try to reach an agreement – any agreement – with Iran.

Over the weekend Iran made it clear they will not accept any agreement that would mandate delivering fissile material to Russian. The fact that removing this material from their hands is key to removing their ability to create a nuclear bomb is another reminder where Iran ultimately wants to be when it comes to their nuclear ambitions.

Beyond the “tricky” matter of keeping a key ingredient from Iran being able to bake a nuclear bomb is the question of the future of Iran’s nuclear ambitions – and Iran’s insistence that sanctions on the nation must disappear if any final agreement is to be reached.

Equally important, if sanctions are eased, what will be the trigger to make them snap back in place, and how quickly will that happen?

The Washington Post reported this week that a vast majority of Americans support a negotiated agreement with Iran.

That being said, Pew did its own survey where 63% say Iranian leaders are not serious “about addressing international concerns about their country’s nuclear enrichment program.”

If a nuclear agreement is reached, most Americans (62%) want Congress to have final authority over the deal. Just 29% say President Obama should have final authority over any nuclear agreement with Iran.

Interestingly enough, the Washington Post poll also shows that only 38% of Americans actually approve the President’s handling of relations with Iran.

On one hand the vast majority of Americans, myself included, believe a negotiated agreement with Iran, with our allies and partners, is preferable to any military action to stop the country from developing nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the vast majority of Americans, myself included, don’t believe that Iran is remotely serious about a substantive agreement or, for that matter, if an agreement is reached has any intention of honoring it.

Americans don’t trust the President to effectively manage the negotiations and more importantly, do not believe he is able to deliver an agreement that will have a lasting impact on Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb and threaten and intimidate its neighbors.

President Obama demands that Congress defer to him on any agreement that is reached with Iran.

Yet, the American people don’t want Congress to do any such thing.

The American people have drawn a Red Line when it comes to final approval of any agreement the President reaches with Iran:  They want Congress, not the President, to make the final decision on any agreement with Iran.

It should be comforting to know Americans reject the President’s continued insistence that he should alone dictate the terms of any agreement with Iran.

Unfortunately, this reality probably will have the opposite effect.

The President has a “vision” of a Middle East that will ultimately result in a void of American leadership and presence.

In the ensuing vacuum, President Obama manufactures the notion that he alone is capable of understanding the true needs of safety and security in the region.

That he has yet to be right on a single instance of foreign policy in the Middle East doesn’t discourage this President.

On the contrary, he remains confident that repeated failure will ultimately result in a single, defining moment in time that changes everything.

Which is what his obsession has been, and remains, in negotiating with the least trustworthy regime in the Middle East.

For President Obama, the key the future of safety, security and stability in the Middle East lies not with our strongest, most consistent ally, Israel, and others that have stood with us for generations, but with the most violent, deceitful and destructive enemy this county has had for nearly four decades.

In the hours and days ahead the President will ramp rhetoric that will focus on vilifying those e committed to standing in the way of his unilateral approach to negotiating with the hostile nation of Iran.

Vilifying Congress is nothing new to this President.

But vilifying the American people is a Red Line even this President should not cross.