There is no accounting for what people in power think is more important than other things that could make a significant difference to better the lives of people they are supposed to serve. However, one can get a sense of what is really important to politicians when given a choice between helping their own people and a foreign government. Over the course of the past year, Republicans in Congress have barely been able to pass any legislation to help the American people, and in fact will go down as one of the most impotent Congresses in history due to their inaction and obstruction of anything President Obama advocated. However, in their perpetual service to the leader of the nation of Israel, Republicans and some Democrats set aside time to consider sanctions against Iran because President Obama opposes them, they want a war with Iran, or are loyal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It has been about a month since the Iran and six major world powers reached a historic nuclear deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for temporary, and small, relief on some crippling economic sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the deal when it was reached and said “It is important that we all of us see the opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons based on respect, based on the rights of the Iranian people and removing any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. This is a process of attempting to restore confidence.” Republicans naturally characterized the agreement as not going far enough, likely because their interest is not to securing a peaceful resolution with Iran, but showing their devotion to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who immediately denounced the interim nuclear pact as a “historic mistake” that makes the world a more dangerous place.
The day after the temporary accord was signed Netanyahu said, “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” and repeated a reference to his own red line in the sand stating, “Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.” On Sunday, Netanyahu sought to stop the easing tensions between the United States and Iran by ramping up his own demands for any final nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Israel was not involved in the six nation and Iran nuclear deal and is seeking any way possible to stop the international diplomacy which has turned against him in recent weeks. Apparently, Netanyahu finally convinced 26 Senators to assist him in killing the diplomatic solution to a nuclear Iran when they introduced a bill with further sanctions if Iran violates the temporary six-month accord or fails to reach a final agreement restricting its nuclear program. The new sanctions serve no useful purpose during negotiations except to scuttle the deal with Iran that appears to be the sole intent of Netanyahu and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying group which endorsed the bill and likely had a hand in writing it.
President Obama rejected the push for more sanctions before the deal is finished and said “there’s no reason to do it right now,” especially when negotiations are under way over Iran’s nuclear program. The President said, “Listen, I don’t think the Iranians have any doubt that Congress would be more than happy to pass more sanctions legislation. But if we’re serious about negotiations, we’ve got to create an atmosphere in which Iran is willing to move in ways that are uncomfortable for them.” The President continued, “I’m not surprised that there’s been some talk from some members of Congress about new sanctions. The politics of trying to look tough on Iran are often good when you’re running for office or if you’re in office.” They also look good for Republicans doing the bidding of Netanyahu who wields more power over Republicans than is good for America, but what is good for America has not been the Republicans’ main impetus since Barack Obama has been President.
Support for scuttling a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is not universal. Ten senior Democrats in the Senate criticized legislation for stronger sanctions telling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that new sanctions now would “would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail.” They would also play into the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, AIPAC, and neo-cons in Republican ranks who want negotiations to fail to ramp up tensions with Iran to show them America is not serious about peace. There is a movement among Republican warmongers (particularly Eric Cantor) to usher in what they admit will be a “very substantial war” under the guise of protecting Israel and embroil America in another Middle East war just as it is extracting itself from a twelve year conflict in Afghanistan.
Any new sanctions will signal to Iran that America is not to be trusted, exists to serve the interests of Israel, and violates the November 24 agreement with five other nations and Iran that provides “the U.S. administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the president and the Congress, will refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions” during the six-month period to negotiate a final deal. The rush to pass new sanctions before a final deal is reached is more than plotting a course for another war in the Middle East, it is an opportunity for Republicans to thwart any diplomatic solutions the President has been successful implementing throughout his presidency.
It is curious that Republicans could hardly be bothered to do much of anything in the way of meaningful, or any, legislation throughout 2013, and yet when they are least needed, and serve no purpose but creating mistrust with Iran Republicans and some Democrats find time and energy to come up with legislation that does nothing for the American people except elevate the danger of another, “very substantial,” war in the Middle East. The only beneficiaries of the new legislation are Israel, a small group of Iranians who opposed moderate President Hassan Rouhani, neo-con warmongers, and Republicans who will oppose anything this President supports; particularly if it disrupts his record of diplomatic successes.