At the New York Times website this morning, if you dig down under stories on the Donald Trump Circus, you will find a one-line link, buried beneath several other one-line links, to a report titled, “U.N. Vote on Iran Nuclear Deal Irks Congress.” Further burying the lede, you must scour down to a passing reference in paragraph four to find a glimmer of the real story: The Obama administration has already raced to the United Nations Security Council to spearhead action, today, that would adopt Obama’s Iran deal in a resolution that will begin the deal’s implementation.
The Times tut-tuts that this has left the people’s representatives in Congress “irked,” that lawmakers of both parties are “complaining that the Security Council action, expected Monday morning, would pre-empt the congressional debate.”
Of course, the point is not that Congress’s pride is hurt. It is that the Constitution and the capacity of the American people to determine their own national interests are being torn asunder.
The Times report begins:
During the closed-door talks in Vienna on limiting Iran’s nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry argued that the United Nations Security Council should not vote on lifting sanctions on Iran until Congress had a chance to review the deal. But he ran into a wall of opposition from Iran, Russia and even the United States’ closest European allies, who argued successfully that Security Council action should come first, according to Western officials.
In sum, the Obama administration has acceded to these demands by foreign sovereigns – some of which are enemies of the United States, and none of which guards the interests of the United States – that legal action imposing obligations on the American people be taken by those sovereigns not only before action is taken by the American people’s representatives but in violation of our Constitution.
I warned in March that this was where we were heading. Back then, Senator Tom Cotton was under attack by the Obama administration and the media for pointing out that the Constitution did not permit the president to impose enforceable international legal duties on the United States in the absence of congressional authorization (i.e., a treaty or laws enacted under the Constitution’s legislative procedure). Senator Cotton explained that, without congressional authorization, Obama’s deal would be a mere executive agreement which could be rescinded at any time by a future president (indeed, by Obama himself).
Employing a now-familiar “No Drama Obama” lulling strategy, administration officials did not confront Cotton on the substance of his sound constitutional argument. They instead demagogued him for purportedly violating protocol by interfering with the executive’s conduct of foreign policy, a theme the Obamedia predictable ran with.
As I pointed out at the time, though, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif could not help himself but reveal the transnational-progressive, jihadist-friendly, anti-constitutional strategy:
According to Zarif, the deal under negotiation “will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the U.S., but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.” He hoped it would “enrich the knowledge” of the 47 senators [whos signed the Cotton Letter] to learn that “according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement.” To do so would be “a material breach of U.S. obligations,” rendering America a global outlaw….
Clearly, Obama and the mullahs figure they can run the following stunt: We do not need another treaty approved by Congress because the United States has already ratified the U.N. charter and thus agreed to honor Security Council resolutions. We do not need new statutes because the Congress, in enacting Iran-sanctions legislation, explicitly gave the president the power to waive those sanctions. All we need is to have the Security Council issue a resolution that codifies Congress’s existing sanctions laws with Obama’s waiver. Other countries involved in the negotiations — including Germany, Russia, and China, which have increasingly lucrative trade with Iran — will then very publicly rely on the completed deal. The U.N. and its army of transnational-progressive bureaucrats and lawyers will deduce from this reliance a level of global consensus that incorporates the agreement into the hocus-pocus corpus of customary law. Maybe they’ll even get Justice Ginsburg to cite it glowingly in a Supreme Court ruling. Voila, we have a binding agreement — without any congressional input — that the United States is powerless to alter under international law.
This is the scheme that is going forward … today … at the Security Council.
What is happening would be damaging, but less so, had it not been for the transnational-progressive contingent in Congress – including such Republicans as Senators Bob Corker, John McCain and Lindsey Graham – who pushed through the Corker Bill. Without this legislation supporting Obama’s scheme, the enforceability of the Iran deal would hinge on the brazen theory that “international law” supersedes the Constitution – the theory Zarif gave voice to and that the American Left subscribes to.
#related#Wait a second, how could I say the Corker Bill supports Obama’s Iran deal when its purpose is to subject the Iran deal to congressional scrutiny? Because if you think that’s the Corker Bill’s purpose, you’ve been snookered by Beltway poseurs pretending to be outraged that Obama is going to the U.N. before going to Congress.
If you read what the Corker Bill actually says, rather than what its champions say about it, you learn that (a) it fully endorses all aspects of the Iran deal except the permanent lifting of congressional sanctions, and (b) as I’ve previously explained, even as to congressional sanctions, it adopts a process that enables Obama to lift them permanently.
The Corker Bill clearly states that it “does not require a vote by Congress for the agreement [i.e., Obama’s Iran deal] to commence.” Rather, the legislation only “provides for congressional review … on statutory sanctions relief.” That is, if you are a lawmaker who voted for the Corker Bill, you voted to allow Obama to go ahead with every facet of his Iran deal other than the narrow aspect of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program enacted by acts of Congress. Meaning: the administration will plausibly contend, you authorized the president to go ahead and lift sanctions that were not imposed by statute, and with the other provisions of the deal unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program – restrictions on ballistic missiles, lifting the arms embargo, lifting the sanctions imposed due to Iran’s promotion of terrorism and weapons proliferation, and providing material support to Iran’s economy and its energy research and development capacity (that can easily be converted to advances in nuclear capabilities).
We should be asking each lawmaker who voted for the Corker Bill: If you did not want Obama to go to the Security Council before Congress could review the deal, why did you vote in the Corker Bill to allow the deal to commence without a vote from Congress? And why did you limit Congress’s review to statutory sanctions when there are so many other elements to the Iran deal – elements blatantly contrary to American national interests.
At the U.N. today, the Obama administration is colluding with our enemies and other foreign sovereigns to deprive the American people – through their elected representatives – of the power to determine what obligations they will accept under international law. The Obama administration has taken the position that Russia, China, and, yes, Iran, have a vote on our national security, but we do not. And in this betrayal, Congress has, at best, been a witless aider and abettor.
But by all means, let’s get back to the Donald Trump Circus.