Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Representative Schakowsky on H.Con.Res. 362

Below is a letter from Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) responding to concerns expressed by a constituent regarding H.Con.Res. 362. Though many of her constituents have urged her to withdraw her co-sponsorship of the resolution, Rep. Schakowsky continues to defend her support for it and she claims that it is not a declaration of war against Iran. Rep. Schakowsky claims that H.Con.Res. 362 offers a "peaceful option" for dealing with Iran, but she has also urged Representatives Ackerman and Pence, as well as the democratic leadership, to delay action on the resolution.

Representative Schakowsky's position on H.Con.Res. 362 highlights an important point that is really missing from the discourse on this resolution. While many have focused their critique of the resolution on Clause 3, demanding that the President impose harsh sanctions that would be difficult if not impossible to implement outside the context of using force, the resolution has broader implications. Even if this clause was changed or removed, the whole resolution is provocative and sends the wrong signal to Iran and to the Bush administration that Congress supports a more belligerent policy and, potentially, belligerent actions against, Iran. On the whole, the resolution is simply more of the same wrong-headed approach to dealing with Iran. It calls for more punitive measures without any incentives. Most importantly, H.Con.Res. 362 does not call for what is desperately needed now - direct, sustained, comprehensive negotiations without preconditions.

Below is the full text of the letter.

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about H. Con. Res. 362, a resolution expressing the sense of Congress regarding the international threat posed by Iran. I appreciate hearing from you, and I strongly share your concern about the importance of avoiding military conflict with Iran.

I have consistently and vehemently opposed any move toward armed conflict with Iran, and I have cosponsored legislation favoring diplomatic and political solutions to address ongoing U.S.-Iranian tensions. Among the bills that I have cosponsored are: H. Con. Res. 33, expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress; H.J.Res. 14, stating that no previous provision of law authorizes use of military force against Iran; H.R. 1400, the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007, which emphasizes that U.S. should use diplomatic and economic means to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem; and H.R. 3119, to prohibit the use of funds for military operations in Iran.

H. Con. Res. 362 is not a declaration of war against Iran. Instead of advocating military pressure, this resolution calls on the President to use economic, political, and diplomatic pressure to avoid further confrontation with Iran. One reason that I support this legislation is that it brings together 220 cosponsors, representing a wide cross-section of political views, in emphasizing that U.S. policy should focus on economic and diplomatic solutions, not military action.

In addition, this resolution emphasizes the importance of an international effort to address the Iranian issue. I am a strong proponent of diplomatic engagement and this legislation specially "demands that the President initiate an international effort" - not take unilateral action. The United States is not the only nation that would face a threat if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, and it is vital that we work in cooperation with other members of the international community to address the crisis.

While I believe that H.Con.Res. 362 offers a peaceful option to resolve a growing international crisis, I respect your concerns regarding a provision that has been read by some as allowing a military blockade to be initiated. I have contacted the original sponsors of this resolution, Congressmen Ackerman and Pence, and they have made it clear that a naval blockade or any other use of military force was not their intent in writing this resolution. I have urged them and the House leadership to delay any action on this bill. It is important that no action occur that can be interpreted by the Bush Administration as a signal for military action, even if that is not the intent of the provision.

I am extremely concerned by the threat Iran continues to pose to the Middle East region. However, I am also worried by the escalating rhetoric and saber-rattling by the Bush Administration and the ever-growing indications that the President is looking to begin yet another war in the Persian Gulf region.

As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, I will continue to work to bring our troops home from Iraq and to avoid military confrontation with Iran. While Iran must be held accountable for its threatening behavior, there is no military solution to resolving this conflict. The only solution is to use diplomacy, working with the international community.

Again, thank you for contacting me regarding this critical subject. Please feel free to be in touch whenever I can provide assistance.


Jan Schakowsky,
Member of Congress

No comments: