Despite the value of his open letter, he will become Obama’s scapegoat when the Iran negotiations inevitably fail.
The snarky quip attributed to 19th-century French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand — “It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder” — has recently been making the rounds to deride a letter written by Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and signed by 46 other senators.
They wrote to the Iranian theocracy that any agreement on nuclear proliferation negotiated with President Obama will not constitutionally bind the next administration — unless it is properly ratified by Congress.
Democrats were outraged. They charged that Cotton’s letter is a crime, a violation of the 216-year-old Logan Act. That law bars unauthorized individuals from conducting negotiations with foreign governments.
Even some Republicans sighed that the letter was a political blunder. It supposedly plays into President Obama’s caricature of right-wing and obstructionist conservatives.
In fact, the letter was not a crime or a blunder.
Senators and House members have a long history of freelancing in foreign policy. Sometimes they do it wisely, sometimes stupidly.
Republican senators went to great lengths to undermine Woodrow Wilson’s utopian idea of a League of Nations. General Douglas MacArthur and House minority leader Joe Martin did their best to sabotage what they thought was the reckless policy of then-president Harry Truman concerning Korea and Formosa.
Democrats in Congress have been just as eager to warp administration foreign policy in claiming their co-equal part in government.
Secretary of State John Kerry is the most outraged of Cotton’s critics — and has the most notorious record of trying to undermine presidential foreign policy.
As a freshman senator, Kerry traveled to Nicaragua to show solidarity with “Comandante” Daniel Ortega — as a way of opposing then-president Reagan’s efforts to help the Contras in their resistance to the Sandinista Communist takeover. Two other Democrats, Senator Tom Harkin and House speaker Jim Wright, also met with Ortega.
Most unfortunate was House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s disastrous 2007 trip to Syria to meet with thuggish president Bashar al-Assad. At the time of their meeting, Assad was offering assistance to radical Islamic groups that were attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.
Cotton and the senators, in contrast, never traveled to hostile territory, never met with America’s enemies, and never wrote warm personal letters to thugs.
But was the Cotton letter a political “blunder”?
Obama’s effort to negotiate an end to Iranian nuclear proliferation is probably bound to fail, given that it greenlights further Iranian nuclear enrichment. Obama also has no diplomatic credibility after issuing several prior empty deadlines for the Iranians to cease their nuclear enrichment.
Obama’s “red lines” to Syria, the failed reset with Russia, the lead-from-behind mess in Libya, and the skedaddle from Iraq and Yemen have convinced the Iranians that Obama will predictably go soft in negotiations, or not expect compliance with any agreement he signs.
Obama’s estrangement from both Israel and the Arab Gulf states only further reminds the Iranians that American negotiators are not worried about their allies’ outrage over the proposed deal.
First designated as a sponsor of terrorism in 1984, Iran has been deemed by the State department to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It has openly threatened to destroy Israel. It sent operatives into Iraq to kill Americans. It has now carved out Shiite dependencies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.
Given all that, no sane American administration would trust the Iranians to give up their nuclear program. Instead, most presidents would have continued with tough economic sanctions — with even tougher embargoes to follow if the Iranians did not quit trying to make a bomb.
What Cotton and the senators have done is not criminal or stupid, but valuable both for the country and — ironically — for the Obama administration.
Obama is already mischaracterizing the letter to use it as a wedge with the Iranians. He seems to be reminding them that he is the only thing standing between them and the anti-Iranian hardliners in the U.S. senate. If Obama somehow manages to scare the Iranians into a treaty, he surely will not credit the senators for allowing him the leverage to play good cop to Senator Cotton’s bad cop.
More likely, the Munich-like agreement will fail in the face of outrageous Iranian demands and an even more outraged American public.
When it does, Obama will then blame Cotton and his Republican colleagues for undermining his doomed efforts. Such scapegoating is now old hat for Obama, who has blamed factors ranging from George W. Bush to tsunamis for his foreign policy and domestic failures.
Republicans, Democrats, and all Americans should thank Cotton for reminding the Iranians that under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate must ratify treaties with foreign powers. Cotton will get no credit if the Iranians get worried over his letter, relent and offer needed concessions.
But Cotton will endure plenty of blame if Iranian negotiators walk away in fury because a skeptical U.S. Senate would have to approve any sweetheart deal that they pulled over on Obama.
In other words, Cotton is not a blunderer — he is a classic lose/lose tragic hero.
20 thoughts on “Tom Cotton, Tragic Hero”
“” political manifesto vs pro-growth balanced budget”” from speaker.gov
Joe Cotton is a hero. flat out, no words can take that away. He had the courage to speak truth when it was most needed regardless of consequences. At the root of what ails this Great Country are the many so called leaders, who will not stand up and deal with the fundamentals of the problems because of fear of the fight led by media and socialist propaganda. Good soldiers and good leaders do not run from the enemy, they take them on and fight. Even just a dozen more like him could make a big difference.
Not Joe, TOM Cotton.
Obama indicated today that there won’t even be a written agreement. Just a handshake among gentlemen and a verbal nod.
Where will they find some gentlemen? Both sides will have to call for takeout.
That would make sense. From there the US side of the “Treaty” will be enforced by the fits the activist Left would pitch.
I do have to say that’s a bargain-basement “legacy”.
Its not often I find myself in disagreement with the valued insoght of Prof Hanson.
For my money, Tom Scott did exactly right. History will remember it correctly. Scott STOPPED worrying about what Obama thought or said (….who cares…hes a traitor?) and focused on stopping Obamas clear intent …letting Iran become a nuclear power.
Mr Scott put the nation (and our strongest of allies) above politics….he’ll be remembered for THAT.
Repubs like Cotton are occupying our government via bought and stolen “elections.”
He committed treason in interfering with the work of our world diplomat, the president,
That’s two strikes against the arrogant traitor.
Clearly, he’s a mouthpiece for profiteering war mongers who will have their way when they steal the Whitehouse in 2016.
It’s terribly sad for our nation that supposedly intelligent people support this criminal and destructive takeover of our nation.
Thank you for the comedy Raz Mataz…
sounds like you’re about to lose your head
my very dear sir:
i am somewhat amused in all of this, and absolutely amazed that no one seems to have sufficient memory to recall then u.s. senator barack obama’s blunders in trying to engage in “foreign policy” while in the senate.
it was all memorialized by joel klein, in a wonderful send up of obama’s presidential ambitions, praising him for his statesmanlike demeanor. do you not remember the incident?
it was when obama offered to be an intermediary between raila o’dinga and his opposition for the presidency of kenya. (dick morris helped odinga on his campaign, as well. quite an assemblage.)
o’dinga is/was, of course, obama’s “cousin.” (o’dinga’s and obama’s go back several generations, cheek to jowl.)
obama’s efforts turned sour on him, when o’dinga’s backers torched a christian church, w/ christians inside it, in the strife that followed o’dinga’s loss. even as staunch a “liberal” as joel klein backed away from that mess.
obama even went so far as to travel to kenya to stump for o’dingas election, and there are several rather famous photos of obama w/ o’dinga while the later campaigned. odd, how obama doesn’t bring that up. and, odd, how no one seems to remember the incident.
apparently, not even joel klein.
This is really fun watching Obama at his most inept quality, that being simple strategy. Besides the 47 Republicans there will be plenty of Democratic Senators that will back the Cotton letter. He will lose half his own party with a bad deal. But Obama has also divulged that Israel has thermonuclear weapons. If the Israelis had announced that they would be considered crude bullies. Obama has done Israel’s dirty work. He has just strengthened Israel immeasurably by his nasty and ignorant spite. Even the Iranians can figure out that if Israel already has a bomb 1,000 times more powerful than the one they are trying to build they have picked the wrong country and leader to bully. I almost feel bad for Obama because for sure those loony mullahs in Iran are going to take it out on him for denying them what now appears to be a pop gun while the little satan has the real heavy artillery. The mullahs might even start to have doubts about whose side Obama is really on.
There’s nothing tragic about an honorable man doing the right thing in a matter that requires personal courage.
I’m afraid that the good professor has misused “the word tragic” in this case.
How about the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
These men were not tragic characters. They were heroes, men like Tom Cotton.
Memo to Sen. Cotton: Thank you and keep punching Obama in the face whenever you can. It is clear to me that Obama, as the malevolent head of fed.gov, is the greatest threat to life, liberty and property on the planet, so stop him, derail him, disrupt him., distract him, slow him down from the damage he is doing to individuals world-wide. It is God’s work and we wish you Godspeed.
Obama’s foreign policy has some things in common with carbon monoxide. It is colorless (unlike domestic policy), odorless (some might disagree), and tasteless, slightly lighter than air and invisible. The significant difference between the two is that carbon monoxide kills silently while the killing resulting from Obama’s foreign policy is becoming noisier by the day. While crap is continuously hitting the fan, standing behind it may not be the best policy to maintain.
“” coming saudi-egyptian invasion of yemen…”” from hot air.
Maybe the Reps have finally found a decent man to run for president. It took guts to pen this letter. I don’t think Tom would ever ‘lead from behind’ (as if that were even possible, as Obama has proved, it’s not).
I would agree completely with this except for one thing…Obama is simply not going to let the negotiations fail, no matter how bad the deal is for the US and it’s allies. I can see that there is virtually nothing Iran can demand that Obama won’t cave to immediately. This ‘deal’ is all Obama has and Cotton simply brought it to the world’s attention.
Why such ineptness in the conduct of negotiating a significant and consequential process in the early 21st century? Does the administration really trust those fellows in the other chairs?
Certainly the machinations will continue. Who’s kidding who? Iran wants that ‘bomb and I believe they will not by play rules or by any negotiated agreement. They’ll be time later on for them to decree that things done by them in relation to any agreement would be a a matter of ‘interpretation’. We can dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s but I’d bet there will be much obfuscation later on. All from ‘bumbleblunders’ in the conduct of these negotiations by the administration.