Blogs: Paul Pillar

Congress and Attempts to Kill the Iran Deal

Paul Pillar

They don't make Arthur Vandenbergs any more. The Vandenberg of the 1940s, the one who cooperated with Truman, would not be welcome in today's Republican Party. Perhaps the closest thing to a modern-day counterpart is Richard Lugar—who isn't in Congress anymore, after losing a primary election to a Tea Party candidate a couple of years ago.

In the political reality on Capitol Hill today, any administration outreach regarding Iran immediately runs into two strong, obstinate, and uncooperative tendencies. One is the determination by the rightist government of Israel to do all it can to prevent agreement between the United States and Iran—with everything that determination implies regarding effects on U.S. politics. Some of AIPAC's napkins have become frayed over the last year or so, but the lobby is still formidable. The other is the tendency among many Republican members of Congress to oppose whatever Barack Obama proposes, and especially anything that would be considered a signature achievement for the president. If members vote more than three dozen times to repeal a health care law, some of the same members will similarly and reflexively oppose what would be a leading foreign policy achievement by Obama—next to getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but members cannot do anything to prevent the commander-in-chief from doing that, just as diehard proponents of the Vietnam War could not prevent Nixon from getting out of that conflict.

The terms of an Iranian nuclear agreement are still under negotiation, but probably the implementation of each side's obligations will be phased and gradual. It would be sensible, as well as politically realistic, for Congress's necessary involvement to be phased in gradually as well, and certainly not to take the form of quickie votes. Probably the initial phases of sanctions relief would rely on executive action. Only later, after implementation of the agreement has become a going concern and both sides have had a chance to demonstrate their seriousness about compliance with the agreement, will Congress have to play its role with legislation.

Image: Wikicommons.

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An Arbitrary End Versus No End in Afghanistan

Paul Pillar

They don't make Arthur Vandenbergs any more. The Vandenberg of the 1940s, the one who cooperated with Truman, would not be welcome in today's Republican Party. Perhaps the closest thing to a modern-day counterpart is Richard Lugar—who isn't in Congress anymore, after losing a primary election to a Tea Party candidate a couple of years ago.

In the political reality on Capitol Hill today, any administration outreach regarding Iran immediately runs into two strong, obstinate, and uncooperative tendencies. One is the determination by the rightist government of Israel to do all it can to prevent agreement between the United States and Iran—with everything that determination implies regarding effects on U.S. politics. Some of AIPAC's napkins have become frayed over the last year or so, but the lobby is still formidable. The other is the tendency among many Republican members of Congress to oppose whatever Barack Obama proposes, and especially anything that would be considered a signature achievement for the president. If members vote more than three dozen times to repeal a health care law, some of the same members will similarly and reflexively oppose what would be a leading foreign policy achievement by Obama—next to getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but members cannot do anything to prevent the commander-in-chief from doing that, just as diehard proponents of the Vietnam War could not prevent Nixon from getting out of that conflict.

The terms of an Iranian nuclear agreement are still under negotiation, but probably the implementation of each side's obligations will be phased and gradual. It would be sensible, as well as politically realistic, for Congress's necessary involvement to be phased in gradually as well, and certainly not to take the form of quickie votes. Probably the initial phases of sanctions relief would rely on executive action. Only later, after implementation of the agreement has become a going concern and both sides have had a chance to demonstrate their seriousness about compliance with the agreement, will Congress have to play its role with legislation.

Image: Wikicommons.

Pages

Pope Francis and the Middle East Peace Process

Paul Pillar

They don't make Arthur Vandenbergs any more. The Vandenberg of the 1940s, the one who cooperated with Truman, would not be welcome in today's Republican Party. Perhaps the closest thing to a modern-day counterpart is Richard Lugar—who isn't in Congress anymore, after losing a primary election to a Tea Party candidate a couple of years ago.

In the political reality on Capitol Hill today, any administration outreach regarding Iran immediately runs into two strong, obstinate, and uncooperative tendencies. One is the determination by the rightist government of Israel to do all it can to prevent agreement between the United States and Iran—with everything that determination implies regarding effects on U.S. politics. Some of AIPAC's napkins have become frayed over the last year or so, but the lobby is still formidable. The other is the tendency among many Republican members of Congress to oppose whatever Barack Obama proposes, and especially anything that would be considered a signature achievement for the president. If members vote more than three dozen times to repeal a health care law, some of the same members will similarly and reflexively oppose what would be a leading foreign policy achievement by Obama—next to getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but members cannot do anything to prevent the commander-in-chief from doing that, just as diehard proponents of the Vietnam War could not prevent Nixon from getting out of that conflict.

The terms of an Iranian nuclear agreement are still under negotiation, but probably the implementation of each side's obligations will be phased and gradual. It would be sensible, as well as politically realistic, for Congress's necessary involvement to be phased in gradually as well, and certainly not to take the form of quickie votes. Probably the initial phases of sanctions relief would rely on executive action. Only later, after implementation of the agreement has become a going concern and both sides have had a chance to demonstrate their seriousness about compliance with the agreement, will Congress have to play its role with legislation.

Image: Wikicommons.

Pages

Pages