Home/Daniel Larison/The Iran Hawks’ All-or-Nothing Mentality

The Iran Hawks’ All-or-Nothing Mentality

Iran hawk Marc Thiessen wants the Corker-Cardin bill to fail:

The Iran deal is a disaster. No, I’m not talking about the nuclear agreement President Obama is negotiating with Tehran (though that is a disaster, too), but rather the Iran deal that Obama cut with Congress.

Thiessen’s problem with the bill is that it does not include enough of the deal-killing provisions that Iran hawks want. He and the senators that agree with him want to “blow up” the Corker-Cardin bill. If that happens, it ought to help block further Congressional meddling on this issue. Obama will be able to say that he tried working with the Senate, but that the majority refused to cooperate. Supporters of diplomacy with Iran should be encouraged by the hard-liners’ tantrums in this case. The Corker-Cardin bill still gives Iran hawks more of what they want than what they would get without it. However, because it doesn’t give them everything they want, most of them seem eager to accept nothing. That is what they will get if they amend the bill as they desire and Obama then vetoes it, but this doesn’t seem to matter to them.

This all-or-nothing approach is very similar to the approach that the Iran hawks have taken with the nuclear negotiations. In that case, hard-liners have insisted on unrealistic demands that Iran would never accept (e.g., zero enrichment, dismantling the entire program, etc.), and they have considered anything short of Iran’s total capitulation to be appeasement. The hawks oppose any concessions, no matter how minimal, because these represent a compromise with Iran. If Iran hawks had had their way over the last two years, the talks would never have begun or would have broken down by now, and Iran’s nuclear program would be under none of the restrictions that it is. Any achievable deal necessarily falls short of their impossible standard, but then they’re not really interested in reaching a deal and never have been. If the Iranian nuclear program can’t be completely eliminated, Iran hawks would apparently rather that Iran have an unconstrained nuclear program that they can proceed to use for future fear-mongering.

If Senate Republicans choose to vote down the Corker-Cardin bill because they consider it to be too “weak,” they will be helping the negotiations with Iran in spite of themselves.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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