People who claim that they have an alternative to the Iran nuclear deal besides war might want to check in with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, widely judged to be one of the three “serious” Republican candidates for president.
As Greg Sargent notes at The Washington Post, Walker has previously said that he would undo an Iran deal on the first day of his presidency, regardless of what our allies have to say about it, and now says that “the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military action, on the first day in office.”
As Sargent noted, Walker didn’t specifically say “military action against Iran,” but the context of his remarks was a dispute with Jeb Bush about how they would respond as president to the Iran deal. Both of them claim that they would move immediately to undo the deal, but Jeb Bush says that before acting he would first consult with US allies and with his advisors. Walker says that he would be ready to undo the deal on the first day in office. This is the context in which Walker said that he might have to take military action on the first day of his presidency.
Strikingly, neither one of them talked about consulting Congress before taking action. This omission is far more glaring in Scott Walker’s case, since he explicitly talked about the use of military force.
Under the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, the president of the United States is not allowed to use the armed forces of the United States for military action unless 1) the United States is under military attack or imminent threat of military attack or 2) Congress has authorized the use of force.
Congress has not authorized the use of force against Iran, and is not likely to do so before the next president takes office. Unless Iran attacks the US on Scott Walker’s first day in office, “President” Walker would have to ask Congress for an authorization of force in order to bomb Iran.
But maybe Walker thinks that he wouldn’t have to do that? Hopefully, some enterprising reporter can ask Scott Walker: Do you think you would need authorization from Congress before bombing Iran on your first day in office?
The dispute between Walker and Bush illustrates the fact that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have not put forward a plausible and coherent alternative policy – because they can’t. War with Iran wouldn’t solve anything and the American people don’t want it. Leaving sanctions in place isn’t a feasible alternative because the sanctions that have really hurt Iran are international sanctions that are going away in any event following a unanimous Security Council resolution.
The Washington Post and The Hill are already publishing “whip lists” of where members of Congress stand on the deal. The broad pattern so far is: extreme Republican criticism, cautious Democratic support. If you think that Democrats should be more vocal in support of diplomacy to prevent war, you can tell them so here.