• 2 August 2013
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 4 Comments
  • Congress, Sanctions

On Wednesday, House leadership ignored the Iranian peoples’ call for change and moderation and voted for new punishing sanctions on the Iranian people.

But twenty lawmakers showed courage and leadership by voting no, inviting attacks from the pro-war lobby.  Other representatives who share their views were unwilling to take that risk.  Those twenty representatives need to know that those who oppose war and unending sanctions appreciate their stand, and that we have their back.

Will you sign the petition thanking them for standing up for peace and diplomacy with Iran?

 

[emailpetition id=”4″]

 

 

Learn more about the vote and see the list of lawmakers below and watch the sanctions floor debate here:

Meet the 20 Lawmakers Who Stood Up to the War Lobby

Thursday, August 1, 2013
By: Ryan Costello (Special to HuffingtonPost)

Yesterday, House leadership ignored the warning of a growing group of experts, former officials, and even their own colleagues by pushing through an Iran sanctions bill (H.R.850) that, if passed by the Senate, risks sabotaging diplomatic talks that offer the best chance to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and avoid war. Iran’s incoming president, Hassan Rouhani, has promised to enhance nuclear transparency and pursue “peace and reconciliation” with the West, while urging that no new sanctions be imposed. But with Rouhani’s inauguration on Saturday, the House has already cast a vote that will undermine the new Iranian President and boost hardliners opposed to a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff, increasing the likelihood that we continue to drift toward war.

While an anonymous senior administration official warned against the timing and content of the new sanctions, the administration failed to take an official stand that could have helped delay the vote until after the month-long August recess and Rouhani’s inauguration. This strategy of leaving Congress in the dark, trying to read tea leaves to divine the administration’s stance on the sanctions bill, contributed to its swift passage.

However, 20 Representatives showed courage and leadership on the House floor last night by voting against the new sanctions. In defying the majority of their peers (400 representatives voted in favor) and the pro-war lobby, they exposed themselves to attack. But through their forceful arguments, they provided further demonstration that there are strong advocates within Washington who are eager for a diplomatic resolution that prevents another ill-advised war of choice in the Middle East.

Before the vote, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) led 15 of his colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership urging them to delay consideration until after Rouhani is inaugurated and has a chance to engage in nuclear talks. Further, the letter called for changes to the bill to eliminate restrictions on the President’s ability to waive sanctions, and to clarify that the bill is by no means an authorization for war with Iran (Eight of those who sponsored Rep. McDermott’s letter, having failed to delay the vote, either voted yes or abstained). On the floor, Rep. McDermott warned “the timing of this bill could not be worse from a foreign policy perspective.” McDermott also referenced the disastrous war in Iraq, when sanctions foreclosed diplomatic prospects, greatly contributed to the immense suffering of the Iraqi people, and ultimately led to war.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) also played a key role in mobilizing opposition to the bill. Ellison cited Rouhani’s apparent eagerness to engage in negotiations with the West, asking “[w]hy aren’t we at least curious to find out whether or not President Rouhani means that he wants to pursue this course of peace? It’s what we want, is [a] negotiated settlement. Why are we slapping his hand down, when apparently the Iranian people are willing to support a candidate who is willing to extend a hand?”

These warnings were echoed by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), who stated, “”I can’t imagine we are looking for another war of choice, that we want to escalate the rhetoric. This is the best opportunity we have had in at least 8 years, if not more. Why throw that away? The fact is that this bill empowers the very hard-liners who are the problem.”

Rep. David Price (D-NC), one of the lead sponsors of a bipartisan, pro-diplomacy letter signed by 131 Representatives and sent to President Obama two weeks ago, reluctantly opposed the bill. Price, despite endorsing previous rounds of sanctions, strongly objected to the timing of the bill as it would undermine the incoming President. He warned “to rush through a new round of sanctions before the new President has even taken office could slam the window of opportunity shut before we even have a chance to test whether it is genuine.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) argued “I think there is a possibility that that recent election makes a difference in Iran. I hope it does. But one way to guarantee that it doesn’t is to tell the Iranian people, ‘We don’t care what you do. We’re going to ratchet up the sanctions. We’re going to undercut the new guy. We’re going to tell you that we’re just going to go down this path.’ Don’t poke the Iranian people in the eye and ignore the sorry history we’ve had of fumbling the relationship with that country.”

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), warned that the diplomatic opportunity presented by the election might not last forever, but that “it is a time when I, for one, want to support the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon’s ability to move forward our relationship and dialogue with Iran on this most serious matter.” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), indicated in a statement that the vote “sends the signal that the U.S. wishes to punish the Iranian people and will only settle for submission, rather than a negotiated, face saving solution that meets the security needs of the United States, Israel, and the entire international community and the economic needs of the Iranian people.” And Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) released a statement that indicated “the President must have the ability to waive sanctions in exchange for Iranian concessions. Yet H.R.850 places significant restrictions on the President’s authority to waive sanctions.”

The Representatives mentioned above, in addition to the three anti-interventionist Republicans and ten other Democrats who voted no on new sanctions (listed below), deserve particular praise for standing up to the hawks. They should hear from supporters of peace that we appreciate their courage and leadership.

The next time Congress has a vote to pass new sanctions that jeopardize diplomacy with Iran, will the administration remain silent and fail to back their legislative allies? And, with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) joining Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to push these new sanctions through the House, will Democratic leadership once again side with the pro-war crowd? If so, we might miss this major potential opportunity and, as we continue to drift toward war, wonder what could have been.


Representatives Who Voted “No” on H.R.850:

Justin Amash (R-MI)

Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

André Carson (D-IN)

Donna Edwards (D-MD)

Keith Ellison (D-MN)

Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Walter B. Jones (R-NC)

Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Betty McCollum (D-MN)

Jim McDermott (D-WA)

Jim McGovern (D-MA)

George Miller (D-CA)

James P. Moran (D-VA)

Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)

Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ)

David E. Price (D-NC)

Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN)

Maxine Waters (D-CA)
* Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) signed the McDermott letter, while voting “present,” while Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), signed and abstained. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) signed the McDermott letter while voting “yes.”

(This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post)

Posted By NIAC

    4 Responses to “Thank the 20 Lawmakers Who Stood Up to the War Lobby”

  1. baha abhari says:

    Thank you for having the courtesy and staying in communication about these important matters.

    Thank you causing participation and activism in Iranian community.

  2. Alan Folsom says:

    Don’t let war-mongering creeps run American foreign policy.

  3. masoud says:

    THANK YOU

  4. perry pakravan says:

    Thank you for your courage and for standing for your stance for human rights and ordinary people. Please count me as your supporter in your next campaign.

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Sign the Petition

 

7,348 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.

Sincerely,

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