EDITORIAL: Talk to Iran

Earlier this month, members of Congress joined a wide range of groups in a “Time to Talk to Iran” event on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers say they are being inundated by a “drumbeat of war” from “neo-con”-type groups.

“We hear the same people who supported a disastrous war in Iraq now steadily beating the drum for war with Iran,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said at the June 10 event. “We have been down this road before.”

In January, Lee introduced the Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act of 2008, which calls for appointment of a high-level envoy to conduct direct, unconditional, bilateral negotiations with Iran. The bill, HR 5056, has 14 co-sponsors and languishes in a House committee.

Unfortunately, too many lawmakers appear to be succumbing to the lobbyists for war.

The Iran Sanctions Act of 2008, introduced by Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, would tighten and expand sanctions on Iran. It is so drastic it is even opposed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

H. Con. Res. 362, introduced by Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and a companion Senate measure, S. Res. 580 introduced by Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, would impose harsh new sanctions on Iran. Some warn these could set the stage for a naval blockade of Iran.

Some supporters insist that the measures specifically say they should not be construed as authorizing the use of force.

But haven’t we been there before?

The Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran, which includes groups across the political spectrum, warns that increasing unilateral sanctions are “provocative actions” that increase the danger of war.

Phil Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist who writes for The American Conservative magazine and for Antiwar.com, commented, “The Bush administration has refused to negotiate outstanding issues unless Iran, as a precondition, surrenders on many key points, a tactic designed to guarantee that no talks will take place. The danger that a new war in the Middle East will begin either by accident or by design is growing. It is time to begin serious negotiations, before it is too late.”

Members of Congress need to hear from the silent pro-peace majority. Call your senators and representative today. Tell them: dialogue with Iran, not threats and war.