American Public Pushes back against AIPAC Senators seeking Iran Conflict

(By Sarah Lazare)

A congressional drive for new sanctions on Iran, backed by the lobbying muscle of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, is meeting growing push-back from a public that does not want another war.

"We have an opportunity to stand up and say we're not going to support legislation that will only move us towards war,"

said Greg Broseus, Chicago-based member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, in an interview with Common Dreams. "The goal now is to stop another war before it even starts."

According to the latest count, 59 senators —16 of them Democrats — have thrown their public support behind the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013 (S. 1881), which would advance further sanctions on Iran and impose near-impossible conditions on a final agreement — in what critics, including the Obama administration, say amounts to a call for war. Sixteen democratic senators now publicly oppose the bill, Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council told Common Dreams. Senate majority leader Harry Reid is reportedly holding off a vote on the bill as a bulk of Democrats refuse to declare their position.

Meanwhile, the House GOP is moving to bring the Senate bill to the House floor in a bid to pressure the Senate, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal published Tuesday. This is despite an agreement reached Sunday by Iran and the six world leaders of the P5+1 to start implementing the interim deal January 20.

Lawmakers who oppose diplomacy must contend with mounting opposition from a war-weary public.

"The reports we've been getting back from congressional offices is that a majority of people calling are against the Iran sanctions bill," said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, in an interview with Common Dreams. "We're doing much of what we did to stop the bombing of Syria."

"Lawmakers are feeling the pressure," said Abdi, confirming that "calls and letters to lawmakers overwhelmingly oppose this bill." He added, "You have senators coming out who have co-sponsored this bill now saying they have second thoughts."

Sixty-two organizations—including the National Iranian American Council, Havaar, MoveOn, and Daily Kos—released an open letter (pdf) to U.S. senators declaring, "By foreclosing diplomatic prospects, new sanctions would set us on a path to war… We strongly urge you to withhold co-sponsorship of S.1881 and delay consideration of new Iran sanctions while negotiations are ongoing."

This is in addition to numerous petitions urging an alternative to war, as well as public polling that shows a majority of people in the U.S. support diplomacy.

Military veterans and allies kicked off the new year with a rally at the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)—one of the key backers of the bill—to condemn the legislation. New Jersey groups protested outside of the Newark offices of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to demand they drop their support for the legislation.

"Efforts by the US Congress to derail [diplomacy with Iran] would, if successful, constitute a self-inflicted strategic wound even more myopic than its vote to endorse the 2003 invasion of Iraq," writes Stephen Kinzer for The Guardian.

"Sanctions which result in the suffering of ordinary Iranians are a morally bankrupt response to human rights violations," said organizers with Havaar—a group of Iranians, Iranian-Americans, and allies who oppose sanctions, war, and state repression. "The timing of such actions, speak more directly to the interventionist policies of some members of Congress and their primary objective of obstructing diplomatic engagement with Iran."

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Mirrored from Commondreams.org

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Related video:

RT reports, “US Senators pave way to Iran war by forging new sanctions”

18 Responses

  1. Thank goodness that civil society is still strong in the United States, although it seems that it is not as strong as those who are pushing for war. In the same way that public opposition to an attack on Syria, helped by a vote against it in the UK Parliament, put an end to what would have been a disastrous decision, what is needed now is much greater level of public opposition to the AIPAC-backed bill to torpedo the agreement with Iran and potentially to pave the way for another catastrophic war in the Middle East.

    The Senate bill S. 1881 makes it clear what the ultimate aim of its sponsors is. It says that If Israel is “compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the United States should stand with Israel and provide … diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel in defense of its territory, people and existence.” It gives a blank check to a foreign government that has described the Iranians as the Nazis and has said that it is 1938 all over again to launch an attack on Iran at a time of its choosing on the excuse of Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons, and it commits the United States to provide diplomatic, military and economic support for that act of aggression. Such abdication of national responsibility over an issue as important as war and peace is almost unprecedented in history.

    • There are 40,000 rockets that Iran supplied that Hezbollah has which can be fired against Israel. There were only 12,000 when the Second Lebanon War began.

      Iran supplied Hamas and Islamic Jihad with weapons in Gaza – including the Fajr missile with 200lb warhead that was fired into Tel Aviv in Nov. 2012.

      Israel is concerned about its citizens’ safety.

      • If “Israel” is really concerned about its citizens’ safety, a concern that only appears to extend to a fraction of those who are still considered citizens, maybe “Israel” could adopt some different “policies.” Or maybe, as with annexation by “settlement,” that train, loaded with weapons of all sizes and types, has left the station and driven by Likudniks, on its way to an appointment with a rotted trestle over a very deep gorge…

      • Mark, I usually enjoy reading your well-informed comments on this site and I learn a great deal from them, but I do not see the connection between your comment and what I had to say. Even if we know that Hezbollah has 40,000 Iranian rockets (how do we know that, apart from some Israeli claims?) Israel has shown that she is more than a match both for Lebanon and Hezbollah. Of course, Israel is concerned about its citizens’ safety, as she should be, but my point was about the clause in the Senate bill S. 1881, committing the United States to provide “diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel” if she takes military action against “Iran’s nuclear weapons program”. I believe to give a free hand to a foreign government to launch an attack on another country on the excuse of self-defense against Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons and then commit America to provide military support for that aggression is strange and an abdication of national responsibility.

        • See: link to missilethreat.com

          Additionally, the January 14, 2014 Associated Press article by Ali Akbar Dareini quotes a leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division that Hezbollah’s new capability can hit and destroy any target within Israel with very little inaccuracy and also with pinpoint ability.

        • Mark, they photoshopped those so-called missiles. You shouldn’t mistake bravado for military capacity. Plus, they know they cannot do a first strike, since the response would be devastating.

      • when you live in a dangerous neighborhood it’s best to make peace with your neighbors. Too bad Israel is blowing off the Kerry mission. He offered an excellent deal.

      • There was NO Hizbollah before Sharon and Begin decided to invade Lebanon in 1980′s.Followed by 19 year brutal occupation that climaxed with massacre of Palestinians by the IDF surrogates, the SLA.You reap what you sow. Israel was fighting in 2006 the orphans it created30 years earlier.. Israel has always coveted the waters of the Litani river and created pretexts for the conflict.’Tis the nature of the beast!

  2. It seems that the obvious answer would be to make the entire Middle East a nuclear free zone, with inspections in all of the countries similar to those in Iraq before we shocked and awed them.

    I’m sure that most countries would welcome inspections if they knew that every other country in the region was undergoing the same.

    Who could object to such an arrangement? Hmm….

  3. Well, finally the American public is starting to be heard. Lately, I have been saying that Netanyahu should be aware of his hawkish ways. His, along with AIPAC, actions are not playing well. Just read the reader comments on almost any website, and you will come away realizing just how much Americans don’t want any more wars. Besides being tired of war, we’re broke!

    Israel’s concerns may have gained some respect from Americans when Ahmadinejad was in office, but now he’s gone. Rouhani is a smiling moderate. He even is pro western, isn’t this the leader we have been waiting for. Yet, there is Netanyahu shaking his head in woo saying, “worst deal of the century”.

    The United States for my whole life (63) had had a rival Russia who was also armed with nukes. The US just didn’t go over to Russia and start bombing their nuclear facilities. Russia likewise stayed at arms length, as well. Suggesting we go to war with Iran is plain madness. If the US didn’t do war when it came to our own situation then why would we go to war over this situation Israel finds itself in? By the way, inspectors IAEA plus our own intelligence all tell us Iran isn’t building a bomb. When was the last time we went to war over an assumption…oh yeah, Iraq!

    • Exactly, but I would also like to remind others of the rhetoric of the times (I am 61 and fought in Vietnam). We were referred to as “main enemy” (glavni vrad I think) with them boasting where their missiles were pointed. They were very aggressive militarily. I lived and worked in Israel and the Likud and their settlers are just plain crazy.

  4. Carole Keller

    Unfortunately, our elected representatives quit listening to the public a long time ago. No doubt in my mind that AIPAC (and its money?) means more to them than all our votes combined. Makes me very sick!

  5. These war hawks, and I mean in both the Democratic and Republican parties, are a mirror reflection of the ideologues among the New Frontiersmen, the can-do intellectuals that thought debating the Cold War was rather an effete exercise, who stayed on in LBJ’s administration after JFK’s assassination and prosecuted the war in Vietnam as a proxy war between western democracy and the heathen communist in the old Soviet Union and Red China. What’s all this parsing among the academics and intellectuals on the college campuses and viewing the war in Vietnam as a “civil war.”
    As former President George W. Bush once replied why he sees the world in black and white without nuisance in an interview after his famous or infamous “Axis of Evil” State of the Union speech before Congress, he said he “doesn’t do nuisance.”
    Well, they also don’t do nuisance. And this is despite the fact that we have had two wars after the 9/11 attacks that seem even only after one decade to be foreign policy debacles like the Vietnam War was. Now these wars no where near match the ferocity, magnitude and scope of the destruction and human carnage we inflicted on the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and the Laotians.
    But to engage in nuisance, of any kind just as in the era of the Vietnam War, is a defeatist attitude. A potential war in Iran if they walk away from the negotiating table, well just open your eye for once, is just part of the overall long war on terrorism as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were.
    There no parsing of words here. You want to parse words? Well, go back to college. That’s where you belong.

  6. For all those who liked the occupation of Iraq; and, for all those woo liked the occupation of Afghanistan, your really going to love the occupation of Iran which is three times larger than either Iraq or Afghanistan. Good luck with that.

  7. link to dailymotion.com
    Jon Stewart does a lovely take-down of AIPAC/Israel on both current issues — the egregious Senate draft bill and Israeli slap-down of Kerry peace mission. It’s everything a liberal could hope for. When we start making fun of them, they’re doomed :>)

    As a longtime big reader of newspaper articles and commentary, I’m seeing a shift in public attitudes towards both Israel and the Israel lobby in the US. Huge public lashback over the last 10 years, people no longer cowed by the anti-semitic canard. The other side doesn’t use it much anymore.

    As far as the commentary is concerned, on news websites like Washington Post for example, WaPo stalwart Israel supporter, I’m getting the feeling that ordinary American citizens speaking out against Israel and the lobby are not being answered by American citizens supporting Israel. That is not the framework of ‘the debate’. Yes there are a few ordinary Americans pushing back against the criticism, but mostly it is hasbara — professional propagandists employed by the Israeli government.

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