As the US begins critical diplomatic negotiations with Iran in the P5+1 negotiations, a bi-partisan group of 105 House members unfurled the flag of of diplomacy. It represents a good and constructive start that challenges the meddlesome “pursuers of irresponsibility” in the House and Senate who want to lower the threshold for war with Iran and abandon diplomacy at this critical time.
The P5+1 negotiations (involving the US, China, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Germany) with Iran take place as important advances have been made between the UN and Iran.
Two events occurred. Representatives Conyers (D-Mich) and Lee (D-Calif) proposed to amend the Defense Department authorization bill by calling for a special envoy for diplomatic negotiations. This Amendment is really about putting the US focus on diplomacy to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It recognizes that not pursuing diplomacy to its fullest can lead to mindless chaos and destruction , by starting a war that spreads beyond the Middle East.
At the same time Representatives Price (D-NC) and Dreier (R-Calif); initiated a pro-diplomacy letter that also made clear their opposition to an Iran with nuclear weapons.
Seventy-seven House members voted for Conyers-Lee and 71 House members signed the Price-Dreier letter. A total of 105 different House members supported one or the other
amendment/statement. It included liberals, conservatives and moderates from all parts of the country. It included three Democrats in the House Democratic leadership (Clyburn, SC, Larson, Conn and Becerra, Calif, two members running for the Senate from the House (Baldwin, Wis) and Heinrich, NM and nine Republicans including the powerful Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Dreier, Calif..
As a veteran of many House battles on war and peace, going back to the Vietnam War,
I know what it takes to build support over time. The Conyers-Lee and Price-Drier efforts demonstrate that legislators are willing to take stands to reinforce diplomacy and peace. Their efforts drew the support of a wide range of interest groups that historically have been involved in war avoidance efforts and included J Street (the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby) who actively supported the Price-Drier letter.
Those elected officials who choose to undermine diplomatic efforts and sanction tools with Iran will continue to raise their decibel level. They will not be able to drown out other voices. Those who are responsible now have a base to build on thanks to the initiatives of Representatives, Conyers, Lee, Price and Dreier.