Today, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad emerged after nearly a week of virtual silence with the following blustery and propagandist statement:
In a speech in the port town of Assaluyeh he said: "Do you want to speak [with Iran] with this tone? If that is your stance then what is left to talk about? I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it.
While Ahmadinejad is clearly absurdly twisting Obama's words to serve his own political and repressive objectives, his statement can be viewed as actually justifiable. Not in terms of action or rhetoric coming from the administration, though, which has been broadly and in a bipartisan fashion praised by Iran experts, members of Congress from both parties, former Secretaries of State and National Security Advisers as well as conservative commentators, Peggy Noonan, Pat Buchanan, and George Will, but in terms of Congress, which remains for the most part largely myopic and oppositional to the administration in its approach to Iran. It's almost as if they are continually and proactively playing right into Ahmadinejad's hands:
A Republican effort on Tuesday to cut off U.S. loans to some companies doing business with Iran will bring Congress deeper into the fray over the U.S. response to the Iranian elections.
The amendment to the draft fiscal 2010 State and foreign operations appropriations bill will give members their first chance to vote on binding Iran policy since that country's presidential election June 12.
Rep. Mark Steven Kirk , R-Ill., said the amendment was aimed at Reliance Industries, a large energy company based in India that reportedly has provided Iran with as much as a third of its refined petroleum. He will offer the measure when the House Appropriations Committee takes up the draft bill on Tuesday.
Well, the amendment passed in committee and now is attached to the must pass foreign operations appropriations bill. It's just shocking to me that the committee would allow through such a dangerous amendment. It both undermines President Obama's methodical approach to the situation in Iran and goes far in actually confirming the propaganda coming from Ahmadinejad and the oppressive regime that the U.S. was actively interfering in Iranian affairs and undermining the Iranian people. And this makes the legislation, and rhetoric coming from Kirk, even more insidious:
[Kirk] offered another reason to back his plan: "Our amendment is a go because AIPAC supports it," he said, referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a leading pro-Israel lobby.
So, we have the U.S. Congress, in collusion with AIPAC, passing legislation to cut-off oil supplies to Iran during a major political crisis. This is red meat for Ahmadinejad and the Khameini regime. How can members of congress not see this as anything but a dangerous abrogation of their duties as elected officials, playing right into the hands of the very regime they are despising with rhetoric yet uplifting with legislation? They are not only stifling Obama's ability to steer a properly diligent foreign policy course here, but also going far in actually harming the Iranian people's attempts at reform and change. It's truly baffling and I hope for the sake of America's strategic positioning and the Iranian people that this is stripped from the final bill when it comes to a vote. But the damage may have already been done, as AIPAC's former top Iran analyst acknowledges:
Keith Weissman, AIPAC's former top Iran analyst, strenuously disagreed with such initiatives, at least FOR right now. "The best policy now is, 'Do no harm,'" he said.
Neither sanctions nor diplomatic engagement has meaning now, since the country is in internal turmoil, Weissman explained: "What AIPAC is doing here is hurting the very people the U.S. and the rest of world would like to assist in Iran. Any kind of message like this just proves what the bad guys in Iran have been saying to their people for years. It makes it easier for them to hurt the people Obama is trying to help.
"I hope that when American Jews and the organized community look at it, they will say: 'Hold on a minute. Let's wait and see what happens.'"
American Jews might agree with that lat sentiment, but it's clear there is a concerted effort from the organized community and some members of congress to do not what's right for America and the Iranian people, but what's right for their own, narrow self interests. And sadly, in the end it's the people of Iran who will suffer the most.