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Sun Jan 12, 2014, 05:57 AM

New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress


New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress
By Juan Cole | Jan. 12, 2014
(By Farhang Jahanpour)

Despite strong opposition by the White House and the States Department and despite the pleadings of some of the most prominent bipartisan US foreign policy luminaries who have warned that additional sanctions would jeopardize ongoing diplomatic efforts, many US senators are pushing forward with a new resolution that is supported by the same neocons that brought us the Iraq war.

It seems that the majority of Congressmen and Senators know very little about Iranian history or what is going on in Iran at present. To say that sanctions have forced Iran to the negotiating table is not entirely correct. The sanctions have certainly affected the Iranian economy, but even Saddam Husseinís unpopular regime managed to stay in power for many years despite crippling sanctions and it was only a disastrous war and occupation that ultimately deposed him.

Iran has gone through a massive popular revolution, whose main principles were freedom and independence. One of the main reasons why people turned to the revolution that was ultimately dominated by the clerics was that they wanted to put an end to foreign interference in their domestic affairs and to two centuries of foreign domination that had humiliated a proud and ancient nation. Although many people have been disaffected with the religious aspects of the revolution, nevertheless, the principles of freedom, independence and ending foreign interference in Iran are still very strong in the minds of the Iranians, and this is why they are prepared to put up with a great deal of hardship in order to defend those principles. This is why during eight years of a devastating war that Saddam Hussein waged against Iran, with massive regional and Western support, and which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and injured and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of economic damage, the masses of people remained steadfast in defending their country.

Despite a negative image of Iran that has been portrayed in the West, the Iranian society is a vibrant, politicized, and engaged society. The massive participation of people in successive elections is a testimony to how engaged people are with politics. In 1997, in a remarkable election with the highest turnout in any presidential election in Iran, the people overwhelming voted for the reformist President Mohammad Khatami. President Khatamiís platform was reform at home and dialog abroad. He proposed a dialog of civilizations and stretched a hand of friendship towards the West. Under President Khatamiís government Iran offered a grand bargain with the United States in 2003 including over the nuclear issue, and Iran even suspended enrichment for over two years and signed the Additional Protocol, only to be rebuffed by the Bush Administration that declared Iran a member of the Axis of Evil. It was that disastrous decision that weakened the reformists and persuaded many people that the West was not after dialog, friendship and reconciliation. It strengthened the hand of the hardliners and resulted in the election of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

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