“I have not yet begun to fight!”
John Paul Jones, commanding the Continental Navy, Battle of Flamborough Head
23 September, 1779
If we went by the triumphal proclamations of the mainstream media, we would think opponents of the unsigned Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – described inaccurately as a “deal” with Iran – were out of options at this point.
Operating on the process set in motion by the Corker-Cardin bill, the House has voted against approving the JCPOA. But the JCPOA’s opponents in the Senate have failed twice to move the JCPOA to a vote. A 42-vote minority has prevented a Senate vote, and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unwilling to use the “nuclear option” of overriding the effective filibuster by the minority, and forcing a vote on the JCPOA.
If we accept that Obama met his requirements under Corker-Cardin, when he submitted the JCPOA to Congress for review, then the deadline for Congress to act was 17 September. Since the Senate couldn’t vote by then, the theory is that all objections to the JCPOA are now dead.
But the focus on these voting events amounts to wearing strategic blinders. There are other ways to stymie and undermine the implementation of the JCPOA.
Given that proponents of American security need a big shot of inspiration at this point, we may take note of an anniversary coming up on Wednesday: the Battle of Flamborough Head (1779), the naval engagement in the American War of Independence in which John Paul Jones famously declared, “I have not yet begun to fight!”
It’s worth reflecting for a moment on the atmosphere of combat.