Dwane Powell

Burr, Tillis add their names to outrageous letter to Iran

US Sen. Richard Burr
US Sen. Richard Burr

Vice President Joe Biden, who spent 36 years in the United States Senate, said he’d never seen anything like it.

The New York Daily News proclaimed “TRAITORS” on its front page, with pictures of four Republican senators riding above it. Ted Cruz of Texas was no surprise in a reprehensible attempt to undermine President Obama’s foreign policy, and Rand Paul, the tea party darling from Kentucky, has long perched on the extremes.

Mitch McConnell, the majority leader from Kentucky, vowed to make Obama a one-term president. But the instigator of an outrageous breach of foreign policy protocol was a first-term senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton. How proud he must have been to be in the league with Cruz, Paul and McConnell.

Unfortunately, North Carolina’s two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, also signed with 45 others a letter to the leaders of Iran basically telling them that President Obama’s word was no good and whatever was negotiated to stem Iran’s nuclear program could be undone by the next president. Perhaps charged up by a recent joint-session address from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 47 Republican senators simply set out to disrupt a delicate foreign policy negotiation now in progress between Iran and five world powers. They rebuked their own president and their own secretary of state.

This is one of the most horrid and tangible examples of pure partisanship run amok in modern times. So much do Republicans resent the fact that President Obama has won two terms they’ll now resort to blowing up a negotiation aimed at preventing war in the Middle East. This, despite the fact that since the presidency of George Washington, America has always tried to present a united front to the world. Time and again, Congress has stood behind presidents in war and in peace in the name of national unity..

Many Democrats went along, for example, with President George W. Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

The White House called the Republicans’ action a “rush to war.” Indeed, the Middle East is as it always has been volatile. And while Israel doesn’t acknowledge having nuclear weapons, it is virtually certain that it does. That’s one reason Iran wants them. But President Obama and other chief executives have long believed that keeping the lid on Iran’s nuclear program is vital to keep the peace in the Middle East and in eventually, bringing Iran back into the world community.

Yes, that’s daunting given Iran’s government. But that government is aging as the country’s population is changing. Republicans who dismiss diplomatic efforts as useless simply ignore that fact and want to try to keep the antagonism felt toward Iran at a fever pitch.

But if the president, Secretary of State John Kerry and American allies are able to negotiate, for example, a 10-year hold on nuclear development, the Iran of 2025 may be much different than the Iran of today. Isn’t trying diplomacy better than a war into which United States forces most certainly would be drawn?

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