As Iran grapples with a rising death toll following ISIS-affiliated terrorist attacks on its own soil, both its political class and citizenry have to deal with more than just a lack of sympathy from the American legislature.
From the Intercept:
“In the wake of an alleged ISIS terrorist attack on the Iranian parliament, the U.S. Senate is marking the tragedy with twin resolutions: one to express condolences, the second to move forward on a bill to hit the country with new sanctions.” [emphasis added]
The Intercept reports that by a vote of 92-7, the Senate opened debate on the sanctions resolution on Wednesday. The bill has not yet been voted on but has been approved to make its way through the legislature. However, there were some sane voices from within the Senate, especially from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“On a day when Iran has been attacked by ISIS, by terrorism, now is not the time to go forward with legislation calling for sanctions against Iran,” Sanders stated. “Today when they are mourning, when they are dealing with the shock of a terrorist attack, today is not the day to go forward with this piece of legislation.”
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also issued a similar statement, stating Iran “suffered from two significant terrorist attacks after electing a moderate government with 57 percent of the vote – we need to give Iran the opportunity to recover and set a new course.”
The sanctions resolution comes on the back of fresh warnings from former Secretary of State John Kerry that imposing new sanctions on Iran could be dangerous. The Trump administration is fully aware that the 2015 nuclear deal is working as expected and that Iran no longer poses a nuclear threat (if it ever did).
Of course, there are some senators who view this as a unique opportunity to exert pressure not only on Iran but also Russia. For example, Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) even admitted that Iran showed solidarity with the United States following the attacks of 9/11 — yet he was still motivated to implement this form of economic warfare against the Iranians.
“I think we have an opportunity on the Iran sanctions bill to amend it to include strong Russia sanctions; I’m determined that we get that done. That’s foremost in my mind,” said Coons, as reported by the Intercept. In spite of his support, Coons added:
“I appreciate the fact that when the United States was attacked on 9/11, Iran expressed concern and solidarity with us. I do think it’s important for us to express our condolences to the Iranian people for their being victims of an ISIS [sic] and I believe that resolution will be adopted today. It seems a bit of a mixed message to me to try and combine those two.”
As the Intercept explains, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats, argued forcefully in favor of the sanctions and had no concerns about derailing the 2015 nuclear accord.
“Democrats will vote to advance this bill to the floor because we support — most of us support the bill,” he assured the Senate.
The ultimate aim of sanctions against Iran is regime change. The desired effect is to turn the population against the government, but as we have seen, this may not always be the case. As Newsweek explains:
“The staggering effectiveness of the financial sanctions against Iran has led many to call for similar tools, such as Swift, to be used against Russia. But these sanctions have come full circle; they are no longer smart or targeted. Iran’s population suffered dearly, and the imposition of such heavy financial sanctions on Russia would have even more deleterious effects.”
In 1979, U.S. sanctions against Iran choked off medical supplies to citizens, and these economic restrictions had a similar effect when Barack Obama imposed them on the country during his presidency. Further, it was estimated that American sanctions on Iraq following the first Gulf War resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 children, a devastating fact the top levels of the administration were fully aware of.
So what are we to make of America’s political charade in light of this development? Why are the Democrats just as hawkish and pro-war as the rest of the Republicans? When it comes to matters of war, there is much common ground between the two parties, even though we need only look at recent history to see the effect American-imposed sanctions have on innocent civilians.
Of course, we are not supposed to care about the Iranian people (unless it suits the foreign policy establishment’s narrative). The Trump administration has already blamed Iran for suffering ISIS attacks on its own soil, stating that state sponsors of terrorism “risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
While Iran lit a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with the U.S. after the attacks of 9/11, America and Great Britain’s closest Middle East ally, Saudi Arabia, can barely spare a minute of silence for the victims of the terror attacks in London.
It’s probably time the U.S. and the U.K. reconsidered who its true allies are.