A vote against the Iran deal will not bring war, in spite of what President Barack Obama says.
That is the opinion of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who told CNN on Tuesday that he did not agree with the president. It is the opinion of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who wrote last week that the best alternative to the Iran deal would be “to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more.” It is also the opinion of several policy experts.
For example, Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has written that war is unlikely if Congress rejects the Iran deal and overriding President Obama’s veto. In fact, he says, “under certain circumstances it could pave the way for an improved agreement that more effectively achieves U.S. goals than the current one.”
Satloff explains that Congress cannot actually cancel the deal; President Obama made sure of that by going to the UN Security Council first. He could also decline to enforce existing U.S. sanctions.
Yet he notes that Iran would be unlikely to abandon the deal even if Congress rejected it: “After Tehran has painstakingly worked for two decades both to advance a program that is on the verge of attaining breathtaking international legitimacy and to end nuclear-related sanctions, it would make little sense to chuck those achievements in a state of pique.” Meanwhile, he says, the European Union would likely maintain its sanctions, and the U.S. could call for new talks.
Regardless, Satloff says, war is a “low probability” if Congress rejects the deal.
The Obama administration disagrees, predicting war and even the collapse of the U.S. dollar if Congress overrides the president’s veto. We have seen a similar “parade of horribles” before.
In early 2013, Obama warned that disaster loomed if Congress failed to overrun the budget sequester (which had been his idea). Criminals would be let loose, day cares would close, air traffic would come to a halt, food would be poisoned. None of that happened.
As a braver Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”