Via Dan Drezner’s twitter feed, Josh Rogan at BloombergView reports that “our” Talibangelicals will not stop helping…
A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration won’t last after Obama leaves 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.”…
Somehow I suspect the Iranian negotiators have plenty of experience understanding a bunch of half-bright fundamentalist hardliners intoxicated with their own righteousness and burning to bring on the End Times. Alas, Babylon!
It's not intended to be helpful. RT @HayesBrown: I…I am at a loss at how anyone thinks this is helpful right now.
— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) March 9, 2015
In other words, they have publicly stated that we cannot be trusted to stand by our words and deeds in foreign relations and are perfectly willing to throw our allies the U.K., France and the others partnered in the negotiating process under the bus.
The whole exercise is easy to mock but is seriously psychotic and dangerous, even borderline treasonous.
Reminds me of the US credit ratings downgrade that came out of the shutdown crisis. It wasn’t because we couldn’t meet our obligations (in that case, to repay), but because Republicans might choose not to meet them. Here, too, America’s word is only as good as our ability to keep the GOP from f*ing things up.
Un fucking believable, and I agree, borderline treasonous.
Will be interesting to see who first spins the “both sides do it” BS (and how they manage it, since I think they will be hard-pressed to find a suitable example.
Over six years into his presidency and I am still blown away by the lack of respect directed towards Obama by the GOP. It’s one thing to disagree with the presidents policies, but to attempt to usurp authority and openly attempt to corrupt ongoing negotiations is reckless and massively counterproductive. Not to mention, borderline treasonous.
@Jebediah, RBG: From the link, the bothsidesdoit angle seems to be a letter than Helms (R) and Biden (D) sent to Colin Powell, saying that they believed some negotiations fell under arms control agreements that had traditionally be submitted to the Senate, and it ended with an offer of cooperation in the talks.
Quite a few differences between that an insulting open completely Republican written letter to a foreign government saying that they would do as they damn please with ANY agreement, if they got control of the executive branch.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
@NotMax: It’s incorrect to say that it means that we can’t be trusted to keep our word. From a legal standpoint, they are absolutely correct: if Congress hasn’t ratified a treaty, the United States hasn’t given its word. Obama may have given his word in having his negotiators sign the treaty, but he cannot commit the government without ratification. Don’t give the executive more power than it actually has.
This bit is just as delusional as the Republicans are being. It is nowhere near being treasonous. It’s stupid. It indicates that the Republicans have no understanding of the subject at all. It indicates that they are ridiculous hypocrites given the way they start screeching like howler monkeys whenever a Democratic congressperson travels to the Middle East to talk to a hostile government. But it is not treasonous. It doesn’t resemble treason. You can’t see treason from where it stands. This doesn’t even violate the Logan Act, and feel free to laugh with absolute mockery at Republicans who trot out that hoary argument the next time there’s a Republican president. “Treason” is a word thrown around MUCH too freely by people on both the left and the right, and it needs to stop.
All that said, I can only repeat that this is unbelievably stupid on the part of Republicans. They don’t seem to grasp that negotiation is the only way to prevent the Iranians from building a nuclear weapon. It simply isn’t within our capabilities to prevent them from getting one if they really want to build one. They have centrifuges. They have large uranium deposits. There’s zero chance that military action could destroy any of that.
So if you want to make sure that Iran doesn’t get nukes, the only way to go about it is to make sure that they decide that they don’t want them. That takes negotiation and it takes meeting them at least partway.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym: Well, we agree this time. I think ‘treason’ is over the top. Stupid, irresponsible, destructive, disrespectful of the prerogatives of the executive branch in negotiating treaties.
They could have discussed their reservations with Obama, if they still deign to speak with him. If they have reservations, rather than having made a decision that no treaty is acceptable, and they will bomb, which would be extremely irresponsible… but I think that is where the GOP is heading. Extremely dangerous and scary bunch, these GOPers.
Oh my god, what a bunch of assholes.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym
What is being negotiated is not a treaty and has never been intended as such.
Villago Delenda Est
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym:
In the real world, the guys with stars on their shoulders in the Pentagon know this. However, these Rethuglican dipshits live in Nino Scalia’s world, where Jack Bauer is a real person.
The delusions of these twits are clinical in nature. They are living in a fantasy. They should never be allowed anywhere near the levers of power, because they cannot be trusted to use them based on what is actually there, not their delusions.
After reading actual definitions of “treason”, I have to agree with TTP that this is not treason, but it is profoundly detrimental to the health of our nation. But the GOP hasn’t been concerned with the welfare of the country for a very long time.
Interfering with delicate negotiations for political gain is long standing GOP policy. (GOP has a policy!) It’s how Ronnie beat Carter in 1980. Nixon pulled the same shit in ’68 with Vietnam. The difference now is they are actually putting it out in the light for all to see. Shameful, reckless and yes, treasonous.
It is despicable behavior. Why do I get the feeling that this “brilliant” idea came from the diseased mind of Bibi Netanyahu?
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
@NotMax: Exactly. Since it isn’t a treaty, Congress will never ratify it and hence it cannot bind future governments. One aspect of this is that I suspect that the Iranian negotiators are not complete morons and they already knew everything the Republican letter purported to inform them of. It’s a pretty basic element of American law.
Yep, I’ve been figuring for some time that from the Iranian point of view, a deal simply isn’t worth the paper it’s written on: no matter how well intentioned Obama may be, as soon as a Republican is back in office, everything’s back on.
It’s been said for ages that the Iranians have quite rational reasons for wanting a nuclear weapon, but this is pretty much the cherry on the cake.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym:
I’d have to agree with this too. From the point of view of government functions, it doesn’t seem different from the times Congress overrode the Reagan administration to slap an embargo on South Africa and forbid the arming of the contras. Granted, in those cases, Congress was involving itself to stop us from arming terrorists and supporting apartheid, and in this case, it’s involving itself to prevent a major step towards peace in the Middle East, but the system isn’t set up to make distinctions like that.
So, whatever the stated duration of an agreement, at the very least it would be in force for two years, and based on current polling numbers, another four beyond that. And with that much time to demonstrate good faith so as to head off re-imposition of sanctions, it could be politically unlikely to be undone regardless of current GOP objections. Nothing they didn’t know, and it highlights both GOP intransigence and impotence.
A world of difference between Congress voting as a body and select members of Congress acting unilaterally to foment and/or disrupt foreign policy.
Depending on how fanatically anti-Iran they are and how our national discourse goes, six years of demonstrating good faith may not make any difference afterwards.
Six years of demonstrating good faith won’t make a bit of difference to our Republicans: they don’t live in the real world. Saddam allowing the inspectors back in didn’t convince them, back when it was Iraq that was in this predicament. Decades of Iran behaving more or less like a rational actor, to the point of cooperating with us in Afghanistan and even offering to negotiate with everything on the table back in 2003 didn’t convince them. None of the moves Iran’s made in these nuclear negotiations have convinced them, nor have any of the suggested agreements been enough for them.
If Iran demonstrates good faith for six years, that’s not what we’ll be hearing about. We’ll get six years of Fox News blasting the airwaves with every possible rumor of Iranian nuclear smuggling, and just plain old making stuff up when the rumors dry up, while the MSM ponders thoughtfully that while there may not be all the evidence we need that Iran is building a nuke, it would be irresponsible not to speculate. That’s the “reality” most of the country will be seeing, regardless of what actually happens, and the Republicans will continue to trumpet it and if anything push the discussion ever farther to the right.
@NotMax: Good point. They couldn’t even muster enough cosigners to comprise a majority, let alone enough to break a filibuster or override a veto. In other words, they don’t have the power to enforce their desired policy — unlike the Contra funding ban, where they did have that ability.
@Chris: But it won’t be what the rest of the world sees. And we sacrificed our ability to tell the world “just trust us on this” in 2003. That might not stop them from trying, but it could well stop them from getting much international support for the attempt.
True. Still, I don’t think they’re going outside of their rights as senators.
But to a large extent, we don’t care about the rest of the world – 2003 proved that too.
On a more serious note Iran fully understands how shit can change as US administrations change. The Clinton administration was trying to thaw relations. When Bush & Co came to power they refused to talk with Iran, even when Iran offered to help us against Taliban, after 9/11/01, with whom they nearly went to war, in the 1990’s, and bitterly hated.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
@NotMax: Do you remember Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria in 2007? The one that had the howler monkeys screeching (incorrectly) about the Logan Act? From a legal standpoint, this is pretty much the same as that. (From a smartness standpoint it isn’t at all like that, but I’m talking legally.) Both involve congressperson(s) engaging in foreign policy on their own that opposes the foreign policy of the then-current administration.
Neither of them is illegal, let alone treason.
@Repatriated: Which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t go it alone, of course. But it does mean that if we do, the entire middle east will climb into the express hell-bound handbasket.
@Repatriated: (sorry for breaking this up into bits; I’m on my phone)
… and we don’t have the capability to take on and occupy the entire region with conventional forces.
The difference is that in ’03, we at least had a fig leaf of international support.
Conservatives had no problem with Reagan, George H.W. Bush and their henchmen selling misappropriated HAWK missiles (clearly the underappreciated criminality half of the “Iran-Contra” scandal) to the Iranians in 1985-86 timeframe. I suspect none of these assholes could find Iran on a world map or have considered the difficulty of invading an occupying a country roughly three times as big and as populous as Iraq!
Sure. But at least at first, we won’t be talking about military action or anything 2003-like – just putting all the sanctions back on. That, at least, I find it hard to believe that the next Republican president won’t do just to prove he can, and screw the international community.
@Repatriated: (one more)
And the punch line is that back then, whatever the moral case may have been, the pragmatic thing to do was go along with us because recent experience (Kuwait, Kosovo) showed we would win handily; best to be on the winner’s side and get a cut of the spoils. Afghanistan and Iraq II changed that calculus; it’s no longer a foregone conclusion that we’ll have sufficient control of the spoils to be able to reward our allies when it’s over.
@Chris: Sure. But for sanctions to have any effect, we need international cooperation — and American domestic propaganda isn’t going to help with that.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym
As I never said it was either illegal or treason*, we have no argument.
*”even borderline treasonous” as I used it meant approaching or sidling up to the territory, not being treasonous. Thought that was pretty clear at the time.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym
@NotMax: No, we disagree because this isn’t even anywhere near “borderline” treasonous. It is not treasonous and it doesn’t at all resemble treason. It’s an extreme example of rather common behavior.
Your attempt to weasel the word into the conversation and then deny its implications is duly noted.
Sorry, no weaseling. It meant what it said.
The letter’s message approaches (by implication) giving aid and comfort to the Iranian side of the negotiations.
You may disagree with that assessment but it is not weaseling, it is interpretation.
Time to see if a Logan Act indictment can really stand. 47 times.
I believe that the Iranians, like the rest of the political world see this bullshit for exactly what it is, political grandstanding by the party not in power. They know that should the worst happen and the GOP has control of all three branches after 2016 they will make deals just as good if not better than this one. Heck the mulla’s had no better friend in the White house over the last 50 years than St Ronnie himself. This bit of theater is aimed at moron-Americans who see it not as foreign policy but as a slap at Obama and grand old American dick-waving, which moron-American’s can never get enough of.
J R in WV
Treason is defined in the Constitution, because in G Britain it could mean working to short a royal in a trade contract, or anything else the government wanted it to mean.
And at the time punishments for “treason” involved confiscation of all the holdings of the person found guilty, leaving his family either free and penniless or also in jail with their guilty party relative. And penniless.
So it is pretty sharply defined in the founding documents. This diesn’t mean that other high crimes can’t be used as treason was by the British monarchy, but that’s another discussion.
Shorter: We’re a bunch of assholes, and you’d best not forget it.
White Trash Liberal
@NotMax: in what way does this stunt aid the Iranian side? The Iranian side, from what I have been given to understand, wants independent nuclear power. Full stop. If anything, the GOP is giving aid and comfort to the defense contracting industry which always stands to benefit from perpetual war.
If I am wrong, please enlighten me.
Unfortunately, as politicians they reflect their base, particularly the Christianist/White Evangelical element which has completely fallen under the spell of millennialistic preaching about the end times and great battle of Armageddon between the forces of Christ and Satan (defined now as the Muslims with the Communists now in the dustbin of history).
By the way, if you live in Colorado, please be sure to write the Denver Post about how their boy Cory Gardiner has “moderated his positions” and is using his “leadership” to end a “dysfunctional” Congress.
@Schlemazel: My guess is they’d publicly enact draconian sanctions, but secretly undercut them with waivers and exemptions (plus look the other way when connected insiders violate trade rules) so the net effect would be weaker than before.
And if the Iranians actually use that opening to develop a nuclear arsenal, they’ll blame Obama retroactively. Win-win!
Alas Babylon, that brings back some memories. I remember buying it in 1968 or so when I was still in grade school. Not sure where it disappeared to, since my parents moved twice since then and I searched through both houses for it and all the other books I owned.
Yes, I do keep pretty much every book I ever bought or was given.
The letter appears to have been written by a smug teenage know-it-all……or a three term GOP Senator. It reeks with the stench of condescension and drips with hubris.
On second thought, strike the reference to teenagers. It is unfair to connect them to this childish outburst.
On third thought, strike the child reference too. No child I know ever acted this spoiled.
@White Trash Liberal: It gives the Iranians leverage to demand that Western concessions be front-loaded since we can’t guarantee that we will fulfill any pledges that take effect later on. So rather than incrementally lifting sanctions as Iran meets dismantlement milestones, we may have to give up more of them sooner than we’d prefer. This would be to Iran’s advantage in the short run.
@Jebediah, RBG: josh rohin at huff post manages to compare biden writing a cautionary letter to colin powell to this outright treason. Its like seeing the first robin of spring.
Whatever happened to the Reaganesque secret shit, the October Surprise?
@jl: LETS be honest if Obama submitted the agreement to Congress they would vote it down. In fact if Obama negotiated an agreement whereby every last Muslim became a southern Baptist the GOP would find fault.
There used to be (before Obama took office) an adage in US politics that any foreign policy debate would end at water’s edge. Can you imagine the outcry if the Dems had pulled similar treasonous garbage when Bush was in power? Today’s GOP is seemingly sinking to new lows on a daily basis.
@ThresherK: Ghorbanifar wasn’t answering his cell-phone.
jake the antisoshul soshulist
Can you imagine the shitstorm from the right if 47 Democratic Senators sent a letter like that during a Republican president’s negotiations. Treason would be the mildest epithet thrown out.
Someone explain to me how this does not constitute treason.
@jake the antisoshul soshulist:
Yup, considering that the Dixiechicks received death threats, it is fair to say that treason would be the mildest epithet. It is disgusting to watch one party basically trying whatever it can against our country. And no backlash from the media or what have you…
How can they be so sure? Has Hillary Clinton stated that she is against the deal?
Mike in NC
@C.V. Danes: Beats me. Most of these shitheads represent southern states and would vote in a heartbeat to form a new Confederacy.
Iowa Old Lady
I heard a Lindsey Graham quote on the radio on my way home from the gym, and he was saying that an Iranian general was leading the assault trying to drive ISIS out of Tikrit and the US was doing nothing about it. He couldn’t believe it, he said. I couldn’t fathom what he wanted. Did he want the US to back ISIS?
@Iowa Old Lady:
Here’s perhaps a fuller explanation than you heard:
That’s Messrs. McCain and Graham talking, by the way.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym: How many treaties has the US negotiated that (presented to Congress in the last six years) the GOTea has allowed to be ratified? By my math it’s something like zero – and that includes treaties and agreements negotiated by Shrub and forwarded to Congress after 2008. Blah Presidents can’t be allowed to have achievements, ever.
@C.V. Danes: TABMITWH.
@Iowa Old Lady: They™ are attacking other Thems™ There™. We™ aren’t. Ergo, US national security issue.
The Senate is trying to scare Iran into giving up on the potential agreement, because if it comes to fruition these things happen:
1) It will demonstrate to the world – and to the average American – that Iran is NOT an irrational actor, that the nation can and could be dealt with in the same manner the U.S. deals with Russia and China and France and the UK.
2) A treaty puts the ball in the Senate’s court. It will be up to them to vote down any deal that would reduce the risks of Iran building their own nuclear weapons. While the Senate would vote down such a deal in a heartbeat – because they want to stop Obama from EVER having a success, and because they want to bomb Iran to sate their war lust – the GOP leadership is still aware that the rejection will get viewed as a failure for THEM and not Obama. Obama, after all, made the peace deal, got sh-t done. His favorables will go up. If the Senate votes no, it highlights their willingness to pursue more war in an era when a majority of Americans are tired of war and unable to waste trillions more in a third invasion/occupation of the region.
@PaulW: The public will blame the GOP for submarining a nuke treaty with Iran, and will make them pay a price at the ballot box? I am afraid that is wishful thinking, PaulW. What makes you think there will be accountability?
Look how a substantial amount of the public ended up blaming President Obama and the Democrats for the last several years of dysfunction … and then rewarded the GOP by giving them even more power in the last election. The GOP took a lot of care to blame things like the government shutdowns and sequester on Obama personally – repeating it over and over again, in every media outlet available – and if you read the polls, the strategy worked.
I mean, if you can take the nation up the edge of default, and shut down the government several times, and cram something as unpopular as the sequester – and even crow about it in the news – and then you can just hit the history eraser button several months later, and romp to victory in a midterm election? The GOP just pulled off all of those things. They did it. Enough of the voting public bought it for it to work. And that’s the whole reason the GOP has gotten so bold. They knows what their hard-core base is demanding in terms of total obstruction … and they know that with enough advertising, they can confuse enough people in the middle to win the elections. There has been no price paid for radicalism.
“Effectiveness” and international non-participation didn’t stop the Cuba embargo (the ultimate in “foreign policy determined by which constituency whines loudest”) from going on for half a century or so. And our wingnuts are more determined to ensure that there’s no peace with Iran than they ever were with Cuba.
Demonstrate to the world, yes. Demonstrate to the average American, no.
ETA: and I’m pretty sure most of the world already knows that, in any case.
@Cervantes: Look I realize that history began on Jan. 20th 2009 but even these fools should realize that in a’ democratically’ elected Iraqi government the Shia (i.e. Iran leaning) parties are going to be in charge. These parties have long standing ties with Iran. If we wanted a Sunni dominated government in Iraq then we should have backed Saddam. Oh wait that was the policy under St Ronulus the Magnificent.
I would love to see an open letter back from some group of Iranian leaders: “Thanks, professors. We had no idea how your system of government worked, being stuck as we are here in the Stone Age, as Americans apparently perceive us to be. We’ll get to work right quick on learning more about how your “constitutional system” works. Would that be the same constitutional system wherein your party recently shut down the executive arm tasked with protecting your citizens from us?”
My god, the arrogance and condescension in that letter is astounding. It’s like it was written by some 82-year-old who’s never left the country and still thinks of the world in some Cold War, pre-widespread commercial air travel, pre-internet frame. Well, I guess it was written for people like that. It’s embarrassing to the rest of us.
@Iowa Old Lady:
This is an example of their incredible stupidity. We have strategic interest in having the ME actors to pick up the ball on their own situation, including Israel. This is not our fight. Our strategic competition is in Asia and the Pacific – not burning a gazillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of troops on a fool’s errand. My guess is that the Republican leadership gets this but is playing to their base by seeming to placate Netanyahu and the Christianists.
Well, you know that, and I know that …
Republicans sabotaging negotiations with Iran? You don’t say!
Oh, and look: Rand Paul’s in the thick of it. Gosh, I thought he was all anti-military-industrial-complex, unlike President Odissapointment. Libertarians couldn’t have misled me about that, could they?
Sounds like our hardliners who want war are just helping out their Iranian counterparts. The only question is who will do the preemptive strike.
Wow . . . can you IMAGINE if Democratic Senators had pulled a stunt like this when Bush was president. I . . . just . . .
Quaker in a Basement
@NotMax: @kc: The ensuing outcry would be operatic.
@Quaker in a Basement:
They’d be calling for hangings.
It might also be helpful to point out to the Iranians that our next president could decide their country is an imminent risk to our security and nuke them, agreement or not.
@Elie: And Sheldon Adelstein. Do not underestimate the power that Adelstein has purchased in the GOP with his millions and millions of dollars of dark money contributions to the last several election cycles.
No need. I’m quite certain every Cheney and Rumsfeld figure in the Iranian government is making that same point at this very moment.