The Real Story Behind the Republicans’ Iran Letter

The “open letter” from Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican Senators to the leadership of Iran, which even Republicans themselves admit was aimed at encouraging Iranian opponents of the nuclear negotiations to argue that the United States cannot be counted on to keep the bargain, has created a new political firestorm. It has been harshly denounced by Democratic loyalists as “stunning” and “appalling”, and critics have accused the signers of the letter of being “treasonous” for allegedly violating a law forbidding citizens from negotiating with a foreign power.

But the response to the letter has primarily distracted public attention from the real issue it raises: how the big funders of the Likud Party in Israel control Congressional actions on Iran.

The infamous letter is a ham-handed effort by Republican supporters of the Netanyahu government to blow up the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran. The idea was to encourage Iranians to conclude that the United States would not actually carry out its obligations under the agreement — i.e. the lifting of sanctions against Iran. Cotton and his colleagues were inviting inevitable comparison with the 1968 conspiracy by Richard Nixon, through rightwing campaign official Anna Chenault, to encourage the Vietnamese government of President Nguyen Van Thieu to boycott peace talks in Paris.

But while Nixon was plotting secretly to get Thieu to hold out for better terms under a Nixon administration, the 47 Republican Senators were making their effort to sabotage the Iran nuclear talks in full public scrutiny. And the interest served by the letter was not that of a possible future president but of the Israeli government.

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