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Who Runs American Foreign Policy?

March 15, 2015
Plain English Version
Allies and Iran at the bargaining table.

Allies and Iran at the bargaining table.

Only Congress can declare war.  The last time it declared the United States at war was in 1941. The declaration started World War II.

For the last 75 years, it has not done so again. There have been several large-scale military actions since that war. These include Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Congress Okayed those wars by resolutions. These gave the president power to conduct war.

Only Congress can approve a treaty. Treaties are formal documents between countries. Congress approved an arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia in 2010.

Foreign policy combines the activities of the Congress and the president. For the most part, the president runs foreign policy.  The president is Commander in Chief.

Some people are trying to change this. They are mostly “tea party types” (conservatives) in the Republican Party.

The Republican leader of the House invited the Prime Minister of Israel to speak to members of the House. He did not tell the president he was doing this. The president and many Democrats were insulted. Some stayed away from the speech.

Next, 47 Republican senators sent a letter to the leader of Iran. They warned him that the next president could cancel any agreement signed by this president. The man who wrote the letter has been in the Senate three months.

The goal was to make it harder for the U.S. and Iran to make a deal about nuclear policy.

There is a problem with this kind of politics. It confuses everyone – our friends and our foes. It gives friends and foes a chance to question the goals of the U.S.

America and Iran are not the only countries engaged in talks about nuclear arms containment. Other countries such as Germany, China, Russia, England and France are in the meetings.

Republicans are comparing the current talks to appeasing Hitler before the start of World War II.

Observers note that Iran has hardliners. They have to approve any treaty. Now it looks like America also has hardliners who might be able to stop an agreement.

The real test will be how much Iran and the U.S. want tom make a deal. Can they both satisfy the hardliners in their country?

Source: The Washington Post March 13, 2015

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