2C: the FCNL Staff Blog

Merkley: "Murkiness" on Iran Legislation

By Kate Gould on 04/10/2012 @ 02:40 PM

Tags: Iran, Middle East

Kate Gould

As early as next week, the Senate could vote on a far reaching, aggressive Iran sanctions package which is likely to include a resolution endorsing a lower threshold for war with Iran. Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), as he explained in a recent town hall meeting, has not yet taken a position on the resolution, but has acknowledged concerns that the pending Iran legislation could be considered as a push for war.

This is particularly noteworthy since advocates of the legislation have failed to respond to the objections of military and intelligence analysts that the resolution pushes the U.S. away from diplomacy, and closer toward war. Ignoring their advice, the majority of the House and the Senate have already signed on to what veteran CIA officer Paul Pillar called a 'dangerous declaration'.

On April 4 Ivend Holen, an FCNL supporter, asked Senator Merkley to speak out against this latest push for war with Iran in Congress, during the Senator's town hall in Medford, Oregon:

"I'd like to express that I'm very concerned about a resolution in Congress which lowers the threshold for war with Iran and endorses a set of ultimatums that would make diplomacy nearly impossible. This resolution, S. Res. 380 is opposed by top U.S. national security officials like Col. Wilkerson, the former chief of staff for Colin Powell, who has said that it's effectively a thinly disguised effort to bless war. Will you join your colleagues Senators Feinstein and Paul to speak out against this dangerous resolution and vote against it on the Senate floor?

Senator Merkley responded by noting that he has talked to Senator Rand Paul (KY) about this resolution, and about Paul's amendment to the Senate sanctions bill that would clarify that nothing in the bill would be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran (or Syria), and affirm that any use of military force must be authorized by Congress.

"[Senator Paul] is exploring language that would clarify that this is not a resolution of war, because I think that's where the murkiness in this is," Senator Merkley explained. "I have not taken a position on the resolution itself, I'm wrestling with the language in it."

Senator Merkley explained that "the core question is how can we hopefully end up with a world where we don't have another nuclear power….that's a difficult challenge, and all feedback is appreciated." Fortunately, there is a way to prevent nuclear proliferation as well as another devastating war, which has never before been tried: robust, sustained, comprehensive diplomacy with Iran.

Send a note to your Senator and Rep. to speak out against this dangerous legislation, and to support diplomacy with Iran, as top national security experts have advocated. You can also add to the more than 3,700 calls to Congress in the last month opposing this legislation, and find out more about this latest push for war, and join Ivend Holen in speaking out at your elected representatives' town halls and candidate forums.

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