Telling us what we knew, Shaun Waterman reports that the 112th Congress “will seek to hold the Obama administration’s feet to the fire on the implementation of sanctions against Iran, undercutting the president’s diplomatic efforts to stifle Tehran’s nuclear ambitions”:
[A Republican House] staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Iran issue, and especially the implementation of new sanctions legislation, likely would be near the top of the committee’s agenda. Republicans had “hoped for hearings this fall,” the staffer said. “There is a long list of questions about how [the new sanctions] are being enforced.”
“That witness chair is going to be a very hot seat,” predicted one Democratic government official, who asked for anonymity.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act with overwhelming bipartisan support, expanding existing sanctions against Tehran to include gasoline sales and energy-sector technology. [...]
The Republican House staffer said Republicans would be “willing to call out the administration when we don’t feel the intent of the [Iran sanctions] legislation is being honored.”
Israeli Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar sounds a warning, writing that if the GOP is “truly concerned about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, it needs to help, not hinder, Barack Obama’s approach toward the country”:
The fact is that whatever gripes Republicans may have about Obama’s domestic policies, his diplomatic drive and consensus building in the international community has done considerable damage to the Iranian regime’s global standing, as well as its business interests. Indeed, after only two years in office, Obama has done more to undermine the regime of Ali Khamenei over the course of two years than George W. Bush did in eight.
Javedanfar concludes, “The drive to stop the Iranian regime from acquiring the bomb is a bi-partisan issue. If the incoming U.S. Congress wants a peaceful solution, then it’s essential that it treats it as one.”
But that’s really the problem, as it’s quite clear that those at the helm of Republican Iran policy — which includes many of the same people who were at the helm of conservative Iraq policy — either dismiss the possibility of a peaceful solution, or just place greater value on politically damaging the president than they do on getting Iran policy right. For the second group, the possibility that their aggressive approach could undercut President Obama’s efforts to foster international consensus against Iran and push us down the path to war is just collateral damage. For the first, it’s the goal.