Updated on March 9, 2015 at 4:55 p.m.
It used to be said that politics stopped at the water's edge. Increasingly, that doesn't seem to be the case.
The latest indication: a letter from 47 Republican senators, most of the GOP caucus, to the supreme leader of Iran. The letter, organized by Arkansas's Tom Cotton and first reported by Josh Rogin, notes that any deal President Obama makes with Iranian negotiators about nuclear enrichment is not a duly ratified treaty and could be reversed once Obama leaves office in less than two years. That comes a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of Congress—a speech arranged by House Speaker John Boehner without first consulting the White House.
"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system," the letter begins somewhat patronizingly, then explains the treaty-ratification process, ending:
What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
The intent of the letter and speech invitation aren't really in dispute: Both are attempts to scuttle a deal that would slow or halt Iranian nuclear enrichment without completely dismantling the program. The letter is notable as a highly unusual instance of the Senate directly intervening in the conduct of foreign policy, and it in essence aligns most Republican senators with Iranian hardliners who don't want to see any deal.