Tom Cotton’s unsent letter and what it means


MIAMI, March 17, 2015 – On this St. Patrick’s day all Americans renew their ancestral ties, especially those from the Emerald Isle. Even Native Americans whose ancestors most likely crossed from Asia during the last ice age came from other places in the world. We constantly hear the claim that “we are all immigrants.”

However, to some this factor does not matter enough. They are ready to look down on other nations as if they were imbeciles.

Case in point is the letter from Sen. Tom Cotton to the government of Iran. Conservatives now claim that the letter was not sent (read literally) to the leader of Iran. The letter instead was posted in the website of Sen. Cotton. It seems that, after impulsively writing a letter and getting 46 other senators to sign it, Cotton is trying to minimize the damage.

Whether one reads a letter that came in the mail, hears it read on the radio or on a telephone or sees an image of it in the internet, the letter was written, sent and read. As long as the text is accurate, there is no wiggle room. 

So what does this letter have to do with the arrogance of 47 senators led by a freshman who apparently has never been outside his native Arkansas, at least not mentally?

Before Sen. Cotton’s ancestors, and for that matter those of many of the rest of us, left their caves in Europe, there was a Persian empire. Today, Iran is a very sophisticated country, with a backward theocratic government. This does not mean that its scholars, and for that matter most of its citizens, are unable to read and interpret international events.

Sen. Cotton and other signers of the letter are standing fast in defending their actions.

So what is wrong about the letter?

Many would claim that the signatories of the letter are just exercising their First Amendment right and that they should be able to do so. However, even the First Amendment has limits as has been confirmed by the Supreme Court. When a statement can be damaging to the country or our chances to negotiate a treaty to prevent war and the death of many, it shouldn’t be uttered.

Furthermore, when the letter goes beyond the statement of facts and a political ideology to insult a whole country, its consequences abridge limits of common sense and logic.

Arguably, the talks with Iran are going on to try to prevent armed conflict. It is difficult to think of a better outcome, except for some who think that the only solution is to exercise the armed conflict option.

So what can be the motivation for the letter?

The actions of the 47 appear to be fueled by a number of things.

One may be the fact that they are convinced that, no matter what agreement the Obama government comes up with, it will be wrong. 

Two, they on principle think Obama does not love the U.S. and wants to sabotage our future. They don’t see that regardless of mistakes, the country is today better off in many ways than it was when he took office in 2009.

Three, they are convinced that the country has had enough of the Obama administration decisions and see the mid-term elections as confirmation. Therefore, attacking everything the Obama administration does is good politics.

While the public continues to say it is tired of partisan politics and gridlock, the mid-terms delivered an even more polarized Congress, threatening still more gridlock. 

It remains to be seen whether the swing to the right was in fact a reaction, a confluence of circumstances (bad ones for the Democrats) or a real movement. The next presidential elections should give us some idea.

What can be derived from these facts?

The letter, coming so close to the invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress can be interpreted as the continuation of the polarization of our legislature and in general the three powers of our government.

These two actions can only be interpreted as a way for the Republicans to continue in their convictions that attacking Obama will overshadow any other factor in the polls in 2016.

Democrats have to start showing some life in the next several months to combat what in part is the tenure fatigue of eight years in office by their party.

Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is spending a few days in the sun. He can be seen on Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+ and Facebook (Mario Salazar).

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  • Larry Linn

    He reminds me of my Company Commander in Vietnam. Cpt. Jimmy
    Harris wanted to become a Major over my dead body.

  • Captain Reacher

    We also need to keep in mind that Mason’s Declaration of Rights, Madison’s Federalist 46, & Hamilton’s Federalist 29 offer insight into the founders opinions on self-defense.