How the Senate's Anti-Iran Bullyboys Picked a Pointless Fight
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I just heard the news: the United States has changed its mind about Jens Stoltenberg, the new head of NATO. The U.S. Congress has passed a resolution blocking his appointment. Apparently, during his youth, Stoltenberg threw stones at the U.S. embassy in Oslo. As such, he constitutes a threat to American national security, and Congress is rightly taking a stand.
Oh, I’m sorry, I must have misheard. It wasn’t the new NATO chief that the United States is blocking. Rather, it’s Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, who, in addition to having a suspiciously Bulgarian background, was a member of a Marxist underground movement in the 1960s. Congress doesn’t want her speaking at the UN, so they’ve revoked her visa.
Oops, my mistake, it wasn’t Dilma Rouseff. It was Chinese dissident Xu Youyu. Even though he is a signatory of the Charter 08 manifesto calling for political reform and democratization in China, he was a Red Guard in his youth, and we all know how dangerously radical they were. So it’s good that the U.S. Congress is unanimously blocking his entry into this country.
No, not Xu Youyu? Oh, you said Xi Jinping? Gosh, I often get those Chinese names mixed up. Well, of course, the U.S. Congress shouldn’t let Xi Jinping come here. He’s the head of the most powerful Communist Party in the world! He was a Communist in his youth. And his father was a Communist bigwig as well. Anti-Americanism clearly runs in his veins. We can’t let people like that into the United States!
If this all sounds absurd to you, well, you don’t know Ted Cruz, the grandstanding Tea Party Republican from Texas. Last week, Cruz sponsored a Senate bill demanding that Iran rescind its choice as UN envoy, Hamid Aboutalebi. Apparently, Aboutalebi worked as a translator when he was in his twenties, and helped the Iranian students who took Americans hostage back in 1979. Admittedly translation is a dicey profession— “to translate is to betray,” as the Italian saying goes. And I suspect that Ted Cruz considers bilingualism itself to be fundamentally anti-American (why on earth did that Aboutalebi fellow opt to speak a language other than English?).
But it was something else that stuck in Cruz’s craw. He felt that Iran was clearly rubbing the hostage crisis in our faces once again. “We, as a country, can send an unequivocal message to rogue nations like Iran that the United States will not tolerate this kind of provocative and hostile behavior,” Cruz said.
Cruz neglected to point out that Aboutalebi is an experienced diplomat who has worked in Iranian missions in Australia, Belgium, and Italy. The Texas firebrand, who would never let a bunch of foreigners tell America what to do, has seemingly forgotten that the United States hasn’t run Iranian foreign policy since the days of the Shah. But here’s the most important point that Cruz, who has a law degree from Harvard University, has overlooked: Iranians have a sovereign right to choose whomever they want to represent them at the UN, just as Texans have the right to choose whatever Ivy League meathead they want to represent them in Congress. And the United States has an obligation under a 1947 agreement with the UN to grant entry visas to diplomatic representatives.
If the story stopped with Ted Cruz, it would be only an amusing anecdote. But, unbelievably, Cruz’s measure won the unanimous support of both the Senate and the House. Unanimous? There was no one willing to stand up to bullyboys Ted Cruz and his ally Charles Schumer (D-NY)? Schumer, by the way, has already threatened to blow up the interim nuclear agreement with Iran by supporting a new round of sanctions.