Once upon a time, Congress led the nation’s foreign policy on Iran, forcing one after another recalcitrant president to use our nation’s economic might to derail Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Once upon a time, even recalcitrant presidents looked better than European nations, which fawned over visiting Iranian trade missions and reciprocated with their own subsidized business deals. Yeah, that’s not the world we live in now.
When we say “Congress” leads the way on Iran these days, we often mean Senator Mark Kirk, who does so even after a debilitating stroke. When we say “recalcitrant presidents,” we mean one who won’t sanction the Iranian Central Bank unless forced to do so. And when we say “better than Europe,” we mean, um, worse than Europe, which now has sweeping financial and personal sanctions against Iranian leaders, terrorist supporters, etc.
The latest in this saga of pathetic degradation in international leadership is the tale of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, never exactly a tribune of foreign policy. Last week in the waning days before Easter recess, Reid brought up a decent enough bill, the Johnson-Shelby Iran Sanctions Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012, which adds a variety of sanctions to the smorgasbord now in place. Why did Reid bring the bill up? Not because he gives a rodent’s behind about the Iran issue, for sure, but because, reliable party man that he is, he wanted to ensure that it appeared so. And that’s his right as majority leader. What was amazing was his insistence that the Johnson-Shelby bill go forward without amendment, by unanimous consent, and his adamant refusal to accept amendments, despite requests from Ds and Rs alike that he do so.
One has to suppose that in an environment in which the president deems the Supreme Court a group of unelected hacks, the Senate no longer defends its constitutional prerogatives, and a guy with a stroke is the muscular general in the fight against Iran, nothing should surprise.