...would be unacceptable to Benyamin Netanyahu’s Israel. The same applies to Saudi Arabia and other US Gulf allies. The Saudis have been putting it about that Riyadh would start its own nuclear programme if the US struck a deal that fell short of fully dismantling Iran’s.... Not only, it seems, will there be two US foreign policies. But most of America’s Middle East allies will be backing Capitol Hill’s. Can Mr Obama thread a path through this?
The most dramatic example of clashing US foreign policies was after the first world war. President Woodrow Wilson put his authority on the line in Paris to create a League of Nations that the US would lead. His enemies in Congress, led by the patrician Henry Cabot Lodge, had different ideas. They sunk the treaty and with it America’s engagement on the world stage for the next 20 years. An Iran deal would also be faced with Congressional hostility. The big difference is that Mr Wilson pulled out all stops to sell his treaty. It still foundered.
In the words of Vali Nasr, a former Obama official, this president sees an Iran deal as a ‘nice to have’, rather than a ‘must have’. Unless ‘must have’ becomes both the goal of Mr Obama and Congress, a Wilsonian fate awaits.
With very high probability, a Wilsonian fate awaits. Full stop.