Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Countering Iran - Is Congress Begging for War?

The leadership in Washington seems to have a nearly pathological desire to inflame tensions with Iran to the point of war.  This is particularly apparent with a recent bill proposed by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN).  The Senate bill, S.722 - Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, was co-sponsored by 13 Democrats and 19 Republicans including:


Michael Bennet (CO)
Richard Blumenthal (CT)
Cory Booker (NJ)
Benjamin Cardin (MD)
Robert Cast (PA)
Christopher Coons (DE
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Robert Menendez (NJ)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Gary Powers (MI)
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Ron Wyden (OR)


Lamar Alexander (TN)
John Boozman (AR)
Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
Susan Collins (ME)
Tom Cotton (AR)
Ted Cruz (TX)
Deb Fischer (NE
Orrin Hatch (UT)
Dean Hller (NV)
John Hoevan (ND)
James Inofe (OK)
Jerry Moran (KS)
James Rich (ID)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Marco Rubio (FL)
Dan Sullivan (AK)
Pat Toomey (PA)
Roger Wicker (MS)
Todd Young (IN)

It's interesting to see two Republican presidential candidates among the co-sponsors of this bill.

Here is the first page of the bill:

The bill, which is clearly a response to the recent ballistic missile tests by Iran, mandates sanctions on persons that:

(1) have engaged in any activity that has materially contributed, or poses a risk of materially contributing, to the activities of the Government of Iran  with respect to its ballistic missile program, or any other program in Iran for developing, deploying, or maintaining systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, including any efforts to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or use such capabilities;
(2) is a successor entity to a person referred to in paragraph (1);
(3) owns or controls, is owned or controlled by, or is under common ownership or control with, a person referred to in paragraph (1);
(4) is acting for or on behalf of a person referred to in paragraph (1), (2), or (3); or
(5) has knowingly provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, a person referred to in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4)."

It also proposes that any person subject to these sanctions be denied a visa and that all transactions in all properties and interests in property of any person subject to these sanctions be blocked.

It also makes the following findings and recommendations Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps:

“(1) The IRGC is subject to sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13382 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note; relating to blocking property of weapons of mass destruction delivery system proliferators and their supporters), the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (22 U.S.C. 8501 et seq.), Executive Order 13553 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note; relating to blocking property of certain persons with respect to serious human rights abuses by the Government of Iran), and Executive Order 13606 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note; relating to blocking the property and suspending entry into the United States of certain persons with respect to grave human rights abuses by the Governments of Iran and Syria via information technology).
(2) The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (in this section referred to as the “IRGC–QF”) is the primary arm of the Government of Iran for executing its policy of supporting terrorist and insurgent groups. The IRGC–QF provides material, logistical assistance, training, and financial support to militants and terrorist operatives throughout the Middle East and South Asia and was designated for the imposition of sanctions by the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to Executive Order 13224 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note; relating to blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism) in October 2007 for its support of terrorism.
(3) The IRGC, not just the IRGC–QF, is responsible for implementing Iran's international program of destabilizing activities, support for acts of international terrorism, and ballistic missile program.
(b) In General.—Beginning on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall impose the sanctions described in subsection (c) with respect to the IRGC and foreign persons that are officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC.”
Note that the bill imposes "terrorism-related sanctions" on members of the IRGC, essentially branding it a terrorist organization.
So, what is the downside of this bill?  According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, this bill has several significant issues:

1.) It will undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal with Iran because it will impose additional sanctions on Iran that will prevent it from getting the full economic benefits that would be normally be accrued under the P5+1+EU deal.

2.) It will make it less likely that the United States and Iran will be able to de-escalate military clashes between them because the bill would designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, closing down the existing channels of communication between the two militaries.

If S.722 is passed, it will likely strengthen the position of hardline, anti-America leaders in Iran, making it more likely that the next clash between the United States and Iran could blossom into full-scale war.

Not surprisingly, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) supports the bill and its companion in the House (H.R.1698) as shown here.  AIPAC urges its members to contact Senators and Representatives to "respond to Iran's malign behaviour in the Middle East" by supporting S.722, particularly because of its ballistic missile tests.    

With American sabre-rattling now involving Syria and North Korea as well as the ongoing hostilities in Iraq, one wonders how many fronts Congress thinks that the American military complex can fight and win wars?


  1. Well NEOCONs don't care about the ability to win the war only the fact that the militaries arsenals get depleted and money spent replenishing the arsenals. Military industrial stocks will go up propping up the stock market, GDP will raise a little due to new armaments needing to be built. Its win win except for all of those who die but they didn't matter so its still all good.

  2. One way or another we must deal with Iran. A gigantic roadblock in this relationship is the perception that we have created over the years as Iran being a larger than life boogeyman that threatens our very way of life and existence. A little research shows that in regard to Iran's attitude towards America anyone saying that Iran has good reason not to trust the American government is making an understatement.

    America through its foreign policy has reeked havoc upon many countries, but few societies have been affected or suffered from our meddling as much as Iran. The article below titled, "We Must Deal With Iran" delves into the history and bad blood that exist between the two nations.