The ‘Dear Comandante’ letter (1984)
Keeping the Senate out of the loop on arms control negotiations is a rather novel development, so it is with interest that 47 US senators wrote to the Iranian regime, warning that any agreement with the White House might not remain valid without Senate approval.
The letter prompted an outcry of “treason” from supporters of the administration, with one lawmaker branding Senator Tom Cotton, who lead the initiative, as “Tehran Tom.” Some critics said the letter violated the law.
This incident reminds us of when President Ronald Reagan was trying to prevent the Soviets from building a beachhead in Central America, by supporting the anti-communist Nicaraguan resistance fighters to oust the Sandinista regime.
At that time, in March 1984, senior members of Reagan’s opposition in the House wrote a letter to Sandinista junta commander Daniel Ortega. In what became known as the “Dear Comandante” letter, the lawmakers – including future House Speaker Jim Wright – the lawmakers apologized to the Sandinistas for their president’s behavior.
The signatories included Majority Leader Jim Wright (written on his majority leader letterhead), the majority whip, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the chairman of three subcommittees of the Foreign Affairs Committee, two members of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, and two other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The lawmakers told Ortega that they viewed him as a role model for the future of the region: “We believe that you have it in your power to establish an example for Central America that can be of enormous historical importance.”
We reproduce a copy of the letter here.