Senator John Thune and Senator M. Michael Rounds joined 45 other Republican Senators in signing an open letter to the leaders of Iran to, as explained by letter instigator and freshman Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton, make sure Iran’s leaders “understand America’s constitutional system.” The real intent is to undercut the active negotiations of the Executive Branch with a hostile foreign power. While not treasonous, this political ploy transparently and offensively degrades foreign policy into a partisan spat.
The Iranians recognize empty propaganda when they see it:
Whether the Republican letter might undercut Iran’s willingness to strike a deal was not clear. Iran reacted with scorn. “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history” [Peter Baker, “G.O.P. Senators’ Letter to Iran About Nuclear Deal Angers White House,” New York Times, 2015.03.09].
Vice-President Joe Biden says the letter from Thune, Rounds, et al. is disrespectful and dangerous:
In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them. This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments — a message that is as false as it is dangerous,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
“The decision to undercut our President and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle. As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine,” he added [Igor Bobic, “Joe Biden Goes Ballistic On Senate Republicans: Iran Letter Beneath ‘Dignity Of An Institution I Revere’,” Huffington Post, 2015.03.09].
When Senator Thune and Senator Rounds trot out their mealy-mouthed denials that they aren’t trying to torpedo executive foreign policy, refer them to these words from Senator Cotton:
“The end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action. It is very much an intended consequence. A feature, not a bug, so speak,” Cotton said in January, speaking at a conservative conference hosted by the advocacy group Heritage Action for America [Ryan Grim, “Senator Who Organized Letter to Iran Has Said He Wants to Sabotage Negotiations,” Huffington Post, 2015.03.09].
The President of the United States is negotiating with a foreign power. Senator John Thune and Senator M. Michael Rounds are interfering with that negotiation. Senator Thune and Senator Rounds need to stand down and return to serving their constituents, their oath, and their country.