Experts Against the Lieberman Resolution to Push for Attack on Iran

Jan 19, 2012

A host of U.S. officials and other national security experts have spoken out against resolutions in Congress (S.Res. 380/H.Res. 568) that call for the administration to abandon diplomacy, and effectively push toward an attack against a 'nuclear weapons capable' Iran.

Call and write your members of Congress to oppose S.Res. 380 in the Senate and H. Res. 568 in the House, and to speak out against policies that would make diplomacy virtually impossible, and lower the threshold for war against Iran.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

“I really believe that these negotiations should proceed without any resolutions from us right now....This is a very sensitive time. Candidly, I think diplomacy should have an opportunity to work without getting involved in political discussions about a resolution.”
[CQ, 2/16/12]

Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East

“I think that all of us in this town need to be very careful of taking positions, whether its up on the Hill or out there, that box in our negotiators from being able to find a diplomatic solution....That’s what concerns me about the resolution. It’s not binding, but it’s the rhetoric and the signaling that’s sent around it that the range of acceptable diplomatic solutions are so small that on the Iranian side they may seem nonexistent."
[CQ, 2/21/12]

"And I think boxing negotiators in that way, rhetorically or through pieces of legislation... the effect is to make a diplomatic solution less likely, and a kinetic outcome more likely."
[NIAC Briefing Transcript, 2/21/12]

Paul Pillar, veteran top intelligence officer on Middle East issues

"By declaring 'nuclear weapons capability' rather than acquisition of a nuclear weapon to be unacceptable, the resolution also blurs red lines in a way that may flash green lights to Israel to launch a military attack on Iran."
"This resolution also walks the United States farther down a path to launching its own war against Iran...Surely most members are smart enough to understand the political dynamics and likely exploitation of the issue...any who do understand this ought to be ashamed of themselves for facilitating a process that increases the danger of a war that would inflict major damage on some really important U.S. interests."
[The National Interest, 2/20/12]

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell

"This resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with's effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war."

[FCNL discussion, 1/14/12]

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association

"A permanent Iranian uranium-enrichment halt would be beneficial and very welcome, but it is not necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and it is not realistic given the strong support for maintaining Iran's right to pursue peaceful nuclear activities, including enrichment, across the political spectrum in Iran."
[The Hill, 2/9/12. See more of Kimball's talking points against the bill here.]

Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University

"If Congress is serious about U.S. national security, it would do nothing to tie the hands of an administration that clearly takes Iran’s nuclear program very seriously. Trying to rule out containment by fiat is worse than laughable; it is positively dangerous."
[IPS, 2/8/12]

“...Let's not overlook the truly bizarre announcement that Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham intend to introduce a resolution that would seek to rule out a strategy of trying to "contain" Iran. Needless to say, their goal isn't to facilitate accommodation, but to hold Obama's feet to the fire about increased sanctions, or maybe preventive war. Gee, I wonder why some people in Iran think they might need a nuclear deterrent…”

[Foreign Policy, 1/17/12]

Senator Rand Paul (KY)

"I believe we should only go to war when it is in our national interest based upon an actual and imminent threat to the United States. I have concerns about this resolution [S. Res. 380] because I do not want a resolution such as this to be used as an excuse for military action."

[Constituent response, 3/27/12]

Col. Richard L. Klass (ret.), Military Assistant to the Principal Deputy for International Security Affairs and Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

"Although non-binding, this resolution expressing the sense of the Senate confuses the issue and is simply bad policy....[it] calls for 'the full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.' In other words, it would seem to have Iran give up most if not all of its nuclear programs, peaceful and otherwise....The resolution blocks a containment strategy and endorses US military action regardless of any other circumstances."
[Christian Science Monitor, 3/28/12]

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