Senators Graham (R-SC), Lieberman (I-Conn) and Casey (D-Pa) stand for reckless Senate action that has the effect of undermining President Obama’s diplomatic efforts and use of economic sanctions to pressure Iran from building nuclear weapons. These Senators’ actions run the real risk of giving a signal of encouragement to those Israeli officials aching to strike Iran pre-emptively. If Iran havs nuclear capabilty, it does not lead to Iran building or having a nuclear weapon according to analyses by US Intelligence officials, leading alumni of Mossad (the secret Israeli intelligence service) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Nuclear capability has to be distinguished from nuclear weaponization according to all of these analysts.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S., his prospective meeting with the President, and his speech to the annual AIPAC conference, further fuel the verbal and political cauldron of hot flames that adds to our political tensions and distress. The Graham-Lieberman-Casey group really is playing with fire!
Twenty nine Senators have joined the three authors in co-sponsoring a Sense of the Senate resolution which has been referred to the Foreign Relations Committee. What is instuctive is the Senators who have resisted co-sponsoring in spite of intense political pressure to do so. Senators Levin (D-Mich), Kerry (D-Mass) Feinstein (D-Calif) and Harkin (D-Ia), the respective Chairs of Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Appropriations, have refused to co-sponsor. Ranking Republicans who have refused to co-sponsor include Lugar (R-Ind), Saxby (R-Ga) and Cochran (R-Miss) on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Appropriations committees. These Democratic and Republican Senators, realizing the stakes involved in the issue, refuse to be pressured to cross the line between constructive action and criticism and irresponsible thrusts into a delicate situation.
The Senate resolution is reckless because it specifically opposes any diplomatic agreement that allows Iran to enrich uranium for civilian peaceful purposes. The resolution would bar Iran from developing nuclear power as a resource much in the same way as France and other countries already have.
In addition the resolution specifically opposes containment. It presents the classic false choice: doing nothing or engage in a military solution. Containment is an active policy of preventing Iran from weaponizing its nuclear arsenal if and when it has that power. It is the opposite of doing nothing. Preventing Iran from building and posessing nuclear weapons is what drives the President’s efforts.
In important quarters voices of sanity have commented in highly critical ways of what the Graham-Lieberman-Casey efforts move us towards. Listen to these sober voices.
1. Mike Rogers (R-Mich), and House Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, says on CNN that military action presents “real problems” to U.S. security interests.
2. Meir Dagan, the retired head of Mossad, says military action “would mean regional war.” It would give Iran “the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program.”
3. Secretary Panetta goes further and says that Iran “could retaliate against the U.S.” by “sinking our ships, striking our military bases’ and therby “costing many lives.” It would “consume the Middle East in a confrontation and conflict that we would regret.”
President Obama was unambiguous on three principal points in his famous Atlantic magazine interview on March 2:
1. A nuclear armed Iran is a security threat to the Middle East and the United States.
2. US policy will not accept nuclear weapons for Iran.
3. Our diplomatic strategy and economic sanctions are working. They must be allowed time to take hold.
Leader Reid (D-Nev) and Majority Whip Durbin (D-Ill) have refused to sponsor the Senate rresolution. Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky) and Minority Whip Kyl (R-Ariz) have acted as Reid and Durbin. I doubt that the resolution will clear the Foreign Relations Committee. But don’t put it past Graham, Lieberman and their allies to attach the resolution to another Senate bill.
If they so moved, these reckless Senators present the Democratic and Republican
leadership with the rare chance to act iin the interests of the nation and together move to table, and thereby defeat, such an effort. That would be statesmanship informed by constructive action.
March 3, 2012