Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Between Feckless and Reckless

On Thursday, April 17, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint hearing with the subcommittees for Middle East and South Asia and Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade entitled, "Between Feckless and Reckless: U.S. Policy Options to Prevent a Nuclear Iran." The hearing included testimony from the Honorable Gary L. Ackerman, the Honorable Brad Sherman, The Honorable Jeffrey Feltman, and Mr. Daniel Glaser, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.

Here is a more memorable exchange between Ackerman and Feltman during the question and answer period:

Ackerman: "How does looking at sanctions change Iranian behavior?”

Feltman: “Our hope is that Iran will change its calculus."

Ackerman: “I would respectfully suggest that we should give up on hope — not give up on it in the abstract, but give up on it as a policy. Having a policy of hope is horse dung. You know, ‘praise the Lord, but pass the ammunition.’ Hope and prayer and having a faith-based administration and a faith-based foreign policy, and a hopeful attitude – but after seven and half years of this president, after eight years of the previous president, after four years of the prior president, after four years of the president before that, going back to the Eisenhower administration that introduced nuclear to the Shah of Iran, hope is not a plan, and prayer is not a blueprint,” Ackerman continued. “I don’t dislike either hope or prayer, but I want to know what we do while we’re praying because praying doesn’t always give you the answer that you want, because there’s a billion other people who have prayers as well, but in addition to their prayers, they have a plan, and their plan is to have a nuclear bomb, and with that nuclear bomb have an influence and an effect that we don’t necessarily ascribe to.”

Matthew Korade has a great article summing up the rest of the hearing at

At least they got the "between feckless and reckless" right. It perfectly describes the entire U.S. approach to Iran. I wonder how long it will take for someone in the decision-making apparatus to have an "aha" moment and realize that unilateral sanctions aren't going to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. My hopes aren't high that it will be someone in Congress...most of them are payed too well to introduce and co-sponsor sanctions legislation.

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