Reposted from PeterBalesHistoryTales by marykk
“It is important that we wait to see the specific details of today’s announcement, and as the P5-plus-one works toward any final deal, we must remain clear-eyed regarding Iran’s continued resistance to concessions, long history of covert nuclear weapons-related activities, support of terrorism, and its current role in destabilizing the region.”
Bob Corker, GOP Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 2, 2015.
In his initial reaction to the preliminary accord announced with Iran, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker sounded remarkably, for him, like a statesman. He did not emulate the vicious Republican Senator Mark Kirk who proclaimed, “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler.” Nor did he echo former Texas Governor Rick Perry who somehow remembered his lines and said, the agreement is "riddled with concessions by the Obama administration," or Florida Senator Marco Rubio who, obviously in campaign mode, declared "this deal is a colossal mistake." For one day, at least, Senator Corker channeled one of predecessors, Michigan's Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during another particularly perilous time in American history. But what tack will Corker take next?
Arthur Vandenberg, Statesman
In January 1945, Michigan’s Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg stunned America’s foreign policy establishment when he proclaimed his full blooded conversion from isolationist to internationalist in line with Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt’s vision for a post war world. The Senator was unequivocal: “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 maximum authority against those who would divide and conquer us and the free world.” The bloodletting between President Woodrow Wilson and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge that had prevented the United States from joining the League of Nations after the First World War was very much on his mind, and he did not want a similar blunder after the Second. Corralling conservatives in a GOP caucus obsessed with politics, Vandenberg chose statesmanship and helped Presidents Roosevelt and then Truman gather sufficient legislative support for the creation of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan and NATO. When conservative stalwart Senator Robert Taft’s knees wobbled and he called for massive cuts in American aid to Western Europe, Vandenberg famously put him in his place: "When a man is drowning 20 feet away, it is a mistake to throw him a 15-foot rope."
The current Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Bob Corker needs a history lesson. Channeling Lodge, Corker detests President Obama and is hellbent on torpedoing his foreign policy. In a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association recently, Corker sounded like a candidate at a campaign rally gleefully describing the Administration’s foreign policy team as “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” and accusing the President of being a man who “has never been comfortable being commander-in-chief.” Whereas Vandenberg once spoke of a “loyal opposition” responsible for ensuring frank cooperation and free debate, Corker now delivers hurtful punchlines worthy of right-wing talk radio. Vandenberg had opposed Roosevelt’s New Deal as vehemently as Corker currently resists Obama’s domestic agenda, but he grew to appreciate the need for America to speak with one voice when addressing the rest of the world.
Bob Corker, To Be Determined
Senator Corker does have the right and responsibility to offer differing viewpoints and champion the constitutional role of the Senate in checking and balancing the role of the Executive in the conduct of foreign policy. The legislation he has proposed to mandate that for any nuclear deal with Iran is not unreasonable. But he should not reflexively oppose everything President Obama champions because, in the political world he grew up in, that is what Republicans are automatically expected to do. Vandenberg undoubtedly turned over in his grave when 47 Republican Senators sent a missive to Iran’s Ayatollah undermining what traditionally would have been bipartisan support for our State Department in the midst of enormously difficult negotiations. Corker somehow found the fortitude not to sign on, so maybe there is hope for him yet. But if he now leads a GOP kamikazee charge in the Congress to derail the framework agreement the P5-plus-one has just announced with Iran, and the United States ends up in another devastating war without end in the Middle East, future historians may well portray Senator Bob Corker as a petty party hack who deliberately drove a partisan wedge into prospects for peace. History has not been kind to Henry Cabot Lodge, but many today respectfully remember Arthur Vandenberg as that rare breed of politician who chose to place patriotism above party. Senator Corker, please reflect on that.