The Cotton Letter a Breach of Protocol? Tosh

 

Noting that the White House and journalists of every description on the left are now accusing senator Tom Cotton of violating protocol in writing to the leaders of Iran, Josh Trevino replies, in effect, “Nonsense.”  From his recent post on Facebook:

[I]n the modern era, we see United States Senators and Congressmen communicating and even traveling abroad to counter Presidential foreign policy rather often. There’s the Ted Kennedy 1984 outreach to Yuri Andropov to form an electoral alliance against Ronald Reagan (yes, you read that right); there is the 1985 John Kerry and Tom Harkin trip to Managua; there is the 1985 Jim Wright “Dear Commandante” letter; and there is the 2002 Jim McDermott trip to Baghdad. For starters.

One may dispute the merits of these acts, but they happened, and if you’re going to…[discuss] the topic, you may want to know that.

Nicely done, no?

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  1. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Leadership, it’s been a long time since you’ve been around. We have missed you.

    • #1
  2. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I’ll go even further.  In this Age of Obama, there’s no such thing as “proper protocol”.  It’s all a matter of what you can get away with, and whatever it takes to get the job done.  Our security is so vital, that the Senate Republicans needed to send the letter to the Mullahs to let them know that there are people in this country that know what they’re up to, and that the sh__ will hit the fan if the right person gets elected in 2016.  (GAWD I hope so).

    • #2
  3. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    So we should lump these 47 congressmen into the same political boat with their forefathers Kennedy, Wright, McDermott, etc. All of whom put the countries interest first, right…..

    • #3
  4. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I don’t think this was as unwise as Boehner inviting Bibi without WH input, but I think it’s bad policy. Notice that Corker – head of Foreign Relations – didn’t sign it. Just because Dems have no scruples doesn’t mean we have to follow their lead. If all your friends jump off a bridge it doesn’t mean you have to jump off the bridge.  I try to teach my kids that every day and even Peter Robinson doesn’t follow it. Very sad.

    • #4
  5. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Petty Boozswha:

    I don’t think this was as unwise as Boehner inviting Bibi without WH input, but I think it’s bad policy. Notice that Corker – head of Foreign Relations – didn’t sign it. Just because Dems have no scruples doesn’t mean we have to follow their lead. If all your friends jump off a bridge it doesn’t mean you have to jump off the bridge. I try to teach my kids that every day and even Peter Robinson doesn’t follow it. Very sad.

    If jumping off the bridge looks like a necessary measure to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon–to put the executive branch on notice of the seriousness of congressional opposition, that is, while rallying the public–then I’ll jump.

    • #5
  6. Elephas Americanus Member
    Elephas Americanus
    @ElephasAmericanus

    The games the Democrats have played around the Netanyahu speech and now this letter are astounding. They seem to have forgotten how Nancy Pelosi went to Syria to visit her good pal Bashar “Barrel Bomb” Assad over the White House’s objections, or all the trips to Cuba the Black Congressional Caucus has taken over the years. But that was for principle, right? That was before we installed our infallible secular pope.

    Dissent against President Bush = Patriotism

    Dissent against President Obama = Treason

    05blog-pelosi533

    • #6
  7. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    In the fall of 2002, McDermott and fellow Representatives David Bonior of Michigan, Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Mike Thompson of California visited Iraq; in Baghdad they met with members of parliament and the Iraqi Foreign Minister, and in Basra they met with residents who talked about the effect on them of the Iraq sanctions. American conservatives sharply criticised McDermott for this trip, and for his predictions that President George W. Bush would “mislead the American public” to justify military action and that no WMD would be found in Iraq.[11]

    • #7
  8. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Mr. Robinson,

    If I thought this letter would have a scintilla of positive impact I would agree with you, but it looks to me like more Washington posturing – as if Jesse Jackson got elected to the Senate and decided to do his grandstanding by mail instead of his solemn diplomatic trips overseas.

    • #8
  9. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Petty Boozswha:Mr. Robinson,

    If I thought this letter would have a scintilla of positive impact I would agree with you, but it looks to me like more Washington posturing – as if Jesse Jackson got elected to the Senate and decided to do his grandstanding by mail instead of his solemn diplomatic trips overseas.

    I understand your position, Boozswha, and I felt a little queasy about the letter at first myself–other things being equal, senators ought to let chief executives conduct negotiations on their own.  My thinking, of course, is that other things aren’t at all equal in this case.  If you believe, with, among others, Prime Minister Netanyahu, that a bad agreement would put Iran on a sure path to acquiring nuclear weapons–for that matter, if you merely suspect that’s the case–then your thinking needs to turn, pretty darned fast, to a couple of questions:

    What can we do to stop such an agreement?  Answer:  Nothing.  If the President wants to make an agreement, he can.

    In that case, what can we do to limit its effectiveness–and to create, right now, the degrees of freedom the next president will need to re-examine it, re-negotiate it, and, if necessary, repudiate it?  This is where Sen. Cotton’s letter strikes me as critical–really critical.  He and his co-signers have re-shaped the way the press and official Washington think about the agreement.  Yesterday, the matter remained politically and constitutionally murky, and it proved perfectly acceptable to assume that an agreement by Obama would have to be respected by his successor.  Today that is simply not so.  The constitutional issue–the right of the Senate to advice and consent–has been joined.  And nearly half the Senate, led by a graduate of Harvard Law School, no less, has declared that in the next administration such an agreement will have no force whatsoever–none–unless and until the forty-fifth president accepts it.

    A single letter–and the way all Washington thinks about the agreement has been turned upside-down.

    That’s not grandstanding.  That’s a remarkable achievement.

    • #9
  10. user_57515 Member
    user_57515
    @TomDavis

    Kennedy was wrong; Kerry was wrong; Harkin was wrong; Wright was wrong; McDermott was wrong.  Peloci was wrong when she went to see Assad.

    Cotton et al are wrong now.

    It is true that Obama has trespassed all over Congress’s turf, but it is childish for these guys to think that they have the prerogative to contact foreign heads of state on negotiations being carried on by the president.

    While it is easy to understand the satisfaction the right gets out of this, it is going to end up being counterproductive.  When Obama’s whole adventure is almost certain to blow up and go to hell, these Senators have put their noses in it and when it does blow up it will blow up in their faces, not Obama’s.  In short, these Senators have wet the bed to keep warm.

    It would have been much more useful and appropriate for the Legislative branch to continue working on its effort to pass legislation mandating sanctions if appropriate progress had not been made by some given date.  Such a measure would certainly clear the House and it is possible that it could find enough votes in the Senate to bring it to the floor.  There are at least a couple of Dems who would vote to bring the bill to a vote.  Even if it did not make it to the floor, the Republicans could be in the position to say, “We told you so.” The GOP could claim some bipartisan support.  If we were luck enough to get 60 votes to bring the measure to the floor, any screw up after a veto would be on Obama’s head.

    None of that is going to happen now.  When Obama strikes a bad deal, he is going to crow that he was making good progress until the Senate Republicans got involved and he had to settle for the best he could get.

    Write it down.

    • #10
  11. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    If only we could get the House of Representatives to stand up and fight, even a little.

    • #11
  12. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    None of that is going to happen now. When Obama strikes a bad deal, he is going to crow that he was making good progress until the Senate Republicans got involved and he had to settle for the best he could get.

    I’m thinking that it should now be a requirement that all ivy leaguers read a book on realpolitik before being sworn into elected office.

    • #12
  13. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Peter Robinson:Yesterday, the matter remained politically and constitutionally murky, and it proved perfectly acceptable to assume that an agreement by Obama would have to be respected by his successor. Today that is simply not so.

    Honestly, I didn’t know anyone who thought the agreement had to outlast Obama, even before yesterday.  We knew that Obama wasn’t going to submit it to Congress, so it’s not a treaty.

    I’m surprised people thought that. If it’s true, then it’s true.  Though if anyone else reading this can verify that they thought this was binding post-Obama, please chime in.

    I just assumed that everyone knew this meant that Iran had bought 2 more years (and depending on who wins the election, maybe longer).

    • #13
  14. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    At some point after Iran obtains nuclear weapons, the cry will be “Why didn’t congress do something?”

    In this case, whatever the pros and cons, something had to be said, Cotton organized 47 Republican senators to say it.

    And FWIW it turns out Iraq did have chemical weapons after all.

    • #14
  15. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Tom Davis:

    None of that is going to happen now. When Obama strikes a bad deal, he is going to crow that he was making good progress until the Senate Republicans got involved and he had to settle for the best he could get.

    Write it down.

    So if not for the letter, when the “deal” fell apart Obama would have owned it and not blamed the Republicans…..riiiiight.  Gotcha

    • #15
  16. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    If I’m Tom Cotton and Obama blames me for screwing up their pretty little deal with Iran I say…Damn Straight, that was my intention.

    • #16
  17. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Tom Davis:None of that is going to happen now. When Obama strikes a bad deal, he is going to crow that he was making good progress until the Senate Republicans got involved and he had to settle for the best he could get.

    Write it down.

    The problem is that there will be a bad deal.  And that bad deal will allow Iran to develop a nuke.  Then we will have a really bad deal.

    I see all kinds of triangulation going on here.  If they do this but we don’t do that, then…  Or, if they do that while we do this, we’re going to get blamed…

    What I don’t see is enough Republicans with a backbone in Congress standing up to this administration trying to stop it from “fundamentally changing America.”

    • #17
  18. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Hi Tom Davis –

    Tom Davis:

    Kennedy was wrong; Kerry was wrong; Harkin was wrong; Wright was wrong; McDermott was wrong. Peloci was wrong when she went to see Assad.

    Cotton et al are wrong now.”

    I do not see how that follows. Senator Cotton does not travel to visit and grovel before some killer.  He publishes a communication to let the world know – the world, not the mullahs – that someone there is, Americans there are, who will not grovel and appease, but who will fight for firmness against jihadis who want nukes, and in consequence, fight in opposition to those who would enable, or refrain from offering restraint to, jihadis who want nukes.

    It is vital right now not to underestimate the power of exemplary leadership to give courage to others.  He fights.  He fears not to be seen to fight, in a way that can electrify the most timid among our reps and ourselves.

    In 1944 Warsaw, this image appeared on lampposts:

    260px-Flaga_PPP.svg

    “PW,” stylized in the symbol, stood for “Polska walczy,” which means “Poland Fights!”  This gave the people courage, and alerted them that the Warsaw Uprising would soon take place.

    Now, we here are not challenged or charged, nor do we desire, armed uprising by the people.  But we most certainly do need political uprising by the people, so that our representatives shall fight against the killers of the world and for the national security interests of the United States, and people of good will the world over.

    Cotton’s letter is like “Polska walczy,” and has a similar, although purely political, effect.  Someone is fighting, in the Congress, as we have long wished someone to fight.  Shall we support him?  Or shall we quibble and undercut?

    “Tosh,” I agree. And I say “Skoda!”  Some protocol violated? No, not really, and even if so, “Skoda!”

    • #18
  19. Elephas Americanus Member
    Elephas Americanus
    @ElephasAmericanus

    If one letter like that can make a deal that has taken this long to negotiate fall apart, it wasn’t a good deal in the first place.

    • #19
  20. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Elephas Americanus:Dissent against President Bush = Patriotism

    Dissent against President Obama = Treason

    Be careful there. If we start going down this road, 80% of the Ricochet foreign policy debates would be over before they started, since the premise of most of them is “whatever Obama is doing is bad, even if its’ the same thing Bush did, but back then it was good…but now it’s bad!”

    • #20
  21. Scott Reusser Member
    Scott Reusser
    @ScottR

    As Krauthammer said tonight, the error is in addressing it to the Ayatollah, since now the substance is getting lost in the hyperbolic discussion about process.

    Address it to the American people or Obama or even To Whom It May Concern, and the focus is on the substance and Obama’s unreasonableness, not ours — and the message gets to the mullahs in any event.

    • #21
  22. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Herbert Woodbery:None of that is going to happen now.When Obama strikes a bad deal, he is going to crow that he was making good progress until the Senate Republicans got involved and he had to settle for the best he could get.

    I’m thinking that it should now be a requirement that all ivy leaguers read a book on realpolitik before being sworn into elected office.

    I doubt Obama would ever admit to getting a bad deal.  That’s not the Obama we know.  He is more likely to be telling people privately he deserves another Nobel Peace Prize.

    I suspect the letter will make the deal marginally worse, insofar as it give Iran an excuse to ask for more concessions, but the worst of the concessions were always baked in the cake on this one.  Iran is not giving up its nuclear program.  (“Nuclear energy:Terrible for America, Awesome for Oil-Producing, Terrorist-Funding Theocrats.”)

    When Iran achieves its breakout, Obama was always going to blame the Republicans because Iran knew they would break the deal.

    For those looking for a World War II analogy, this is the part where Hitler invades Poland and the press blame Churchill for making the British look like they won’t honor Munich Agreement.

    • #22
  23. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    Scott R
    As Krauthammer said tonight, the error is in addressing it to the Ayatollah, since now the substance is getting lost in the hyperbolic discussion about process.

    Address it to the American people or Obama or even To Whom It May Concern, and the focus is on the substance and Obama’s unreasonableness, not ours — and the message gets to the mullahs in any event.

    Exactly right….. In fact I predict the next shoe to drop will be Cotton getting thrown under the bus, and some or most of the signers coming forth and denying that they knew the letter would actually be sent to the Iranians as opposed to just published locally.

    • #23
  24. AmishDude Member
    AmishDude
    @AmishDude

    Cotton’s “letter” is not even in the same league as these others. (Add also Pelosi’s meetings with Assad.)

    An “open letter” isn’t a letter. It’s an op-ed.

    • #24
  25. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    The letter is premised on something that Obama did – he announced that he had no intention of submitting any Iranian deal to the Senate for ratification.

    Absent that declaration, the letter would be a very bad idea and an inappropriate meddling by the Legislative branch in the foreign policy perogatives of the Executive.

    With that declaration, the letter is an absolutely necessary statement of the Constitutional powers of the  Legislative branch in the exercise of the Nation’s foreign policy.  The only thing wrong with the letter is that there weren’t 53 more signatures on it.

    • #25
  26. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    My understanding is that it was sent to the Iranians…

    • #26
  27. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Herbert Woodbery:My understanding is that it was sent to the Iranians…

    Via the Old Grey Liar (oops, that was my outside voice… I mean via the New York Times).

    Had it been delivered by mail it would have been illegal to intercept and publish it.

    • #27
  28. user_435274 Thatcher
    user_435274
    @JohnHanson

    Absent a vote in favor by 2/3s of the senate, the President does not have the authority to bind the US to anything.  Obama can act unilaterally to do something but nothing he does without consent of Senate can bind US beyond Jan 20 2017, Even then it only can effect what Obama can control.

    Latest, however, is saying that sending the letter was a breech of Federal Law, to wit the 1799 Logan Act.  Many feel this was unconstitutional on its face, as it was when we also had the Alien and Sedition Acts, but who knows what the Supreme court would decide?  Certainly it was never enforced against Democrats who did similar things, and there has never been a successful prosecution under the act, but it is still there.

    • #28
  29. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Peter,

    Protocol!!! What a bad joke.

    The Constitution provides that 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” (Article II, section 2). The Constitution’s framers gave the Senate a share of the treaty power in order to give the president the benefit of the Senate’s advice and counsel..

    This is clearly a case of the executive branch abusing its power and breaking the separation of powers doctrine expressly defined by the Constitution Article II, section 2.

    This is like a bank robber complaining that he didn’t get the free toaster as offered in the ad in the paper the day he stole all the cash.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #29
  30. Buckeye Inactive
    Buckeye
    @Buckeye

    For those who suggest this is “bad policy”: I think it should/could have been stronger. What it does, in essence, is get back in the chess game.  “O” served notice on Congress that they were not players, that the only moves were his.  He has been doing that a lot lately, maybe you’ve noticed (think “I won’t enforce the laws I’m charged with enforcing, and I’ll sue any state that tries to enforce them, or even adapt the fed law to the state…”).

    This open letter clarifies the fact that Congress still exists, that it has duties and obligations that it means to take seriously, and that Iran should not bank too heavily on an agreement that is merely with the executive.

    • #30
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