Leslie Gelb never has struck me as a crazed, left-wing ideologue.
He still doesn’t, but he’s written a piece for the Daily Beast that paints an extremely grim picture of one of the consequences of the Republican Gang of 47’s letter to the Iranian mullahs.
He said The Letter well might destroy bipartisan foreign policy, the kind envisioned by politicians of both parties until, well, just the other day.
The headline over Gelb’s essay says that Republicans “hate Obama more than nuclear Iran.”
“Hate” is one of those words our parents have told us we shouldn’t use. Yes, I’ve referred on my blog to “Obama haters,” and I regret the use of that term. I’ll only refer to prior use of it here.
Gelb, though, wonders whether The Letter signals the end of bipartisan foreign policy, the kind that compels politicians to rally around the president as he tries to negotiate deals with foreign leaders, prosecute conflicts, wage campaigns against terrorists, stared down our nation’s enemies.
The Gang of 47 sees it differently. They were led by a wet-behind-the-ears freshman senator, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who drafted The Letter that advised Iran that it should consider rejecting a nuclear prohibition treaty because it could be overturned when President Obama leaves office in January 2017.
The blowback against the senators has been ferocious. Even some Republicans are trying to back away from it.
Gelb writes: “What the 47 did was not a trivial matter or ‘a tempest in a teapot,’ as Senator John McCain has described it. It could well affect possible Iranian concessions in the end game. The ayatollahs could well conclude from that letter that concessions they might have made just aren’t worth it politically, as the agreement would go nowhere anyway. They’d be taking political risks for nothing.”
This interference in a president’s negotiation with a hostile foreign government is unconscionable. Teapot tempest? Hardly.
I hope Gelb is wrong about the future of bipartisan foreign policy. I fear, though, that he’s right.