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Dear Senate: ‘The American people have made it clear they don’t want another war in the Middle East’

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Robert Menendez, Democratic N.J. Senator. is a key supporter of more sanctions on Iran

Robert Menendez, Democratic N.J. Senator. is a key supporter of more sanctions on Iran

Earlier today we referred to a letter written by an incredible group of liberal, left and peace groups calling the Senate to uphold the Iran deal, not destroy it by passing further sanctions. Here’s the letter.

January 14, 2014
To: Members of the U.S. Senate
The following 62 organizations are writing to warn that Senate passage of new Iran sanctions would critically endanger the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran and an unnecessary and costly war. We call on you to not cosponsor S.1881 (the “Nuclear Weapon Free
Iran Act of 2013”) and strongly discourage Senate consideration of new Iran sanctions while negotiations proceed.
The Joint Plan of Action signed between the P5+1 and Iran in November boosts American and regional security by freezing and rolling back Iran’s nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade. The agreement also institutes unprecedented transparency for international inspectors, including daily inspection of Iran’s enrichment facilities.
However, as part of the agreement, the U.S. has agreed to “refrain from imposing new
nuclear-related sanctions” on Iran. Even with the delay mechanisms included in S.1881, U.S. and Iranian officials warn that new Congressional sanctions would kill the deal. The White House has added that new Congressional sanctions would be perceived as a sign of bad faith by allies critical to the enforcement of the sanctions regime, including the other permanent members of the UN Security Council. As a result, new sanctions will erode rather than strengthen our leverage for negotiations. Further, an unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment warns that, “new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”
S.1881 also sets insurmountable demands for a comprehensive nuclear deal by insisting that Iran dismantle its entire “nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities.” Such a demand is a poison pill for negotiations and is not necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
Further, any comprehensive deal will require trading in existing sanctions for Iranian nuclear concessions. But the sanctions provisions included in S.1881 could only be waived by the President for a final nuclear deal if Iran agrees to the zero enrichment demand, effectively eliminating the President’s ability to offer sanctions relief. Rather than attack Presidential waiver authority, Congress should ensure that the President has full authority to lift sanctions as part of a comprehensive deal.
By foreclosing diplomatic prospects, new sanctions would set us on a path to war. The
American people have made it clear that they do not want another war in the Middle East and strongly support pursuing diplomatic prospects until they are exhausted. It would be the height of irresponsibility to step in and undercut diplomatic negotiations before this opportunity has the chance to bear fruit.
We strongly urge you to withhold co-sponsorship of S.1881 and delay consideration of new
Iran sanctions while negotiations are ongoing.

National Iranian American Council
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Win Without War
Adventist Peace Fellowship
American Friends Service Committee
American Values Network
Americans for Peace Now
Augustinians Province of St. Thomas Villanova
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Center for Interfaith Engagement, Eastern Mennonite University
Center for International Policy
Come Home America
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Council for a Livable World
Daily Kos
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Evangelicals for Social Action
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Franciscan Action Network
Global Exchange
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
International Civil Society Action Network
Islamic Society of North America
J Street
Jewish Voice for Peace
Just Foreign Policy
Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice
Muslim Public Affairs Voice
Muslims for Progressive Values
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
On Earth Peace

Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Pax Christi International
Peace Action
Peace Action West
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Progressive Democrats of America
River University Chaplain
The Shalom Center
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
Society of the Divine Savior American
Tikkun/The Network of Spiritual Progressives
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
U.S. Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit
Veterans for Peace
Women’s Action for New Directions
Young Democrats of America

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28 Responses

  1. Egbert
    January 14, 2014, 5:08 pm

    That picture is just asking for someone with the appropriate photoshop skills to correct the color and pattern his tie.

  2. Justpassingby
    January 14, 2014, 5:21 pm

    Hmm they must call out Israel and aipac if this is going to work.

    Look at that Effin face of Menedez…disgraceful man.

    • Krauss
      January 15, 2014, 2:05 am

      Hmm they must call out Israel and aipac if this is going to work.

      And until they will, this isn’t going to work.
      They write the letter as if it came out of nothing. This is the price you pay when you have to cater to J Street. And until AIPAC and the Israeli government is directly mentioned, because they are the primary actors behind this move, nothing of substance will work. But J Street fears this.

  3. seafoid
    January 14, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Nice to see Tikkun and the Presbyterians in there on the side of reason.

    • Bill in Maryland
      Bill in Maryland
      January 14, 2014, 6:03 pm

      Ditto, nice to see J Street joining Jewish Voice for Peace as co-signatories. Maybe next J Street will see the light and join JVP in endorsing the Palestinian call for BDS?

      • January 15, 2014, 7:36 am

        I am afraid J Street and JVP may be in on this to make sure the letter makes no mention of AIPAC or Israel

      • Citizen
        January 15, 2014, 9:59 am

        @ Giles
        I’m sure that’s true of J Street. But JVP has not been silent about the negative influence of AIPAC et al on America’s best interests, not to mention the World’s/

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        January 15, 2014, 10:24 am

        I don’t know about JVP, but you’re right, JStreet is forever, always up to no good. it’s sole purpose is to ensure that criticism of and debate over Israel is kept within ‘reasonable’ bounds.

      • seafoid
        January 15, 2014, 11:25 am

        It doesn’t seem to be very successful in keeping a lid on Israel’s sadism.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    January 14, 2014, 6:01 pm

    RE: “Earlier today we referred to a letter written by an incredible group of liberal, left and peace groups calling the Senate to uphold the Iran deal, not destroy it by passing further sanctions.” ~ Weiss


    Senate Sanctions and Saber-Rattling Could Sabotage Diplomacy
    1/6/2014 – Contact Your Senators
    The Senate could vote in the next few weeks on dangerous saber-rattling legislation (S. 1881) that would impose new sanctions against Iran. As the White House, ten Senate leaders, and a bipartisan group of top national security experts have warned, new sanctions could immediately sabotage the delicate diplomatic progress with Iran. The bill also calls for pledging U.S. military support for a potential Israeli attack on Iran, which countless U.S. and Israeli officials have warned would be catastrophic.
    While the White House has vowed to veto these sanctions, proponents of the bill are lobbying for a veto-proof majority of sixty-seven senators to support the bill, in an attempt to have Congress prepared to override the president’s veto.
    That is why every Senate vote is absolutely critical. By filling in your zip code, you will get a message corresponding whether your senator has yet cosponsored the Menendez-Schumer-Kirk sanctions bill.
    See a full list of cosponsors of the bill and the full text of the legislation. You can also write a letter to the editor against S. 1881, and get updates on the sanctions push.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    January 14, 2014, 6:18 pm

    RE: “Earlier today we referred to a letter written by an incredible group of liberal, left and peace groups calling the Senate to uphold the Iran deal, not destroy it by passing further sanctions.” ~ Weiss

    ALSO SEE – “Exposed: Serious Flaws in the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions (Wag the Dog) Bill”, by Jim Lobe,, 1/14/14

    [EXCERPT] Ed Levine, an arms control specialist who worked for both Republican and Democratic senators for 20 years on the Intelligence Committee and another ten on the Foreign Relations Committee, has written a detailed and devastating analysis of S. 1881, the Kirk-Menendez bill, for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation on whose advisory board he currently serves. We have reproduced it below, but it makes clear that, contrary to claims by the bill’s Democratic co-sponsors, the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013 is designed to torpedo the Nov. 24 “first step” nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. Passage of the bill, Levine concludes, would “leave the United States closer to a Hobson’s choice between going to war with Iran and accepting Iran as an eventual nuclear weapons state.”

    Indeed, it’s quite clear from Sen. Mark Kirk’s reaction (as well as those of other Republicans, including that of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor) to the implementation accord between the P5+1 that the entire purpose of the bill is to derail the Nov. 24 agreement, as opposed to acting as a “diplomatic insurance policy” to ensure that its terms are fulfilled, as Sen. Menendez argued last week in the Washington Post. Indeed, Senate Republicans, all but two of whom have co-sponsored the bill, are clearly doing the bidding of AIPAC and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in trying to subvert the Nov. 24 agreement, while the 16 Democratic senators who have signed as co-sponsors have insisted that the bill is intended to support that accord. One would think the very partisan difference in the understanding of the intent of the bill would lead some of these 16 Democrats to reconsider their support. That may well be beginning to happen anyway as a result of Sunday’s successful conclusion of the implementation accord, as pointed out in this report by Reuters. But the difference in intent will probably make it easier for the White House to keep the majority of Democrats from breaking ranks.

    As of now, the bill has 59 co-sponsors, but the magic number is 67 — a veto-proof majority. . .


    • ritzl
      January 14, 2014, 7:13 pm

      Agree that this swift conclusion of a “final” agreement will probably give Dem fence-sitters the cover to step back. Maybe it’s enough political space to move forward. Points made and all that.

      Do these people really want a devastating war and their un-election that much, or are they/our politics this completely unbalanced?

      Current Iranian leadership clearly wants this agreement as well, or they would have run it out and taken their rhetorical/economic chances.

      Gawd, all the signs of diplomatic success and resolution of this contrived conflict are there for the taking. What’s the obstacle (rhetorical, but still the realities are so vastly more compelling to the point that I can’t believe that this is even a discussion).

      When will cooler heads equal constituent realities, in US political terms? It has to come, sooner or later.

      Hopefully sooner.

      Thanks, Dickerson. I used your draft letter to my Senators. Speaking of which, Sessions hasn’t signed on. Odd. Shelby just did, unfortunately.

  6. Les
    January 14, 2014, 8:29 pm

    The US media is uninterested in reporting why Iran turned from being Israel’s sole friend in the Middle East to becoming Israel’s number 1 enemy.

    • wondering jew
      wondering jew
      January 14, 2014, 10:28 pm

      Les- What’s to report? The Shah was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, nothing complicated. But I’m sure you have something else in mind. Explain.

      • talknic
        January 15, 2014, 5:38 am

        @ yonah fredman “What’s to report?”

        Perhaps the fact that in essence the UNSC agrees with Iran

        “The Shah was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, nothing complicated.

        Seems you’re also uninterested in why

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        January 15, 2014, 8:48 am

        Seems you’re also uninterested in why.

        fredman’s comment is like a black hole of infinite silly. yes, nothing complicated about the ‘replacement’ of the Shah. It’s just like an NFL owner replacing a head coach. “We weren’t happy with the direction of team Iran under the Shah. I thought we gave him the players for a winning team, but the Shah just wasn’t getting it done,” Dan Snyder told reporters upon news of the Shah’s replacement with the Ayatollah Khomeini. And nothing complicated about US and Israeli relations with the Shah and how those relationships might affect Iranian perceptions of Israel.

    • DICKERSON3870
      January 16, 2014, 9:24 pm

      RE: “The US media is uninterested in reporting why Iran turned from being Israel’s sole friend in the Middle East to becoming Israel’s number 1 enemy.” ~ Les

      SEE: “Israel’s Defense Chief OK’s Hundreds of Israeli Deaths”, By Ira Chernus,, 11/11/11

      [EXCERPT] . . . An essential motive of Zionism from its beginning was a fierce desire to end the centuries of Jewish weakness, to show the world that Jews would no longer be pushed around, that they’d fight back and prove themselves tougher than their enemies. There was more to Zionism than that. But the “pride through strength” piece came to dominate the whole project. Hence the massive Israeli military machine with its nuclear arsenal.
      But you can’t prove that you’re stronger than your enemies unless you’ve also got enemies — or at least believe you’ve got enemies — to fight against. So there has to be a myth of Israel’s insecurity, fueled by an image of vicious anti-semites lurking somewhere out there, for Zionism to work. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran has gradually risen to the top of Israel oh-so-necessary enemies list. Iranophobia is rampant in Israel, as one Israeli scholar writes, because “Israel needs an existential threat.”
      Anyone who has grown up in Israel, or in the U.S. Jewish community (as I did), and paid attention knows all this. . .


      P.S. ALSO SEE – “Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons”, by Ira Chernus, Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2010
      LINK –

  7. Kathleen
    January 14, 2014, 11:37 pm

    Powerful statement. Great line up of groups representing Americans. Will they listen?

    And many of the newspapers that allowed false pieces about Iraq’s alleged WMD’s dominate their newspapers doing it differently this time around.

    Major Newspapers Speak Out Against Iran Sanctions Bill

  8. Kathleen
    January 14, 2014, 11:54 pm

    Prof Cole on Sharon. Incredible piece

    • puppies
      January 15, 2014, 12:11 am

      Incredible… get him to tell us where is the difference between the Sharons and the “liberal” Zionists where it counts.

  9. Kathleen
    January 14, 2014, 11:59 pm

    Chris Matthews closes his program tonight ripping up those undermining diplomacy with Iran.

    • Citizen
      January 15, 2014, 6:51 am

      He blamed the Republicans, and said there was no point in going into the motives of those 59 (so far) senators who are cosponsoring the bill. Further, like practically everyone in the media talking about this bill, nobody is mentioning the bill also effectively delegates the US war power to Israel’s whim. In other words, the bill not only sandbags US diplomacy efforts with Iran, it also commits American military force to Israel’s decision to attack Iran at any time.

  10. OlegR
    January 15, 2014, 6:16 am

    I doubt that you can call the “incredible group of liberal, left and peace groups ”
    as the “American People”, some part of them sure.

    • tree
      January 15, 2014, 6:48 am

      Oleg, the letter is referring to the results of the polling of the American people, not just the letter writers themselves.

      November, 2013 poll results:

      Americans prefer diplomacy to war by an overwhelming 2 to 1 margin, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Tuesday which focused its questions around the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran, the U.S. and the other P5+1 nations.

      According to Reuters, 44 percent of those polled in the U.S. were in favor of the diplomatic resolution, with only 22 percent opposed to the deal in which six world powers including the U.S. agreed to see a portion of crippling sanctions against Iran lifted in exchange for a reduction of uranium enrichment and closer monitoring of the country’s nuclear energy program.

      Despite noted shortcomings, foreign policy analysts, experts and progressives widely came out in support of the deal, with many calling it a ‘historic’ boost for peace in the region despite continued threats from Israel to act against Iran unilaterally.

      In addition, according to the poll, if the deal falls apart before a final agreement can be made only 20 percent want U.S. military force to be used against Iran, while 31 percent favor further diplomacy and 49 percent said the U.S. should then increase sanctions.

      While the poll showed the majority of Americans are generally in support of the state of Israel, 65 percent still agreed with the statement that the United States “should not become involved in any military action in the Middle East unless America is directly threatened.” Only twenty-one percent disagreed with that statement.

      Overall, as Reuters notes, the poll shows a growing resistance, or weariness, against another U.S. war in the Middle East, “after long, costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

      “This absolutely speaks to war fatigue, where the American appetite for intervention—anywhere—is extremely low,” Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said. “It could provide some support with Congress for the arguments being made by the administration.”

  11. Citizen
    January 15, 2014, 7:22 am

    Looks a groundswell of Americans are contacting their congress critters to stop this bill for more sanctions, just as they did when it looked like our leaders were taking us to war on Syria:

    Please do contact at least your senators.

  12. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    January 16, 2014, 6:25 pm

    Daily Kos signed this letter? Last I heard, Markos was avoiding this subject like the plague. I haven’t spent as much time at the garish orange site recently. Do any Kossacks/Kogs, ex-Kogs or lurkers know how Daily Kos signed on (I can’t imagine it was signed on the night-owl shift without Markos’ okay).

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