(Most) Senate Republicans Engage in Diplomatic Sabotage

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Having been involved in politics for 20 years, I am aware that the process involves a tremendous amount of partisan tension, robust debate, and the occasional skullduggery. As Finley Peter Dunne’s Irish saloonkeeper Mr. Dooley famously noted, “politics ain’t beanbag.” However, the letter signed by 47 Republicans undercutting the President of the United States during sensitive negotiations with Iran is one of the most contemptible political tricks I have ever observed.

It is no secret that some Republicans have a deep, almost fanatical disdain for Barack Obama. According to an early March Zogby Analytics Poll, just 17 percent of Republicans approve of his job performance. A Harris Poll from a few years ago even found that nearly 70 percent of Republicans believed that Obama is a socialist, about 60 percent suspected that he is a Muslim, and nearly a quarter said that he may be the Antichrist!

Shockingly, 47 Republican members of United States Senate took their contempt for the president to a dangerous new level on Monday, March 9 by authoring a politically charged missive titled “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” In essence, the letter warns the Iranians that the United States is incapable of delivering on whatever promises we make during delicate negotiations aimed at limiting Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weaponry. This, of course, is bunkum.

The purpose of the highly condescending letter signed by nearly 90 percent of the Senate Republican Conference is to use this historic opportunity to undermine and embarrass the president while turning this moment into a partisan confrontation. The content of this poison pen letter is damaging to the United States, as it basically tells a foreign power with which we have had rocky relations that they should not trust us to honor our commitments. Ironically, this position towards the negotiations helps put the Senate Republican Conference in alignment with the views of the hardliners within Iran who also oppose the framework for such a deal.

It pains me to say this, but the actions of these elected officials suggest that they are rooting against our nation’s success. Not only is this extremely frustrating,  but it is also indicative of a toxic and ruinous political culture that elevates partisanship above the need to tamp down on Iranian nuclear ambitions and cultivating more harmonious relations with that nation moving forward.

In reality, the president serves as the nation’s chief diplomat, regardless of whether the Senate Republican Conference likes it or not. It is foolish to tie his hands behind his back while attempting to broker an accord of such significance, especially since the members who signed the letter do not know what the final content of the deal will entail. As the world’s only remaining super power, the United States does not have the luxury of standing still in the face of pressing international dilemmas because of the hyper-partisanship of some legislators.

No matter where one stands on the talks with Iran, it is important to recognize that partisan epistles sent by a vocal minority within the U.S. Senate serves only to undercut the nation’s position, the president, and his administration during these negotiations. The New York Daily News, which is no fan of the agreement being hammered out between the two countries, argues that these “47 Republican U.S. senators engaged in treachery by sending a letter to the mullahs aimed at cutting the legs out from under America’s commander-in-chief” and says that “They are an embarrassment to the Senate and to the nation.” They are absolutely right.

This situation is damaging to the United States, the diplomatic process, and the prospects for successfully striking a deal with Iran. President Obama is essentially being forced to negotiate with the Iranians while being stabbed in the back by lawmakers from his own country. Our nation—and the rest of the world—deserve better from the Senate’s majority party.

Washington Republicans talk a great deal about patriotism. It is time for them to demonstrate that they truly believe it.

Category: General

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