Give Peace a Chance

The anti-war, give diplomacy a chance caucus can not wait until the warm days of spring to put on their marching boots. By then, Congress could have doubled down on sanctions on Iran, the nuclear peace talks wrecked by the hardliners in Tehran and Washington, D.C., and the bombers on the runway left with one last option. Our allies in the Sunni Gulf states and Israel are pushing Congress hard to ratchet up the sanctions, just when Secretary Kerry is sitting down for the first substantive negotiations with Iran in over a generation. Push back, tell your Congressman that now is the time to give peace a chance; now is not the time to flaunt other options if diplomacy fails.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu told his parliament yesterday that war is getting close. Former VP Dick Cheney predicted military action while appearing on ABC News last week, Romney bundler Sheldon Adelson recently threatened a nuclear strike on Iran. America has a fractured Congress that can not even agree that the sun rises in the east, but the Senate last spring gave Israel a green light to take military action against Iran by a vote of 99-0. Rather than negotiate with his Iranian counterpart this week, Secretary Kerry is negotiating with the Senate banking committee to hold off on slapping any more sanctions on Iran and instead letting the negotiations play out. A lot less chest thumping and a bit more thought about a broader relationship with a new Iranian regime is overdue.

Not that many years ago a bipartisan consensus in the Senate ratcheted up President Bush's war making authority against Iraq, arguing that threats and bluster were the best way to pressure Saddam Hussein and avoid war in Iraq. How did that turnout?

Many in Congress and beyond doubt that we can ever negotiate with a fanatical, Islamist regime, that Iran is our implacable enemy which threatens Israel, feeds the Syrian civil war, and foments terrorism around the world. As former Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin noted in pushing his reluctant country to diplomacy: you negotiate with your enemies, not with your friends. The freshly minted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has his own implacable 'death to America' wing that makes negotiation and compromise so dicey. Give the diplomats some space to negotiate before the politicians pile on; there is still time to veto a bad deal. Now is the best time to negotiate a good deal in over a generation.