GOP senators don ‘Kick me” sign; Iranian official obliges

Forty-seven Republican senators have signed onto a remarkable letter to Iran’s leadership, in which they warn that the United States could and probably would break any deal that is reached by President Obama as soon as 2017, when a new president takes office.**

Content and motive aside, the letter itself drips with insulting condescension.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system,” the letter lectures right from the opening sentence. After pointing out that Obama leaves office in 2017, the senators remind Iran’s leaders that “most of us will remain in office well beyond then, perhaps decades,” and that they would consider a deal “nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” rather than an agreement between countries.

The senators conclude with the hope that “this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations continue.”

In short, the letter is a clear effort to sabotage the talks. It is an effort to make a negotiated settlement with Iran impossible, a step that would leave war and occupation as the only remaining, effective option to deny Iran a nuclear capability. For those reasons and more, it is perhaps the single most irresponsible step yet taken by this generation’s Republican congressional leadership, and I say that fully cognizant of the competition for that honor.

Let’s play along. Let’s suppose it’s 2017, an agreement with Iran is in place and working well, inspections are being carried out, Iran is living up to its end of the bargain, etc. At that point, a newly inaugurated President Cruz or President Rubio will announce “deal’s off!” Suddenly, Iran is now free to resume its nuclear program? Suddenly, the other five major powers that have helped to enforce harsh sanctions against Iran and that worked hard to negotiate this deal are going to accept that the United States has broken its word?

How foolish are these people?

Iran Foreign Minister Javid Zarif

Iran Foreign Minister Javid Zarif

This afternoon, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the letter, and his reaction is priceless. He has dealt with hardliners in his own government who are just as avid as the Republican senators about refusing negotiation and demanding conflict, so he knows the game pretty well.

In a statement released today through the Iranians Mehr News Agency, Zarif called the letter “unprecedented in diplomatic history.” “…. the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy,” Zarif told them.

It continues, quoting Zarif:

“I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”

The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with the 5+1 results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Zarif expressed hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”

The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that (the) majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t want to side with an Iranian official over American elected officials, but I’ll make an exception in this case:  Those 47 senators got themselves thoroughly and deservedly schooled. This is why you don’t send amateurs out to conduct diplomacy; this is why cowboys may be great at rounding up cattle, but terrible at foreign policy.

———-

** It’s important to recognize those GOP senators who refused to attach their names to such a folly, because they deserve credit for their good sense. Many if not most of them may still disagree with Obama’s policies, but they are smart enough and honorable enough to know how and where those disagreements should be aired. They are:  Jeff Flake of Arizona; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Dan Coats of Indiana; Thad Cochran of Mississippi; Susan Collins of Maine; Bob Corker of Tennessee.

No Georgians made the list.

Reader Comments 0

1084 comments
KnoxH
KnoxH

Mr. Bookman,


You sad, pathetic little prog. 


Sad because the sweet, sweet irony of *agreeing with an Iranian politician* doesn't make you pause and go "Wait..." once you admit you find yourself in agreement with him. There are no brakes on this LOLz train. I feel for you. Those of us who are paying attention find this quite funny. A pity you can't share in the laugh.


And pathetic, of course, because in your rush to sniff Obama's farts, you refuse to educate yourself on how the United States has always negotiated treaties with foreign govts. The Constitution's language is murky on the subject, so the U.S. has always maintained that neither the Congress nor the Executive has sole authority to make treaties with foreign nations. Both must be party to the agreement. And it shouldn't be hard to understand why: any sitting president could quite easily undermine any treaty Congress tried to enter into that wasn't to his liking; and any "treaty" the president tried to establish without the consent of Congress would be nothing more than an administration policy, subject to change as soon as the next president assumed office, not to mention that Congress could easily hamstring appropriations for any "treaty" the president tried to make on his own, since Congress has the power of the purse. If you knew any Constitutional history, you would know all this. But you don't.

So you're left with siding with Obama on an issue on which he is clearly in the wrong and the 47 GOP senators are in the right, but only because you like Obama and not the GOP. Your insipid missive here is completely devoid of any apparent understanding of the Constitution and how treaties have always been negotiated in the past. But spouting off at the lip on subjects about which they know little to nothing is a progressive birthright. 


So, while your Iranian buddy has something approaching a point about the U.S. being required by international law to uphold its international agreements, any foreign parties that enter into an agreement with "the U.S. government" are responsible for knowing what constitutes "the U.S. government". If they don't, they might think they've negotiated a treaty when in fact they haven't. For example, if I show up saying I speak for the United States and Iran enters into an agreement with "the United States" based on my claims, that agreement has no legitimacy in international law because it was not agreed upon by the ACTUAL "U.S. government". What the GOP senators are warning Iran of is that they are about to do what amounts to the same thing: Barack Obama is not authorized to speak for the United States government because HE is NOT the United States government. He is the chief executive. He is not the ruler or the king. He lacks the authority to establish treaties on his own. The only thing he can speak for is his administration. 

Since you're clearly not cut out for nuance, think of it this way: if a company enters into a contract with a 16 year old who they mistakenly believe is a legal adult, that contract is null and void and therefore unenforceable because 16 year olds cannot legally consent to a contract. In this case, Iran is the company and Obama is the 16 year old (not far from the truth in his case, actually). So, AS THE GOP SENATORS SAID, any agreement Iran enters into with the Obama administration is null and void as far as treaties go without the express consent of the U.S. Congress. International law would not apply because whatever the Iranians tried to point to as their agreement with the U.S. government is not, in fact, the U.S. government. It is only the Obama administration, which, again, is exactly and precisely what the GOP senators are warning.

This leaves you with only one out, if you want to continue ripping hits off Obama's butthole: you would have to espouse the position that "international law", and not sovereign U.S. law, is what determines whether or not the United States has entered into a treaty with another nation. And if you're willing to go THAT far, all I can say is LOL bro. Obama 2016.


So, who, again, got schooled here? You did, lil guy. You did.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Was this sedition or treason?  And when will these people be jailed and tried and executed if found guilty?

lvg
lvg

Glad to see that our two Senators are busy at work undermining the president and our allies on foreign policy. 


Obviously North Korea getting Nukes while their boy was in the White House  is of no concern to our security. What stops North Korea from selling Nues to Iran? ISIL? Al Quaida? Venezuela? 

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

Can one of you liberals please explain the difference in the money the Koch brothers spend on R's vs. what Soros spends on D's?  Why the whining about the Koch's and nothing about Soros?

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@fiftythreepercenter can't speak for all but imho it has something to do with the goals of the giving. Koch brothers support fiscal, energy and monetary policies many find objectionable. Soros is just some left winger who made a lot of money that the GOP likes to pull out as a punching bag because he didn't join their club after making it big.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@fiftythreepercenter @consumedconsumer seriously??? whatever. blah blah blah. Koch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch SorosKoch Soros


I don't care about this topic. you do. and anytime the kochs are mentioned, soros is not far off your lips. so whatever, bub. have you hissy fit at the inequities of why people like this but not that. 

mcsnuggles
mcsnuggles

@fiftythreepercenter I would imagine most "liberals" see whining about either the Kochs or Soros as unproductive, and would rather focus on limiting the outsize influence of the very wealthy on American politics generally, regardless of their ideological bent. In the meantime, as long as the very wealthy have free reign to buy influence, you can hardly blame left-leaning billionaires for fighting fire with fire. On the other hand, if they are truly left leaning, they would be (and I think generally are)  the first to support restrictions on campaign finance.

pastrydog32
pastrydog32

@fiftythreepercenter  Well, for one thing, Soros hasn't vowed to spend nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS to see a democrat in the White House.  Soros doesn't want to dismantle Medicare, Social Security, the ACA, the EPA, Medicaid, and every other social program.  Soros doesn't want to build a pipeline through the country that will taint the Ogalala aquifer.  Soros hasn't lied through his damn teeth like the Koch's vis a vie Americans for Prosperity, nor has he duped old stupid people (look in the mirror bro) into thinking that the black guy is to blame for everything that's wrong with the country.

JamVet
JamVet

Well, his total silence says it all.

I can only infer that td's Crusade to convert this forum of transgressors to his will has been a collosal and public failure.

He should take heart from the words of the great Roman scholar Cassius: "In great attempts it is glorious even to fail."

Schnortles...

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

Or, we could send some monay to the Republicans for next year, not that they need any now that they're a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch Bros - 'cause they are assuring Hillary/Castro's election better than any ad we could do. We don't trust traitors with forks & spoons, much less ANY executive power. We are sane Murica.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

@St_Simons_he-ne-ha Hey, St Simons, are you going to the $33K/plate luncheon with Obama today?  If not, why not?  Do you not have the kind of cash Obama expects to get a seat at his table?  



td1234
td1234

Progressives are still attempting to spin the greatness of Obama but yet refuse to see the reality as to what he has done to the Democratic party. 


no other President in modern history has lost more power for his party than Obama has. 


Republicans now control 31 governors. 

Republicans control 68 out of 98 state legislative bodies and totally control 24 states. 

Republicans now control 34 State Senates, up from 31 before the election. They also control 33 State Houses. One state, Nebraska, has a single, formally nonpartisan legislature that is dominated by Republicans.


Since Obama was elected President the Democrats have lost 743 state legislative seats. 

 Republicans now control all branches of state government in 23 states, Democrats in only seven.

Read more: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/11/07/republican_gains_deep_and_wide_124598.html#ixzz3TwjOH5cv 
Follow us: @RCP_Articles on Twitter

td1234
td1234

@consumedconsumer Can you give us some examples of other Democrats that has contributed to such a huge demise of the Democratic party in this country?  Obama has been the one constant in power over the past three elections cycles that has seen the influence of the party decrease election after election. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@td1234 @Visual_Cortex

Seriously, td, have you ever bothered to tally up just how many people actually live in those 24 states controlled by the GOP?

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 @consumedconsumer Yes. See Harry Reid. See the corporate wing of the democratic party. see the well it'll be so much better if we just wait another couple of years. the entire party is a mess. obama's about the only thing it has going for it . . . which is why conservatives rail against him so hard. 

td1234
td1234

@Visual_Cortex Only 7 states are totally controlled by Democrats and NY is no longer one of those states. 

td1234
td1234

@consumedconsumer Now Dingy Harry has his faults and is pure scum but do you really want to tell us that he has been anything more than an Obama puppet since 2010? 


Corporate wing of the democratic party" How have they contributed to the demise of the party? 

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 yes, it's all obama's fault. there. y'all happy now. he destroyed the democratic party all by himself. now back to reality.

lovetrumpshate
lovetrumpshate

@td1234 I agree with you td: This president is a better statesman than he is a politician.


I'm sorry that so many good, ordinary Americans have been fooled in the short-term and that so many others have been too lazy to show up for recent midterms. But I'm proud that our president has maintained his decency and steadiness while Congress behaves like angry little children.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

The even funnier thing, is the Dems LOVE claiming the R's lost the house, senate and the POTUS because of Bush (and I agree with that), but Obama is totally blameless.  


You can't make this stuff up,libs.  You're a hoot!!!  LOL (at you!!)

JamVet
JamVet

C'mon, td!

Let us know how your Crusade to make JB dance to your tune turned out!

Did those liberal, America hating commies at the AJC even bother to reply to your righteous requests?

Inquiring minds want to know...

td1234
td1234

@JamVet Whine victim whine. Make sure you get out to the mailbox today before someone steals your government check. 

JamVet
JamVet

@td1234 @consumedconsumer 

Why the reticence about saying that that particular phrase that you despise is in  fact written in the US Constitution?

You should know better than to tangle with me on the contents of that sacred document, son!

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Dance... 


consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 @consumedconsumer that's ok. have at it ifyou want. with 1000+ and the usual cast of characters it's a crap shoot at this point really. back to your denigrating your fellow posters with claims they are somehow less than you to make yourself feel better about you. Have a great one. I"m sure we'll be chatting periodically throughout the day.