There’s a fascinating divide emerging over the Corker-Cardin compromise bill that would give Congress a vote on an Iran deal and which unanimously emerged from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. The compromise, engineered by committee chair Bob Corker (R-TN) and ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD), softened some provisions in Corker’s original bill. With Democrats supporting the bill, the White House perhaps saw the writing on the wall and dropped its opposition—and veto threat—against the new version.
Now, though, Republican hawks in Congress are looking to weigh the bill down with amendments that would certainly invoke a veto. The charge is being led by Sen. Tom Cotton, the combative Arkansas Republican who has emerged as the upper chamber’s most vociferous Iran hawk. Cotton has vowed to introduce several amendments that would make congressional approval of any Iran nuclear deal virtually impossible. Several other Republican senators have promised to do the same.
What’s so fascinating is that AIPAC supports the Corker-Cardin compromise. The flagship Israel lobby group likely sees the bill, which creates a procedure for Congress to vote approval or disapproval of a final Iran nuclear accord, as a good first step to kill the deal it has opposed from the start. The logic would be that enacting Corker-Cardin would lay the groundwork, then the lobby would set about trying to convince enough Democrats to support its anti-diplomacy position to get Congress to vote down the final agreement when that time comes.
A piece today in Bloomberg View headlined the fight between the Israel lobby and the Republican über-hawks as “Aipac vs. Pro-Israel Republicans.” But it would more accurately be called “AIPAC vs. the Neocons.” And we shouldn’t forget for a moment that the bankrupt ideology of neoconservatism is behind these efforts; the line between leading neocons and this obstructionism is too easy to trace—and too laughably reminiscent of their misadventure in Iraq.
Cotton, after all, is a protégé of neoconservative don Bill Kristol. And Kristol has come out firing at the Corker-Cardin compromise. In a Weekly Standard editorial later distributed by his attack-dog letterhead group the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), Kristol labeled the compromise bill “at worst misleading, at best toothless,” denouncing Corker and “the leading establishment pro-Israel lobbying group”—AIPAC—for their support of it.