After days of editorial comment, the letter addressed to Iran’s leaders is now just referred to as “The Letter.” Forty seven Republican members of the Senate have stepped in and possibly damaged America’s ability to negotiate successfully a nuclear arms agreement with Iran. The letter addressed to Iran’s Supreme Leader, simply warns “Iran’s leaders that any negotiated agreement on their nuclear program could expire when Obama leaves office.”
The letter insults the leaders of Iran by suggesting that they, Iranians, do not understand our form of government and that the Congress must ratify agreements negotiated by the White House. It further suggested that Obama will be out of office in less than two years while the signers of the letter could possibly remain in office for decades. The complete letter can be found on Google “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, (R) from Arizona, said he did not sign the Senate GOP letter to Iran’s leaders because he didn’t think it was appropriate. Flake sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The New York Times calls it “a rare congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations.” Sen. Tim Kaine, (D) of Virginia, on MSNBC called the letter completely unprecedented in U.S. politics.
Retired Major General Paul D. Eaton told the Washington Post that he thinks the actions of the senators were “mutinous. I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act,” Eaton told the newspaper.
“What the Senate did is a gross breach of discipline…to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, straining the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.”
President Obama hammered the 47 Senate Republicans over the letter sent to Iran’s leaders as an attempt to sabotage America’s negotiations on a nuclear treaty. In an interview, Obama said the senators’ intrusion into sensitive foreign diplomacy and their evident lack of respect for the role of the presidency is “not how America does business.”
“I’m embarrassed for them to address a letter to the Ayatollah — the supreme leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy — and their basic argument to Iran is: Don’t deal with our president, because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement’… That’s close to unprecedented.”
The press, both liberal and conservative, were quick to jump on the 47 Republican senators signing the letter. The New York Times calls it “a rare congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations.”
In Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cincinnati Enquirer both endorsed Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s 2010 senatorial campaign, but they berated him this week for signing the Iran letter. “The magnitude of this disgraceful decision,” a Plain Dealer editorial said, “shows the degree to which partisanship has gobbled up rationality on foreign policy.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial said the letter “diminishes the dignity of the Senate by disparaging the president and presenting an amateur lesson on U.S. governance.” It praised Portman in general, but said he erred because “now, facing re-election, he’s nervous.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, condemned the senators’ letter, saying the “other side is known for opacity, deceit and backstabbing,”
Mehr news agency reported. In a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other clerics, Khamenei said he was dismayed with the behavior of some Americans as when progress is made, the U.S. became “harsher, tougher and coarser.”
It would appear that the Republican leadership is happier with failed negotiations than with a successful treaty, if it was negotiated by President Obama. I would certainly agree that we have hit a new low in partisan politics. Some would say we have hit the bottom. I suggest it might even get worse. Those 47 Senators are playing with the lives of those living on this planet — both friend and foe.
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