Secretary of State John Kerry turned his thumb down Wednesday on the open letter to Iran’s government signed by Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and 46 other GOP senators.
“My reaction to the letter was utter disbelief,” Kerry fumed at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “No one is questioning anybody’s right to dissent,” Kerry continued. “But to write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation . . . is quite stunning.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also reflected Kerry’s displeasure with the Cotton communiqué.
“The same principal author of the letter made clear that their goal was to undermine these negotiations,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s press briefing. “We’re talking about inserting yourself into international negotiations that are ongoing.”
Kerry’s complaints about alleged GOP meddling in Obama’s atomic-bomb talks with Iran would ring less hollow absent Kerry’s own interference with sensitive negotiations over war and peace.
As I reminded voters on NRO during his 2004 presidential campaign, Kerry parachuted into America’s discussions with North Vietnam as that conflict wound down.
Yesterday and yesterday: John Kerry testifies before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 and yesterday morning.
“I have been to Paris,” Kerry told — of all bodies — the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971. “I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madame Binh’s points.” These were, respectively, North Vietnam, the Viet Cong’s political wing, and its delegate, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh.
Kerry could have staged yet another anti–Vietnam War demonstration at home. He could have hurled more military medals onto the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. He could have packed editorial pages with missives mocking Richard Nixon and extolling Ho Chi Minh’s socio-economic development model.
Instead, Kerry jetted to France in 1970 and huddled with America’s wartime enemies while they bargained with Kerry’s predecessor, then–secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
“I realize that even my visits in Paris,” Kerry testified, “are on the borderline of private individuals negotiating.”
Kerry did all of this while an inactive naval reserve officer. As he chatted with Hanoi’s envoys, the Viet Cong killed American soldiers and tortured U.S. POWs.
Kerry’s Parisian perfidy may have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It seems a prima facie breach of the 1799 Logan Act’s prohibition on freelance diplomacy. Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution forbids Americans from giving “Aid and Comfort” to this nation’s nemeses. Kerry’s assistance to North Vietnam trampled on that restriction.
Unlike Kerry, Cotton flew nowhere. Nor did he meet an American adversary, as did Representative Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). She led a group of Democrats to Damascus in April 2007 and conferred with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad while President George W. Bush tried to isolate the strongman from his neighbors.
“Sending delegations doesn’t work,” Bush said soon after Pelosi landed. “It’s simply been counterproductive.”
Nor did Cotton send a clandestine letter to Tehran, as Obama has.
“President Barack Obama secretly wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the middle of last month and described a shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria,” the Wall Street Journal reported in November. It added that “the White House didn’t tell its Middle East allies — including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — about Mr. Obama’s October letter to Mr. Khamenei.”
Cotton drafted an open letter that explained basic American civics to Tehran’s tyrants.
“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the letter states. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
“That letter was physically signed by these 47 senators,” Caroline Rabbitt, Senator Cotton’s communications director, told me. “Because it was an open letter, it was not sent to Tehran but rather posted on Senator Cotton’s website and social-media accounts.” So, this letter — reputedly signed by “traitors” — turns out to be morally indistinguishable from an Internet opinion piece with 47 co-authors.
In short, Senator Cotton’s letter is a Q-Tip compared to the Louisville Slugger that John Kerry wielded against this country when he barged into the Paris peace negotiations and coddled America’s Communist foes.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.