Home/Daniel Larison/The Senate GOP’s Obnoxious Iran Letter

The Senate GOP’s Obnoxious Iran Letter

Senate Republicans have devised a new way to meddle in the negotiations with Iran. 47 of them have written an open letter to the Iranian government:

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 [bold mine-DL], 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.

The Senate GOP’s Iran letter represents serious and extremely unusual interference by members of Congress in an ongoing diplomatic process. These senators are actively trying to undermine a major U.S. initiative that has the support of several of our major allies, and they make plain that their desire is to see the negotiations fail. It’s possible that the Iranian government will take this as proof that they will have no better opportunity to strike a deal than they do right now, so we can hope that this latest attempt at sabotage will fail and could spur Iran to reach an agreement with P5+1 soon. Whether the sabotage “works” or not, though, the attempt itself is obnoxious.

Through their repeated attempts to derail the talks, Senate Republicans have shown repeatedly why Congressional meddling in these talks is so unwelcome and potentially harmful, and they have unwittingly made the best case against their involvement in concluding a nuclear deal. The senators’ ignorant reference to a “nuclear-weapons program” alone should make clear that they have nothing constructive to offer. Rand Paul made an extraordinarily bad decision in signing this letter. Along with his backing of Corker’s legislation, he is already losing the support of many conservatives and libertarians that were still willing to give him another chance.

This is also a reminder that so many of the hawks that constantly prattle about the importance of “credibility” have no problem with the idea of reneging on carefully negotiated multilateral international agreements when they happen to dislike the content. They also have no problem trying to wreck negotiations supported by major allies when it suits them. These hawks are great believers that the U.S. must always follow through on what it says it will do, unless doing that involves making minimal concessions to resolve an issue diplomatically in a way that reduces the chances of war.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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