47 Republicans' Iran letter was not treasonous but mutinous, explains retired Army general
Sen. Tom Cotton (Gage Skidmore, Flickr Commons)

A retired Army major general spoke to the Washington Post this week about Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and the other 46 Republicans who signed an open letter to the Iranian government undermining President Barack Obama's current attempts at hammering out a bilateral agreement regarding the country's nuclear program.

The letter has led some to brand the group of rogue Republicans "traitors," but when Jonathan Capehart interviewed retired Army Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton, the military officer explained that the letter was actually mutinous rather than treasonous. It was still illegal and an unprecedented show of weakness and disunity by the U.S. government, but it did not, Eaton said, rise to the level of treason.

“I would use the word mutinous,” Eaton told Capehart. "I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.”

Eaton -- who is a senior advisor to VoteVets.org and worked to train Iraqi soldiers after the U.S. invasion -- went on, "What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better. I have no issue with Senator Cotton, or others, voicing their opinion in opposition to any deal to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Speaking out on these issues is clearly part of his job. But to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.”

The consequences, he said, could be disastrous.

"The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran," he said, and he believes that Cotton realizes it, too, but is so concerned with raising his profile and scoring political points that "he simply does not care. That’s what disappoints me the most.”

Eaton said, "I expect better from the men and women who wore the uniform.”

Capehart agreed, writing that "the American people deserve better from the Senate."