MJ Rosenberg writes: The Republican candidates for president are not the only politicians who use Iran and its nuclear program as a magnet for campaign dollars. The same dynamic is at play in Los Angeles, where two Democratic House members, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, are trying to out-hawk each other on Iran in preparation for a June 2012 primary. (Their districts are being merged.)
To be fair, both Sherman and Berman, who is a former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and now its ranking Democrat, are AIPAC stalwarts and were hardliners on Iran long before being pitted against each other in a primary.
They have both promoted “crippling” sanctions bills, which supporters argue are specifically targeted at Iranians involved in the country’s nuclear program and not at Iranians in general.
But that claim cannot be made for Brad Sherman’s latest AIPAC-inspired legislation, which would prevent the president from permitting the inspection and repair of U.S.-manufactured engines on Iranian civilian aircraft.
The planes in question were sold to the Iranians back in the 1970s (when the Shah was in power) and are now dangerously out of date. Current sanctions laws ban the sale of new planes and parts to Iran, but a humanitarian exception in the law permits repairs and the replacement of parts necessary to prevent civilian air crashes. It is that exception that Sherman is hell-bent on removing.
On March 16, President Obama informed Congress that he would use his authority under the law to allow Iran to repair fifteen General Motors engines used in civilian planes that were recently deemed a safety risk by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Sherman went ballistic, immediately firing off a letter to the president demanding that he not permit the planes to be repaired. He wrote:
There is no reason we should be helping the Iranians keep these planes in the air. … Fixing these aircraft is in 180 degree opposition to our sanctions policy, which if properly implemented, would provide for Iran’s increased economic and political isolation.
Sherman either overlooks or doesn’t care about the one reason the United States should permit the repair of those planes: saving lives.