What Others Are Saying About the Anti-Iran Diplomacy Bill

Dec 8, 2011

Many former ambassadors, national security analysts, and other experts have warned that the Iran sanctions legislation that the House is expected to vote on next week will undermine prospects for a diplomatic resolution of the dangerously escalating confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. Below are some excerpts from some of those expert opinions on this legislation.

TAKE ACTION: The House is expected to vote on this anti-diplomacy legislation on Tuesday, December 13th. Call your Rep. NOW and urge them to vote "no" when this bill comes to the floor.

Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers, in "The House's Iran Diplomacy Folly":

Besides raising serious constitutional issues over the separation of powers, this preposterous law would make it illegal for the U.S. to know its enemy.

This proposed law makes the task of 'knowing the Iranians' even more impossible. We have had virtually no official contact with Iranians since the 1979 revolution. It is fair to say that no official of the U.S. government has any direct knowledge of the Iran of today. That ignorance of this powerful adversary dangerously weakens our ability to know how to achieve U.S. objectives and protect U.S. interests.

Paul Pillar, CIA Veteran and former top Middle East intelligence analyst writes in "Ostracism Madness":

It is impossible to imagine any purpose being served by this provision other than enabling politicians to express once again how much they hate Iran and how implacable they are willing to be toward Iran.

This legislation is another illustration of the tendency to think of diplomacy as some kind of reward for the other guy, rather than what it really is: a tool for our side. The provision is so stupid that one can reasonably hope that even if it survives the committee markup scheduled for this Wednesday, and even if the House of Representatives passes it, it would not survive the Senate. But regardless of its fate, it vividly illustrates how mindless the pressuring and isolation of Iran has become.

Roger Cohen, Middle East expert and New York Times columnist writes in "Constrain and Contain Iran":

Loony schemes like the Orwellian “Iran Threat Reduction Act” before Congress that would make contact with Iranian officials illegal only foment a dangerous jingoism.

Dr. William Beeman, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology writes in "Will Congress Disrupt Diplomacy?":

In an ill-advised piece of legislation, Congress is using opposition to Iran as an excuse to attack President Obama's executive authority.

The United States has paid a serious price by not maintaining diplomatic contact with Iran for more than four decades. Iran's actions have been irksome, but the inability to even talk with Iranian officials has deepened misunderstanding. As a result, even small disputes that would be easily resolved under normal diplomatic contact become tangled and threatening.

Dr. William Tierney, assistant professor of political science at Swarthmore College writes in "Prepare for War: The Insane Plan to Outlaw Diplomacy with Iran":

Working its way through the congressional digestive tract like a poison pill is one of the worst ideas in modern legislative history: a bill that would make it illegal to conduct diplomacy with Iran.

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