House Republicans are joining in the effort to sabotage diplomacy with Iran:
House leaders are planning to take up Senate legislation to enact new sanctions against Iran, a surprise move that would intensify a standoff between the White House and Congress in the wake of progress this past weekend in President Barack Obama’s diplomatic drive with Tehran.
Not that long ago, Ted Galen Carpenter discussed Congress’ habit for interfering in foreign policy when it was least appropriate while neglecting its proper responsibilities in matters of war, which he dubbed its “worst of both worlds approach.” The House bill on Iran sanctions is as good an illustration of that as any. When it came to the questions of bombing Libya and Syria, the House leadership was perfectly happy to defer to the executive, but when it comes to the conduct of diplomacy that is properly part of the executive’s responsibility they are only too ready to butt in and meddle where they aren’t wanted or needed. The one constant in this behavior is that most members of Congress find a way to take whichever side makes conflict with other states more likely. If the executive wants to launch a war on its own, Congress will stay out of the way, but if it wants to strike a deal that makes a future war less likely to happen they are suddenly very concerned to make their views known.
By itself, the House legislation does nothing except remind us once again how absurd the current House leadership is, but simply by pressing ahead with the legislation House leaders are giving Iran a ready-made excuse to become more intransigent or to pull out of negotiations all together. As James Fallows notes in his post on the Senate push for new sanctions, the excuse offered by hawkish Senate Democrats that they want to put the U.S. in a stronger bargaining position isn’t the least bit credible, and the same applies to what House Republicans are trying to do with their bill.