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  • Interim Agreement With Iran

    by Representative Earl Blumenauer

    Posted on 2014-01-09

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    BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, our interim agreement with Iran gives us an opportunity to unwind seemingly intractable, interrelated conflicts throughout the Middle East.



    There is no reason for Congress to complicate by further enhancing sanctions now that are already working. We have this 6 months to a year window to fashion a longer-term agreement. The fact that we are even talking with Iran is the most encouraging signal that we have seen in 34 years. Let's use this diplomatic window. There are hard-liners in both countries, highly suspicious, very negative, who would like to blow this agreement up.

    Unless we are willing to invade and occupy Iran, even repeated bombing will delay the Iranian nuclear effort by, at best, 4 or 5 years, maybe less.

    Americans have spent a trillion dollars, lost 4,000 American lives, with tens of thousands of wounded, in more than a decade in Iraq, and the country is still falling apart. Iran is bigger, stronger, and more sophisticated. I don't think you can sell that war to the American people.

    Congress should calm down and give diplomacy a chance. Let's learn about this important country, its 4,000-year history, and our past mistakes with Iran, and most important, our common interest.

    The Middle East has long been a simmering cauldron, with a conflict suppressed by a lid of repression held down by empire and colonial powers. That started to change a century ago with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and colonial powers trying from afar to influence human behavior by drawing lines on maps from European capitals, irrespective of religious, tribal, or ethnic realities. It set in motion a series of forces that are playing out today with tragic consequences.

    Iran as the dominant Shi'a force in the region could play a huge role where we share common interest, in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for instance.

    The current situation is a result of partnerships between Congress and the Obama administration that got us to this point where Iran is willing to negotiate. Strong, effective sanctions would never have worked without careful, artful diplomacy that involved other countries like India to help us squeeze Iran. It has worked. Let's claim credit and move on to the next steps.

    We could start by trying to learn about each other. Let's promote an exchange between Iran and the United States with students, religious leaders, maybe even parliamentary members and Members of Congress. Let's focus on our shared interest, like Afghanistan, where we had earlier cooperation with Iran to help overthrow the Taliban. Let's work to make progress with the agreement and beyond.

    The Congress can do this most importantly by leaving it alone. Congress shouldn't meddle, Congress shouldn't muddle, Congress shouldn't give the Iranian hard-liners who don't want any agreement at all an excuse to scuttle it.

    We have an opportunity to improve the most volatile region in the world and Congress shouldn't blow that opportunity.

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