Nel's New Day

December 20, 2013

Stop War By Doing Nothing

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:23 PM
Tags: , ,

Congress has given us a great gift this year. The segment of government designed to make law for the nation managed only 58 public laws during the past twelve months—public laws being measures of broad impact. This year is only half the 113th Congress, but if the number of laws passed would triple in the second year of this Congress, it would still be at the bottom. Yet Congress has kept the United States, at least temporarily, out of war. And they did this by doing nothing.

Congress bills

Ten years ago, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney drove Congress into a hawkish frenzy by spreading lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Ten years later, the reasonable people of the U.S. know that there were no WMD, and many members of Congress who voted to give Bush carte blanche to declare war in the Middle East have regretted their votes. To most people in the United States, another war is anathema.

This year, Iran has been the potential war zone, and, much to the dismay of the war hawks, Secretary of State and President Obama have agreed to a six-month agreement in which the International Atomic Energy Agency will increase inspections to daily ones from the past bimonthly checks and halt the installation of any additional centrifuges used to enrich uranium. It will also dilute the country’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent and stop construction at the heavy water reactor in Arak while will produce plutonium if operational.

In an international exchange, six countries—United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia—will provide “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible” relief from sanctions to Iran. Approximately $4.2 billion of Iranian funds will be released as well as $1.5 billion worth of sanctions on “gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petro-chemical exports.” During the six-month period, embargoes against Iranian oil, banking institutions, and other financial sanctions will remain in place, but there will be no new sanctions.

In typical snarky manner, GOP members complained about the possibility of avoiding war. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) tweeted, “It’s amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care.” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) issued a statement that the deal “appears to provide the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars in exchange for cosmetic concessions that neither fully freeze nor significantly roll back its nuclear infrastructure.”

Sen. Marco Rubio said:

“I think this is a big win, I hate to say it, for Iran. I think they’ve taken a step forward in solidifying their position. And I think we’ve seen this play out before. This is very, very similar to what the North Koreans did at the end of the Bush presidency, and we’re seeing repeating again the playbook we’ve seen before.”

As usual, GOP members of Congress are on the opposite side of public opinion. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released last month showed that a large majority of people approve of the agreement with Iran. Only 30 percent of the respondents disagree with the agreement.

One cause of the opposition may be that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used strong language against the agreement, “wigging out” about it to quote Tufts University professor Dan Drezner on his Foreign Policy blog. Yet some current and former high level Israeli officials disagree with Netanyahu’s anti-agreement rhetoric.

A bipartisan group of 79 U.S. national security experts have praised the diplomatic efforts, including two former National Security Advisers to U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft. They wrote:

“We support President Obama’s decision to seek a first phase understanding with Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program now. The agreement under discussion would slow crucial elements of the Iran program, make it more transparent and allow time to reach a more comprehensive agreement in the coming year.”

There still is the slightest possibility that Congress could start a war in Iran this year. Twenty-six senators—13 of each party—introduced legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran if the country breaks the deal to curb its nuclear program. But the bill will take weeks for a vote and then go to the House before the president vetoes the bill. Despite Iran’s declaration that passing this bill would destroy the negotiations among the world powers, these 26 senators are determined to move forward while the agreement is successful. The initiators of the bill refuse to wait until there are problems with the agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a Time interview that “the entire deal is dead” if Congress passes new sanctions, even if these would be triggered only by the failure of the talks. He explained:

“We do not like to negotiate under duress. And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail. But if we start doing that, I don’t think that we will be getting anywhere.”

Fortunately, ten chairs of the 16 standing Senate committees are taking action against the attempt of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to start a war with Iran. They  have written a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada asking him to reject Menendez’s efforts to tighten sanctions against Iran. In their letter, they state that “at this time, as negotiations are ongoing, we believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail.”

MoveOn Executive Director Anna Galland wrote:

“Democrats like Senators Schumer and Menendez should stop supporting Republican efforts to undermine President Obama’s diplomacy. The last thing our country needs right now is another war. It is shameful and wrong for Senators to intentionally undermine the potential for a negotiated, diplomatic solution. We urge all Senators to avoid action that heightens the risk of conflict.”

A major argument to support the agreement with Iran is that former Vice President Dick Cheney hates it. He hates it so much that he can’t even be coherent in his arguments. In his appearance on the Fox network, he argued that the agreement is bad because of health care issues:

 “We don’t follow through and Iran we’ve got a very serious problem going forward and a deal now been cut. The same people that brought us ‘you can keep your insurance if you want’ are telling us they’ve got a great deal in Iran with respect to their nuclear program. I don’t believe it…. I don’t think that Barack Obama believes that the U.S. is an exceptional nation.”

Cheney is the man who led our country for eight years into two wars that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in deficit.

For his part, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said this year that the best way to evaluate Congress isn’t by legislation it passes, but rather, Congress “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.” They fail on this basis, too, as they focus the repeal on only one law—the Affordable Care Act. Perhaps Boehner meant that the best way to evaluate Congress is by the number of times that it repeals one law.

Let’s hope that Congress continues to do nothing and keep us out of war.

1 Comment »

  1. Couldn’t agree more


    Comment by Lee Lynch — December 20, 2013 @ 11:44 PM | Reply

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