I could not remember the old adage about foreign policy, but I thought it was something like foreign policy debate should stop at the water’s edge, but I looked it up and supposedly a respected Republican senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, in the 1940s said:
To me, ‘bipartisan foreign policy’ means a mutual effort, under our indispensable, two-party system, to unite our official voice at the water’s edge so that America speaks with one voice to those who would divide and conquer us and the free world.”
Well now I read that 47 Republican Senators, headed by Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have sent an “open letter” to Iran’s leaders warning them that any deal President Obama (a Democrat of course) makes over their nuclear program is really useless because the congress has to approve it and it especially has no effect once Obama is out of office.
Now I’ve always wondered about that rule of stopping debate at the water’s edge. I mean it is only natural that the executive branch and the congress might not agree on foreign policy, especially when one major party controls the congress and the other the presidency.
But on the other hand, if the president does one thing and then the congress warns everyone what he says means nothing — well that makes us pretty weak as a world power I’d say.
Yes, there should be internal debate. But sending letters to other countries does not seem right to me.
I think the senators were overstepping the bounds of their power and using poor judgment. They are clearly playing politics ahead of the next presidential election in which the Republicans hope to re-capture the White House.
But in the meantime they are making us look weak to the world.
Our enemies, and they seem to be many at times, are always looking for weakness.
A link to a story about the letter:
I did not bother to brush up on all the constitutional issues here. I know that foreign policy powers are divided between congress and the president. And it is a grey area many times. But one can see that really only the president can speak to the world as to what our foreign policy is, even if he would be well to work things out with congress before he does.