The following are letters I have sent to Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. The substance is largely the same, but there are some differences.
And now, Senator Perdue's letter:Dear Senator Isakson,Today, I write you to express my displeasure at your recent participation in the open letter to the leaders of Iran written by Senator Cotton. Frankly, I expected you to behave more in line with Senators Corker and Alexander than signing on to a letter that borders on treasonous behavior for a sitting United States Senator. You have embarrassed yourself, your constituents, and this country. I don’t often agree with you on matters of policy, but I always respected you as a statesman who wanted to get things done for this country where possible. You have now broken that basic trust.You and your fellow Senators have deserved the backlash in the press you have received over this letter. Imagine your reaction if Senate Democrats had written a letter to Saddam Hussein or Kim Jung Il following President Bush’s “axis of evil” State of the Union telling them to not pay any attention to the president since his successor would just undo whatever he did. I can only imagine the cries of treason, arrest, and prison that would have arisen from the Republicans. The substance of your concerns about the outlines of a deal with Iran that have leaked are not at issue, despite your protestations to the contrary. What is at issue is the manner in which you have chosen to address those concerns.You could have written President Obama a public letter expressing your concerns and indicating steps the Senate is willing to take should he not submit any agreement for approval. You could have done the same thing in one of the nation’s major newspapers. I daresay the Washington Post or New York Times would have gladly published such an editorial. Yet, you chose to directly interfere with delicate negotiations in an effort to see them fail even though failure will only push us harder toward war. If your aim, and the aim of your fellow signatories, is war with Iran to affect regime change, then you should state that goal openly.The Constitution only provides for the Senate to ratify treaties, along with providing advice and consent for the appointment of all major executives in the State Department and every ambassadorship. Common executive agreements are not subject to ratification under the Constitution. You know perfectly well that this would be a multinational agreement involving Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, as well as the United States and Iran. It is not, and will not be, a formal treaty requiring ratification by the Senate. I will not argue that it would be a good idea for President Obama to agree to a deal with Iran that the Senate despises, but it IS within his power. Congress simply has no business conducting foreign policy with a foreign government, especially an enemy like Iran. It is not your job to act as an independent diplomatic force while discrediting the men and women who work hard to try to make peace and support the United States’ leadership across the world.It might be beneficial to read United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936). In that case, the Supreme Court agreed, by a vote of 7-1, with John Marshall’s statement in the House of Representatives on March 7, 1800 that "the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation.” (p. 299 U.S. 219). Even the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations reported to the Senate in February 1816 that:"The President is the constitutional representative of the United States with regard to foreign nations. He manages our concerns with foreign nations, and must necessarily be most competent to determine when, how, and upon what subjects negotiation may be urged with the greatest prospect of success. For his conduct, he is responsible to the Constitution. The committee considers this responsibility the surest pledge for the faithful discharge of his duty. They think the interference of the Senate in the direction of foreign negotiations calculated to diminish that responsibility, and thereby to impair the best security for the national safety. The nature of transactions with foreign nations, moreover, requires caution and unity of design, and their success frequently depends on secrecy and dispatch."U.S. Senate, Reports, Committee on Foreign Relations, vol. 8, p 24.As a man who claims to uphold the values of the Founders, your actions have violated the very explicit understanding of the President’s constitutional role in foreign policy, especially around negotiation. What makes it worse is that you likely knew what you were doing went against our established constitutional norms, and you did it anyway.You are not only attempting to undermine President Obama personally, but you are also telling the governments of Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia that the United States is not a partner with whom business can be conducted. Do you hate the President so much that you would risk the reputation and prestige of the United States in order to attempt to score some political points? You have other ways to express your outrage at the President that are more worthy of the high office you hold and the dignity of the people you represent. What is confounding and unnerves me is that you would try to embarrass our president in the face of a mutual enemy — and put our national security at risk by making it more likely that we will be drawn into yet another war in the Middle East. The other countries involved in the Iran talks can only be appalled at seeing our secretary of state and president, who are charged with making the nation’s foreign policy, hit from behind by one house of the federal legislature. You have imprudently and shamefully put politics above our national interest, damaging our standing in the world. Whether you believe that those negotiations will succeed or fail is beside the point. On such matters, and at such moments as these, our nation must be seen as speaking with one voice.A truly functioning family does not air its dirty laundry in such a manner. This letter has provided aide and comfort to the most conservative elements of Iran, who, like you, hope these negotiations fail. You have provided the Ayatollah Khamenei with a public relations win, and he is now quoted as saying this letter is evidence of "the collapse of political ethics and the U.S. system's internal disintegration." Your actions have made the United States look weak, all out of political spite.Shame on you, Senator! You have shamed the office you hold, and the great state of Georgia by your actions. We deserve better than that from you, and I hope we get it in the future.Sincerely,
Dear Senator Perdue,