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March 11, 2015

Iran Letter Went to the Wrong Recipient

Republicans wrote Iran to warn that a deal wasn’t binding long-term.

Forty-seven Senate Republicans sent a letter to Iran’s leadership earlier this week making clear that the nuclear deal currently being negotiated does not meet the standards of a binding treaty, and that a future U.S. president could nullify it at any time. In other words, stating the obvious. The reaction was swift and furious – from the Democrats, that is.

Every leftist from presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Smiling Joe Biden piled on, calling the letter “dangerous” and “out of step with the best traditions of American leadership” (rimshot!), while claiming it was motivated by a “rush to war” by Republican “traitors.” If anyone is a traitor, it’s the guy negotiating the deal – John Kerry.

All that said, it would have been better if the Republican senators had not sent this letter to Iran. In addition to being a poor method of conducting diplomacy, it’s bad politics. It will be spun by the Democrats and their sycophants in the media as just another example of personal animus and racism toward Barack Obama. And it will probably end up being a self-inflicted political wound that could have been avoided. Those who defend it on the basis that Democrats have done it before miss the mark. Since when has imitating Democrats been good practice?

A better approach would have been to address the letter to Obama himself and the American public, and publish it in The Washington Post and other newspapers.

In doing so, the 47 senators, led by Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Tom Cotton, could have framed the issue in terms of the Senate’s role in treaty-making, and insisted the president respect the Senate in this regard. They could have emphasized the foolishness of accepting a handshake deal with Iran instead of a binding treaty. They could have highlighted Obama’s absurd notion that deals of this magnitude should be done in secret and then presented to the American people and their representatives as a fait accompli – something that would have resonated strongly given Obama’s past deceptiveness about keeping your health plan under the Affordable Care Act. The senators could have pointed out that Iran could nullify an agreement at any time, just as the United States could.

All of this could have been used to challenge Obama to make his case to the American people before reaching a deal with Iran – to explain how a deal would somehow not do fatal damage to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

What’s done is done, and the letter may at least have the salient effect of making the current deal with Iran less likely to come to pass. It will also force 2016 presidential hopefuls to stake out their positions on this matter, which will be beneficial over the next 18 months. But this continues a trend in which Republicans are missing the target.

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