Friday, February 07, 2014

145.2 - Good news 2: Iran sanctions bill stalls

Good news 2: Iran sanctions bill stalls

Our other bit of good news comes out of the Senate.

That Iran sanctions bill which I've talked about on a couple of occasions - you know, the one that would undermine negotiations between Iran and a group of mostly Western bullies wielding their Israel-driven paranoia about Iran's nuclear program - well, that bill has stalled.

After the initial flood of support in the Senate, where it looked as though it might get a veto-proof number of cosponsors, opposition stiffened from the White House, among the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate, and among the media and pundits, including some unlikely quarters.

Now, it appears it won't come up for a vote. Again, the negotiations with Iran consist of six nations bullying Iran over claims about a supposed Iranian nuclear weapons program, even though those nations have no hard proof that such a program even exists. Still, given the existing climate, undermining those negotiations would increase the possibility of a military confrontation with Iran lead by Israel or the US or both. So the failure of this bill is good news.

There are two significant points related to this that I wanted to add: One is that it showed a weakening of the political strength of the rabidly pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. AIPAC is used to getting its way in Congress, often getting pro-Israel resolutions of one sort or another passed unanimously. This year, it helped get $3.1 billion in American aid for Israel and has largely framed the public debate over Iran’s nuclear program.

Getting this sanctions bill was a top legislative priority for the group, but it wound up going head to head with the White House, and it lost. In what can only be described as a full retreat, AIPAC has stopped pressing Senate Democrats to vote for the bill and even lamely claims that it never called for an immediate vote and what's more, the bill may yet pass at some point in the future if this and that and the other.

AIPAC's push on Iran sanctions increasingly allied it with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and against President Obama. Or, put another way, it became increasingly allied with Israeli policy and against US policy - which I say is also true of some of the supporters of the bill.

On another point, you may recall that I said that by supporting this bill, those Senators were saying that they don't want peace with Iran. Well, a couple of times today I'm going to say "I told you so" and here is the first. This is quoting from the New York Times' coverage:
Lawmakers confirm that the political climate on Capitol Hill has changed since the bill’s sponsors and Aipac made their push in December.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a staunch supporter of Israel, is one of 16 Democrats who signed on to the bill.... Now Mr. Blumenthal says the Senate should hold off on a vote to give Mr. Obama breathing room for diplomacy.

“There’s been an unquestionable, undeniable shift in the perception of national security,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “I’m sensitive to the feelings, the resistance, the aversion of the general public to any kind of American military engagement.” [My emphasis.]
Which I say in essence admits that the bill was about precisely that: "American military engagement" against Iran. Not because it was good for US policy, not because Americans wanted it, but because Israel wanted it.

Frankly, for far too long US policy in the Middle East has been driven by the interests of Israel rather than the interests of the US or, far more importantly, what really matters, the interests of justice. Any sign of a political weakening on that front, including a weakening of AIPAC, is a step toward changing that - and that is good news.


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