Key US Senate Republican Mark Kirk slammed the White House’s push to delay new sanctions against Iran on Wednesday, comparing the Obama administration’s actions to Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Nazi Germany before World War II.
Kirk’s comments have received a lot of attention, because they were supposed to reflect the degree to which Senate Republicans were put off by Kerry’s briefing on negotiations with Iran, but if anything Kirk just confirmed that there was nothing that Kerry could have said that would have made any difference to him. Kirk’s position earlier in the year was that Obama is a new Chamberlain and Geneva is a new Munich, and he still holds the same view despite the fact that the comparisons are completely absurd. He is proudly declaring just how unreasonable and foolish he is on this issue.
Kirk also complained that the briefing was “fairly anti-Israeli,” but this claim coming from Kirk cannot be taken at face value. Kirk is hardly a good judge of what “anti-Israeli” means when his hard-line position on Iran practically requires him to define anything short of that position as an “anti-Israel” one. Note that Israel’s government publicly denounced the potential deal in Geneva before it was finished, and has gone out of its way to encourage opposition to the negotiations, so there was bound to be substantial disagreement between the U.S. and Israeli positions in any briefing that the senators received. If Kerry’s briefing was “anti-Israeli,” would that make Netanyahu’s public statements in recent weeks “anti-American”? Somehow I doubt that Kirk would see it that way.
The problem that Kirk and other disgruntled senators have is that their position–piling on additional sanctions even as negotiations continue–is a ridiculous one that will undermine diplomacy. As John Hudson reports:
“Additional sanctions are unnecessary and could put us in a more difficult spot,” Bob Einhorn, who recently left the State Department as its Iran arms control envoy, told The Cable. “It would play into the arguments of Iranian hardliners that the U.S. isn’t interested in a nuclear deal. It would also have the broader international impact of portraying us in a less reasonable light than the Iranians and thereby eroding support for sanctions.”
The senators that want to impose more sanctions on Iran at this point are demonstrating their lack of interest in a diplomatic solution, and they are reminding us once again why we should be paying no attention to their alarmism.