Hate mail: Senators seek to sabotage Obama’s foreign policy
March 11, 2015 12:00 AM
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National League of Cities annual Congressional City Conference in Washington on Monday.
By the Editorial Board
The letter sent Monday by 47 Republican senators to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warning him not to sign an agreement with major nations limiting his country’s nuclear program, was damaging to America’s role in the world.
This was the second venture in six days into foreign affairs by Republicans in Congress, which is distinguishing itself as the most dysfunctional branch of the U.S. government. The previous ploy was the March 3 address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud party will be a contestant in Israeli elections on March 17. Mr. Netanyahu’s appearance was set up by an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The letter to the ayatollah, which cautioned that the next president could revoke the agreement and that Congress could modify it, was crafted by Tom Cotton, a freshman senator from Arkansas. It was signed by all but seven of the Republicans’ Senate majority and no Democrats. Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey was one of the signers.
It is hard to understand the senators’ motivation as anything but a partisan attempt to embarrass President Barack Obama. They, and perhaps some Israelis, may have been seeking to draw on the furor surrounding the Netanyahu speech.
The impact on America’s standing as a negotiator in determining the Iran accord has to be negative. The Iranians say they see the letter as just propaganda. If there is an agreement, Mr. Obama can move forward on it and remove U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, at least temporarily, without Senate approval.
America’s partners in the talks are among the world’s most important nations — China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. They can only be appalled at seeing Secretary of State John Kerry and the president, who are charged with making the nation’s foreign policy, hit from behind by one house of the federal legislature.
The senators who signed the letter should be ashamed.
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