By Amitabh Pal on January 13, 2014

The U.S.-Iran nuclear deal may be imperiled by armchair hawks in the U.S. Senate.

Even as the nuclear accord is set to go into effect, there is a parallel effort going on in the Senate chambers that may sabotage the whole effort. So much so that the Obama Administration has publicly lambasted those backing the efforts, including members of the Democratic Party.

"If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so," said National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan. "Otherwise, it's not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran's nuclear program to proceed."

The bill at issue aims to impose new sanctions on Iran. The sanctions are proposed to go into effect unless Iran completely halts its uranium enrichment. The Iranian government has indicated that if passed, the bill will be a deal-breaker.

"With respect to the Iranians, they have communicated publicly in that Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif has said that new sanctions would cause them to leave the negotiation," an Obama Administration official told reporters. "Our intelligence community has assessed that new sanctions enacted during the negotiations are likely to derail that negotiation."

Worryingly, the bill has strong bipartisan support. As many as fifty-nine Senators back the bill. To add to the pressure, scores of neocon foreign policy mavens have signed an open letter to Congress urging passage of the bill. The more well-known names on the list include Joe Lieberman and Bill Kristol.

Supporters of the bill claim that it goes into effect down the road only if Iran violates the nuclear deal.

But Professor Colin Kahl, a former Obama Administration official, says that the timing of the bill makes that claim disingenuous.

"Enshrining new economic threats in law now runs counter to the spirit of the Geneva pledge of no new sanctions during negotiations, and risks empowering Iranian forces hoping to scuttle nuclear talks," he writes in the National Interest. "The legislation also defines congressionally acceptable parameters for a final deal that Iran experts almost universally believe are unachievable, namely the requirement that Iran completely dismantle its uranium enrichment program."

As Kahl points out, the reformists in the Iranian government, led by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, are engaged in a fierce battle with hard-liners in the ruling apparatus. Passage of the sanctions bill would give the conservative faction a cause to point to the perfidy of the United States.

The neocons still want our war with Iran. We can't let them get away with this wish.

Photo: Flickr user Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, creative commons licensed.

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Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by the police in the United States.

Darren Wilson is free to go back to his job policing the citizens of Ferguson, if he wants. Michael Brown is dead...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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