Congress: Diplomacy, Not War, with IranPDF Version
FCNL Letter to Congress: Time for Diplomacy, Not War, with Iran
FCNL sent the following letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to reject calls for military action and indiscriminate sanctions against Iran in the wake of the alleged assassination plot. FCNL urges U.S. policymakers to hold all parties responsible for the plot accountable in civilian courts and to establish a direct channel for communications with Iran to avert future violence.
Dear Member of Congress,
FCNL is deeply concerned by the clamor by some politicians and pundits to take military action against Iran in the wake of the alleged assassination plot. We call on U.S. policymakers to affirm that war is not the answer with Iran, and that this alarming escalation in U.S-Iran tensions highlights the urgent necessity of establishing a communications channel between the U.S. and Iran.
Heed Admiral Mullen’s Call: Establish Communication Channel with Iran
FCNL urges Congress to reject calls for military action and indiscriminate sanctions, and to press for sustained, direct, and comprehensive negotiations with Iran to prevent violence and to secure lasting solutions to regional conflict and the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program. We deplore the use of violence, and call on U.S. policymakers to have the responsible parties held accountable in civilian courts.
We recommend the following course of action at this critical juncture in U.S.-Iran relations:
Conduct Further Investigations of Alleged Plot, Publicizing Evidence
Outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen called for establishing a channel for U.S.-Iranian communication. His remarks on September 20, 2011 are as relevant today as they were then, warning that without communications channels, there will “extremely dangerous” outcomes:
“We haven't had a connection with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran so we don't understand each other. If something happens it's virtually assured that we won't get it right, that there will be miscalculations which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.[…] I think any channel would be terrific."
Prevent Military Threats, Which Increase Likelihood of Nuclear-Armed Iran
When asked if the "upper reaches" of the Iranian government knew about the alleged plot, Attorney General Eric Holder said on October 11, 2011, "We are not making that charge at this point." Many Iran experts in the U.S. have raised questions challenging the allegations of Iranian governmental involvement in the plot, including: Robert Baer, veteran CIA operative in the Middle East; Kenneth Katzman, author of a book on Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service; Gary Sick, Iran expert at Columbia University and National Security Council official for Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan and principal White House aide for Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis
Particularly given the many expert opinions noting that the assassination plot is uncharacteristic of the 32-year-old national security strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran—which has never before been linked to an attack on U.S. soil—this issue clearly warrants further investigation. We concur with former Ambassador Vali Nasr’s call for the U.S. government to “make public all the details of this plot”. All parties responsible for the alleged assassination plot should be held fully accountable to U.S. and international law in civilian courts.
Reject Sanctions that Embolden Iran’s Hardliners, Punish Iranian People
Military action against Iran would likely provoke a full-scale regional war with catastrophic consequences for global security. For years, military leaders and non-partisan analysts have warned that even threats of military action increase the likelihood that Iran will go full speed ahead with its nuclear program.
General Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander, warned that so-called ‘clean’ or ‘limited’ strikes could quickly escalate into a regional war, noting that "the problem with the strike is thinking through the consequences of Iranian reaction.... it will drag us into a conflict. I think anybody that believes that it would be a clean strike and it would be over and there would be no reaction is foolish."
Reject Oil Embargo Legislation, Which Could Inflict Massive Humanitarian Toll and Cost U.S. $100 Billion
Leading human rights and reform activists in Iran have warned that sanctions only strengthen hardliners in Iran, at the expense of the Iranian people. Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said that "We oppose military attack on Iran or economic sanctions because that's to the detriment of the people.” Leading reformist politicians Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi stated in a public letter that "Sanctions have targeted the most vulnerable social classes of Iran including workers and farmers".
Sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank would likely devastate Iran’s economy and harden nationalist sentiment. As Atlantic Council Iran Task Force-member Barbara Slavin reported, “Sanctioning the Central Bank would punish ordinary Iranians, something the Obama administration has said it wants to avoid, and could undermine what had been a growing international consensus against the Iranian nuclear program.”
H.R. 1905 and S. 1048 would effectively impose an oil embargo on Iranian exports of petroleum, oil, and natural gas. This bill would impose prohibitively cumbersome requirements that potential purchasers of Iran’s oil would need to satisfy in order to avoid U.S. sanctions, resulting in a de-facto embargo of Iran’s oil. Earlier this year, FCNL joined 12 other national organizations in opposing this dangerous legislation.
UNICEF estimated that the Iraqi oil embargo contributed to the deaths of half a million children, indicating the massive humanitarian toll that an Iranian oil embargo could have.
In addition, sanctioning Iran’s oil exports would, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, “drive up the commodity’s price world-wide and result in higher gasoline prices in the U.S., of as much as $1 more a gallon, even though the U.S. doesn’t import any Iranian oil”. This rise in gas prices could cost U.S. consumers more than $100 billion a year, since, according to the New York Times, “ …typically, every one-cent increase in the pump price of gasoline takes more than $1 billion out of consumer pockets over a year.”
We strongly urge Congress to reject calls for military action and indiscriminate sanctions, to establish a channel for communications with Iran to avert further violence, and to hold all parties responsible for the assassination plot accountable in civilian courts.