It has been an Iranian tradition since 1979 to end Friday prayers with chants of “Death to America!”
In a purely rational world, that would be all one needed to know that Iran is not a reliable negotiating partner. Alas, we do not live in such a world. But there’s more evidence. Iran, according to our State Department, has been the chief exporter of terrorism for the last three decades. It has worked closely with al-Qaeda, facilitating its attacks on America and our allies. Most of the September 11 hijackers traveled through Iran with the help of the Iranian government. U.S. judges have ruled that Iran was an accomplice in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa and the September 11 attacks. During the Iraq War, Iran was responsible for numerous American deaths.
Right now, via its brutal proxies, Iran is manipulating events on the ground in four Arab capitals — Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sanaa. Whatever success there has been against the Islamic State in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit has been thanks to Iranian advisors operating in Iraq and the Shiite Muslim militias they control. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, retired admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he fears Iran more than Islamic State.
So, obviously, the greatest villain in the world today is . . . Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.). He led the effort to get 46 other senators to sign a letter to the Iranian government explaining that any deal with Iran would require congressional approval.
Petitions are circling to have the senators carted off to jail under the Logan Act — which bars unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments — a ridiculously antiquated law that would never survive Supreme Court scrutiny today.
Moreover, if the Logan Act were taken seriously, many of the lions of the Democratic party, including Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Nancy Pelosi, and Robert Byrd, would have ended their careers behind bars. Why, John Kerry — who recently denounced the Cotton letter as “unconstitutional” — could show Cotton around the federal penitentiary, given Kerry’s egregious meddling in Nicaragua during the Reagan administration.
Now, I should say that I think the senators made a mistake. They should have written an open letter to President Obama. The Iranians would still have gotten the message, but the White House and the punditocracy would have found it more difficult to rationalize their insane hissy fit. And contrary to countless outlets reporting that the Republicans “sent” this letter to the ayatollahs, they didn’t send it anywhere. It was posted on Cotton’s website.
The more important point here is that no one disagrees with the content of the letter because it is accurate. The White House had to admit that Cotton was right; the deal as it stands would be a “non-binding” agreement. And, therefore, as the letter explains, “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen.”
(In fact, Obama did pretty much exactly that with an agreement struck between Israel and the United States about settlement growth in Palestinian territories.)
This premature admission is politically inconvenient for the Obama administration because it wants to get the United Nations to approve the deal, making it a fait accompli. It hoped to get to that point without anyone noticing.
The Cotton letter is not mutinous or traitorous or unconstitutional. It is inconvenient, and apparently being inconvenient in the age of Obama is all it takes to be called unpatriotic.
— Jonah Goldberg is a senior editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at [email protected] or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2015 Tribune Content Agency, LLC