Favorite

Cotton ploy result: Iran gets the bomb 

Sen. Tom Cotton

Tim Vahsholtz

Sen. Tom Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton's big grandstanding play against President Obama may not produce the war with Iran or some other Muslim country that he seems to want, but it might give us the next worst thing, a nuclear-armed Iran.

Cotton wrote a letter to Iran's leaders and got 46 other Republican senators to sign it, warning the country that if it reached a nuclear-proliferation agreement with the United States and other world powers that the United States would break the agreement as soon as a Republican president took office, in 2017. He suggested that the agreement would not be worth the paper it was written on because only he and his colleagues in the Senate could ratify an enforceable treaty. Seven Republicans who chose to stick with the ancient ideal of restraining domestic politics at the ocean's edge wouldn't sign Cotton's letter.

House Speaker John Boehner had signaled that the old bipartisan policy was over when he invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a few weeks before Israeli elections, to address Congress and the American people to condemn the president's effort to get an international agreement. But, if it's possible, Tom Cotton's design was even more sinister and reckless. His letter was met with anger in the administration, consternation among the other negotiating nations, bewilderment by others in Congress and ridicule by Iran.

Cotton's purpose was not subtle — to encourage Iran not to sign an agreement this month with the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China that would limit Iran's ability to enrich weapons-grade uranium and allow international inspections. Cotton promised Iran that the United States would not live up to its end of the bargain.

If Iran turns down an agreement, as Cotton implored it to do, it would deny Obama a great triumph in his last two years in office, the senators' purpose, but also leave the United States with only two options: to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities with the attendant risk of war and international condemnation or else leave Israel to do the bombing with our backup. Israel is supposed to have 80 nuclear warheads that it could use if conventional bombs couldn't get it done.

That puts it more starkly than Cotton, Netanyahu or any of the other hawks will articulate, but it is the essence of their stance. None has offered an alternative to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, other than tougher sanctions (Iran has ignored all sanctions) and threatening Iran with certain destruction (Obama has only implied it) if it continues its nuclear development. Netanyahu wants the United States to do the dirty business of bombing, but he has announced that Israel will go it alone if it has to. Naturally, it expects the United States to back it up if its attacks lead to war.

Many Americans, probably most of the multitude who voted for Cotton last November, love the jingoistic talk but they don't like what it portends, another long and costly war in the Middle East.

The politics of the senators' letter is understandable, preventing another achievement by the hated president, but here is the danger: By telling Iran that the agreement is not enforceable and will be freely violated by the United States, they assure the Iranians that they are equally free to ignore the agreement when they wish. No one can be sure if the Iranians are truthful or lying when they say they intend to use nuclear power only for electricity and medicine (Iran's supreme leader says nuclear weapons violate Islamic law), but you can be sure if they scrap or flout the agreement they will recite Cotton's letter, signed by just short of a majority of the U.S. Senate, as condoning it.

Cotton's letter lectures the Iranians on U.S. constitutional law, explaining that only two-thirds of the U.S. Senate can ratify a treaty and make it enforceable. The Iranian foreign minister, a U.S. graduate, knew more about the U.S. Constitution and international law than Cotton does. The Senate does not ratify treaties. It gives its advice and consent to the president, who then decides whether to formally ratify a treaty. The foreign minister observed that the United States could violate an international agreement if it chose but that it would violate international law.

Challenging the legitimacy of presidential accords is an old congressional battle, but nearly every president in the past 75 years has executed them, often over congressional criticism: wartime agreements by President Roosevelt and subsequent ones by Truman, Nixon's Vietnam truce in 1973, Gerald Ford's Sinai agreements, and the list goes on. The biggest challenge was the series of Bricker amendments to the Constitution (named after Sen. John W. Bricker of Ohio) in the 1950s that would have outlawed presidential agreements. President Eisenhower fought his fellow Republican bitterly, declaring that the amendments would "cripple the executive power to the point that we become helpless in world affairs."

Memory is fleeting. How did North Korea, the craziest and most irresponsible regime in the world, get nuclear weapons when Cotton's great war president, George W. Bush, was in charge? North Korea began developing nuclear weapons in the 1980s, to President Reagan's mere chagrin. President Clinton and other powers negotiated an agreement in 1994 to supply light-water reactors to the country in exchange for disarmament. After President Bush listed North Korea, Iran and Iraq as "the axis of evil" in his State of the Union address in 2002 and then attacked Iraq, the North Koreans scrapped the agreement, resumed bomb-making and exploded their first nuclear device in 2006, putting America's protectorate, South Korea, in instant peril. There is no record of Republican senators, before or since, demanding that Bush take out their nuclear facilities or even threaten it.

Favorite

Speaking of Tom Cotton

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • EpiPen lesson

    Congressional Republicans and Democrats staged a rousing display of rage against the CEO whose company gouged a fortune from families whose kids and sometimes grownups need the lifesaving properties of the drug EpiPen.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Privacy hurts

    Hillary Clinton's decision to keep her mild case of pneumonia secret from all but a few of her staff and family may be only a momentary campaign distraction, but it raises the question: Will she ever get it?
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Jobs added, not lost, thanks to Obamacare

    Before suspending our fascination with Arkansas's rocky love affair with Obamacare and its "private option" for the rest of 2015, may we re-examine a couple of the great propaganda frauds that were perpetuated during the long battles in Arkansas and nationally?
    • Feb 12, 2015
  • In God's name

    Because I'm not running for anything, I can give it to you straight: Christianity pretty much got out of the genocide business when church and state became separated in the United States and Europe following the American Revolution.
    • Feb 12, 2015
  • Legislating discrimination

    Shortly, the Arkansas legislature will declare discrimination as official state policy, something that it has rarely done, at least overtly, since before the Civil War. This time, can we discuss it rationally without the rage that characterized the tantrums for slavery, secession and abolition back then?
    • Feb 19, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • EpiPen lesson

    Congressional Republicans and Democrats staged a rousing display of rage against the CEO whose company gouged a fortune from families whose kids and sometimes grownups need the lifesaving properties of the drug EpiPen.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Privacy hurts

    Hillary Clinton's decision to keep her mild case of pneumonia secret from all but a few of her staff and family may be only a momentary campaign distraction, but it raises the question: Will she ever get it?
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: State university secrets

    • You are an Idiot. Go after Soros, Gates, etc. Or find a different line of…

    • on September 29, 2016
  • Re: Don't blame trigger warnings

    • I have experienced 2 on the list of worst things I feel a woman could…

    • on September 27, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation