Forty-seven United States Senators, including Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, signed a letter recently to “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran did not. The letter set out to explain the nuances of our U.S. Constitution to “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The letter also described how the Senate might scuttle any agreement made with the President of the United States concerning Iran’s nuclear program.
Arkansas freshman Sen. Tommy Cotton wrote the letter and convinced Wicker and 45 other fellow Republican senators to sign along with him in hopes of sharing a U.S. civics lesson with “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Mississippi’s older and wiser senator, Thad Cochran, was not taking a nap when his Republican colleagues signed the letter. He just he felt the letter was too much, saying any attempt to affect what the administration was negotiating with Iran should be done privately.
Cochran knows full well the administration is hoping to stop the threat posed by Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. “I think everybody understands we’re not going to just sit back and let potential adversaries put us in a position where we can’t defend ourselves and protect our country’s interests.” Cochran said.
Six other Republican senators also opted not to sign the letter. Apparently no Democratic senator was even asked to sign. Who cares what they think anyway? Not “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic Iran” and certainly not Republicans who control the U.S. Senate.
Who was the letter really for? Who opened the letter once it got to Iran? Did it get there? Did Cotton, Wicker, and the others just post the letter on the internet to pound their collective chests and say, “Look at what we just did. Take that, Mr. President,” or did they use our drone program to drop thousands of copies in the air over Iran in the hopes that some “Leader” might actually read it? Wonder if they thought to translate their letter into Farsi?
Some are accusing the 47 of warmongering, baiting the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” to not only build a bomb but to also threaten Israel or us with its use. Surely, it is not anyone’s desire to go to war with Iran, when we have so many other enemies in the Middle East firing at us right now. Both the administration and the 47 are concerned about Iran’s ability to militarize their nuclear program. We all should be.
Sen. Cotton wants folks to believe Iran has a bomb pointing at us now. But even the Pentagon has backed off of their early estimates concerning Iran’s ability to build and test an ICBM. The Pentagon has a propensity to build up the opposition better than a football coach. Yet, their reports now suggest Iran’s military is no where near what we once estimated to be Iraq’s military capabilities. And we all know how our two military invasions of Iraq turned out, 24-hour news teams were right there. Much of the Iraqi army dropped their weapons and ran. Poorly trained, funded and equipped Iranian soldiers would more than likely do the same. Our sanctions on Iran have been incredibly effective.
Not to mention the fact that Iran is surrounded on all sides, including its southern coast by over a dozen U.S. Military Bases. Most of these Halliburton-built bases are as close to the Iranian border as a drive from Natchez to Olive Branch. Our planes could be over the capital Tehran in a matter of seconds.
However, our military incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan should make clear what happens after the “Mission Accomplished” phase of the war. Iran has proven adept at terror and guerrilla warfare. Unclassified information suggests Iran is increasingly involved in the Syrian conflict, with Shia militias and other groups the U.S. labels as “terrorists.” Still, these Iranian-backed militias are supporting the Shia majority government we put in power in the case of Iraq. They are even battling some of the same terrorists groups we are, like ISIS for example. Last week, an Iraqi military commander credited Iran for doing more to fight ISIS than the U.S.
Something else to consider: Iran has been moving toward governmental modernization since “The Green Revolution.” This is why the countries of Germany, France, Russia, China, and the United Kingdom are eager to negotiate with Iran at this time. Lifting the sanctions through a deal over Iran’s nuclear program would be a tremendous help to those more moderate and forward-thinking Iranians.
So, what’s really behind this letter from the 47 Senators? It has less to do with geopolitics or nuclear arms than it does with a deep-seated hatred; but, not hatred of Muslims towards Christians nor Jihadists toward McWalMartStreeters — no, it’s the hate these 47 have toward President Obama.
Real conservative cred is gained only by demonstrating how much one can “Hate on Obama.” So a Tea Party conservative and legislative neophyte writes a painfully inappropriate letter to “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” to prove just how much he “Hates Obama.”
You, U.S. Sen. Wicker, might suspect it’s wrong, maybe even ridiculous, but what are you going to do? Look like you’re somehow aiding the Obama administration and not sign it? Look like a moderate, thinking Republican? Look like Thad Cochran? God forbid.
So, you sign the silly letter right before you leave for a long weekend because you are eager to prove that you, too, “Hate Obama.” Then, all of the sudden – and out of the blue and blue states! — Americans are complaining that you have wounded not just the image of our Commander-in-Chief but our nation’s image as well. The New York Daily News, a paper owned by a neoconservative, labels you a “Traitor.”
While this Iran-A-Muck Letter may not rise to the level of treason, it does make Cotton, Wicker, and the others look pretty silly. What they did was a real head-scratcher. Nuts, in fact. And while these 47 may not be a bunch of bozos, we should henceforth refer to them as the U.S. Senate’s “Insane Clown Posse.” Needless to say, President Obama would never be considered a “Homie.”
These 47 represent a significant part of our electorate: angry, fearful and a few rather nutty Americans who hate Obama with a passion usually reserved for mass murders, A.T.F. agents, and welfare moms. To their constituents, these 47 Senators are as heroic as some patriotic fusion of Chris Kyle, a.k.a. The American Sniper, and Rush Limbaugh, a.k.a. The American Viper.
If you read the letter from the 47 to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” their strategy to torpedo any agreement the current President might make with Iran is evident. The administration already knows the rules, how tenuous the negotiations are, and what’s at stake. For that matter, so do the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Was there really any point other than a rather thoughtless attempt to embarrass the President? No. Obama has proven capable enough of embarrassing himself without the help of Congress. He’s had a load of missteps, but to date President Obama has not embarrassed himself or our nation as much as these 47 Senators just did.
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.