Tom Cotton Writes A Letter To Iran
Judging strictly by his voting record in the House and Senate, freshman Senator Tom Cotton would be dismissed as a brainless extremist bent on demagoguing himself into power. But "brainless" doesn't work smoothly in describing graduates of Harvard-- let alone magna cum laude graduates of Harvard, like Cotton. (Texas extremist Ted Cruz graduated cum laude from Princeton and then, like Cotton, went on to Harvard Law, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1995.) But both just signed a letter to-- a letter that was Cotton's brainchild-- to the government of Iran that certainly smacks of brainlessness Harvard or no Harvard. In the interview in Fox News above, Cotton muddles through an analysis blaming Iran for ISIS, even though they are deadly enemies actively fighting on the battlefield.
"If it wasn't for Iran's support for Assad-- and now their support for Shiite militia's in Iraq-- then the Islamic State wouldn't have had the conditions to arise in the first place."That ground is quicksand for Republicans and it's an argument that won't work outside of an already brainwashed Fox News?Rush Limbaugh audience-- no matter what pointy headed university its proponents went to. If Iran created the conditions and backed the Shiite militias that led to a reaction from Sunnis called ISIS, how does that recast George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's decision to destroy the Iraqi state. murder former ally Saddam Hussein and back Shiite militias? Harvard Law must be less rigorous than it used to be.
But now these confused radicals are wandering off into new territory, territory that smacks of the kind of outright treason that is only even remotely acceptable in the worst bastions the Old Confederacy. Cotton told Fox viewers that "many Iran experts say that Iran's leaders don't understand our constitution." This is crazy talk. Iran (Persia) was at the center of a high-developed and sophisticated foreign policy long before Columbus ever set sail. But Cotton and his yahoo buddies seem to think Iran's leaders don't understand the Senate has to approve treaties. They understand perfectly well-- as all of America's adversaries have for a couple of centuries. In the past, though, the Senate has not overtly undermined presidents' bargaining power by going around them and interfering in active negotiations-- oh, except when the Reagan team persuaded the Iranians to not release U.S. hostages until after Reagan won the election against Carter. (That was treason too, although no one was ever charged.)
Yesterday on the floor of the Senate, Harry Reid approached Cotton and called his letter a "political stunt," pointing out that "Republicans are undermining our Commander-in-Chief while empowering the Ayatollahs." From Cotton's letter:
"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand out constitutuional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of Constitution-- the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices-- which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress," the senators write.
"First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
"Second, the offices of our Constitution have difference characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then--perhaps decades.
"What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."
|Senator Sedition (R-AR)|
These are the 46 idiots who joined Cotton in signing the letter, although he says others can still sign if they want to and he;d like some "more Democrats." Um... "more" might not be a proper word to use since he doesn't have even one Democrat on his list of traitors.
Orrin Hatch, R-UTI doubt the 47 Republicans above will be tried under the Logan Act but will this treachery be used against them politically? Well, this is what Admiral Joe Sestak, who's running against far right incumbent Pat Toomey, had to say about it yesterday:
Chuck Grassley, R-IA
Mitch McConnell, R-KY
Richard Shelby, R-AL
John McCain, R-AZ
James Inhofe, R-OK
Pat Roberts, R-KS
Jeff Sessions, R-AL
Michael Enzi, R-WY
Michael Crapo, R-ID
Lindsey Graham, R-SC
John Cornyn, R-TX
Richard Burr, R-NC
John Thune, R-SD
Johnny Isakson, R-GA
David Vitter, R-LA
John A. Barrasso, R-WY
Roger Wicker, R-MS
Jim Risch, R-ID
Mark Kirk, R-IL
Roy Blunt, R-MO
Jerry Moran, R-KS
Rob Portman, R-OH
John Boozman, R-AR
Pat Toomey, R-PA
John Hoeven, R-ND
Marco Rubio, R-FL
Ron Johnson, R-WI
Rand Paul, R-KY
Mike Lee, R-UT
Kelly Ayotte, R-NH
Dean Heller, R-NV
Tim Scott, R-SC
Ted Cruz, R-TX
Deb Fischer, R-NE
Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV
Bill Cassidy, R-LA
Cory Gardner, R-CO
James Lankford, R-OK
Steve Daines, R-MT
Mike Rounds, R-SD
David Perdue, R-GA
Thom Tillis, R-NC
Joni Ernst, R-IA
Ben Sasse, R-NE
Dan Sullivan, R-AK
During my 31 years in the Navy, I went to approximately 80 countries. I have served in the White House as President Clinton’s Director for Defense Policy and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Executive Branch. I also have great respect for the institution of Congress, where I served for four years. But the regard for the institution of the U.S. Presidency and Commander-in-Chief that I saw around the world was unrivaled-- as long as we respect it also.Josh Rogin, writing for Bloomberg, broke the story Sunday. His point is that Cotton's "letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process."
Senators have the absolute right to argue and disagree with the President’s approach to any issue. But for Sen. Toomey to sign a letter to a foreign leader urging that leader to ignore the institution of the American Presidency is inexcusable, embarrassing, and shows a lack of experience and understanding about America’s standing in the world, led first and foremost by the U.S. President.
When Sen. Toomey was a Congressman, he fundamentally misunderstood the proper use of our military in the world when he voted to send us into the Iraq War. Today, Sen. Toomey is again wrong in voicing directly to an adversarial leader his opposition to an ongoing process of American diplomacy, by Toomey’s signing of a letter to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who has called for “Death to America."
That Sen. Corker, the Republican Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, did not sign the letter underscores the recklessness of Sen. Toomey’s political actions – that he would tell a leader who wishes us ill to ignore our President’s endeavor. Signing the letter only serves to disrupt a possible effort to bring about a peaceful resolution to the nuclear weapons issue with Iran.
And if the nuclear talks fail, Toomey offers no other option except to go directly to war. Then, once again, we will have a representative who will have pushed our nation into war and-- with no skin of his own in the game-- will once again walk away from the men and women he sent into battle by voting against 12 Department of Veterans Affairs' appropriations bills after his vote for the war in Iraq.
Arms-control advocates and supporters of the negotiations argue that the next president and the next Congress will have a hard time changing or canceling any Iran deal-- which is reportedly near done-- especially if it is working reasonably well.
Many inside the Republican caucus, however, hope that by pointing out the long-term fragility of a deal with no congressional approval-- something Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also noted-- the Iranian regime might be convinced to think twice. "Iran's ayatollahs need to know before agreeing to any nuclear deal that … any unilateral executive agreement is one they accept at their own peril,” Cotton told me.
Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, responded to the GOP prank pretty dismissively. "In our view," he said, "this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content."
Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that "I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
The Iranian Foreign Minister added that "change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Irans peaceful nuclear program." He continued "I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.
He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed the hope that his comments "may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as "mere executive agreements" and not treaties ratified by the Senate.
He reminded them that "their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.
Zarif concluded by stating that "the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible."