Adjectives to help understand the Republican senators’ letter to Iran

REUTERS/Larry Downing
Sen. Tom Cotton’s letter is obnoxious, unhelpful and unprecedented.

As you have undoubtedly read or heard by now, 47 Republican senators have signed an “open letter to the Islamic Republic of Iran” warning that any deal negotiated between Iran and a U.S. coalition of nations regarding Iran’s nuclear program will not be binding on the United States, at least past the inauguration of a new president in 2017.

The full text of the letter is here.

The White House is disgusted. President Obama’s spokester Josh Earnest called it “just the latest in a strategy, a partisan strategy, to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy and advance our national interests around the world,” following the other recent insult by House Republicans to organize the Benjamin Netanyahu address to Congress without coordinating the visit with the White House.

Joe Biden called the letter “false” and “dangerous” and “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere,” referring to the U.S. Senate. Louisiana Gov. (and presidential aspirant) Bobby Jindal then fired back at Biden, tweeting: “VP Biden owes Sen. Tom Cotton an apology. He wore the boots in Iraq,” referring to lead author and Sen. Cotton’s service in the Army, although I’m not real sure that is an ironclad argument for agreeing with his recent epistolary project.

My thoughts can be organized around a few adjectives. Cotton’s letter is obnoxious, unhelpful and unprecedented. It is accurate. It is insincere. It is unsubtle. It is partisan and political. It is irresponsible. It is constitutional. And, viewed through the correct satirical prism, it is humorous.


Let’s start with accurate. In the guise of explaining how the U.S. constitutional system works, Cotton of Arkansas makes the point that an agreement signed by  Obama but not ratified by Congress is not binding, except on Obama and his appointees. If the next president chooses to do so, it could be abrogated at the stroke of a pen and the U.S. sanctions on Iran could be reimposed.

But Cotton’s letter doesn’t deal with the fact that the sanctions on Iran are multinational. The U.S.-led negotiations that Cotton seeks to scuttle includes the involvement of five of the other most powerful nations in the world, namely Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. If the next president were to abrogate the deal per Cotton’s warning, there is no guarantee and, in my opinion, not that much chance that the rest of the countries that have helped negotiate the deal would go back to enforcing the sanctions just because the Americans reserved the right to change their mind after every election. The other powers are in this deal because they support the idea of a negotiated settlement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. Cotton’s letter can only encourge them to doubt the reliability of the U.S. in any such venture.


Let’s move to constitutional, which is practically the same point. A lot people who are unhappy with the letter claim falsely that the letter violates the U.S. Constitution, which puts the president in charge of foreign policy. But It doesn’t —  not really.

The only thing Article II (in which the powers of the president are delineated) says is this:

“[The president] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls.”

That’s it. Clearly (although it is not clearly stated anywhere) the president and his appointees would have to conduct negotiations that could lead to treaties, but no treaties are valid without a two-thirds vote of ratification by the Senate. The letter is not signed by a majority of senators, but well more than the one-third that would be necessary to block ratification of any treaty.

And anyway, the current talks with Iran are not designed to produce an actual treaty. You may have noted that in the one and only reference to the supposed power of the president to conduct foreign policy, the one and only power assigned him is to “Treaties.” In fact, in this matter and many others, we are following a somewhat imaginary Constitution, or perhaps we should say the Constitution “as evolved,” such evolution occurring without the benefit of actual language being added or changed and therefore a little harder to insist upon.

On the other hand, while the Constitution doesn’t put any limits on members of the Senate contacting foreign nations to interfere with ongoing executive branch negotiations, there is a federal statute that pretty much bans it for any citizen. It’s called the “Logan Act,” dates from believe-it-or-not 1797, makes it a federal crime if any U.S. citizen — “without authority of the United States” — “carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States.” Some bloggers are wondering whether the signers of the letter have violated this law, but an actual legal scholar writing for Lawfareblog cites several reasons that prosecution won’t get too far. I think he’s probably right.


Let’s move to insincere. The letter begins:

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution — the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices — which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.”

Ha ha ha. Just a little constitutional explainer here. “Bull cookies” (as the Colonel Potter character used to say on “M*A*S*H”) —  also “what a crock of beans.” Sen. Cotton leaves out of his letter to the Iranians that he does not favor any negotiations at all. Cotton favors a U.S. policy of “regime change,” which is the cute phrase developed by certain Americans who do not like to state plainly that they believe United States has been vouchsafed with a not-explicitly-Constitutional power to remove any or all foreign governments that do not come up to its standards.


I’ll skip to “unsubtle” here. It is ridiculous and insulting to the intelligence of anyone reading it to think that they would take the letter at face value as a primer on “our constitutional system” because information about Iranian ignorance on said system has “come to our attention.”

In reality, the letter is a threat to the Iranians that if there is a successful conclusion of this negotiation, which is universally understood to be for a 10-year term, they cannot count on anything more than the one year plus a few months remaining in the second Obama term. It is a threat to Iran that if a Republican candidate wins in 2016, the 10-year agreement is not binding. It is a threat that anything along these lines that requires Senate support will be undermined by the overwhelming opposition of at least 47 members of the party that currently controls the Senate and that by themselves could sustain a filibuster.


That makes it unprecedented. I know of no instance in which so many members of Congress attempted to interfere in a presidential negotiation in this way in advance of a deal being negotiated. You could study the events that led the post-World War I Senate to reject President Woodrow Wilson’s effort to get the United States to join the League of Nations. It’s a large, important and amazing tale. But you won’t find evidence of Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.) telling the delegates to the Versailles Conference not to bother completing the negotiations because the United States wouldn’t be joining.

Before we finish with unprecedented, let’s consider the precedent. Are the 47 Republican signers prepared to set the precedent, knowing that in some future case it will be a Republican president and a Democratic majority in the Senate, of the Senate playing the new role of interfering directly in negotiations and urging another country not to make a deal with the sitting president?

During, for example, the delicate Nixon-era negotiations that led to the opening of U.S. China relations, what if a group of senators had sent an open letter to the people of China undermining the talks and announcing that the only way they would want such relations would be if the Chinese people would overthrow Mao and Communism?

Writing for Politico, Michael Crowley cites a few instances of Congress interfering in the conduct of foreign policy, but nothing on his list resembles this effort to undermine ongoing negotiations.

The Cotton et al letter is not unconstitutional (not to mention that it’s covered by the unquestionable First Amendment right of the senators to express themselves). But it’s reckless and dangerous. It’s a product of Obama Derangement Syndrome. If, in fact, there’s an argument that blowing up the current negotiations will lead to a happier ending, let’s hear how that would happen. It’s a tough case to make, but let’s hear it. But such rational discussion is unnecessary to Syndrome sufferers who know that the deal, which they haven’t seen, will be a bad one because Obama is for it.

Partisan and political

It’s worth noting that seven Republican senators declined to sign the Cotton letter. They are Bob Corker of Tennessee, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Dan Coats of Indiana, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But the fact that 47 Republicans and zero Democrats signed the letter makes it clearly a partisan document. The fact that all of the Republican senators running for president (Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida) signed the letter with others in the field (Jindal, as mentioned, and Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, too) joining in makes it pretty clear that on Planet Republican this line is considered a winner.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, called the letter “out of step with the best traditions of American leadership.”

Obnoxious and unhelpful

See above.


No, the letter and the situation perhaps don’t qualify as hilarious, so I left that adjective off my list at the top. But in today’s media world, we have the advantage of relentless satirists who can help us laugh at anything.

For example, New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz likes to cloak his ridicule in a straight news voice, as in this piece, headlined “Iran offers to mediate talks between Republicans and Obama,” which begins:

TEHRAN (The Borowitz Report)—Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made the offer one day after Iran received what he called a “worrisome letter” from Republican leaders, which suggested to him that “the relationship between Republicans and Obama has deteriorated dangerously.”

Or Jon Stewart’s piece leading off Tuesday night’s “Daily Show,” in which he digs up the old footage suggesting that not only the Republicans, but the Democrats who are complaining about the Republicans, are all hypocrites.

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Comments (82)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/11/2015 - 09:04 am.

    Real simple solution here: Have congress approve it.

    Of course Obama is pretty rusty in this area, and has found ruling by Edict more suited to his style.

    • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 03/18/2015 - 08:41 pm.

      “Have Congress … ” do it?

      Yes, because Congress has been SO helpful in moving any bills at all. Sure, have Congress approve it! And have them get off their butts and earn their inflated salaries while they’re at it, instead of working 112 days a year and calling full-time minimum-wage workers “takers.”

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/11/2015 - 09:17 am.


    You forgot to mention that the letter was counterproductive. Iran now has an excuse for not reaching any agreement, and they can make a plausible claim that it will not be their fault.

    Of course Senator Cotton does not want an agreement. He and the other Republicans want to continue–what, exactly? Continue the embargo? Sure, those have a long heritage of working just the way the US intended. Look at Cuba: in just 55 short years, the Castro regime is still in place. Why would things be any different in Iran? The hardliners will have their positions vindicated. In the meantime, is it really implausible to think that other countries will continue to honor the embargo indefinitely? I know we can rely on our old pal Putin to have our backs on this, but what about China, or even the EU?

    We don’t even need to mention the hit US global prestige takes from this letter (“Look, one of their own says they can’t be trusted!”). So thank you, Senator Cotton. You have elevated your profile to the detriment of us all.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/11/2015 - 09:25 am.

    If the objective is to prevent Iran

    from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and everybody including Obama has said that it is, then any agreement that has the alleged 10-year clause in it is nothing more than kicking the can down the road until Obama slinks out of office and leaves the mess to the next president.

    Everybody, including the Iranians, knows that. And so advising them of the temporary nature of executive orders versus senate-approved foreign agreements (like treaties) may be worthwhile. Not that it actually matters to Iran, who will cheat regardless.

    Given Obama’s history of not being truthful of what agreements contain (“if you like your plan …”), of drawing red lines for adversaries only to ignore them, of giving away his best bargaining chips before the negotiations even start (lifting sanctions already), I don’t think this letter is out of line.

    The Democrats are outraged only because it reminds everyone of why it’s necessary.

    I would hope that the ultimate goal of this action, even if you don’t agree with the tactic, is to convince Obama that it would be wise to tell the American people what the deal includes before he signs it. Once the agreement is ready to be signed, he needs to go on television in prime time and lay out line by line what the United States and the world are prepared to do to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The fate of Israel depends on it (although I know full well that most reading this don’t care).

    That’s it. No more, “We have to pass the law before we know what’s in it” debacles, please.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/11/2015 - 11:52 am.

      The ultimate goal of this action

      I disagree with the you on what the “ultimate goal of this action” is. It has nothing to do with Iran, and everything with making Senator Cotton a national figure (although anyone with such a poor understanding of the Constitution, like Article I section 9, should think twice before lecturing anyone on what the Constitution). Mission accomplished, as the strategic experts say.

      This letter was purely for domestic consumption. I think the Iranians are smart enough to know what executive agreements are. I also think that they are correct when they point out that going back on such an agreement would violate international law. In any event, going back on an agreement, even if the prior President was icky and stunk, has little precedent in American practice.

      Do you have any reason to believe that Iran, with a large cadre of US-trained nuclear engineers, would ever agree to a permanent abandonment of the capability to develop a nuclear weapon?

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 03/11/2015 - 01:50 pm.

      Please clarify

      Just so we understand – you oppose an agreement that has not yet been reached and the terms of which you don’t yet know?

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/11/2015 - 09:27 am.

    The pro-Israel, all-day, every-day Jeffery Goldberg says the letter is unhelpful and actually weakens the chance of getting crushing sanctions against Iran and provides an easy out for hardliners in Iran to stop the talks.

    The Republican letter makes any options other than crushing sanctions or war moot, and weaken an international coalition who can always point to the fact that the US never really wanted anything other than those two options and entered into the negotiations in bad faith.

  5. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 03/11/2015 - 09:40 am.

    Beyond being obnoxious,

    it borders on treason, in my opinion.

    The 47 Senators who signed this letter have done a great job of making Iran the respectable party here. They’ve also somehow managed to make strange bedfellows of themselves, Netanyahu, and Iranian hardliners. Unbelievable, until you realize they all want to preserve the status quo of strife and conflict in the Middle East for their own political ends.

  6. Submitted by jason myron on 03/11/2015 - 10:00 am.

    Let’s just call it what it is…

    Treason. One can only imagine the GOP reaction had this been done by democratic senators to a republican president.

  7. Submitted by charles thompson on 03/11/2015 - 10:05 am.


    Time was, children, and freshman senators were seen and not heard.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/11/2015 - 05:21 pm.

      Wet Ears

      Tom Cotton was born in 1977. He was two years old when the “Iranian Hostage Crisis” began, he graduated from high school in 1995 (during Bill Clinton’s first term), went to Harvard (where he was a member of the Harvard Republican Club), graduated with a BA in Government, went on to Harvard Law School and graduated in June of 2002.

      After a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals and a short time in a private law practice, he joined the Army in 2005 as an Infantry Officer, spent nearly 5 years there, got out, ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 (Arkansas), won, then ran for Senate and won last year. &

      And now, at the age of 37, he is, apparently, confident that his education and life experience qualify him to share his wisdom and advice with the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      And all but seven of his Republican colleagues in the Senate agreed with that wisdom and advice so strongly they felt compelled to sign the letter in which it was contained.

      Attention Independents: Please remember and think about that and what it says about the potential ramifications of “Caucus Judgment” (or “Blind Groupthink”) next time you’re considering your vote.

  8. Submitted by Josh William on 03/11/2015 - 10:39 am.

    Simply put:

    Congressional treason. Every person that signed that letter should be tried.

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/11/2015 - 12:02 pm.

    In 2014 Obama said the upcoming election was a referendum on his policies. Well America checked in with a resounding “NO”.

    I submit that not only does he lack the mandate to conduct an agreement of this type without the consent of congress, he doesn’t have the right. The man lacks the trust and confidence of the majority of the citizens of this country.

    For all we know, he’s telling the Iranians “If you like your nukes, you can keep your nukes”

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/11/2015 - 06:02 pm.

      Obama derangement syndrome

      Yours (and Mr. Testers) ODS is showing…

      ….the deal being negotiated is not a treaty, nor is it an agreement. Rather, it is a nonbinding international arrangement, to be signed (if it is signed) by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, and Iran…..

      To you, it’s Obama, the evil mastermind working to destroy the US.

      To the rest of the world, it’s a serious attempt to start to address a serious situation.

      But no–to the letter writers and you it’s all about Obama.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 03/11/2015 - 06:15 pm.


      a small number of Americans checked in with a NO. Two years prior, a large segment of America checked in with a resounding YES. You people always forget that part.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/13/2015 - 08:03 am.

        Making no choice is making a choice, Myron. And elections have consequences. Americans were clear; no more Obama.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 03/13/2015 - 08:53 am.


          Americans were pretty clear when they elected him President twice. In a row.

          The absence of a vote for person ‘A’ does not inherently mean that person ‘B’ would have gotten that vote under other circumstances.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/13/2015 - 10:07 am.

            In 2014, Congress was rid of Democrats en mass. Pick a poll, any poll; the country has no confidence in Obama. Many express regret for their votes. Your likely 2016 candidate for President is drowning in scandal. Anything this President tries to do has no letigitimacy. I know that’s frustrating, but there it is.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/13/2015 - 04:34 pm.


              Please explain why the partisan composition of one (to use your phrase) co-equal branch of government affects the legitimacy of another. Was the Bush presidency rendered illegitimate after 2004? How about Reagan years after 1986? I would be especially keen to see the constitutional provisions that address this issue.

              I would also be keen to know why the polls make Congress more legitimate than the President, especially since the reliable ones (i.e. the ones that aren’t clickbait for NewsMax) all show that the public has less confidence in Congress than in the President.

  10. Submitted by Barbara Gilbertson on 03/11/2015 - 12:44 pm.

    The T-word

    I think it belongs on your list, if for no other reason than to elicit the kind of thoughtful discussion that follows many of your posts. :))

    I now must painstakingly enter text from the following, inasmuch as attachments cannot be used here:

    Excerpt from the 1936 SCOTUS decision in US v Curtiss-Wright Export Co.

    [*319] [6] …the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He (ital) makes (end ital) treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation, the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great argument of March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, “The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations.”

    This Senate and Congress are so blinded by hatred, they have set aside their love of this country in favor of spite and financial gain.

    It has been written this morning that Senator Cotton is now meeting with munitions contractors. Not difficult to wonder what that’s about.

    Meanwhile, two things. First GOP back atcha was to say that this was a “cheeky,” and “light-hearted” initiative. Second thing, they now are blaming President Obama for their letter. All of which reminds me of the classic definition of chutzpah. Man murders his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

    This is not a game. Nothing about it is even faintly amusing. Nothing.

  11. Submitted by Don Evanson on 03/11/2015 - 12:54 pm.

    Preserving the balance of power in the Mideast.

    Liberals stand up and cheer when Obama goes around Congress.

    What’s up with their criticism of our elected representatives going around the president to make a needed point about an issue vital to the U.S.?

    The usual issue of double-standards.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/11/2015 - 04:19 pm.


      The U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces agreement–the one President Obama could have extended if he really, really wanted to–was never submitted to Congress for approval. Some members of Congress were briefed after a draft agreement had been made, but there was no submission to Congress for approval.

      I know, I’m just another liberal blaming Bush for everything that happened in his administration and with his approval. When will I get over it?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/13/2015 - 08:05 am.

        Bush was acting with authority a bipartisan congress granted to him. Awkward fact.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/13/2015 - 09:12 am.


          He had the authority to use force in Iraq. The specific details of the SOF agreement–the other legal justification for keeping troops in a sovereign nation–was negotiated without consultation with Congress.

          Awkward fact–there was no authority to keep troops stationed in Iraq without the permission of the Iraqi government.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/13/2015 - 02:18 pm.

            Right. And that agreement, the one Obama should have made, he failed at. Now we’re paying the price for that.

            Community organizing is a poor background to bring to Foreign relations it seems.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/13/2015 - 04:28 pm.

              Changing the subject

              Nothing you say has anything to do with the fact that President Bush never submitted the Status of Forces Agreement to Congress.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 03/11/2015 - 11:11 pm.

      Pres. Obama not going around Congress

      As Congress has NO role in the process of negotiating anything with a foreign government, Pres. Obama is not “going around” them, or anyone else. I

  12. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/11/2015 - 01:20 pm.

    If the objective is to give reason for Iranian hardliners to back out of negotiations, this is the way.

    If it is to break apart the world consensus against Iran, this is it.

    If the desire is to have war at any cost, this is it.

    If the need to show the US as a unworthy and unreliable ally, this is it.

    If it is desired to make any agreement with the US risible, this is it.

    If it is desired to make foreign policy or treaties impossible, this is it.

    If the desire is to project political buffoonery across the ocean this (and Netanyahu) is it.

    The only one who is laughing is Putin.

  13. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/11/2015 - 01:29 pm.

    The most relevant criticism

    …it seems to me, is this line from Eric’s piece: “Are the 47 Republican signers prepared to set the precedent, knowing that in some future case it will be a Republican president and a Democratic majority in the Senate, of the Senate playing the new role of interfering directly in negotiations and urging another country not to make a deal with the sitting president?”

    I would also defer to Messrs. Cross and Holbrook, especially Steve Cross’ unrealized hope that “If there was any justice in the world, signing this letter would mean the end of the political careers of all of the signatories.” While I heartily agree with his sentiment, I think it unlikely that the political career of any of the signatories, will come to an end because of their participation in this fool’s errand. Our current era highlights the near-total lack of any sort of coherent foreign policy by the opposition party, just as that opposition party has repeatedly demonstrated that it has no coherent domestic program. Obama Derangement Syndrome is, and has been, the sole unifying principle of the Republican Party since Mr. Obama was elected.

    That said, Mr. Swift and Mr. Tester do have a point, I think, about executive overreach. I’m uncomfortable with the President unilaterally negotiating deals, even when they have time limits, for which the details are largely unknown to the public. Of course, my discomfort is largely ameliorated in recent instances by the knowledge that a purely partisan and diplomatically imbecilic action like this letter presents us with a sure sign that if Mr. Obama were to follow established protocols and bring routinely-negotiated agreements to the Senate, no matter how good the deals might be, Republicans would see to it that those agreements would never be approved. Just as his predecessors have done, Republican and Democrat alike, Obama has tried to implement policies he thinks are good for the country, and just as his predecessors have done, when the opposition party has proved itself intractable (though I know of no instances since 1900 of that intractability reaching the level of current Republicans), he has looked for ways around that obstructionism.

    The constitutional me doesn’t like the President operating that way. The pragmatic me understands that presidents do what they feel they have to do. So far, all we really know is that Republicans repeatedly show that they’re neither interested in, nor ready to, actually govern. Like the 3–year-olds they often emulate, they want to rule, which is something else entirely.

  14. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 03/11/2015 - 01:46 pm.

    Ultimately disrespectful of the people of the United States

    For some reason, which I cannot fathom, “conservatives” today think that they are above election results. A majority of Americans voting in 2012 re-elected Pres. Obama. Our votes actually matter. To trivialize the duly elected President, to disrespect the duly elected President, to ignore the duly elected President is to trivialize, disrespect and ignore the majority of voters who elected him. No majority in Congress – no matter how arrogant they may be – outranks the American people. The American people spoke in 2012 – Republican “conservatives” in Congress have NO veto authority over those election results.

  15. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 03/11/2015 - 01:52 pm.

    Logan Act

    Hopefully the Justice Department is investigating whether those who signed this “letter” violated the Logan Act and if so, will be prosecuting them.

  16. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 03/11/2015 - 02:24 pm.

    “The Unusual Coalition”

    May the R party be forever known by its title coined by Obama…”It’s an unusual coalition” and the rest of Obama’s summing up…”I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of congress wanting to make common cause with hard-liners in Iran”

    Obama’s words summed it up beautifully.

    But to stretch a little farthur like looking out the window to the other side; to what ‘others’ may say, try “Time to respect Iran’s independence.” Massoud Hadeshi, Asia Times…

    The Republican letter writers did more harm than good to themselves if any more can be done in that department. The more serious issues here have been already laid out in Black’s powerful piece.

  17. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 03/11/2015 - 02:36 pm.

    So surprised by your comment Tester.

    Debacles? Like the Iraq war and hoped for by senate republicans a future war with Iran

  18. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 03/11/2015 - 02:41 pm.

    …and again; footnote…

    Many prime points-of-view in Massoud Hadashi’s summing up you could say like his closing thought “Until an agreement is reached we will have to continue to be bewildered by the preposterous theatrics of Israel’s PM and various assortments of absurd American politicians singing and praising and making mockery of international law and order and the long forgotten charter of the UN.”

  19. Submitted by Tim Brausen on 03/11/2015 - 03:44 pm.

    As the Daily Show pointed out last night

    Ronald Reagan entered into hundreds of these Executive Agreements with foreign powers, as have other presidents. It’s hardly ruling by presidential edict, just the President utilizing his power as chief executive to conduct foreign policy.

    Also noted last night was that in 2007, Representative Pelosi and other Democratic leaders made trips to Iran to “establish a dialogue with its leaders” in direct contradiction to President Bush’s directions, much to the displeasure of Republican leaders and commentators (all of whom seem to support the Senators currently.)

    Partisan politics run amok.

  20. Submitted by John Edwards on 03/11/2015 - 04:56 pm.

    No resarch before writing

    Once again Mr. Black has written before he researched. Steven Hayes of the Weekly Standard completely demolishes Eric’s premise. As Mr. Hayes reports:

    The whole idea that this is controversial is preposterous on its face. Republicans write this letter, basically re-stating their long-held views that they’re not going to be bound, as Members of Congress, as Senators, by an agreement that President Obama doesn’t include them in. That’s stating the obvious. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And the idea that this is somehow new or this is ending the idea that foreign policy stops at the water’s edge, is totally preposterous.

    Remember, the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives flew to Baghdad – we later found out on a trip financed by Saddam Hussein — appeared on Sunday shows from Baghdad – this is David Bonior – to trash the Bush administration and the arguments they were making about Iraq.

    In 2007, Nancy Pelosi went to Damascus, despite the Bush administration’s request that she not to do that, embraced Bashar Assad and basically got his back, suggested he wanted peace with Israel.

    In 1990 – go back to the Gulf War – Jimmy Carter wrote a secret letter to members of the U.N. Security Council telling them that they should oppose the resolution that George H. Bush was pushing that would have led to war in Iraq.

    The idea that this is unprecedented or new is preposterous. The only thing wrong with the letter is it should have come earlier and should have included references to Iran and al Qaeda.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/11/2015 - 08:33 pm.

      1 Little problem?

      Not sure what fair & balanced minded person could consider the “Weekly Standard” an unbiased source of information. Anti-Obama propaganda machine? yes.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/11/2015 - 09:01 pm.

      1 Little problem?

      Not sure what fair & balanced minded person could consider the “Weekly Standard” an unbiased source of information. Anti-Obama propaganda machine? yes.

  21. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/11/2015 - 05:56 pm.

    Logan Act

    Since the GOP continues to hold up the Loretta Lynch confirmation, what could be more fitting than Eric Holder going after the 47 Senators for a Logan Act violation as his last official act:

    § 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.
    Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    Felony convictions for all!!!

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/11/2015 - 08:59 pm.

      ” who, without authority of the United States”

      The U.S. Senate is a co-equal branch of government and represents the people of the United States.

      • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 03/11/2015 - 11:13 pm.

        Not co-equal when it comes to negotiating with another country

        The Senate plays NO role in negotiating anything with a foreign government, to suggest that they are co-equal with the President on this subject is simply wrong.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/11/2015 - 11:58 pm.

        No no no no no!!!! (I think)

        “… co-equal branch of government”?

        What?.. I mean, what do you mean by “co-equal”?

        “… represents the people of the United States.”




        The Republicans (in the House and Senate, on the Supreme Court)?

        The President?

        Obviously, I don’t quite get it. Pardon my slowness, but please clarify.


        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/12/2015 - 07:12 am.

          If you’re not familiar with the three branches of government, and their rolls, this isn’t the venue to get up to speed.

          • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/12/2015 - 09:04 am.


            Unless you mean the results of their excesses. And, last time I checked, the Legislative Branch included more than just 47 Senators. That is, if put to the vote, it wouldn’t even pass the Senate, let alone both the Senate and House. So, 47 Senators do not have US governmental permission. And, for what it’s worth, I think they should be tried under the Logan Act. It’s one thing if a communication between private citizens (as these 47 Senators are acting as since they have no governmental authority) and a foreign government is congruent with existing negotiations. It’s quite another when they are actively trying to undermine the authority of the President. You know, the Executive Branch.

  22. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 03/11/2015 - 06:02 pm.

    Well…. There are more than a few misinformed people here

    This isn’t a law, as you state, nor is it a unilateral treaty. It is a multiparty agreement. Our President is doing his job, the Congress is meddling and the agreement, if there is one, is far from done.

  23. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/11/2015 - 10:27 pm.

    Some thoughts

    So Mr. Black said: ‘If, in fact, there’s an argument that blowing up the current negotiations will lead to a happier ending, let’s hear how that would happen. It’s a tough case to make, but let’s hear it.” Well, it is exactly what Mr. Netanyahu did… and no one in Obama administration listened. So it is disingenuous to say that this should be tried first.

    On the other hand, what should real patriots do when they see that the President is about to run the country off the cliff just to satisfy his own feeling of achieving a “historical” agreement? This letter is a last resort attempt to stop a train running to the broken bridge.

    As far as an agreement goes, it is difficult for me to comprehend that people do not see this agreement with Iran as unreasonable: at best, it will prevent Iran from getting nukes for 10 years (but remember “I brought you peace for our times”) with a guarantee that they will after that because there will be nothing standing on their way. At worst, they will cheat their way into that way earlier. Allowing Russia to guard Iranian uranium would sound comical if it were not so dangerous. And leaving IAEA with unanswered questions just predicts how effective they will be in search for future illicit Iranian activities. And I am not even talking about increasing Iranian power in the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen… who is next?)

    Mr. Holbrook, if this was just to make Sen. Cotton a national figure, why would other 46 sign it? And even Mr. Black said that this was constitutionally correct.

    Mr. Willy, I thought Democrats love young people who vote for them so what difference does the age make? And I will refrain from bringing up Obama’s age at the time he was elected…

    Mr. Ecklund, Mr. Myron, Mr. William, Mr. Ellenbecker, Mr. Blaise, I thought you would trust Mr. Black when he said that this has nothing to do with treason… If anything Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Syria and meeting Assad was. Did you complain then?

    Mr. Rovick, you defined this thing as “a nonbinding international arrangement.” Can you please explain the reason to sign “nonbinding” agreements?

    Ms Gilbertson, where is the proof of ‘hatred” that blinds the Congress? This letter to save the country (and Obama) from making a huge mistake?

    Mr. Ellenbecker, Bush was also elected… but I do not remember liberals showing much respect to him. Plus, in the last elections, Democrats were destroyed…

    Ms. John-Knudson, if Massoud Hadeshi of Asia Times is the highest authority for you, I can clearly see your point of defending Obama.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/12/2015 - 09:12 am.

      Why would the other 46 sign the letter?

      Misplaced loyalty, and helping one of their own. Duty to party has trumped duty to the country, and I don’t care if you believe their feeble protestations to the contrary.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 03/12/2015 - 12:33 pm.


      ” I thought you would trust Mr. Black when he said that this has nothing to do with treason… If anything Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Syria and meeting Assad was. Did you complain then?”

      Comparing the 2007 trip by then-speaker Pelosi to this Republican letter to Iran is not really appropriate, as they are not comparable issues, outside of the fact that they involve members of congress and a foreign nation.

      Yes, Bush opposed Pelosi traveling to Syria to meet with Assad, but she violated no standards of conduct and abrogated no protocols or precedents. Bush opposed it, but it was within her constitutional role to make that trip. It should be noted that her trip abroad where she met Assad also included stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Prior to that point, the US had not had much contact with Assad since 2003. It should also be noted that while Bush opposed her going because it sent ‘mixed signals’ on Bush administration mideast policy, her aim was not to subvert multiparty talks, only to maintain an open dialogue with what was then a relatively stable country. Immediately after Pelosi’s visist, Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Frank Wolf of Virginia traveled to Syria and met with Assad.

      I think that you can also make an argument that, even that early in 2007, the writing was on the wall in terms of who wasn’t going to be making foreign policy decisions after 2008… so Pelosi was trying to build the groundwork for diplomatic re-engagement when a Democrat won the Presidency. But again, not similar situations: the 2007 Syria trips were somewhat bipartisan and not designed to scuttle international multiparty negotiations on a decades long festering issue. This Republican letter is. The 2007 Syria trips were not an insult to the American people and the American Presidency. I think this Republican letter is.

  24. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/12/2015 - 08:38 am.


    is the adjective I’d use.

  25. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 03/12/2015 - 09:11 am.

    “Higher authority”?…whoa

    “Higher authority” are your words not mine; more your perspective than mine.

    I am a good listener or try to be, to other voices than my own and draw no simple conclusions in the process.

    I do however find little time for those who carry certainty as a spade in all its absurdity, trying desperately to bury the words of others; unsuccessfully, yes indeed.

    If it is debate one seeks to assure oneself or ‘educate’ others, it’s hard to tell?

    Not even bad, bad sophistry lines up one’s rhetorical opponents in a long line in a desperate need to be ‘right’ even in some small way? Got to say personally, it reminds me more of a one man military tribune playing “higher authority”…just my viewpoint; you may think otherwise…

    Any offensive style that reads, breathes “higher authority” as its hallmark is merely an interrogation technique which goes nowhere but does too often clarifies, reveal the ‘interrogator’s point of view, credo or manifesto?

    Nations who demand moral absolutes smell of harsher climes I suppose where listening and recognizing the ‘other’ are not tolerated… or even recognizing, actually noting at times, the possibility that others may have at least some validity. Yet you may think otherwise…that’s okay…

    If one lives with certainties stuffed in one’s rucksack there is nothing viable or when establishing a false premise; no sir, have a good day……

    • Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 03/12/2015 - 12:34 pm.

      Enough said, but

      should clarify…mine above,” higher authority”? is response to Gutman’s line-up… god bless whomever…

  26. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 03/12/2015 - 09:14 am.

    Wrong Now Wrong Always.

    That was in 1996. A “leader” who has proven wrong and deceptive repeatedly. And we have to trust this guy.

    “If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind,” adding that, “the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”

    “Even so, three Republican congressmen — Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Frank Wolf of Virginia — visited Syria separately and met with Mr. Assad on Sunday. And a senior American diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, held talks in Damascus last month with Syrian officials about an influx of Iraqi refugees. Mr. Bush did not mention those visits in his remarks yesterday.” – Hmm

    Would Iran would be the first country in the Middle East to proliferate nuclear weapons technology. Actually no. And If Iran accepts IAEA inspections, then Netenyahu’s claims are a joke. You cannot achieve certain nuclear capabilities in a basement.

    Obama was elected president twice. He has a right, according to the constitution, to conduct foreign policy. These negotiations are conducted with UN powers. If they are destroyed, Russia and China will walk away. Good luck achieving anything after that. Even thru another war, which is Netenyahus favorite policy.

  27. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/12/2015 - 09:19 am.

    “Real patriot”

    Someone who agrees with me.

  28. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/12/2015 - 11:40 am.

    No agreement is better than a bad agreement

    “President Obama previously pointed out that ”no deal is better than a bad deal.” Iran’s supreme leader consented recently stated, “The Americans keep saying no deal is better than a bad deal; we also agree with that.”

    “To get there we will have to be tough, clear-eyed and ready to walk away and increase the pressure if need be. No deal is better than a bad deal,” (Hillary) Clinton said, adding that any agreement that endangers U.S. or Israeli national security should be rejected.”

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/12/2015 - 04:31 pm.

      I agree

      No deal is better than a bad deal; where we likely part company is allowing Netanyahu determine for the US what is a bad deal: the benefits of the deal for the US is by far the least of his concerns. One would hope the US Congress would have the interests of the US ahead of Israel’s or at least have the ability to distinguish the two from each other. This would not seem to be the case. We don’t see any other leaders being invited to campaign for their personal interests before congress. If our other close allies agree that this is a good deal, why should Israel have the right of first refusal?

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/13/2015 - 08:03 am.

        Let congress (and us) see the details

        As I suggested in an earlier post, Obama needs to tell the American people what the deal consists of and let congress vote on whether or not it’s a “good deal” before he signs it.

        Given this man’s history, that’s not too much to ask.

  29. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/13/2015 - 09:55 am.

    This man has successfully NOT wasted 2 trillion dollars and thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of civilian lives on “Nation Building” adventures. You can go with the GW Bush/Paul Wolfowitz/Jeb Bush adventurism, I’ll go with THIS MAN who is operating entirely within in his authority as the elected President of the United States in his Iran negotiations in concert with our allies, despite the desperate efforts of you and yours to have endless war in the Mid East. You continue to operate under the crazy assumption that there is some magic number of Muslims to kill and peace and stability breaks out in the Mid East. Oh, and there are 2 numbers: all or none. Either we find our way to stability through agreements like this one or we commit to Netanyahu’s endless war.

  30. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/13/2015 - 05:57 pm.

    other thoughts

    Mr. Holbrook, if I remember correctly there were plenty of Republicans who disagreed and criticized Bush. Where are those liberals who disagree and criticize Obama and Hillary? Loyalty at the expense of the country?

    Mr. Ecklund, Assad was an enemy and Pelosi talked to him thus providing some legitimacy and comfort – not much different than Hanoi Jane; and I am not even talking about obviousness that fixing Assad regime was impossible. Republicans wrote a letter to an enemy not to provide legitimacy but to prevent Iran from winning a game against America. How can this be called treason? Just because it is against Obama? But Obama is not America. Here is an example: I see that my friend is about to fall into the trap of bad investment but he ignores my advice to stop. I e-mail the investment company and tell them that my friend doesn’t have money and is just doing it for fun so they should not waste time on him. Is this treasonous?

    Ms. John-Knudson, you referred to this guy twice in your two posts – that shows something. I also wonder if you are an equal opportunity good listener….

    Mr. Maddali, “If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind” statement was correct then and is correct now. Just ask all the Gulf States… And Iran may not be the first country to get nukes in the ME but the first one to cause others to get it – again, ask Saudi Arabia and Egypt. And no, these negotiations are not conducted with the UN power – they are private business of parties involved. And Russia and China will walk away as soon as any enforcement of this agreement (meaning when Iran cheats) will be required. In fact, if Russia and China support this agreement, then something is clearly wrong with is as they are American enemies.

    Mr. Brandon, a real patriot is the one thinking about the country before thinking about the president.

    Mr. Blaise, you referred to “our other close allies agree that this is a good deal.” Who are they? Russia? China? All Gulf countries disagree. I also wonder if you can provide examples of “stability through agreements like this one” in history…

    But the interesting thing is that all of the above are side points. Agreement is the actual elephant in the room no one addressed my points showing how bad this agreement will be… It appears that so many people want an agreement just because it is “no war” but that did not end nicely in 1938. On the other hand, it all also comes to “trust me on this” by Barak Obama… which is also not a very good argument (“if you like your doctor…)

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/13/2015 - 10:41 pm.


      I did not say any of our allies have declared it a good deal, allies like Britain, Germany and France are involved in the negotiations and if, in the final analysis, the consensus is that a workable deal has been reached we should move forward. Yes, China and Russia are also involved and share some common interests with us. Kind of like Iran assisting in driving ISIL out of Tikrit: common interests. A few treaty examples for your consideration in light of the fact that a nuclear weapon has not been used in warfare since 1945:

      1959 Antarctic Treaty
      1963 Hot Line Agreement
      1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty
      1967 Outer Space Treaty
      1967 Latin America Nuclear Free Zone Treaty
      1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
      1971 Seabed Treaty
      1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty I (Interim Agreement)
      1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
      1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty
      1974 Vladivostok Agreement
      1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty
      1977 Environmental Modification Convention
      1979 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II
      1985 South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty
      1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty – INF
      1988 Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement
      1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
      1993 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II
      1996 Treaty of Pelindaba
      1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
      2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty
      2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism
      2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/15/2015 - 10:24 am.

      Your prejudice is showing

      There is no deal on the table, how can you already claim its a bad deal?
      Last check Mr. Obama was our elected president, we gave him our trust by popular vote, evidently you have abetter system?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/15/2015 - 11:47 am.

      Disagreement and criticism

      There is a big difference between disagreement and criticism and going around the President to speak directly to the head of a foreign power. There is no disloyalty in disagreement–I find Senator McCain’s foreign policy notions outdated, simplistic, and potentially destructive, and his penchant for stating those views publicly evidence of a lack of imagination on the part of the people who book guests on Sunday morning talk shows, but not disloyal.

  31. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/13/2015 - 11:10 pm.

    Watching our 47 remorseful buyers…

    Led by John MCain who said he signed the letter too quickly because a snowstorm was headed into town and he was in a hurry to get out. Yes, that is the kind of careful decision making we get from our new Republican majority: “Hey, it might have treasonous implications; but, it sticks it to Obama and I got a plane to catch”. Term limits anyone?

  32. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/14/2015 - 09:47 am.

    Treaties, not agreements

    Mr. Blaise, when you were compiling your comprehensive list, have you noticed that all but two were treaties meaning, I believe, that they went through the approval of the Congress… And two “agreements” on the list were of no significance… So you basically proved that what Obama is doing now is not the right way to do it… Of course, one can also ask a logical question: If this agreement is so good, why not run it through Congress?

    Also saying that France and Britain are on board is saying nothing considering that they did not want to have sanctions to begin with… Opinion of countries living next to Iran should have much more weight.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/16/2015 - 11:03 am.


      “Of course, one can also ask a logical question: If this agreement is so good, why not run it through Congress?”

      Have you been paying attention to congress lately? A human trafficking bill, supported by all, could not even be “run through congress”. NOTHING RUNS THROUGH CONGRESS. Is this news to you? Of course we could get immediate Republican approval of an Iran nuclear deal if it included a ban on all abortions after 4 weeks.

      “Also saying that France and Britain are on board is saying nothing considering that they did not want to have sanctions to begin with… Opinion of countries living next to Iran should have much more weight.”

      Like the near by countries who have nuclear weapons (Israel and Pakistan) and are the driving force why Iran wants weapons of their own? Right or wrong, as long as these countries have the unilateral ability to destroy Iran, Iran will be pursuing a nuclear capability of its’ own. Leaving two options: bomb Iran every few years forever to attempt to slow down their weapons development or negotiate agreements that slows down their weapons development. Neither option stops their desire to be equal to their sometimes hostile neighbors in weapons capability. All we can do is slow them down peacefully or violently until the status quo changes (disarming Israel and Pakistan).

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/16/2015 - 01:38 pm.

      And then…

      While we run the Obama-backed agreement by the Conservative Republican branch of the U.S. government and wait to see what they think and how they vote:

      The United Kingdom can run it by their Parliament and see how THEY vote; and

      Russia can do the same with whatever exactly their equivalent of congress is to see what they think about the details; and

      China can present it to their (pretty much inscrutable) voting body for their stamp of approval (or not); and

      France and Germany can do the same.

      Or maybe the deal should be examined and voted on by all the democratically elected bodies in the entire European Union (to maintain harmony there).

      And let’s not forget about Iran. According to the logic here, they would need to get the necessary votes from all-concerned too, no?

      And then, if everyone thinks it’s a good agreement, everyone can ratify it.

      Or not.

      It seems a big thing a lot of people are forgetting about this “deal” is that it’s not just Barack Obama, the United States and Iran involved. The agreement is being negotiated by representatives of six of the most powerful nations on the planet (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, America) and Iran.

      To keep insisting the U.S. Congress (which has proven to the world that it is all but completely dysfunctional) is “constitutionally entitled” to Veto Power over any agreement reached by the leaders of all those nations is, to put it politely, at least a little arrogant.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/16/2015 - 07:20 pm.

      More weight?

      To take that one step farther: The Eastern European countries, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc. etc. should have had “more weight” during the cold war than: USA, France, Britain, Germany etc. Correct?

      Should not: Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. etc, carry “more weight” than Israel, as they are actually living, next to or closer to Iran?

      Should not Russia’s opinion, have “more weight” on the Ukraine than the USA etc. based on the “Countries living next…….” doctrine?

  33. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/16/2015 - 07:32 pm.


    Mr. Blaise, since you didn’t address this point, I assume that you agree with me that this kind of agreement is not an appropriate method here based on historical approach. Now, if your only problem is the Congress itself, I want to ask you a question: Do you think that Republicans in Congress would vote a good deal down just to stick it to Obama? But even if they would, remember that they do not have a veto proof majority in Congress so do you think enough Democrats would go along with Republicans voting against a good deal? And if they would not, then there is no risk to go through Congress if a deal is indeed good, right?

    Now, you can’t be serious saying that Iran needs nukes to defend itself from Israel (far away and friendly to Shah’s Iran) and Pakistan (which nukes are against India only). On the other hand, if this is the case and Iran is in grave danger, than no sanction relief or negotiations would be able to stop them (it would be illogical for them to give up a security for some economic benefits) so they will continue their work even after agreement, right? As for bombing every two years, are you saying that the mightiest in the world American military cannot do anything but drop a few bombs here and there with minimal damage?

    Mr. Willy, did you read that part of my post where I talk about different counties involved? And now I will ask you to provide examples when agreements like this have been successful…

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/16/2015 - 09:08 pm.

      Agreements like this…

      I haven’t seen the agreement. I don’t know what’s in it. Hard to compare to other agreements. It sounds though, like you have read it, know its contents, why it’s a bad agreement that won’t work, etc.. Please copy and paste its contents here so we can read it, or if there’s a web address, that would be great too.

      But beyond talking about what a bad and foolish agreement it is, I haven’t read anything you’ve said in this thread that amounts to an alternative solution to the problem, other than your reference to the “mightiest in the world American military” being able to do more than bomb the Iranians once every couple years.

      That would seem to indicate that, because the agreement is such a bad one that it shouldn’t be considered at all, the United States (not the countries nearest its borders) should simply skip it and assume the responsibility (and the costs, of course) for crippling or destroying Iran’s nuclear capability via all out (enough) War. Something much more potent than “a few bombs here and there with minimal damage,” anyway.

      What do think? Should we just SEND them a couple nuclear bombs? Like maybe one (graphic 20-megaton “warning shot”) 200 miles or so outside Tehran in some mostly vacant desert area, and another, more serious unit, on whatever mountain our best intelligence guess tells us their super secret nuclear bomb factories are bunkered under? I mean… We’ve got plenty of ’em. Way more than Iran (or any other country) will ever have.

      How would that be? Mighty enough for you?

      I’m not saying that’s what you’re saying, but I haven’t noticed you making any suggestions as to how to solve the problem. You seem primarily occupied with pointing out your perception of the flaws in the comments of those inclined to “give diplomacy as good a chance as possible.” You seem to be saying people that think that way are being naive, foolish, unrealistic, ignorant to the ways in which the “real world” always has and always will operate, etc..

      Oh wait… I’m no agreement expert, but I do remember one “on the fly” agreement that got worked out between John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev back in the early sixties… Something about the Soviet Union agreeing to pull it’s brand new nuclear missiles out of Cuba in exchange for the U.S. pulling its missiles out of Turkey, I think it was. In exchange for both parties doing that, they agreed, there would be no all-out nuclear war between them.

      I realize that probably doesn’t pass your “valid lasting agreements” criteria, but as far as I know, there haven’t been any nuclear weapons in Cuba since, and neither the U.S. or the Soviet Union (or Russia) has fired a nuclear weapon at each other in the past, well, forever.

      As a matter of fact, the United States is the only country on earth that has ever USED a nuclear (atomic, actually) weapon on ANYONE. Hiroshima, Nagasaki. A few hundred thousand people dead in just a few minutes (on two different days).

      Anyway, when it comes to your constant requests for people to provide examples, would you please provide a few examples of military actions in the region that have worked out well for anyone.

      For example, how did the military action in Iraq work out for the Iraqi people (the 500,000 that died as a result of the “military action and occupation,” as well as those still alive there), the few thousand young American soldiers that died there, the thousands that are living with their physical and psychological wounds, trying to get through the line at the V.A., their wives, their kids, their parents, etc..

      And, if no agreement up to your standards can be reached, and if it ultimately comes down to having to use American military might to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, you’d gladly and proudly volunteer to join the “liberation forces” blasting their way through the front lines, right?

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/16/2015 - 10:18 pm.

      Reading comprehension

      1. You implied that agreements and treaties are universally ineffective and Asked me to name one. I offered several that in sum have served to prevent another use of nuclear weapons in war.
      2. If you believe congress would not pass up a good deal just to stick it to Obama I suggest you read a little on the “grand bargain” framework that had basic agreement on tax reform, spending and budgeting between Obama and Boehner before he presented it to his caucas.
      3. I said Iran perceives the need to have an equal weapons footing with regional neighbors they do not always agree with. Perception is reality to the perceived.
      4. You continue to believed that there is a “magic number” of Muslims to kill and then they go peacefully into the night. You could not be more wrong. It is all or none. I think we need to work towards none.

  34. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/17/2015 - 07:02 pm.


    Mr. Wagner, the Eastern European countries were Soviet satellites during Cold War but now their opinion about Russia should be given significant weight since they may know (or rather “feel”) the situation better. And Israel is in the unique situation because it has been repeatedly threatened by Iran. Sure, Russian opinion should be definitely taken into account on Ukraine – until it grabs a piece of it…

    Mr. Willy, the most likely points of agreement are all over the web – very easy to find. Sure, it may be different than media and pundits think of that and then I will readjust my opinion based on the real thing but at the moment we are all free to judge the most likely outcome.

    Obama said that no agreement is better than a bad agreement (does he have an alternative?) and that is what I hope we all should agree on. The other thing I hope everyone should agree upon is to prevent Iran from getting nukes. After that, everyone expresses an opinion about the “badness” of the assumed agreement and makes a judgment if it is bad enough to prefer no agreement. In my mind this agreement is a sure way to hand nukes to Iran – it is that simple. So yes, I think people who believe that this kind of agreement with Iran will work are unrealistic and naïve.

    A little bit of history here. The Soviet Union was not governed by fanatics – they were all killed in 1937. No one there expected communism to come any time soon. The main goal was survival of the regime. On the other hand, the Soviet Union knew that America will use WMD if threatened or attacked and that Kennedy was not bluffing in Cuban crisis. The times have changed and I doubt that the western governments now have guts to do anything drastic and Iran knows that. And that is the difference why the things that worked that time will not work now.

    Now, about examples – good question. You see, Iraq WAR is such an example…. and before you cry foul let me explain. America won the war quickly, decisively, with minimal losses and casualties. The world went quiet for a while (the number of terrorist acts went down – statistically) and Kaddafi gave up his nukes (for what he was published by Obama) after seeing that America had guts to do what it said it would do (remember all violated UN resolutions?). By the way, at that time it could have been reasonable to take Iran on its offer and press it to give up their nukes as well. But after that it all went downhill but it was not the war but the “liberation” as you called it that was incredibly naïve and harmful for everyone. Had America pulled its troops out as soon as Saddam was captured, it would have kept that aura of a winner. And Iraq would have had another dictator (not much different than it is now) but at least THAT dictator would have been afraid of America… So no, there should be no need to “liberate” Iran – they can make their own choices….

    Mr. Blaise, I re-read my posts and I did not find where I said all agreements and treaties are universally ineffective so that is why I pointed out that you used treaties as examples meaning that Congress could express its opinion, unlike in this case. And actually if Congress accepts this agreement, I would feel much better because I would assume that it knows a lot of information I do not (and should not). But when it is just the president who is making this decision and politics plays a huge role here I feel bad for America. I still have to add that I do think that any agreement or treaty with rogue countries should be viewed with huge suspicion, mostly because those countries lie all the time…

    You may blame Republicans but there are plenty of Democrats who are very uneasy about this deal – doesn’t it tell you a lot? And Iranian government is not stupid so it does not find risk where it does not exist (Israel, Pakistan) – this quest is purely aggressive. And I never expressed an opinion that America has to kill so many people – where did you find that?

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/17/2015 - 11:14 pm.

      More later

      No context here, but, “for better or worse,” I appreciate your comments. Main point being that right now it’s late, I should go to sleep, and as much as I’d like to reply I’m sure it would be better to wait until tomorrow (so I don’t click “Save,” instead of “Preview,” just before falling asleep and wind up looking like a complete – as opposed to “garden variety” – idiot).

      Until then, good night.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/19/2015 - 01:21 am.

      Dear Ilya,

      I’m going to drop out of “the agreement” dicussion here, except to say that Edward Blaise is correct about the post “Mission Accomplished” thing (and the whole shooting match, I’m pretty sure – he and I seem to agree completely on the absurdity of the whole sad endeavor), and to point to the monumental sad absurdity of “going into Iraq” in the first place.

      To that point, I put a post under Tuesday’s (03/17) article, “Political intervention in Iran negotiations harms chances for peace,” focused on the “neoconservatives” role in getting America INTO that war. I didn’t say it there (hate to sound like a “conspiracy theorist”), but I strongly suspect the neoconservatives are at it again in this Iran agreement/Captain Cotton letter deal. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the neoconservatives or not (you probably are), but take a look at the references I put there and see what you think.

      What I really want to say to you is this:

      I wish you would write a “Community Voices”-type piece about your life… Where you were born, grew up, what you saw and experienced and thought as a youngster, teenager, young adult, or up until the point you moved away from your homeland, how you happened to come to America, what it was like, what your impressions were and have been since arriving, etc., and whatever else you might have to say about how those two “distinct sets of firsthand experience” affect your thinking about all this stuff (or just your thinking in general).

      I say that because: A) I’m genuinely curious and interested and think others would find it interesting; and B) even though I (respectfully) disagree with things you sometimes say in your comments, I always find the “real world, been there, seen that” soviet/russian or eastern european perspective they often contain interesting as can be.

      For immediate example: “The Soviet Union was not governed by fanatics – they were all killed in 1937. No one there expected communism to come any time soon.”

      Besides striking me as a great opening for some kind of historical/”intrique” novel, it’s the kind of thing that, if we were siting, talking at a table somewhere over a cup of coffee or bottle of beer, would make me say, “Wait a minute,” as you started to move on to whatever you were going to say next. “Tell me more about that.”

      I mean, as a reader, those two sentences are loaded…

      “The Soviet Union was not governed by fanatics – they were all killed in 1937.”

      “No one there expected communism to come any time soon.”

      I may be crazy, but I’d say either one would make an excellent “first sentence” in a novel.

      And I also get the sense (in your posts) that you have strong feelings about what seems to be your real appreciation of that thing called “Ameican freedom,” or “the American way” (because you’ve seen the “other side of the coin”?) that so many of us that were born and raised here appreaciate too, no doubt, but tend to take for granted.

      Should you decide to do that – write a Community Voices-type article, I’d recommend (or hope) you’d write it from as “non-political” a perspective as possible. And by that I’m mainly talking about the current (maybe “eternal”), “We’re right, your wrong, and here’s why” back and forth that goes on between “conservatives” and “liberals” (or “progressives”). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it would be interesting enough to just hear what you had to say about whatever it was like growing up, what you saw around you, what you thought about, how you wound up here, etc.

      Anyway… That is all for now. I’m sure it would be fun to sit around with you and Mr. Blaise and talk about this stuff at length. We, of course, would gang up on you and wouldn’t quit until we felt sure you had seen the light and were converted for good. Or, even if we weren’t able to induce a FULL conversion, I’m pretty sure it would be enjoyable enough for us all to agree to meet again to continue the conversation.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/19/2015 - 01:31 am.

      Disappearing articles

      Just noticed the, “Political intervention in Iran negotiations harms chances for peace,” article I mentioned has dropped off the home page listings. It’s here:

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/19/2015 - 08:32 pm.

        Thank you

        Mr. Willy, I will start with the second part of your post and want to thank you for your interest. Maybe one day I will do what you suggest (even though it would be hard not to make any connections) but now I can see too many current issues we all have to deal with.

        And I want to point out one fact for you. American Jews vote Democratic 9 to 1 but Soviet Jews vote Republican 3 to 1. Why? Because their unique experience taught them a lot of things and, as a result of that understanding and knowledge, they make decisions in voting booths. I have had discussions with many people who tried to dismiss that Soviet experience as irrelevant but it is actually more relevant than some American experience (do Americans know what a real dictatorship is and how it thinks? We do). So I, too, would like sit down with you, and others like you, who are willing to listen and understand (as I always am) – maybe MinnPost may organize something like that, preferably not in downtown. But (of course) I tend to believe that I would be able to convince you…

        Now, back to Iran: I really hope that you do not think the “neo-conservatives” (yes, I know what it means – I’ve been here for 20 years) want to get us into war to damage America. They are patriotic and want the best for America (same as most liberals) and that is why their opinion should still be listened to. I already said that I disagree with calling Iraq war a disaster (post war rebuilding was) but even if it was, the ideas are worth discussing. Remember, that Carter and Brzezinski brought us hostage crisis and they are still giving advice.

  35. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/17/2015 - 10:16 pm.

    Timeline fatigue

    You are forgetting that between GWB’s mission accomplished victory tour and the capture of Hussein, Paul Bremer had dismantled the Iraqi military and most govt. functions. Just leaving at the time of his capture was simply not an option due to our immediate “post victory” decisions. Did you see the graphic of Iranian cabinet ministers and their US alma matters? It would appear very likely they are all filling out their NCAA brackets today. Restoring our pre 1980 relations with Iran is not beyond the realm of possibility, as you mentioned when pointing out Iran and Israel’s one time ability to get along. Dropping bombs on them is not a good start no matter what Netanyahu suggests.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/18/2015 - 07:09 pm.


      Mr. Blaise, you may be right about timetable but Mr. Bremer’s decision had nothing to do with military operations and he was not a military man but a diplomat – oops. And I am glad that you agree that it is possible to restore good relations with Iran – it is just that the slate should be wiped clean.

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