Netanyahu in Tall Cotton
The foreign policy clerisy in this country was loud in its denunciation of Arkansas freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R) when he circulated a Round Robin letter with the signatures of 47 GOP senators. Sen. Cotton’s letter simply states the obvious truth that no “executive agreement” with Iran can be guaranteed past the expiration of Mr. Obama’s constitutionally limited term of office.
Election returns from Israel show that Sen. Cotton was right. Israeli voters appreciated the strong support given to a realistic policy toward Iran and its dangerous drive for nuclear weapons. Israeli voters have to take seriously the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama’s feckless secretary of state, John Kerry, is paving Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon.
Many of the same chin-pulling graybeards who tut-tutted over the Cotton letter also protested Prime Minister Netanyahu’s acceptance of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. They and their Democratic Party-aligned flacks and hacks objected that it was “a violation of protocol” for the Prime Minister to speak to Americans and the world from the rostrum of the House of Representatives.
President Obama, it should be noted, did not place a call to the president of the French Republic in 2009 when he first took office. France is America’s first ally. Protocol would have suggested that the newly installed president of the United States should call the French leader.
Instead, Mr. Obama telephoned Mahmoud Abbas. But he was elected to “fundamentally transform this country,” his apologists would say. And he is doing it every day.
Abbas is the boss of the so-called Palestinian Authority (PA). Of course, Abbas has no authority. He has canceled scheduled elections and now rules in parts of the West Bank by decree. President Obama’s phone call could not have been very persuasive, since Abbas has now joined forces with Hamas. Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department administered by Mr. Obama and Sec. Kerry.
Abbas wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at Moscow State University in the old USSR. His theme was Holocaust denial. Abbas was PLO boss Yasser Arafat’s willing accomplice when Arafat invented airline hijacking for terror purposes.
One of those Middle East experts whose wise counsel has yielded the chaotic state we see in that region today deplored Sen. Cotton’s letter. “It is never a good idea for elected leaders to give foreigners, especially foreign enemies, a formal invitation to join our domestic arguments,” said Phil Zelikow. This adviser to Sec. Condoleezza Rice protested the Cotton letter to the itching ears of the Washington Post.
If there was any error in the Cotton letter, it may have been only in the address. A public statement was addressed to the “Islamic Republic of Iran.” Iran is no republic. Republics do not have “supreme leaders.” Iran is a theocracy, a brutal dictatorship. It is a mistake to accord the dignity of a republic to such a regime. The Cotton letter might properly have been addressed to the “rulers of Iran.”
We could argue there was a 48th signatory to the Cotton letter. And that signatory was Montesquieu, the great eighteenth-century French political philosopher. Montesquieu’s ideas on separation of powers strongly influenced James Madison and many others among our Founding Fathers. A republic is possible only when, as Madison argued in The Federalist, “ambition is made to counteract ambition.”
Madison himself, as a member of Congress, took the lead in opposition to the 1795 Jay Treaty of the Washington administration. So we see that congressional criticism of U.S. diplomatic overtures goes back at least to the early republic.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson came home from Paris with the Versailles Treaty in hand. He had unwisely refused to include any Republicans in the delegation he led to make peace after World War I. As the returning president descended the ladder of his ship, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.) offered to hold the signed copy of the Versailles Treaty. The President said, smiling maliciously, “Not on your life!” Wilson went on to threaten Senate opponents of his treaty. “If you oppose me on this, I will crush you!”
Instead, they crushed him. Sen. Lodge circulated a Round Robin signed by 37 Senate Republicans demanding that Wilson agree to amendments before the Senate would give its constitutionally mandated “advice and consent.” Just 32 senators were then required to block ratification of a treaty.
The American people rejected Woodrow Wilson’s high-handed approach. The president said the 1920 election would be a referendum on his diplomacy. It was. The Republicans won in a landslide.
Today, President Obama is threatening to bypass the Senate entirely and conclude an “executive agreement” with the rulers of Iran. Sec. Kerry helpfully explains that we cannot sign a treaty with Iran because we don’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. We don’t have diplomatic relations with Iran because they seized and still hold our U.S. embassy, and they subjected 52 American prisoners to torture and mock executions for 444 days. They murdered 241 U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen in Beirut when they invented suicide bombing. And they equipped our enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, killing and wounding thousands of U.S. soldiers. Does this sound like a regime whose word on an “executive agreement” can be trusted?
Ken Blackwell is an advisor to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Bob Morrison is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.