Democrats and the Ayatollahs

Democrats and the Ayatollahs

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Source: The Wall Street Journal (Democrats and the Ayatollahs)

Obama’s party is now accountable for Iranian behavior.

Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski on Wednesday became the 34th Senate Democrat to announce her support for President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, enough to sustain a veto on a resolution of disapproval. So the deal will proceed, and Democrats had better hope it succeeds because they are taking responsibility for Iran’s compliance and imperial ambitions. Politically speaking, they now own the Ayatollahs.

The Democratic co-owners include Vice President Joe Biden, presidential front-runnerHillary Clinton and nearly every member of the Congressional leadership. While New York Senator Chuck Schumer came out early against the deal, he has done nothing publicly to rally opponents. His silence suggests he has long known Mr. Obama would have enough votes to prevail.

Democrats will reinforce their ownership if they now use a Senate filibuster to block a vote on the motion of disapproval. More than 50 Senators are expected to oppose the deal, and a large bipartisan majority will oppose it in the House. Yet the White House is pushing for 41 Senate Democrats to enforce a filibuster, so that a bipartisan motion of disapproval dies in the Senate and Mr. Obama wouldn’t have to veto.

But what a spectacle that would be—the President’s party using a procedural dodge to avoid voting on the merits of so consequential a deal. Previous arms-control pacts of this magnitude were submitted as treaties requiring two-thirds approval by the Senate. Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats maneuvered the Iran deal as an “executive agreement,” so he is able to commit America to trusting the Ayatollahs with the support of a mere partisan minority. At least ObamaCare had a partisan majority.

As with ObamaCare, the polls now show more than half of the public is opposed to the Iran deal—despite Mr. Obama’s vigorous promotion and a cheerleading media. Also like ObamaCare, the President is assuring Democrats that public support will improve once the pact goes into effect.

But this makes Democrats hostage to Iran’s behavior. This means hostage to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who recently said that “even after this deal our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change.”

It means hostage to Mohammad Yazdi, head of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts, who declared this week that “we should not change our foreign policy of opposition to America, our number one enemy, whose crimes are uncountable.” Ayatollah Yazdi will play a large role in selecting Ayatollah Khamenei’s successor.

And it means hostage to Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which will receive billions of dollars in cash once sanctions are lifted. Mr. Soleimani is likely to deploy that cash to fund terrorism and proxies fighting in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza. Democrats will have essentially voted to finance Iran’s combination of Persian imperialism and Shiite messianism.

Some Democrats like Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey have been candid enough to admit the risk of Iranian imperialism contained in the nuclear deal. But Mr. Casey justified his support this week on grounds that the accord will at least prevent Iran’s nuclear progress for a decade.

It’s true that Democrats will be able to count on the reluctance of the U.S. and U.N. nuclear inspectors to call Iran on any violations. That would mean a showdown that could cause Iran to expel the inspectors, much as North Korea once did. So we are likely to have an inspections process much like it was a decade ago under former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, who treated signs of Iran’s cheating skeptically.

Yet all evidence suggests that Iranian leaders are bent on building a bomb, and without a democratic revolution they will look for loopholes in the deal to exploit. All the more so because they view the agreement as an Iranian negotiating triumph. The habit of the regime is to treat weaker opponents with contempt, which means they will cheat in small ways and dare the U.S. to do something about it.

Meantime, Democrats will also have to worry how Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt respond to Iran becoming a nuclear-threshold state. Democrats are accountable if a nuclear arms race breaks out in the Middle East.

***

The Iran deal is one of those watershed foreign-policy moments when history will remember where politicians stood. Mr. Obama has said as much by conceding that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, “it’s my name on this.” By forming a partisan phalanx to let Mr. Obama overcome bipartisan opposition, Democrats have also put their names on it.

Democrats and the Ayatollahs

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