As 2009 rapidly approaches, look for the Congressional Progressive Caucus to become a more central player in the 111th Congress, particularly on Iran legislation.

The Progressive Caucus’ (CPC) position on Iran policy places a very high premium on shifting towards dialogue, rather than confrontation with Tehran. Arguing for the establishment of “a diplomatic dialogue with the Government of Iran as well as deepening relationships and cross-cultural exchanges with the Iranian people”, the CPC firmly believes that these efforts will ultimately “help foster greater understanding between the people of Iran and the people of the United States. These actions would also enhance the stability and security of the Persian Gulf region, including reducing the threat of the proliferation or use of nuclear weapons in the region, while advancing other United States foreign policy objectives in that region.”

Moreover, the caucus’ directive is aimed at stopping “the policy approach and tactics used by the Bush Administration leading up to the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq” from being “replicated in a misguided and reckless drive to a military confrontation and possible war with Iran.”  These include the rejection of “congressional authorization for the use of military force… against Iran or its nuclear program either explicitly or implicitly”.  Additionally, the CPC clearly argues that the U.S. should “not enter into a preemptive war against Iran and to contemplate the use of military force only as a last resort and in full accordance with international law and constitutional and statutory requirements for congressional authorization”.

It’s also important to note the emphasis on the need to remove the policy of regime change from the greater U.S. strategy.  The CPC hopes to ban funding for covert action in Iran and to offer “security guarantees…through negotiations with the Government and the people of Iran in exchange for ironclad, enforceable guarantees and rigorous, on-going inspections by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.”

Lastly, it is argued that while the establishment of “full diplomatic, political, and economic relations between the United States and Iran should not happen unless and until enforceable international safeguards are put in place to prevent the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program and the Government of Iran ends its support for international terrorist groups… the attainment of these policy objectives should not constitute preconditions for any bilateral diplomatic dialogue,” echoing President-elect Barack Obama’s often-criticized campaign stance on dialogue without preconditions.

Congressman Raul M. Grijalva was elected co-chair of the Caucus in recent leadership elections, replacing Congresswoman Barbara Lee who will assume leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey was re-elected, thus joining Congressman Grijalva as co-chair of the CPC.

Posted By Ali Hosseini

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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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