Marsha B Cohen writes: Mitch McConnell did it, Harry Reid didn’t. Elizabeth Warren did it, Bernie Sanders didn’t. Al Franken did it, Tom Coburn didn’t.
I’m referring to the signing of the latest letter, crafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and proffered by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), urging President Barak Obama to turn a cold shoulder to newly elected Iranian president Hassan Rouhani while pursuing a more confrontational and aggressive Iran policy. The Arms Control Association’s Greg Thielmann has already penned an important discussion of why this measure complicates efforts to reach a peaceful solution with Iran, which I highly recommend.
It is worth recalling that another Iranian president-elect, Mohammad Khatami — a reformist whose surprise election shocked the Iranian political establishment — was also greeted by sanctions pushed through Congress. On August 19, 1997, weeks after Khatami took office, President Bill Clinton confirmed that virtually all trade and investment activities by US persons with Iran were prohibited. Those sanctions not only boosted Iranian hardliners who oppose a detente with the US, they also helped ensure that Khatami and his supporters would be unsuccessful in making many of the economic improvements and political changes needed to improve the lives of the Iranian people. His crippled victory was followed by the election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005. Since then, dozens of letters, resolutions and sanctions bills have emanated from Congress, which of late seems incapable of accomplishing anything else. [Continue reading…]