When the Congress comes back to work after Labor Day there will be a number of items on their to-do list. One that will generate a great deal of smoke and heat will be Congressional approval of the Iran deal.
Officially it is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. Neither of which exactly trips off the tongue.
The deal was worked out with Iran (of course) plus the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: The U.S., France, Great Britain, China, and Russia and Germany. Germany is not a member of the UN Security Council because it had the bad grace to start and then lose World War II.
Even though VE Day was 70 years ago, the UN has not yet seen fit to reorganize the Security Council to reflect the world as it exists today. That, pretty much, is all you need to know about the UN.
But, we have this deal that was negotiated by John Kerry which will, according to President Obama delay by 15 years Iran's ability to build a nuclear bomb.
Let's put aside whether you think this is a good deal, a bad deal, the best deal we could have gotten or the best deal Iran could have gotten (which is the opinion of Israel).
The fact is it is not at all clear that the Senate will reject the deal, if only because the GOP will not be able to produce 60 votes to cut off a filibuster. The huge GOP majority in the House, of course, will reject it easily.
Let's pretend that the House and the Senate both reject the deal. The resolution will go to President Obama for his signature which he will promptly reject.
So, the deal will go into effect. Count on it.
That leaves us with the issue of what candidates should be doing and saying in the real world of an operational JCPOA.
First of all there is no question in anyone's mind that the Iranians will cheat. They have been cheating and they will continue to cheat. This business of being able to renew the sanctions - called a "snapback" when they are caught at it, is nonsense.
Counties don't trade with other countries. Companies and industries within a county trade with companies and industries in other countries. Even if the companies and industries are owned by the government - on either or both sides.
That means the Germans and the French will not willingly reinstate sanctions because their economies are in the toilet and they will not do anything to further weaken their nations' businesses.
Unless a candidate is a Member of the U.S. House or Senate, they don't have do anything except to say that they would have voted against it if they had been a Member of Congress. If a candidate is a sitting Member then he needs to say "I'll vote against it every chance I get, but we have to vote for the best and plan for the worst."
Here's the planning document:
A candidate's team should reach out to foreign policy scholars who may not be experts on Iran/Middle East, but ARE experts on (and have contacts in) China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany to get a realistic handle on how far they are willing to go to reinstate sanctions and where a "red line" might be to cause them to do that.
They need to assemble another team with Middle Eastern experts (GCC countries, Israel, Iraq, and Egypt) to keep tabs on what they're thinking and to have some warning if one or more decide to shift their position.
Have Treasury experts ready with a list of unilateral asset controls we could impose against Iran if/when we do catch them cheating.
Finally make it clear that "I will be better at keeping an eye on, and being ready to react to, Iranian cheating than any other candidate in either party."
And mean it.