A group of 47 Republican senators, led by Freshman senator Tom Cotton have penned a letter to Iranian leaders warning them of any deal they strike with Iran will survive only as long as Obama remains in office.
Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the 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.
“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “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.”
Democrats have called the letter unprecedented and an attempt to undermine the Presidents foreign policy objectives. Republicans are reminding Democrats that they engaged in similar shenanigans during the Reagan administration and that the president’s attempt to bypass congress has forced their hand.
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.
The issue has already become part of the 2016 GOP campaign. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush came out against the negotiations in a speech at the Chicago Council last month. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry released a video criticizing the negotiations and calling for Congressional oversight. “An arms control agreement that excludes our Congress, damages our security and endangers our allies has to be reconsidered by any future president,” Perry said.
I must admit that my sense of politics is not sophisticated enough to understand the political strategy behind such a move.
If the idea behind the Cotton letter is to demonstrate strength to Republican constituents, I would submit that the party faithful would be far more impressed if the GOP had not rolled over like a tired lover on immigration, or was talking tough about the DEA’s plan to limit access to ammunition.
If the political purpose is to impress those voters who are undecided – and let’s face it, there are millions of voters who will NOT vote for the Democrat candidate for president and millions who will NOT vote for the GOP candidate, no matter who it is – the sense I have is that those voters see the letter as being in very poor form and yet one more reason to NOT vote for Republicans.
I am no fan of these negotiations. I believe they are the product of some very naive thinking. I am, therefore, very interested in seeing some more mature thinking influence our Middle East policy. This letter leads me to seriously doubt such mature thinking exists.