Skip to content

Temper Tantrum

It is ironic that the GOP attempts to sabotage negotiations with Iran — first by inviting the Israeli Prime Minister to give a political campaign speech in Congress, then blatantly stating that they are indeed trying to sabotage the negotiations, and finally by sending an open letter to the Iranian government that was so condescending and full of misinformation that it is laughable — will probably have the opposite effect.

By throwing their temper tantrum, like a child trying to get attention at any cost, Republicans prove that they have no idea what the negotiations are about, and don’t even care. They have already shown that they will be against anything Obama supports (even if it was their idea in the first place), but in this case they are even more jealous because Obama is giving attention to someone else.

Remember the last time the Republicans tried the “ticking time bomb” argument? It was against Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and we all know how that turned out. Do they think the American people are so stupid that they can cry wolf any time they want and we will march off to (yet another) stupid endless war?

What makes this even more foolish and petty is that they can’t even wait until there is a proposal from the negotiations. No need to be confused by facts. They want to sabotage any negotiations with Iran. These are negotiations designed to remove the threat of an Iran with nuclear weapons. The alternative is for Iran to go back to developing those weapons. Is that what the GOP wants?

To be honest, I doubt they have even thought that far ahead.

UPDATE: Slate explains in detail why “The letter 47 Republican senators sent to Iran is one of the most plainly stupid things a group of senators has ever done.” This new article agrees that the letter is having quite the opposite effect it was intended and that the drafters of the letter have absolutely no understanding of our constitutional system. You know, the system they are purporting to school the Iranians about.

For example, they state (“in the tone of a teacher addressing third-graders”) that treaties and formal agreements need ratification by Congress, ignoring the fact that the diplomatic negotiations with Iran relieve international sanctions are not one of those. “In other words, contrary to the letter writers, Congress has no legal or constitutional role in the drafting, approval, or modification of this deal.”

The article also points out the hypocrisy of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have repeatedly defended the president’s constitutional right to wage war, yet sign this letter claiming that the president has no right to wage diplomacy.

Finally, Slate points out that US law (passed by Congress) specifically makes “Private Correspondence with Foreign Governments”, to “influence” that government “in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the Unites States” a felony subject to fines and prison terms. The article ends by suggesting that “the 47 Senate Republicans [should] bone up on the American legal system before lecturing others on its meaning.”

UPDATE 2: An official petition urging charges be filed against the letter signers for violating US law has passed the 100,000 signature threshold, which means that it should get an official response from the White House.



  1. just me wrote:

    “…offers to enlighten the authors”
    Yeah, good luck with that!

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Fighting condescension with condescension?

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  3. just me wrote:

    Perhaps… with the hope that SOMETHING will get their attentions? Nothing else seems to be working.
    Some only recognize the tools that they themselves know how to use.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  4. ralph wrote:

    We are led by a Congress of children with a big megaphone and way too much lunch money. Laughable, if it weren’t so destructive.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  5. redjon wrote:

    It is possible, not likely but possible, that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the GOP have a higher purpose in their posturing… forcing our president and the Iranian negotiators to come up a deal so sound, so full of merit, that they (the U.S. Senate) will have no choice but to ratify.

    That, or it’s just more cynical obstructionist nonsense by people whose foolish actions will in the long run cost many human lives… but never their own, of course.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Redjon, you don’t seem to have been observing the Congressional GOP for the past 6 years. It doesn’t matter what deal the President comes up with. If it doesn’t involve bombing Tehran, they will oppose it.

    If I mentioned that the letter’s author, Tom Cotton, just had breakfast with a defense industry lobbying group, would anyone be surprised?

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  7. westomoon wrote:

    Thought I’d stop by on my way to sign that petition.

    IMO, these guys are lucky there is a separate law prohibiting what they have just done — I’m sure the penalties are milder than they are for treason, which is what this is.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  8. westomoon wrote:

    PS — And here I’d been feeling shocked that Hillary Clinton ran her work e-mail on a private server when she was at State — not secure, no matter what she says. But OMG, compared to Twitter, that server at her house was Fort Knox!

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    Is there any truth to following?

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  10. ralph wrote:

    Hassan – I don’t know about that particular letter but it wouldn’t surprise me. Congress on both sides of the aisle have long been putting their 2 cents into foreign policy negotiations, beyond simple approval or rejection of treaties. It’s the manner and timing of this Congress that raises questions, as just being another poke in Obama’s eye shortly after the Netanyahu speech. Stewart did a piece on it last night.

    Damn, I’m gonna miss that show when it ends, esp with Colbert gone now too.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  11. Michael wrote:

    Hassan, yes, that letter is legitimate. But let’s compare just the tone, if nothing else:

    “We address this letter to you in a spirit of hopefulness and good will. … We have been, and remain, opposed to U.S. support for military action directed against the people or government of Nicaragua. We want to commend you and the members of your government for taking steps to open up the political process in your country. … We support your decision to schedule elections this year, to reduce press censorship, and to allow greater freedom of assembly for political parties. … We write with the hope that the initial steps you have taken will be followed by others designed to guarantee a fully open and democratic electoral 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 [note: ALL State Department negotiations are, by definition executive agreements, so the GOP signers are revealing THEY don’t understand how our government works!] … President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then. … The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of agreement at any time. [note: this would entail reneging on international agreements that our allies, such as Great Britain, are also helping to craft; such an action would cause severe damage to our existing alliances]

    Which one of those letters is intended to directly undermine diplomatic negotiations [note that the current talks are to set up a framework for future agreements, not a treaty] that are aimed at reducing the spread of nuclear weapons? And which one involved calling out U.S. financial and military support for terrorists?

    A better comparison would be if you found a similar letter from Democratic Senators to members of the U.S.S.R. ruling class aimed at undermining Reagan’s initial negotiations that became START I. But such letters don’t exist because, unlike today’s GOP, Democrats at that time weren’t trying to start a war with the other negotiating party.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    And when the Democrats sent that letter, the leadership of the GOP condemned it and said it was “at worst illegal”.

    I might even agree that that letter was unwise, although as others have pointed out, it was not trying to undercut direct executive branch negotiations. Indeed, you may recall that at the time, President Reagan was illegally supplying Nicaraguan rebels with arms, and lied about it to Congress. Reagan admitted so, and some of his highest staffers were convicted and sent to prison for what they did.

    In other words, these letters are apples and oranges. Did Congress pass a law making it illegal to supply arms to Iran, and did Obama give arms to Iran in violation of that law, and then lie about it to Congress and to the American people? No.

    Even worse, Reagan was supplying arms to rebels, who were trying to topple the recognized government of Nicaragua. That is not only against US law, that is against international law. What do you expect Congress to do?

    How is this old letter even slightly related to what Obama is actually doing now with Iran?

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
  13. Hassan wrote:

    OK, thanks for clarifications, I did not understand context and circumstances (too young and not in US at that time), and now as you guys explained, it is indeed different. I just saw it being thrown around by conservatives so picked it up.

    Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 6:44 am | Permalink