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Iran War related legislation

Leverage Through Sanctions Not a Long-Term Strategy

Last week, the U.S took a page out of its well-worn foreign policy playbook and imposed new sanctions on North Korea. The similarities between the U.S approach to North Korea and Iran are striking, centering on a strategy of sanctions, isolation, and containment.

It can be argued that the U.S has had more success isolating North Korea — though a lot of the responsibility for that also lies with Kim Jong Il (something the hardliners in Tehran should be aware of).  But there is one crucial difference in trying to apply this same model of containment and isolation to Iran, and that is Tehran’s indispensable geostrategic importance.

The Persian Gulf is and will continue to be perhaps the most vital region in the world. Iran is the world’s fourth largest oil producer, thereby providing the government substantial oil revenue, and giving them a key opportunity to ensure that sanctions never fully seal off the country’s economy, as there will also be a buyer for Iranian oil.

For that and other reasons, a policy that depends on isolation and  containment as the sole approach for dealing with Iran is doomed to fail.

By looking into the history of sanctions imposed on Iran, and by spending time in Iran, it’s not difficult to realize that sanctions are not as persuasive as many in Washington might like to believe. Under nearly three decades of sanctions, Iran went from having no enrichment capacity, to creating an indigenous reactor and installing more than 8000 centrifuges. Three rounds of international sanctions did not stymie their efforts to build the planned enrichment facility in Qom. Sanctions did not impede the IRGC’s ballistic missile program that is continually evolving.

Washington’s motto: “Leverage through Sanctions” clearly isn’t working — and it’s not because we haven’t made sanctions “crippling” enough.  It’s because Iran refuses to be bludgeoned into submission.  If a country like Iran faces a choice between economic hardship and absolute humiliation, it’s likely to choose hardship every time.  But if given a chance to save face, it’s very likely that Iran will play ball.  Diplomatic engagement offers a better way forward than sanctions ever will, precisely because diplomacy offers a chance to convey privately all of the ways Iran stands to gain by acceding to the demands of the international community.  It will be a give and take, with concessions on both sides, but it offers a much greater chance of success than sanctions, pressure, and bullying.

What’s more, a diplomatic solution offers a long-term strategy, while sanctions — even if successful — only offer a short-term change of behavior.  Think about it: if the US can make sanctions so painful that Iran gives up its nuclear program, isn’t it likely that future generations will resent that outside pressure being forced upon their country?  Throughout history, this pattern of behavior has given rise to nationalist movements that produce greater degrees of instability in the long run than the original conflict ever would have.

Alternatively, negotiated settlements offer the chance of a win-win, with no loss of national prestige and possibly even a net benefit for the country overall.

  • 23 July 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 1 Comments
  • Iran War related legislation, Legislative Agenda, US-Iran War

Resolution Green-Lighting Israeli Strikes on Iran Introduced by House Republicans

Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a measure that would green-light an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The resolution, H.Res. 1553, provides explicit support for military strikes against Iran, stating that Congress supports Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force”. US military leaders have warned that strikes could be catastrophic to US national security interests and could engulf the Middle East in a “calamitous” regional war.

Nearly a third of House Republicans have signed onto the resolution, which has been publicly discussed and circulated by its lead sponsor, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), for months. The National Iranian American Council is leading calls to oppose the measure, urging those concerned to demand that House Republican Leader John Boehner denounce the resolution.

The introduction of the measure coincides with a pattern of renewed calls for military strikes that have escalated since President Obama signed “crippling” Congressional Iran sanctions into law. Neoconservatives who were instrumental in orchestrating the Iraq War, such as Bill Kristol, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, have led the stepped up calls for military action.

Hawkish former Bush Administration official John Bolton recently laid out the game plan to prod Israel into attacking Iran, arguing that outsiders can “create broad support” for a strike by framing it as an issue of Israel’s right to self defense. Supporters for military strikes, Bolton says, should “defend the specific tactic of pre-emptive attacks” against Iran. He urges that Congress can “make it clear” that it supports such strikes and that “having visible congressional support in place at the outset will reassure the Israeli government, which is legitimately concerned about Mr. Obama’s likely negative reaction to such an attack.”

In spite of enthusiasm from the neocons, top US military leaders have warned of the many dangers of military strikes against Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has argued, “Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. In fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels.” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has expressed his own serious reservations about an attack, stating, “Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. In an area that’s so unstable right now, we just don’t need more of that.” General David Petraeus has warned that a strike on Iran would be utilized by the Iranian government to unite it’s otherwise divided populace.

Simulations have been conducted over the past year to assess the outcome of a preemptive military strike against Iran. One such simulation, by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, found that strikes would draw the US into the conflict that would engulf the region into war, and would enable Iran to use the attacks as an opportunity to unite the Iranian people and dismantle its opposition. The simulation also found that the strikes could not destroy Iran’s nuclear program but merely set it back a few years.

An Oxford Research Group report released recently reinforced those findings and also warned that an Israeli attack would be disastrous and would be unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Instead, the report concluded attacks could convince Iran to withdraw from the international Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to aggressively seek to develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian activists have urged that even raising the specter of war undercuts the opposition in Iran. “The mere fact that Obama didn’t make military threats made the Green Movement possible,” noted Akbar Ganji. “A military attack would destroy all of that.”

Send your letter demanding that House Republican Leader John Boehner denounce the Iran War Resolution

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

War with Iran by Any Other Name

This week may be looked back on as the pivotal moment when war with Iran entered the mainstream of political thought in the Obama era. At a time when Iranians are standing up to an Iranian government that has been deprived of the Bush-era shadow of war, that shadow is again emerging.

“Bomb Bomb Iran” may be finally crossing over to the pop charts.

While Iran war rhetoric is nothing new in Washington, for the first time it has been given a vehicle. This week, a resolution in the House of Representatives is being circulated by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert that explicitly endorses an Israeli military strike on Iran if “no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time.” The resolution does not specify what peaceful solution its supporters are willing to endorse, what timeframe they would consider “reasonable”, or what kind of “support” the United States would provide to Israel if they bombed Iran. The resolution also does not specify what sort of Israeli military action the U.S. would support.

Okay, we’ll talk to Iran…. (now what?)

Everyone–literally everyone –who favors diplomacy with Iran is asking the same question right now: What do we do now that Barack Obama is President?

For the last eight years, the pro-engagement community honed its defensive skills.  For the duration of the Bush regime, this rag-tag band of progressives, trade groups, security organizations, and religious groups was in the opposition, with more than a few people even making a career out of stopping war with Iran.   But all that changed on November 4.

We now find ourselves in the unfamiliar position of having an ally in the White House.  War is off the table, at least for the foreseeable future.  US diplomats will attend face-to-face meetings with the Iranians on the nuclear issue “from now on.” Even new sanctions are on hold until talks get underway.  So for those of us still working to promote diplomacy with Iran, what else is there to do?

The short answer: a lot.

Here’s the dish on the new committee leadership

Trusted sources have confirmed that Senator John Rockefeller will step down from his chairmanship of the Select Intelligence Committee to assume the all powerful post of Commerce Committee chair. The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is the counterpart of Energy and Commerce in the House and deals with issues pertaining to interstate commerce, transportation, science and technology, and consumer products regulation among others.

California Senator Diane Feinstein will take over as chair of Select Intelligence, which is charged with overseeing US intelligence agencies and assuring that they provide the executive and the legislative branch the accurate and timely information it needs to make critical national security decisions. The fifteen member committee receives regular intelligence briefings that other members are not privy to and holds closed hearings on sensitive national security issues.

Former State Dept official echoes neocon oil argument

The continuing saga of the only new idea neoconservatives have had regarding Iran.  Though the blockade bill died in Congress, the idea of stopping oil exports to Iran continues…

Former State Department negotiator Orde Kittrie spoke on Thursday about viable alternatives for pursuing peace with Iran at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he is a visiting professor. “A US or Israeli military strike on Iran is bad idea and a nuclear Iran is a bad idea. We should attempt to persuade them peacefully” he said.

Media Coverage of NIAC 362 Victory

With the Congressional session coming to an end last week, the last chance to pass H.Con.Res. 362–the Iran blockade resolution–came and went.  Congratulations to everyone who called, emailed, visited, and wrote your elected officials to stop this dangerous bill: this is your victory!

For media coverage of this important legislative success, which was unparalleled for the Iranian-American community, see:

Also, if you come across any other news about the defeat of the blockade bill, please link to it in the comments section below. And again, thank you to all of you who helped with this historic achievement!

Update: More Movement on H.Con.Res. 362

With a little less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, Congress seems to be readying for  last-minute action on H.Con.Res. 362, the Iran Blockade Resolution.

Yesterday, eight members of Congress joined onto the bill as cosponsors, while at the same time Rep. John Lewis [D-GA-5] withdrew his name as a cosponsor.

The newest supporters of the bill are:

All Congress needs to do is go three more weeks without voting on this bill and it will die in committee.  Write your Congressmen today and tell them to oppose this dangerous resolution!

Update: 2 more signed on Tuesday, Rep. Jim McCrery [R-LA-4] and Rep. Wally Herger [R-CA-2].

  • 22 July 2008
  • Posted By Farid Zareie
  • 2 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Iran War related legislation, Sanctions

Patience is a virtue

This past Saturday, Ambassador William Burns traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with one of Iran’s top nuclear negotiators, Saeed Jalili. This meeting was the first since 1979 between a top US diplomat and an Iranian representative. So evidently, this was a tremendous breakthrough in US-Iran relations – a relationship that has been almost non-existent under the current Bush Administration. However, even with this great first step, people still appear to be disappointed. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and many other news sources reported that the Americans were not completely pleased with their meeting.

‘The Folly of Attacking Iran’

This video was created by justforeignpolicy.org as part of All the Shah’s Men author Stephen Kinzer’s ‘The Folly of Attacking Iran: Time for Real Diplomacy’ tour, and was co-sponsored by 30 coalition partners, including NIAC. Though it was produced in February, it maintains relevancy as Congress continues to debate Iran policy. The video includes commentary by Iran expert Barbara Slavin, retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard and NIAC President Dr. Trita Parsi.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJRcOF7rEfQ]

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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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