Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and the 46 other GOP Senators who took it upon themselves to lecture the Iranian government on the provisions of the U.S. Constitution are themselves in need of some remedial schooling on not only the Constitution but on the basic rules of diplomacy and negotiation ("The GOP's poison pen note," March 10). I don't really fault Senator Cotton on this matter, after all he is only a freshman senator, but I find it absolutely appalling that his more seasoned and supposedly responsible colleagues in the Senate leadership went along with this sophomoric scheme.
First and foremost, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution declares that the president is the Commander and Chief of the armed forces. Section 2 further states, "He (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." The key phrase here is that it is the president who makes or negotiates any treaty. The Senate is charged with giving its advice and consent to whatever agreement the president negotiates. Leaving aside the issue of whether the multi-national deal being negotiated with Iran is in fact a treaty and whether it will require concurrence by the Senate, the Senate's role is not to enter into direct communication with a foreign power concerning the provisions of a potential agreement that hasn't been finalized or presented to it for its deliberations. The initial "making" or negotiation of the treaty or agreement is clearly reserved to the president.
The second reason the gambit by these Senators is misguided stems from the fact that when it comes to negotiating agreements of any sort, whether it be a business, labor agreement or treaty, experience and wisdom have shown that is best to have a single voice or lead negotiator speaking on behalf of each party to the negotiations. That is why the president or his or her designee are deemed to be responsible for crafting the language and content of the agreement before putting it up before the Senate or any committee. The simple truth is a self-appointed committee of 47 senators, many of whom are presidential wannabes and resent the fact that Barack Obama is president, are not acting in the best interest of the country. The fact is Barack Obama was democratically elected as the president of the United States, to serve as the chief executive officer, commander and chief and lead negotiator representing the best interests of the entire country, and these Senators need to get over it.
Finally, whether this Senate letter writing caper was treasonous at worst, or unpatriotic at best, I will leave for others to render an opinion, but I can say with absolute certainty that it was incredibly naive and stupid. If in fact you are motivated, as these culpable senators have stated publicly, from the standpoint of not trusting the principal agitator, in this case Iran, and you want to deal with that party from a position of power and strength, you should not, under any circumstance, attempt to blindly undercut the authority or stature of your lead negotiator in the midst of negotiations. The time to react and to register objections is after the terms of the deal are finalized and made public. These senators, by their reckless actions in attempting to undercut the president in mid negotiations, have tarnished the image of the United States and cast doubts on the trustworthiness of this country's resolve to stand by the constitutional authority vested in the president when it comes to speaking for the United States in dealings with other sovereign nations.
In my opinion, these senators have done a major and lasting disservice to the country and to the very Constitution which they purport to uphold.
Jody Landers, Baltimore