5 Politicians Pushing the US Closer to a Disastrous War With Iran
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The bill was the centerpiece of AIPAC's legislative agenda early this month, as thousands of delegates fanned out across Capitol Hill to pressure politicians to sign on to the bill. AIPAC's lobbying worked: 58 senators from both parties are now co-sponsors of the bill, and a similar resolution in the House has garnered 94 cosponsors.
4. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida
The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen is a leading hawk on Iran. She frequently rails against Iran's ties to Latin America, and has vowed that the US will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Israel if it takes military action against Iran. She is a vociferous opponent of diplomacy with Iran, and has stated that the Obama administration “must not fall into the regime's trap and again pursue the failed policy of dialogue and engagement.”
Ros-Lehtinen is also the co-sponsor of a sanctions bill that would “ban business with any entity that does $1 million in a single trade with Iran's energy sector, or $5 million over one year.” Even more alarmingly, Ros-Lehtinen proposed a provision in that bill that would bar any US government contact with people affiliated with the Iranian government. As NIAC's Abdi explained, “the House is putting restrictions on the only tool available to prevent a nuclear Iran and prevent a disastrous military confrontation.”
Although the US does not currently have diplomatic ties with Iran (they were cut off following the 1979 revolution in Iran), experts have warned that the wholesale barring of diplomatic contact with Iran would make any US standoff with Iran more volatile by ruling out lines of communication that might prevent a further escalation. Currently, the Swiss government acts as the main go-between for the US and Iran.
Ros-Lehtinen's bill passed the House by a vote of 410-11. It is currently sitting in the Senate.
5. Representative Brad Sherman
This Democrat from California is a strong backer of Israel and an ardent foe of Iran, and it shows in his statements and the legislation he pushes. Sherman is sure that Iran's nuclear program has “no other purpose but” for a nuclear weapon. And he's proud that he has been “pressing for sanctions since 1998.”
The aim of the bill is to further “tighten economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran and its remaining business partners.” But one specific provision in the legislation garnered a lot of critical attention: the prohibition on “the transfer of any goods, services or technology needed to keep Iran’s American-made aircraft flying.” Iran possesses 15 aircraft that run on US-made engines, which were sold to Iran when Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a stalwart Western ally, was in power in Iran.
Sherman contends that Iran's civilian aircraft is used to facilitate “the supply of weapons to Syria, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.” But critics say that Sherman's bill would harm the people of Iran and potentially lead to civilian deaths.
M.J. Rosenberg, a blogger highly critical of the Israel lobby and Israeli policy towards Iran, wrote in November 2011:
Sherman's legislation 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 1970's (when the shah was in power) and are now dangerously out-of-date. Current Iran sanction laws prohibit 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 Sherman is hell-bent to remove.