Japan had the 47 Ronin; we have the #47Traitors, currently the number one hashtag on Twitter. Heh. I do acknowledge that the 47 didn’t actually commit treason by U.S. standards; they were basically just being assholes. The Logan Act is another matter, of course, but an exceedingly fuzzy one.
Anyhoo, possibly the most delicious thing I read today was the response from Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif, who felt called upon to explain the U.S. Constitution and international law to the infamous 47.
Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran`s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.
Of course, the #47Traitors don’t consider the Obama Administration to be the legitimate executive branch of the government, so this will have been lost on them. But how can some foreigner presume to speak for the “nuances” of the United States Constitution? Wikipedia:
Zarif attended Drew College Preparatory School, a private college-preparatory high school located in San Francisco, California. He went on to study at San Francisco State University, from which he gained a BA in International Relations in 1981 and an MA in the same subject in 1982. Following this, Zarif continued his studies at the Graduate School of International Studies (now named the Josef Korbel School of International Studies) at the University of Denver, from which he obtained a second MA in International Relations in 1984 and this was followed by a PhD in International Law and Policy in 1988. His thesis was entitled: “Self-Defense in International Law and Policy”.
Oh, that’s how. He also represented Iran in the United Nations for a few years, so he’s spent quite a lot of time here.
At the New York Times, Rita from California wrote in a comment,
The letter is quite strange. It has kind of a chatty, juvenile tone to it – much like a gang of middle school kids suggesting to a star football player that he is making a mistake by hanging around the wrong crowd. May I paraphrase: “We just wanted to let you know that you are dealing with the wrong person. You really should be talking to us because “WE” are the “cool kids”. Clearly not the type of letter written by those serious about international relations.
Did these 47 Senators honestly think that the Iranian government is so benighted that it was not aware of the workings of the U.S. government or the politics at work in the US? Are these Senators really so ignorant of the world?
I love that; “We really should be making all the decisions because ‘WE’ are the ‘cool kids'” kind of sums up the GOP vibe, don’t you think? Well, that plus big doses of resentment and grievances to go with the entitlement.
Also in the New York Times:
But the senators’ suggestion that international political commitments made by presidents can and should be easily overturned — and therefore by implication have no value — is at odds with tradition, American security interests and good sense. Every president has negotiated scores of agreements with foreign governments that have not required congressional approval and sometimes, not even congressional review. These include last year’s security agreement with Afghanistan, the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime which aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and — oh yes — the 2013 interim agreement with Iran that has already substantially curbed the country’s ability to make nuclear fuel.
Oh, wait, who was President in 1987, again? I know it’ll come to me …
I know I missed it on election night back in November, but it seems that 478,819 citizens of the state of Arkansas voted themselves in control of the foreign policy of the United States. They determined in ensemble fashion to visit upon the Senate—and, thereby, the country—the genius of Tom Cotton, who decided over the weekend on his own to lecture the government of Iran on How America Works—and, in fact, to lecture the government of Iran how it should work, for that matter. Put not your trust in Kenyan Usurpers, Tom cautioned the mullahs, for nothing is forever.
Cotton stands revealed as a true fanatic. He’s stalwart in his convictions as regards things about which he knows exactly dick. What he and practically every Republican in the Senate did was nothing short of a slow-motion, partial coup d’etat. It was not quite treason, and it was not quite a violation of the Logan Act, no matter how dearly some of us might wish it was. (Imagine the howls if the Justice Department actually inquired into that possibility, which it certainly has a right to do. Lindsey Graham might never rise from the fainting couch.) But it stands in history with Richard Nixon’s grotesque sabotage of the Paris Peace Talks in 1968 and with whatever it was that the Reagan campaign did to monkeywrench the possible release of the American hostages from their captivity in Iran in 1980. It is an act of unconscionable and perilous presumption, reckless at its base and heedless of eventual consequences.
Possibly the best part of Cotton’s move is that he has pretty much killed any chance Senate Republicans could get enough crossover Democratic support in an effort to put restrictions on President Obama’s efforts to reach a deal with Iran. Before Cotton pulled this stunt, there were a number of Dem Senators (and I’m looking at you, Chuck) who might have helped the Republicans keep war on the table. Right now about any Dem senator who dares stand with Republicans on this matter risks being laughed, if not drummed, out of the Party. This week, anyway.
Way to go, T.C.