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Dems Meet Privately With Iranian FM: How Is This OK?

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Munich conference (Photo: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Munich conference (Photo: THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Democrat members of Congress met privately with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif without the knowledge or approval by the State Department.

The meeting took place at the recent Munich Security Conference, an annual forum where world leaders discuss international threats, reported The Federalist, which broke the story.

At least one senator who was at the meeting, Chris Murphy (D-CT), defended his actions in an online post, writing,

“I have no delusions about Iran — they are our adversary, responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans and unacceptable levels of support for terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East. But I think it’s dangerous to not talk to your enemies … A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.”

Murphy, a staunch critic of Trump’s Iran policy, said he asked Zarif whether the reprisals against the U.S. for the recent assassination of Iranian terror general Qasem Soleimani were over and told him that if groups in Iraq that are affiliated with Iran attack U.S. forces, it will be “an unacceptable escalation.”

He also said he brought up the issue of American prisoners held by Iran and the recent increase in attacks by the Houthis (an Iranian proxy group in Yemen) since the Soleimani hit.

Murphy concluded by stating,

“I don’t know whether my visit with Zarif will make a difference. I’m not the President or the Secretary of State — I’m just a rank and file U.S. Senator. I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so. But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should.”

He then erroneously states,

“Congress is a co-equal branch of government, responsible along with the Executive for setting foreign policy.”

It is for this reason that Murphy and other Democrats were wrong in meeting with Zarif (in addition to the fact that these members of Congress have a history of being virulently against almost anything the president does).

In fact, according to the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the executive branch of government (the president) to set foreign policy. It is the responsibility of the Senate to ratify treaties (which the Obama administration brazenly circumvented when making the Iran deal).

In fact, there is a law on the books that addresses such meetings. The Logan Act, promulgated in 1799, prohibits private citizens from conducting official diplomacy and makes it a felony for unauthorized Americans to negotiate with governments in disputes with the U.S.

The U.S. cut off diplomatic relations with Iran after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement in May 2018. Since then, the U.S.’ policy has been to isolate and bankrupt Iran – the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world – through a “maximum pressure campaign.”

Meetings such as Murphy’s and other Democrat members of Congress with an Iranian regime official defy that policy. Moreover, they send a message of disunity – and hence, weakness — to Iran.

During the conference, “Murphy and Zarif both criticized U.S. foreign policy during a two-hour discussion on the Middle East,” The Federalist reported.

The news outlet also noted that,

“Murphy’s meeting with Zarif comes while Murphy has defended Democratic rogue meetings with foreign leaders in the past while offering harsh criticism of Republicans who sent an open letter to the Iranian regime while the Obama administration stamped out the details of a nuclear agreement with the Middle Eastern adversary. Murphy, a staunch defender of the agreement said the Republicans were ‘undermining the authority of the president.’

“In 2017, Murphy also condemned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn following anonymous leaks of a phone call between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kysylak surfaced.

“‘Any effort to undermine our nation’s foreign policy – even during a transition period – may be illegal and must be taken seriously,’ Murphy said at the time.”

Murphy and his cohorts should be censured and perhaps even prosecuted for their actions.

Tell us what you think. Take a minute to answer out poll below:

Was it OK that the Dems met privately with the Iranian foreign minister?

 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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