Today, 47 Republican Senators penned an open letter to Iranian leadership warning that a deal between the US President and Iranian leadership regarding Iran's nuclear program wouldn't carry much weight unless the deal was also approved by Congress. Their rationale was, in part, that without ratification from Congress any future President could simply undo any agreement between Barack Obama and Iranian leadership.
This letter was, in just about any sense, unprecedented:
The well-established notion that “politics stop at the water’s edge” was one that recognized that we can fight like cats and dogs on the topic of foreign policy within the confines of our own Union, however, when it comes to dealing with foreign powers—particularly our foreign enemies—we are all Americans who face challenges together and as a unified people. This approach has, indeed, been one of the very hallmarks of what has made America special since our founding.
Tragically, we can, today, officially retire this rule that has served us so well these many, many years.
Today, forty-seven Republican senators destroyed this time tested bit of wisdom by signing and sending an open letter to the leaders of Iran, informing them that any agreement entered into with the President of the United States may not survive beyond the next two years—unless, of course, Congress gives it’s support to whatever agreement the President negotiates.
There's already some discussion about whether or not the action violates Federal Law, specifically the Logan Act. While that may make for some potentially compelling conversation, there's a more glaring component of the behavior displayed by the 47 GOP Senators that should rightly get attention as well: the 47 GOP Senators who penned the letter appear to have done very little homework before penning it.
Case in point #1: their letter refers to a potential "executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenie". This implies that, potentially, the United States currently has *at least* 47 sitting Senators who are unaware of the fact that the entity negotiating with Iran is the P5+1 group, a coalition that the United States is a member of:
The P5+1 group of major powers - the US, UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany - is seeking to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of UN sanctions.
Yes, President Obama is acting as a primary player in negotiations, but he's representing the P5+1 group. Thus, if an agreement was struck between the P5+1 group and Iran and the agreement was subsequently adopted by U.N. Security Council (and there's no indication it wouldn't be), it would appear future United States Presidents would be obliged to honor the deal as part of the United States' obligations to the U.N.
It's a notable omission that the 47 GOP Senators who signed this letter failed to mention the P5+1 group in their narrative. Along with such a seemingly careless oversight, there's also another rather important factor here: if the next United States President did try to back out of such an agreement, the United States would be abandoning the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany in an agreement all those countries negotiated together. Unilateral destruction of a 7 country deal? Is that really what the 47 GOP Senators are threatening? Iran would likely love such a scenario.
Case in point #2: The GOP Senators' letter makes reference to "agreement regarding your (Iran's) nuclear weapons program". Except of course, there is no negotiation regarding "Iran's nuclear weapons program"; the negotiations are specific to Iran's nuclear energy program, and the safeguards being put into place are specifically for the purposes of safeguarding against such a nuclear energy program being able to be used as a nuclear weapons program. This, again, is a rather sophomoric oversight by the 47 GOP Senators in mention. Quite clearly, there would be no "negotiation" over an Iranian nuclear weapons program; such a program would be strictly prohibited by the United States as well as any other member of the P5+1 group.
Case in point #3: The GOP Senators stated in their letter that United States treaties had to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. In a word, no. This from the Senate's own webpage (my emphasis added):
“The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification”
Perhaps someone should suggest to the 47 GOP Senators in mention they read the Senate rules posted on their own website before penning such a letter? Especially if they are going to start the letter by saying "it has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our Government that you may not fully understand our Constitutional system". Clearly, Iran may not be the only entity which doesn't fully understand our constitutional system.
In closing, the point here is obvious: if you're going to take unprecedented action to undermine the office of the President for the country you're a citizen of, it would be prudent to demonstrate at least a cursory understanding of the subject matter~