In an absolutely shocking development, 47 Republican Senators interjected themselves harmfully into the foreign policy mire yesterday by signing an ill-advised and potentially dangerous letter regarding Iran. After the backlash ensued, one of the letter’s signatories, Florida’s Junior Senator Marco Rubio doubled down this morning claiming he’d sign another similar letter. In fairness to the Republicans, many Democratic leaders in the Congress during Republican Administrations have engaged in similar diplomatic measures. House Speaker Jim Wright engaged in his own foreign policy initiative which was arguably contrary to the Reagan Administrations in Central America. Then again the Reagan Administration had circumvented the will of Congress in many ways during the 1980’s paranoia about communism in the Americas.
However, this letter goes beyond anything Wright or any other Democrat has done. This action by the GOP Senators could amount to working as agents of a foreign government. Does it rise to the levels of treason? I wouldn’t quite go that far but it does set a very dangerous precedent for the interaction of the Congress with a foreign government during the course of sensitive negotiations.
Senator Rubio whose marginal views on Iran have been well articulated is along the ring-leaders of this GOP action. Rubio’s goals are to undercut the administration even if some of the other signatories are at least in theory looking for a “better deal.”
Rubio implies he wants to be President. But by undertaking this action and then doubling-down he has again demonstrated that he does not quite understand how the separation of powers works and the importance of an administration having flexibility to deal with serious foreign policy prerogatives. One would hope should Rubio obtain the nation’s highest office in the future he would respect the division of powers and understand that partisan politics is supposed to end at water’s edge (more or less).
In his undying desire to be taken seriously, Rubio once again has overstepped his proper role. How much damage the letter he co-signed does to the US negotiations with Iran remains to be seen.