iran

Dent-Price Letter Promoting US-Iran Talks

Below is a bipartisan congressional sign-on letter being organized by Reps. Charles Dent and David Price urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran following the election of Hassan Rouhani as president. Tell your Representative to sign.

July XX, 2013

Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran's relations with the outside world. His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.

Cessez le Feu! Don't Let France Kill the Syria Peace Talks

Usually when we write to you, it's the U.S. government that is blocking chances for diplomacy to prevent, contain, reduce and end violent conflict.

But this time it's different. This time, it's the French who appear to be standing in the way of peace!

The U.S. and Russia have agreed to host a peace conference to try to end the Syrian civil war. But France says it will oppose the peace conference if Iran is invited. C'est scandaleux!

For peace talks to have a chance to end the war, all the parties involved in the conflict have to be there. Excluding Iran would likely condemn the peace talks to failure, more Syrian civilians would die for no reason, and calls for direct US military intervention would increase.

Join us in telling Washington to explain to France that trying to exclude Iran from the Syria peace talks would be a major faux pas.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/diplomacy-faux-pas

Last Friday, Reuters reported: [1]

“As far as we are concerned, not Iran," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot told reporters in Paris, discussing who should attend. "What's at stake is regional stability and we can't see how a country that represents a threat to this stability could attend this conference.”
The U.S., on the other hand, kept the possibility of Iran's participation open:

The United States said on Thursday that it was not ruling anyone in or out of the conference.
As Al-Monitor argued in a recent editorial, [2]

For the Geneva II conference on Syria to have the best chance of enacting a cease-fire and beginning a transition, Iran needs to be there.
[...]
It should be a no-brainer to have all parties to a conflict represented at a peace conference. There is no "transition" in Syria absent a cease-fire, and no cease-fire without Iran, which provides the military and intelligence lifeline to the Assad regime.

Iran is unlikely to agree to a deal where its interests and influence are not recognized in Syria.

Call Your Senators This Week And Tell Them: Don't Iraq Iran!

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, it seems that a majority of the Senate hasn't learned its lesson: S. Res. 65, AIPAC/Lindsey Graham's "backdoor to war" with Iran bill, now has 65 co-sponsors. [1] Even Senators who opposed the Iraq war, such as Sens. Boxer and Durbin, have signed on to the bill.

But allies are popping up in unexpected places. The New York Times recently came out in support of negotiations—and slammed S. Res. 65. [2]

We've defeated AIPAC before—and with enough pressure, we can do it again. Over 20,000 Just Foreign Policy members have emailed their Senators on S. Res. 65. But AIPAC supporters have been working hard as well. That's why we need to scale up our opposition.

This week, Just Foreign Policy is joining with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the National Iranian American Council, and Peace Action West for a national call-in to the Senate opposing Graham's "backdoor to war" with Iran bill. Could you follow up your email with a phone call to your Senator? Here's what you do:

  1. Check to see if your Senator has co-sponsored the bill here:
    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/sres65-call-in
  2. Call the Capital Switchboard using this toll-free number provided by FCNL: 1-855-68-NO WAR (1-855-686-6927)
  3. Ask to be connected to your Senator's office.
  4. When you are connected to your Senator's office:
    1. If your Senator hasn't co-sponsored the bill, thank them for staying off, and urge them to resist pressure to sign the bill, noting that the bill
      1. tries to "pre-approve" US participation in an Israeli attack on Iran; and
      2. tries to move up the "red line" for war

New York Times Calls Out AIPAC Warmongering, Slams Graham's S. Res. 65, House's H.R. 850

The New York Times editorial board has come a long way since its days of upholding the false dichotomy of sanctions versus war as the only options for US-Iran relations. It was less than two years ago that the Times published an editorial assessing the potential paths for addressing the US-Iran impasse—and completely neglected to mention diplomacy or negotiations.

But a Saturday editorial shows that the Times's vocabulary and outlook on the subject has since undergone a significant expansion:

If there is any hope for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran, President Obama needs Congress to support negotiations. But negotiations and compromise are largely anathema in Washington, with many lawmakers insisting that any deal with Iran would be unacceptable — a stance that would make military action by Israel and the United States far more likely.

Not only did the editorial board recognize that "the best way to avert military conflict is by negotiating a credible, verifiable agreement," but it also slammed two new AIPAC-sponsored Congressional initiatives aimed at sabotaging negotiations. On Sens. Lindsay Graham and Robert Menendez's "backdoor to war" resolution, S. Res. 65, the Times wrote that

Call Your Senators on S. Res. 65!

Call your Senators today to express your opposition to S. Res. 65, the AIPAC/Lindsey Graham bill that tries to "pre-approve" US participation in an Israeli attack on Iran and tries to move the "red line" for war from "preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon" to "preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability"—whatever that means.

Here's what you do:

  1. Check whether your Senator is a co-sponsor. Below is a list of current co-signers and the date that they co-signed:

    Sen Ayotte, Kelly [NH] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Barrasso, John [WY] - 3/6/2013
    Sen Baucus, Max [MT] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Begich, Mark [AK] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Blunt, Roy [MO] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Boozman, John [AR] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Burr, Richard [NC] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Cantwell, Maria [WA] - 3/18/2013
    Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Coats, Daniel [IN] - 3/18/2013
    Sen Coburn, Tom [OK] - 3/12/2013
    Sen Cochran, Thad [MS] - 3/18/2013
    Sen Collins, Susan M. [ME] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Coons, Christopher A. [DE] - 3/6/2013
    Sen Cornyn, John [TX] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Crapo, Mike [ID] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Cruz, Ted [TX] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Donnelly, Joe [IN] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] - 3/13/2013
    Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] - 3/12/2013
    Sen Fischer, Deb [NE] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Flake, Jeff [AZ] - 3/11/2013
    Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Grassley, Chuck [IA] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hagan, Kay [NC] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] - 3/14/2013
    Sen Heitkamp, Heidi [ND] - 3/11/2013
    Sen Heller, Dean [NV] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hirono, Mazie K. [HI] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hoeven, John [ND] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] - 3/6/2013
    Sen Isakson, Johnny [GA] - 3/5/2013

Here Comes AIPAC, Lobbying For War

On Tuesday, after overcoming months of smears, hysterical rhetoric, and procedural obstruction, Chuck Hagel was confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense. We hope Secretary Hagel will help speed the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, help avoid war with Iran, and help cut the Pentagon budget, as groups who supported his nomination expect.

But one thing is in the bag: we showed that in Congress we could beat the Likud Lobby—the group of people in Washington that drove the opposition to Hagel's nomination. [1] This faction says that "unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel," as Barack Obama characterized their claims in 2008. [2]

Now the Likud Lobby is pressing the Senate to endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran. If the U.S. were to support such an attack, it would likely draw us into war.

If we could beat the Likud Lobby on Hagel, we can beat them on this.

Urge your Senators to oppose the AIPAC "backdoor to war" bill and to take steps towards peace with Iran and Palestine.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/aipac-2013

AIPAC is holding its annual policy conference next week, during which hundreds of pro-Likud activists will descend on Congress to push your representatives to support war with Iran and a continuation of the status-quo between Israel and Palestine. Here are three things you can ask your reps to do to promote peace instead:

  1. Urge your Senators to oppose the Graham bill endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran. Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that says that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically. [3] JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC's policy conference next week. [4] Urge your Senators to oppose this bill and to insist that the language endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran be removed.

AIPAC's "Backdoor to War" bill endorses Israeli attack on Iran

Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that would endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran.

JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC's upcoming policy conference.

The JTA article is here.

The Lindsey Graham bill is here.

Don't Let Neocons "Swift Boat" Obama's War-Skeptic Pick for Defense Secretary

The Obama-hating Neocon Right is trying to "Swift Boat" the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense by making up a fantasy scare story that Hagel—a former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, long-respected moderate and thoughtful voice on foreign policy, and decorated Vietnam combat veteran—is "anti-Israel."

The real reason the neocons hate Hagel is that he's a war-skeptic and a diplomacy advocate. As a Senator, he voted for the Iraq war. But then he became an early and harsh critic of the war and called for it to end. Hagel was an early advocate of diplomatic engagement with Iran, has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran, and has also backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. Hagel has described the Pentagon as "bloated" and has said "the Pentagon needs to be pared down."

We deserve a war-skeptic and diplomacy advocate as Defense Secretary. Americans voted against the foreign policy of the neocons in 2008 and 2012. But the neocons are still using their insider influence and slander tactics to try to dominate policy.

We cannot stand idly by as the neocons stage a coup of our foreign policy. All of us opposed to these tactics, including the President's support base of liberal Democrats, must make our voices heard. That's why we've set up a petition on MoveOn's community petition site, SignOn, against the Swift Boat campaign on Chuck Hagel. Will you help us move this petition forward, so more MoveOn members will see it? You can sign and share the petition here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hagel-nomination

Just Foreign Policy's Policy Director Robert Naiman explained what's at stake in this fight in his blog on Huffington Post. You can read and share that here:

J Street Pushes Back on Neocon Bid to "Swift Boat" Chuck Hagel Nomination as Defense Secretary
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/j-street-chuck-hagel_b_23329...

Utter Hypocrisy of US Response to Iran Drone Shooting Incident

Yesterday, US media began reporting that Iranian fighter jets had shot at—but did not hit— an unarmed US drone off the coast of Iran last week. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little claimed that the unmanned military plane was over international waters 16 nautical miles off the coast of Iran, and that the drone had never been in Iranian airspace. In response, the US protested the shooting and warned Iran that it has "a wide range of options, from diplomatic to military," available to protect its assets. According to a CNN report, the incident has "raised fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes."

Congress Joins Bibi Assault on Obama's Iran 'Red Line'

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when our old friend Bibi Netanyahu came to town and made a hullabaloo over Iran and "red lines"? Admittedly, much of what the Bibster said to the US media was bluster, but the gist of the "red line" issue was that the "red line" President Obama has set for Iran—meaning, the point at which the military option would become a real option, which Obama set at developing a nuclear weapon—isn't motivation enough for Iran's leaders to bring about a resolution to the conflict over Iran's nuclear program. Nevermind the fact that Netanyahu's analysis of the issue is incredibly flawed—why believe that "red lines" have any bearing on Iran's actions, or that they are what is preventing a diplomatic accord from being struck, when the West has yet to take diplomacy seriously? What the Israeli prime minister wants our president to do is shift his "red line" a bit further down in the timeline, to when Iran is nuclear capable, a term which the PM left conveniently vague. No matter the precise definition, though, under Bibi's "red line", Iran could be bombed even if it has no intention of actually building a nuclear weapon. And that's just plain stupid.