Regarding "that letter" (again), there's the effect on the negotiations with Iran; there's the shocking disrespect for our commander-in-chief with roots in Obama-hatred; there's the effect on the U.S.'s standing in the world.
And then there is this: The dysfunctional Republican congress has reached the point that seasoned senators have allowed the most irresponsible, right-wing zealot,** the youngest member of this once-august body, to lead them to abandon the near sacrosanct agreement that -- when it comes to dealing with foreign governments and national security -- we are one nation under one leader.
Are we going to return to the late 18th century, before the U. S. Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation and established the office of president, with the power to make treaties? Before that, individuals and even states tried to make deals with foreign governments concerning their own local issues. That was pretty chaotic, even in a world that was magnitudes less complex and without weapons of mass destruction.
Let us not return to that.
** Another time, I'll back up this claim about Tom Cotton.
"There’s a charming naiveté to the open letter [PDF] by 47 Republican senators that condescendingly seeks to explain features of the U.S. constitutional system to Iran’s leaders that they otherwise 'may not fully understand.'
"The missive warns that, with respect to 'your nuclear negotiations
with our government ... any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons
program that is not approved by the Congress' could be revoked by the
next president 'with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could
modify the terms of the agreement at any time.'
"Beyond the amusing inaccuracies about U. S. parliamentary order, it seems there are some features of the nuclear negotiations that the
signatory senators don’t fully understand — not only on the terms of the
deal, but also on who would be party to an agreement.
"There are no negotiations on Iran’s 'nuclear-weapons program” because
the world’s intelligence agencies (including those of the U.S. and
Israel) do not believe Iran is currently building nuclear weapons, nor has it made a strategic decision to use its civilian nuclear
infrastructure to produce a bomb. An active Iranian nuclear-weapons
program would render moot the current negotiations, because Iran would
be in fundamental violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
"As things stand, Tehran remains within the terms of the NPT, which
allows nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, but monitors member
states to prevent weaponization. Tehran and the IAEA remain in dispute
over full compliance with all transparency requirements of the NPT,
particularly over alleged previous research into weapons design. But
Iran’s nuclear facilities remain under constant monitoring by
international inspectors who certify that no nuclear material is being
"The current negotiations are focused on strengthening verifiable
safeguards against weaponization over-and-above those required by the
NPT, yet the Republican-led Congress, egged on by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is warning that those goals are insufficient, and the terms and time-frame of the deal are unacceptable.
"The key element missing from the GOP Senators’ letter, however, is
that the deal is not being negotiated between Iran and the United
States; it is being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 group, in which
the U.S. is joined by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Even
if the U.S. is the key player in that group, the deal being pursued
reflects an international consensus — the same consensus that has made
sanctions against Iran so effective.
"This was likely in the mind of Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who dismissed the letter as 'of no legal value' and a 'propaganda ploy.' Zarif noted that the deal would indeed be an
international agreement adopted by the U.N. Security Council, which a
new administration would be obliged to uphold — and that any attempt by
the White House or Congress to abrogate, unilaterally modify or impede
such an agreement would be a breach of U.S. obligations.
"The U.S. has barely traded with Iran since the revolution of 1979;
its capacity to sanction Iran relies on its ability to persuade or force
other countries to do the same. Many of Iran’s major trading partners,
such as Russia, China, India and Turkey, are not taking their lead from
the U.S., even if they’re partially abiding by sanctions imposed by
Washington and the European Union. Moscow and Beijing, in particular,
have expanded trade and investment deals in recent months, and more
ominously signaled a willingness to cooperate with Iran on defense
issues to an extent that will make Tehran’s adversaries uncomfortable.