Target: Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Goal: Support and encourage congressmen’s plans for a constructive dialogue with Iran
After more than a decade of tense engagement between the US and Iran, the recent election of moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president-elect presents an opportunity to “reset” diplomatic relations. This unique opportunity has been highlighted by two congressmen, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Jim McDermott (D-WA). The two men recently co-authored a Politico opinion piece, “arguing that now is the time for President Obama and Congress alike to change the conversation on Iran,” ThinkProgress reports.
The two congressmen note that Rouhani’s election critically affords a renewed path toward achieving “two goals that are critical for U.S. interests in the Middle East: preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and preventing a military strike against the country that could escalate to a wider war.” Rouhani, “the most moderate candidate allowed to run” during the 2013 Iranian presidential elections, “campaigned on a [highly successful] platform of improving ties with the West.”
In addition to alleviating US security concerns, reopened diplomatic engagement with Iran could yield at least some resolution to growing socioeconomic concerns. The “crippling pressure” of US-led trade and economic sanctions against Iran may be further extended, as “the House and Senate alike are considering bills that would ratchet up sanctions.” The Council on Foreign Relations notes that 2012 already saw an unprecedented increase in breadth and severity of sanctions; the joint US-EU sanctions “have sharply cut back oil exports, isolated Iran from international banking systems, and contributed to a big drop in the value of its currency. But a debate over the efficacy of these sanctions persists because Iran has continued to pursue its nuclear program.”
Beyond dubious efficacy, sanctions are widely reported to yield enormous socioeconomic consequences for millions of Iranians. According to recent Congressional Research Service reports, trade embargoes and sanctions severely restricted Iran’s economic growth, accelerated inflation, widely reduced availability of public services, and even led to “a shortage of some advanced Western-made medicines.”
America’s foreign policy leaders must seize the opportunity to not only achieve national and global security objectives; they must seize upon Hassan Rouhani’s election as an opportunity to alleviate the suffering of Iranians under the longstanding sanctions regime. Applaud Reps. Ellison and McDermott for their work toward reopening constructive diplomatic dialogue with Iran.
Dear Reps. Ellison (D-MN) and McDermott (D-WA),
After decades of US and European-coordinated sanctions against Iran, including last year’s sharply increased trade and financial investment restrictions, the efficacy of the sanctioning regime has become widely contested. The recent election of moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president-elect, however, presents an opportunity to “reset” dialogue, as you note in your Politico op-ed.
As you clearly articulate, this new window of opportunity not only provides for a possible agreement on US and EU security interests in the region – it presents the opportunity to alleviate the harsh socioeconomic realities facing millions of Iranians today. Any diplomatic progress certainly relies upon mutual compromise and Iranian adherence to international law and humanitarian standards. Nevertheless, as many experts and advisors contend, an olive branch may yield a critical first step toward meaningful progress in US-Iranian relations.
We the undersigned thank you for promoting a new US foreign policy approach toward Iran and we encourage you to rally your colleagues for this cause.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Mojtaba Salimi, via Wikimedia.