Today I received an email from Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic senator for Michigan. I’ve reproduced it below, together with my response:
Because you have written me in the past to express your concerns about the threat of a nuclear Iran, I wanted to let you know about an important action that the Senate has taken.
Today I voted for, and the Senate passed, legislation that renews our ability to invoke sanctions on Iran. Without this action, that authority would have expired at the end of this year.
I cosponsored renewal of the sanctions on Iran because I am committed to keeping pressure on Iranian leaders to honor their agreement to end that country’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. This 10-year extension sends a strong message to Iran: that we stand ready to reimpose strict sanctions if they fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.
I have said that the only thing worse than Iran being the largest state sponsor of terrorism would be Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism with a nuclear weapon. The Iran Sanctions Extension Act maintains critical leverage for the U.S. as we continue to closely monitor Iran’s activities to ensure the security of America, Israel, and the entire Middle East.
As always, please continue to share your views on issues of concern to you and your family.
United States Senator
I had no idea you’d joined the Republican Party. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to the evidence dictating your view that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism?
Iran is a nation of Shia Muslims; every terrorist act against the West, including 9/11, has been committed by Sunni Muslim extremists. Iran aids the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad because it is composed of mainly Alawis (with Shia affiliations) and the rebels are Sunni extremists. Hezbollah (again, Shia) is supported by Iran, but only in their fight against the brutality of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians they subjugate. If the U.S. government were to really pressurize the Israelis to repair the dreadful damage done to the lives of Palestinians, by Israeli actions since 1948, Hezbollah would likely cease to be a problem to them.
My last contact with you was concerning the Iranian situation, but I was much less concerned about their nuclear ambitions than the hideous sanctions imposed on them by the West (led, of course, by the U.S., via the U.N.) with the resultant effect on innocent civilians, and in particular, children.
It’s common knowledge that sanctions don’t work. They didn’t work against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, and they won’t work against Ali Khamenei, who’s a relatively moderate leader. American-led sanctions against Iraq in the 1990’s caused the most diabolical suffering to the populace. UNICEF calculated that as many as half a million children died as a direct result of American/Western sanctions.
The only sane choice when dealing with Iran has already been made by the present U.S. President. No doubt progress on this issue will be completely thrown away by the incoming administration of Trump & Co., who appear hellbent on stirring up another Middle Eastern brew of poison and hatred against the West.
I note this bill was passed unanimously (with the exception of Sanders, who opted out) and that President Obama will sign it into law, even though he’s intimated it’s unnecessary. Khamenei has previously stated that any extension of the legislation would be taken as a violation of the JCPA and could jeopardize further negotiations.
It would appear that the U.S. people’s representatives are determined to push the Iranian regime into a corner yet again, using more of the same bully-boy tactics that have proved such a disaster in the Middle East over the last forty years, since the Carter Doctrine.
Isn’t it time you, who are charged with the responsibility of bringing peace to the world, stopped behaving like schoolyard bullies run amok and became educated in the more mature skill of political diplomacy, an adeptness I feel is sadly lacking in U.S. politics today.
After all, the nation’s militant tactics in the Middle East over the last forty years have brought forth nothing but millions of dead bodies (including thousands of American soldiers), rampant terrorism against both the U.S. and its allies, the rise of al Qaeda and now, ISIS, the devastation of Iraq and Syria and their many historic sites and artifacts, and utter turmoil and suffering over five percent of the world’s landmass.
Is this a record of which one nation can feel proud?